Seafood Fare for the Stomach and Soul
Detroit Seafood Market channels bygone era of genteel social mobility in Downtown Detroit.
Delicious, made-from-scratch cuisine served at a restaurant with a social conscience. I like that combination at the Detroit Seafood Market.
The restaurant and adjoining Ultra PV Lounge are tucked away on Randolph Street in Downtown Detroit’s Paradise Valley, a nostalgic renaming of the vest-pocket Harmonie Park.
Paradise Valley — the “PV” of the lounge’s name — recalls a prosperous era for black Detroiters in the district bounded by Gratiot, Vernor, Brush and Hastings streets.
During the 1920s-’50s, Paradise Valley offered unprecedented economic and cultural opportunities, including a jazz-infused nightlife. Urban renewal sadly destroyed the cohesive community.
Nigerian-born entrepreneur and CEO Kenny Akinwale hopes to recreate some of the excitement of those halcyon, Paradise Valley days with his Ultra PV Lounge. The eclectic, club-like setting attracts the neighborhood’s professionals as well as urban dwellers.
Akinwale made major renovations to the lounge, such as installing steps that lead to a cozy space upstairs. Black-and-white photos of jazz greats adorn the walls, while vivid artwork on the main floor depicts good times in the old neighborhood. Guests sit in striped pillow-back booths, or interact with each other at the handsome back-lit bar or make moves on the dance floor. Live music is offered several nights a week, both here and in the restaurant. Beverages and appetizers in the lounge are half-off from 4-7 p.m. weekdays.
When he opened Detroit Seafood Market at the site of the former Detroit Fish Market last year, Akinwale wisely retained executive chef Leonardo Vulagi, a graduate of New York’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America.
The décor is minimalist with bare tables and blue- and green-striped upholstered chairs, or snazzy booths that have high, butter-colored, curved backs. Tied-back blue curtains separate five private dining areas along a brick wall. The room’s focal point is the mural of a blue-eyed swordfish leaping out of a foamy sea.
Customer favorites, according to Akinwale and Vulagi, include broiled Florida snapper, grilled salmon, herb-crusted rack of lamb, and broiled Chilean sea bass, prepared pan-Asian style, and stacked on whipped garlic-mashed potatoes.
I was delighted after trying stuffed Atlantic salmon topped with lemon beurre blanc sauce ($24), and the luscious-tasting “famous lobster mac and cheese” came home with me. The paella, a Spanish rice dish, which comes in two sizes at dinner, with choice of seafood, chicken and sausage, or vegetarian treatment, looked amazing.
Sunday brunch, by reservation only, is popular from noon-4 p.m. The choices are plentiful, tending toward Southern-style favorites. Cost is $25, adult; $14, ages 6-14.