This former Detroit Fire Department headquarters now houses a five-story, 100 bedroom boutique hotel and a food and beverage operation that is one of the brighter stars in Detroit's firmament.
The Apparatus Room! Who would name a restaurant that? Lead by Michelin-star chef Thomas Lents, Lents is a local Michigan lad that’s fronted some high-profile gigs throughout the US and has now come home to be part of Detroit's cultural and culinary renaissance. Outside it's a fire station! Inside you find a wide, airy space wide enough for several sturdy appliances and a hundred hungry fire fighters. The kitchen zone, partly open certainly to view is where the firemen used to prepare their food on watch, although I doubt if it was ever as fancy as this.
The entire space still has a utilitarian cleanliness befitting its former occupation, white tiles that you could hose down with simple black skirtings. At its center is a curved bar bejeweled from above with molten glass bulbs.
We chose the chef’s tasting menu letting them know about my intolerance of all things wheat and chef navigated around that with consummate ease.
The food was fantastic and wave after wave kept us elated. Our main server was kind enough to draft all the dishes on four sheets of his waiter's notepad and I'll transcribe that sometime soon but therein perhaps was the rub. If we'd only got as far as sheet two, we would have been well satisfied. Sheet three and four were simply superfluous. I eat regularly in fine restaurants as you know and a Chef's Tasting Menu is a great way to go but they are always small portions. I hate to sound but this didn't have the balance. Suffice to say, Renee and I met the next day to report we'd both not slept well . I have no control over these things.
Meat the 'Beattles'
During our dinner conversation, Renee told me that her uncle actually pressed the records for Motown at his American Record Pressing Company in Owasso, Michigan which is a good few miles northwest of Detroit. She added she still had some of the original pressings without labels on them so wasn’t sure what the recordings were of. I reckoned they might be worth something just because they came from that era, that recording company and her uncle's factory which pressed the first American releases for the Beatles such as a single release of "Please Please Me" with the name 'The Beattles' misspelled on the label. Of course, these are now extremely valuable collector’s items. The 45 rpm single of 'Please Please Me' was pressed in Owasso on February 25, 1963, nearly a year before The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1972 a fire destroyed the American Record Pressing building.
The firemen were probably too busy tucking into some great grub down here in the Apparatus Room.