Thursday, May 1, 2014

Psycho on the Road: Mex (Bloomfield Hills, MI)

I have just returned to Colorado after a brief sojourn home to my native Detroit.  Well, I suppose referring to home as “Detroit” is a bit of a stretch, as I grew up about 20 minutes outside of the city, but even Metro Detroiters have a distinctive edge that is a result of existing near the blighted, battered (yet still magnificent) Motor City.  The concept of home always comes with distinct tastes, no matter who you are or where you’re from, but I think I can almost objectively say that Detroit has some seriously delicious eats.  It’s always a delight to go home and indulge in old favorites, peppered with some new restaurants under the guidance of my parents and brother. 

On this particular trip, one of the new additions that I was told I absolutely must try was not a restaurant, but a particular dish that is cropping up on multiple menus of the same young restaurateur.  Zack Sklar, owner of Social Kitchen and Bar in Birmingham, Mex in Bloomfield Hills, and a prominent catering company, has a certain dish that graces both of his menus: a not so humble egg sandwich.  My mom, my brother, and his girlfriend all independently provided me with delightful accounts of this flavorful egg sandwich, raving about the way the egg was cooked, the grilled whole grain bread, and the carefully selected accoutrements adorning the dish.   Initially, I thought they might be overselling this item.  Egg sandwiches are delicious, but I like to choose my meals in Detroit very carefully, and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the investment.  Nonetheless, they wore me down, and I’m so glad they did.

My mom and I went to Mex for lunch the day that I flew out.  We initially toyed with the idea of ordering two egg sandwiches, but decided against that, as my mom reported that it was both large and rich.  So, we split an egg sandwich and a delightful kale salad, which resulted in the most perfect going-away lunch.   The egg sandwich was simple, nothing too esoteric or original, but perfectly executed.  Buttery, grilled whole grain bread; perfectly cooked over easy eggs (one on each half), whites firm and cooked through, and a runny, marigold yolk; smoky bacon; melted, rich, yellow cheddar; acidity from freshly made guacamole and sliced tomatoes, which through the other rich ingredients.  It was absolutely lovely, and worth the hype.

The kale salad balanced the egg sandwich out flawlessly.  It was a symphony of textures, colors, and sweet, smoky flavors.  The salad was both tender and hearty, and not the least bit horsey, which is my least favorite trait in a salad.  Composed of kale, arugula, and bibb lettuce, all three greens were torn into perfect bite-size pieces, with different textures, although not competing.  The salad had some heft from brown rice; creaminess from avocado; chewiness from pepitas; mild, earthy sweetness from golden beets; and richness from creamy, white goat cheese.  The salad was beautiful to look at, with a wide palate of greens, punctuated by mellow yellows from the avocado and bibb lettuce, and white clumps of goat cheese.  My mom and I agreed that the rice was a touch undercooked, but still delicious.  The whole thing was balanced by a mild cumin-honey vinaigrette, that was both smoky and sweet, and only mildly acidic.  The salad was tossed lightly in the dressing; it didn’t get in the way, but tied everything together.  My only complaint about the experience is that the post-modern mess of décor was a little over the top, but it was a small price to pay for such delicious food.

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