Thursday, August 6, 2015

Standby preview featured hints of East LA, Japan

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 7:47 PM

  • Photos by Jenna Belevender

Walking into the Salt and Cedar letterpress studio, tucked away next to the Detroit City Distillery in Eastern Market on Friday, one was transported to the kind of secret supper club setting one would imagine for any exclusive, ticket holder-only meal. Candles dimly-lit, a handful of well-heeled Detroiters who sit on the upper hinges of the city's foodie scene clutched Champaigne glasses filled with French 75s and the event's humble hosts, chef Brendon Edwards and Joe Robinson greeted guests into their realm.
  • Photos by Jenna Belevender
Such was the setting for Edwards and Robinson's first in a series of uber secret menu previews, in which guests could get a taste for what's to come in the duo's upcoming Standby, to be installed in The Belt alleyway off Broadway downtown.

Described by Edwards as Progressive American cuisine, the menu during the first tasting Friday exploded with the flavors of East LA, with a deconstructed take on elote, that roasted corn on the cob, that's usually smothered in mayo, parmesan cheese and chili powder. With Edwards' rendition, he sliced the sumptuous kernels off the cob, then spread and covered them with crispy, smoky bits of prosciutto and then balanced it out with a silky layer of scallop crudo. In going with Standby's theme of teaming Edwards' food with Robinson's craft drink program, the plate was paired with an elote-inspired cocktail, made with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal for that smokey, fresh-off-the-grill effect, roasted sweet corn juice, lime and agave in a glass rimmed with chile del Arbol and salt.
  • Photos by Jenna Belevender
  • Photos by Jenna Belevender
The next seven courses took diners on a culinary tour that spanned the globe, with entrees like the shrimp chip-inspired artichoke crisps, venison crepinettes and a juicy and savory watermelon salad - all partnered with Robinson's cocktails to match.
  • Photos by Jenna Belevender
Edwards and Robinson describe their pairing together as a means of checks and balances between the front of the house and the back of the house. When Edwards is wanting to use a Campari with his cooking, he turns to Robinson's beverage background for advice.

"It makes it more exciting for us because we have someone to bounce ideas off of and it kinda meshes together a little better," Robinson told us.

Echoed Edwards: "I don't think I've understood the depth of liquors and adult beverages in the world and I think sometimes reflecting on that putting that in the scale of food has been the funnest thing that we've bounced back and forth with."

  • Photos by Jenna Belevender

The duo met about five years ago while both working at Roast. Edwards had just moved back to Detroit from Kyoto in Japan, where he was a cook. He wound up moving to Chicago, but the two remained friends. When Antietam was gearing up for its opening last year, Robinson, who had started working there, contacted Edwards and told him the restaurant was looking for a chef. Edwards sent over a menu immediately, was hired on and the two were reunited as a team.

Even though their time at Antietam was cut short, the chef and bartender knew a promising partnership had been sealed. "The opportunity it gave us to work with our partners (Anthony Curis and David Goldman) now... we're just really excited to be working with them and that they're giving us complete creative freedom."

The partners intend to will open Standby and neighboring outdoor bar, Skip, by Sept. 1. Standby will be a cocktail bar primarily that serves food - the type of cuisine that anyone who works in the service industry would crave but doesn't have access to when they get off work in the middle of the night. Edwards and Robinson told us that a third space on The Belt, a full-scale yet-to-be-named restaurant, is also in the works, though details about that have not yet been hammered out.

In the meantime, preview dinners will continue as the food and drink team form their crew and put the final touches on their new spaces. We will keep you posted on what they're up to next. 

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