Grand Trunk Pub (Detroit, MI)

Continuing with the side topic of Detroit Architecture, I rather like some of the little bits of older Detroit that are still around. One block “south” of Campus Martius Park is a mixed block of old four-story buildings that’s dwarfed by the huge Z-shaped First National Building on twos sides, and the Vinton Building on the other, but the rest of that block is vintage 1870s buildings left over from a much earlier Detroit area (a similar out-of-time block can be seen in the nearby wedge-shaped Flatiron Building, which I visited in 2011 for my Greenwich Time Pub review). Originally a jewelry store (home of the famous Traub Bros. jewelry company whose “Orange Blossom” vintage jewelry is still quite valued), this spot then for decades was a ticketing office for Montreal’s Grand Trunk railroad, selling tickets for the nearby train at Brush Street Station (long gone, razed in the early 1970s to make room for the Rennaisance Center, although the eagle-eyed pedestrian can see lots of little bits of evidence of the track’s existence between downtown and the Dequindre Cut rail trail). The age of the automobile ended the Grand Trunk’s operation in the 1930s, and the impressive ticket counter was repurposed as a bar for the nearby Metropole Hotel. Over the next few decades it changed hands several times, and when I first encountered it, it was “Foran’s Pub”, and since the early 2000s it has been Grand Trunk Pub.

Really, if I say “old school railroad ticket station turned into a bar”, you’ve got a pretty good description of the Grand Trunk; the architecture is still centered around the old ticket counter, and since the place shifted from being “Foran’s”, it had more than a little sprucing up, so there’s still a lot of nice wood- and stonework throughout the joint, and it’s one of my favorite places downtown to grab a quick beer when I’m visiting (they do a particularly good job offering an assortment of local beers, and Grand Trunk also runs the similar Whiskey Bar next door if I’m leaning that direction). But it’s also a pretty good place to have breakfast or lunch, in this case, it was a good chance to indulge in a surprisingly large and generous Reuben served up with some potatoes O’Brien (culinary note to myself: Michigan seems to have a lot more “Potatoes O’Brien” than most places in the country; I’m sure there’s a backstory here, along with why Detroit seems to have so much pastrami). In this case, it’s everything I’m looking for in a good Reuben: while it weighs in at a hefty $12.75, the primary reason for that is that the sandwich itself weighs impressively at over a half pound: a thick layer of pastrami (from Wigley’s, a local purveyor) that’s been lightly grilled before assembly, a good layer of locally-made kraut, a nice layer of oozing Swiss cheese, a light shmear of dressing, and two thick slices of crispy dark rye bread. It’s one of the better Reubens I’ve had, actually.

Overall, I enjoy the Grand Trunk Pub, and it’s always a neat place to visit for food and dirnk. Oh, and a special nod for Grand Trunk also offering a nice discount for showing my FIRST Robotics badge; always great when a town reaches out to visitors).

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