Selden Standard (Detroit, MI)

Like I mentioned in the previous review of Jacoby’s, Detroit has seen a lot of change over the years. Looking around downtown, one of the more significant areas of change in recent years is Detroit’s Cass Corridor. Running along the western edge of “Mid-Town” just west of Woodward Avenue, that whole part of town has had a huge makeover in recent years: when I first started visiting Detroit, up until the early 2000s, the idea of walking between the Detroit Institute of Arts and Downtown was “crazy talk”, involving walking through rather derelict parts of Brush Park or the Lower Cass Corridor (which, long ago, was actually Detroit’s Chinatown, centered roughly on Peterboro and Cass where remnants of Chung’s Restaurant and the On-Leong Merchant’s Association are still actually visible if you have an eye for detail). But by the early 21st century, decay led to wholesale clearing, and for quite a long time Mid-Town and the Cass Corridor were a handful of small businesses separated by vacant lots. But in recent years, the whole corridor has seen quite a resurgence. The building of Lil’ Caesar’s Arena, while unfortunately also bulldozing several historic properties, did stablize the region, and recent economic development throughout Midtown has led to a lot of new restaurants, stores, and even breweries showing up, and many of these new businesses are embracing the locality and trying to make Mid-Town a destination. One great example of this is The Selden Standard.

Selden Standard opened in 2014, in a converted dry cleaning shop on 2nd Ave and Selden, a block west of Cass, and, at the time, at the ragged edge of Wayne State’s “good” part of the Cass Corridor. And they quickly gained a reputation as a good “New American” food, cocktails, and a focus on local and seasonal ingredients. Walking in on this visit, the place still looks fresh and shiny: a bold, bright, bar, a semi-open kitchen, and several large dining areas filled with roomy booths, they’ve done a great job converting a former industrial/retail space into an inviting restaurant.

I’ve long heard good things about the cocktails at Selden, and in Detroit (which has a far more competitive cocktail scene than even many larger cities), and my cocktail, “The Habit of Being Attractive”, was no slouch, with a nice combination of tequila, Cappelletti (one of the more obscure aperitivos, basically a slightly softer Campari), ginger, lemon, and cocoa bitters, this was a really refreshing combination of bitter, smoky, and sweet notes. I’d love to see what else they can do with their cocktails.

Our visit was a brunch one, and the brunch menu didn’t disappoint, with a decent selection of pastries, omelets, hashes, frittatas, and a nice selection of interesting sides like cheese grits and chile-glazed pork belly. I opted to start off with the simply named “sweet roll”, and wasn’t disappointed: a slightly sweet (and definitely not sticky sweet) yeasty roll with a center of cheese and almond, this was a nice flaky and flavorful start to a breakfast.

My main course was a duck confit hash served up with a poached egg, greens, and a charred herb salsa. Hashes can be a temperamental dish, since it’s often hard to balance the melange of random flavors and textures without it becoming a bit of an indistinct mishmash, but everything in this hash was good both as a component and as part of the whole dish. The duck confit was perfectly done: flavorful bits of tender duck breast starting to fall into shreds. The egg was perfectly poached, the greens tender and adding a slight bitter not, and the charred salsa adding both a modest bit of heat and a slight smoky note. I was thoroughly pleased with this breakfast.

I’d heard many good things about Selden Standard, and ended up enjoying my meal. They’ve added a pleasant restaurant to an upcoming part of town, do a great job of featuring local ingredients and building seasonal dishes out of them, and having a menu that’s just a little bit quirky and unique. I’d love to come back for dinner.

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