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Originally Published: September 29, 2011 2:24 PM  Modified: September 29, 2011 2:58 PM

A first look at Joe Muer Seafood, and a chat with Joe Vicari

 

Joe Vicari and Joe Muer spared no expense in the build-out of the new Joe Muer Seafood.

The 3-day-old restaurant is a throwback to another era but is not kitschy.

Everything from the black-and-white marble floor, to the signature warp-around bar with its deep red-velvet seats and dark leather booths, to the soon-to-be-painted-lobster-red baby grand piano oozes opulence.

Large black-and-white photos from the glory days hang proudly on the wall alongside oil paintings of Joe Muer Sr. chomping on a fat cigar and of other icons from Detroit's better days.

There are two private dining areas, outfitted with audio and video equipment for work-related events, perfect for off-site meetings. Next to the kitchen are two glass-enclosed areas called the chef's tables, where guests can have the executive chef specially prepare off-menu meals.

Above the raw bar is the famous chalkboard, complete with the day's daily variety of raw oysters and fresh fish, flown in five days a week.

The vast but approachable menu is filled with familiar items like lobster macaroni and cheese and Oysters Rockefeller and some Joe Muer originals like Dover sole a la Meuniere, Maryland crab-stuffed Atlantic flounder and char-grilled Hawaiian swordfish. Dinner entrées range from $22 to $49, while lunch entrée prices range from $19 to $32.

Servers clad in white tuxedos with red bowties hustled and bustled setting up tables and polishing the silver and making sure the wine glasses were spot-free.

The open kitchen was busy prepping for the evening's dinner service — which, Vicari admits, has been a little overwhelming.

Vicari brought in Andiamo corporate chef Jim Oppat to oversee the kitchen operations at Joe Muer Seafood. Oppat is also in charge of all of the Andiamo kitchens and those of Rojo Mexican Bistro and Brownie's on the Lake.

Vicari seemed upbeat and excited about the opening of the restaurant, the fourth opening for Warren-basedAndiamo Restaurant Group this year.

I have to admit, when I heard Joe Vicari was planning to take over the former Seldom Blues space to put in a 380-seat restaurant, I was skeptical it could succeed.

The restaurant seemed too large, too expensive, too … I don't know … grandiose.

I am from the Show-Me State, where seeing is believing. And after seeing the restaurant in action, I realized Vicari's vision.

 He and I sat down at the bar for a candid conversation about the opening of the restaurant and why he is bullish on the restaurant scene in metro Detroit.

Click here for the Joe Vicari interview


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