We went to Detroit to see the NAIAS, but were almost equally interesting was to explore the burgeoning local food scene. The city is going through a bit of a post-industrial revival and Vinsetta is a prime example of this revolution – an old garage now serving as a very busy eatery.
It actually did still look like a service garage with a few pumps outside, attracting everyone with neon signs One of the main complaints about Vinsetta is that they do not take reservations. We went in with a full anticipation of an hour wait which turned out to be the case. Too bad the area around was not overly walkable. A few liquor stores and a sex shop were the only businesses open that late
The vestibule area where we sat on this cold winter evening was created with a client experience in mind. Two long wooden benches were comfy enough and wallpaper made of glued repair order sheets along with vintage ware (such as a motor tune up machine) sprinkled all over kept us captivated for some time. A DJ at the front bustling with energy and facing the crowds in the dining room was another focal point.
Once inside, the space was large and open-concept. Quite a few areas were used as hoists, with still plenty of metal rails and pipes are up in the ceiling. We were sat at a highchair area separating the dining area with the stand-up bar, but did feel quite tall and grand compared to everyone else, as there was no other wall or spacial separation in this large room. Skipping ahead, there were plenty of TVs around, and as we observed throughout the evening, they were not watched much, We thought the screens were probably unnecessary in such a lively place, and were rather taking away from the garage experience.
We ordered two somewhat local beers off their wooden wall beers on tap menu. A Souther Tier 2x Stout and Witch's Hat Red Light Amber. Both were surprisingly hoppy and made a great match for our burgers.
Wine map was organized in fun categories Yugo representing the cheapest house options (who even remembers the Yugo brand?) and Packard denoting the top of the line sour grapes (more folks probably recall this legendary American car marque). Oldsmobile was an in-between choice.
We settled down in our comfy Rococo-revival styled canape highchairs. Motown tunes playing in the background with some upbeat hip hop and electronic remixes too, turned out to be a rather soothing set. A curious detail on our table was cutlery sets wrapped in basic towel material - a bit worn out but clean.
Our food choices were the EV1 to both commemorate the Detroit auto industry and stay on the healthier side, plus a Duck Burger to completely offset all the health benefits brought by the first vegetarian option. The EV1 veggie burger came with amazing coal fired tomatoes and plenty of goat cheese. It felt fresh, healthy yet almost meaty. The interesting shiitake bacon on the side added a lot with its burned crispy pieces. The garlic balsamic mayo nicely tied everything together. As recommended by our energetic waitress, we could not skip the Union Mac, at least as a side. The dish included Vermont sharp cheddar, Pinconning, Penne Rigate, Bechamel, Parmesan - all that cheesy creaminess in one. The crunchy crust was something of its own with plenty of cheese smells in there, the dish was very flavorful and heavy - perfect for a cold winter night. Watch out, as Union Mac also comes as a dish, with smoked ham.
With the Duck Burger, we got the regular side of chips. Both burgers were served open. This one had a side with a mountain of arugula. Not the easiest flip to compose the burgers before consumption. The sweet cherry compote was offsetting the otherwise heavy patty - cooked medium as per chefs’ recommendations. The caramelized onion added yet some more sweetness, which is why we thought there could have been less of the compote jam. Gryere was a much needed agent to this dish and so was the generous amount of arugula. The burger was quite original. The chips didn't come too warm bit they were a lovely side for our beers. Being a bit overdone and bitter helped them stand up to our hoppy drinks. We had to try a couple of their $5 milkshakes, perhaps we should've danced it off after. Our waitress was happy to tell us a bit about Faygo which turned out to be a local favorite soft drink giving the milkshake a cotton candy flavour. In addition, this shake had plenty of sugar crystals adding a handy crush feel to it. We compared this flavour to the Salted Caramel shake. That custardy drink was not that sweet and we preferred it . Both shakes were a perfect silky consistency with a bit of foam on top.
We should note Vinsetta has plenty of food options. We focused on burgers, but they also have worthwhile main dishes, pasta bowls, pies and etc. In addition, there is actually a Vinsetta Sauce which is a homemade version of a Thousand Islands recipe. An interesting option if you are ordering fish, but could also work with their chips.
Sometimes it is hard for us to tell whether interior influences the way food tastes. For Vinsetta Garage it might have very much been the case. Being immersed in car culture for the weekend and genuinely friendly service made our visit here remarkable. Food was not the laggard here either. They didn't overdo the garage theme, so don't expect any elevated cars or waitresses in mechanic uniforms, but instead they took a more subtle approach.
Lastly, a trip to the washroom is worth taking - some aesthetically deteriorating walls and classic cars in frames.