- 2030 Park, Detroit, MI, 48226
- Overall User Rating:
- (13 ratings)
- 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Tue.-Fri., 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-midnight Sun.
- Official Web Site:
There is no wonder that when Detroiters envision their city in a distant era they think of Cliff Bell's located on Park Avenue near the corner of Elizabeth. With its swanky, dim-lit and dark-wooded atmosphere, the spacious club represents the epitome of a jazz club, not to mention the staff wears retro-style clothes.
Since Cliff Bells re-opened in February of 2006, it has been known as a premier jazz club that defies some of the normal jazz club standards -- no drink minimums, good sound and a large stage with a quality piano. But its large space was missing something. The club needed something else to occupy the jazz listener’s time besides well, jazz of course, and well-made cocktails.
So it was only natural that this January the owners of Cliff Bell's decided to add food to their repertoire. This was no small undertaking. A kitchen was built in the building’s basement and Executive Chef Matt Baldridge, formerly of the Rattlesnake Club, was hired to develop a menu and take the reins of the kitchen.
The buzz has been consistent, many people around town saying, “Wow, did you hear that Cliff Bell's has food now?” Food was the missing variable in Cliff Bell’s jazz club equation.
The restaurant side of the business works for numerous reasons. The first and most important is that the food is made to order from fresh ingredients, plain and simple. All too often, when a bar adds food to their menu it simply adds a freezer and a deep-fryer.
Cliff Bell's went the other route and wagered that their intellectual jazz clientele was probably just as conscious about what fills their mouths as what fills their ears.
The other reason for the new menu’s success is its versatility. The tapas-style smaller plate menu can easily transition from a quick snack to a full dinner depending on what the customer wants. Some people hang out for a drink and a plate of hand-cut fries and others hang out all-night constantly ordering food. The menu does a good job of catering to both kinds of customers.
It also appeals to late-night snackers, as the kitchen is open until midnight during the week and 1:30 a.m. on weekends.
Recently, we stopped into Cliff Bells to see what all the hype was about.
Chef Baldridge started us off with a melt-in-your mouth barbequed braised short rib served on a cast iron corn cake with roasted corn. The dish was hearty while still adhering to summer barbeque style.
The wine list is filled with inexpensive and interesting offerings and will soon be amped up to match the food menu. There are 13 beers on tap and 50 in bottles and a well-crafted cocktail menu with skilled bartenders makes Cliff Bell's one of the best bars in the city.