Top to bottom: The Greektown Frittata is one
of many egg options; waffles topped with fried
catfish and chocolate chips are a house fa-
vorite; Godiva Chocolate Mousse Cake. Above
right The dining room is bright and airy.
A downtown destination provides the
breakfast of champions — and then some.
BY JEFFREY HERMANN I PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANGIE BAAN
ntering the Detroit Breakfast
House & Grill is — as the
owners intended — a comfort-
ing experience. Visitors are greeted by
a friendly hostess; to the left, a glowing
fireplace, sofas and a newspaper-strewn
coffee table beckon. The clientele — a
mix of business suits, mothers and chil-
dren, well-dressed groups sharing food
family-style and lone diners in jeans and
leather jackets — provides a low-key
bustling atmosphere. While the front of
the restaurant, set off by angled, floor-
to-ceiling pillars breaking up swaths of
light from the large front windows, may
put you in mind of the skyscrapers just
outside the front door, the rear of the
room is more serene, the simple pastels
on the large wall not unlike the light of
an early, cloud-streaked morning.
But enough of that. People are hungry.
Which is a good condition to arrive in.
Breakfast is covered from several
angles, from traditional pancake, French
toast and egg options to heartier plates
of filet and eggs and strip steak and eggs.
Omelets are offered in almost infinite
variations. Though the staff might rec-
ommend the popular jambalaya omelet,
another standout is the Southern Omelet
— with corned-beef hash, carmelized
onions and Cheddar cheese. Benedicts
come in classic, smoked salmon, turkey
APRIL 2006 •
sausage and crabcake incarnations; frit-
tatas are offered up a la New Orleans
(shrimp, pepper and onions smothered in
Creole sauce), the "Greektown" (spinach,
feta cheese, peppers, kalamata olives,
potatoes and tomatoes) and more.
Though the house pancakes more than
pass muster, the bananas Foster pancakes
will be a letdown for anyone expecting
pancakes accompanied by the traditional
bananas cooked in butter, brown sugar,
cinnamon and rum, then served with
vanilla ice cream; they're simply pancakes
with diced bananas and banana-flavored
Repeat visits are the only solution to
having to choose from eight different
kinds of waffle, among them: pecan,
chocolate chip, apple and banana nut,
double chocolate, the bacon waffle and
the Vernor's ginger ale-malted waffle.
Looking around the dining room, it's
hard to find a waffle-less plate.
Though lighter fare does make an
appearance, the menu is decidedly
stick-to-your-ribs, which shouldn't be a
surprise since it's the latest endeavor in
eating from the Southern Hospitality
Restaurant Group. "There was a need
for this in Detroit," says Frank Taylor,
one of three restaurateurs (along with
Jerry Nottage and former Detroit Lion
Robert Porcher) who form the group and
are behind several well-reviewed Detroit
restaurants, including Seldom Blues.
"Several restaurants opened here in
the past three years; none focused on
breakfast," Taylor explains. "It's the most
important meal of the day."
Just as there is more to breakfast than
eggs over easy, hash browns and toast,
there is more to the Detroit Breakfast
House than breakfast. The lunch menu
(both breakfast and lunch are served
all day) features several sandwiches,
salads and pastas. But the real stars of
the second-most-important meal of the
day are the fried chicken or catfish fillet,
both of which are served atop a waffle.
The combo might seem odd, but it has
a long history — possibly originating in
Harlem in the 1930s — and has lasted
this long for good reason.
You'll hear few complaints from din-
ers — though my dining companion
asserted that the chicken didn't measure
up to his grandmother's recipe. The
catfish, served in enormous, down-home
portions and fried in a perfectly spiced
cornmeal coating, is outstanding. A
neighboring guest confessed that, on this
her sixth visit, she had yet to stray from
the dish, except to alternate between ac-
companying it with a waffle or a pan-
The restaurant also has a full bar, al-
lowing brunch-time visitors to round out
a meal with a mimosa or bloody Mary. If
you still have room, end the experience
with Apple Brown Betty, Fresh Berry
Shortcake or Chocolate Mousse Cake.
Located a block north of Campus
Martius on the street level of the Lofts
at Merchants Row, the restaurant is close
to several parking areas and just a quick
walk from the Renaissance Center and
other downtown hubs. "We wanted it to
be not just a city restaurant but for every-
one," explains Taylor, who hopes that the
newly developed section of the city will
continue to draw visitors from outside
the city and continued investments and
Still in the midst of its long, slow re-
covery, Detroit can be said to lack many
things. But as of October 2005 what it
does not lack is an upscale — and uplift-
ing — breakfast destination. ❑
Detroit Breakfast House & Grill
1241 Woodward Ave., Detroit
Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.