In the previous post, I mentioned that I have been dying to go to the Detroit Eastern Market for years. After our Detroit Restaurant Week experience, we decided that once and for all, we must head to Eastern Market. The alarm went off at 5 a.m. and I was up right away from the excitement. Food nerd, much? YES! We unearthed two beach bags to carry our bounty and we were off.
I could not believe the size of the market and the variety it offered. The top picture shows Grown-in-Detroit’s produce stand. Detroit’s economic woes are widely publicized, but what may not be well know is that many vacant lots have been turned into community gardens. These communities are getting access to fresh produce and these programs also bring employment to the area. I wish I knew more about all of the good things happening in Detroit, but I love hearing stories like this one.
We walked into the first building and vibrant greens, perogis, Granddad’s Iced Tea and flowers in lengthy rows caught our attention. The market has 5 large “sheds” or buildings full of fresh produce and flowers, but the market spills outside of these buildings and includes retail buildings that offer local meat, seafood, wine, nuts, cheese, pottery and antiques. It was overwhelming for us newbies. We took a wide-eyed walk around the market and decided to get breakfast before making our selections.
There’s a nice selection of restaurants surrounding the Eastern Market and after 10 minutes of online research, we decided to go to the Russell Street Deli. Both Mark Bittman and Garrison Keillor have dined there and that was more than enough recommendation for me. It isn’t very large and when the tables are full, you wait outside for the host to come get you.
Do you want to hear about how a lady was in front of the door (and in front of the sign explaining the wait outside thing)? We walked in after her and we approached the guy that was seating people and he very nicely say, “Oh, I think you jumped the line.” Marc and I simultaneously looked outside to see three couples waiting in a line. I swear there wasn’t a soul out there when we walked in. Swear! We went to the back of the line, laughed about the whole thing and were seated very quickly.
Russell Street Deli has rows of booths that line the one side of the narrow building while the kitchen takes up the left side. You’re seated next to other diners to fill all available space. A cozy and social spot. The area in front of the window opened up when it was our turn to sit down and we had a spacious area with dreamy natural light. We watched the line lengthen and dwindle while we ate and the mounted police trotted by. Pictures above taken by Marc.
The restaurant is not completely vegetarian or vegan, but they always offer dishes for those guests. I had a delicious scramble with spinach, cremini mushrooms and feta. There were so many toast options, but I went with the cinnamon raisin and it did not disappoint. Marc ordered a reuben and the Rhode Island chowder (a ladle each of Manhattan and New England chowder). The soup was straight-up amazing. It tasted so fresh and had a surprise hint of dill. In addition to their homemade soups, they also squeeze their own orange juice and serve homemade sausage.
Back to the market we went. We packed our bags with rhubarb, pea tendrils and tips, green garlic, green onions, baby bok choy, strawberries, naval oranges, Granddad’s sweet tea and two house plants. Everything was very reasonably priced (strawberries were the only thing more than $2!) and I think we paid more for breakfast than we did for all of our market items. A successful day.
I know it won’t be our last time at the Eastern Market. At the very least, we’ll have to make this an annual trip for fresh herbs to plant, beautiful flowers for our beds and as much produce as our bags will hold.