Max Hardy in kitche
Chef Max Hardy, owner of River Bistro Detroit and Master Chef

In the words of the great rapper and philosopher T.I., “I’m Back”! Yes, Detroit, your adopted son and official Airbnb Detroit tastemaker and food critic from Miami has returned and we went crazy in “deez Detroit streets,” discovering and highlighting incredible Black owned eateries over the span of four days!

Cookie Sandwich Chef Hardy
Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich 

Detroit is now my second home. Love the people, love the atmosphere, love the ingenuity, resiliency, and above all, I LOVE THE FOOD! Home to some of, if not the best African-American cuisine in the nation, it should be considered an international destination for any true lover of gastronomic excellence.

Johnathan at Chef Hardy
River Bistro African-American Table

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the current conversation about Detroit’s new food scene has left Black culinarians out in the cold. Back in August 2017, I worked on an award-winning piece with Detroit Hour Magazine titled “Unsudden Scene,” where we explored the invisibility of African-American chefs and restaurateurs left out of the mainstream conversation surrounding new culinary innovation and revival. The spotlight is focused solely on downtown’s food scene, which is overwhelmingly white, instead of the inner neighborhoods that embody the diversity of this amazing city which is the heart and soul of Detroit.

Ribs River Bistro
BBW Short Ribs ($16.95)

Thankfully, culinary warriors like Detroit born Chef Max Hardy recently opened a new eatery in the Rosedale Park neighborhood which, after dining there, I had to call Pastor White to cart me off from being slain in the spirit speaking in tongues and all.

River Bistro Detroit, located at 18456 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48223 – (313) 953-2225, was mad disrespectful to my damn diet. How the hell am I going to get this summer body with Chef Hardy in the kitchen carrying on like this?

Chef Hardy Cover Picture
The Hungry Black Man and Chef Max Hardy Outside River Bistro Detroit

Self-control was an impossibility once he marched out with our first order, The Bistro Burger ($10.50), served with avocado mayo, island slaw, pimento cheese and a side of plantain chips, could easily go for a cool million if I were a billionaire, but I’m not so I paid the $10.50. A celestial culinary creation, this 80/20 blend burger is responsible for Kim Jong-un halting his nuclear tests in North Korea. This burger is responsible for Marvel’s Black Panther’s worldwide success and promotion of Black culture. This burger was the meal eaten by Jesus before preaching his epic fisher of men sermon. Yes, this burger will one day cure disease. Father God, you know this is the burger every new saint entering heaven will receive as a home warming gift! THIS BURGER!!! GET THIS DAMN BURGER! BEST BURGER THUS FAR IN THE CITY! DEBATE ME!

Chef Hardy Burger
Million Dollar Burger

Moving along, this disrespectful ass chef decided to take on the Bahamians with his shrimp version of a conch fritter—Rock Shrimp Fritter ($10.95). It was fried to perfection with a delicious spice aioli served on the side that had unbelievable flavor with hints of garlic, scotch bonnet pepper heat and cilantro. Essentially, he f@cking won! This motherf@ckin fritter was fried to a consistency that would make any Bahamian Grandma proud. (I’m sorry for all the profanity, but Chef Hardy’s artisanal and cultural skill invoke such serious emotion that to express it accurately, you need to cuss. Keep me lifted if it’s bothering you.)

Shrimp Fritter Chef Hard
Shrimp Fritters

Next on this highway of deliciousness we move to a somewhat healthier side with Chef’s signature Fried Maple Brussel Sprouts ($4) bursting with both buttery and Italian cheesy, maplely goodness. I had them alongside our table’s Maple Glazed Salmon ($13.95) served with sautéed spinach and cilantro rice.  The Canadian-ish maple salmon would be expected at a Nova-Scotian swanky small-plates eatery with a crowd that uses cigarette holders to smoke blunts.  Fortunately, this amazing dish is seared right here in Detroit with skin on providing a welcomed crunch while trapping additional flavor underneath, creating a Zen-like experienced when you add just a little more sauce over the rice and eating the trio items as one spoonful of crisp, savory, healthy golly.

Brussle Sprouts Chef Hardy
Brussel Sprouts

Wrapping up what felt like a sinful epicurean excursion, I requested the homemade vanilla ice cream cookie sandwich ($5), which apparently was created by the spirits of ice cream men from around the world who came together to preserve their legacy. They then bestowed the recipe to Chef Hardy, who has concocted an ice cream sandwich worthy enough for Ben, Jerry and the Good Humor people to compete in a death match for the recipe.

Salmon Chef Hardy
Maple Galzed Salmon

I am blown away by this small, quaint, unassuming restaurant headed by this mad genius master chef! If you haven’t been, then you MUST! I beseech you to venture into culinary bliss and give Chef Hardy a visit. The place has cozy seating and a clear view of the busy front street so that you can be weird and people-watch while dining.

Curry Shrimp and Cilantro Rice River Bistro

I will be back very soon to try that meatloaf on the menu. If you get there before I do, please post @thehungryblackman and let us know what you think. Please give Chef Hardy a ring at (313) 953-2225 and ask about his private chef suppers that occur each weekend in a secret area in the restaurant. Yeah, I’m serious. There is a secret dining room. Yes, you are very welcome. No need to thank me. Just follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and drop your email below to subscribe to our amazing blog!

FOLLOW US @thehungryblackman

Written by thehungryblackman

Starex Smith is an accomplished and experienced public administrator, fundraiser, foodie, and culinary business developer who has committed himself to maximizing the Black experience in the United States! He currently serves as Vice President of Strategy and Development for Black Tech Week with over twelve (12) years of experience in managing public/private partnerships, large scale events, and nonprofits. He has successfully raised over 20 million dollars in funding for various governmental entities, food companies, and individuals. Starex has assisted countless food industry businesses successfully obtain funding, taking mom and pop storefronts to scalable businesses. His success in working with restaurants sparked a passion for food and entrepreneurship which led to the launching of Sothern Bytes, a teaching platform food business dedicated to an ever evolving food industry with a focus on technology, culture and innovation. Having constantly run into stereotyping negatively affecting his dining and vacationing experiences, Starex decided to curate great destinations, restaurants, and discuss issues surrounding being a hungry Black man. Starex completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s coursework in Public Administration at Florida International University where he served as president of the Black Student Union and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, Lambda Tau Chapter

7 comments

  1. If all goes according to Plan A, I will spend enough time, on my first-ever visit to Detroit, to focus on a few of these fine establishments. I can get White-man cuisine anywhere, and I remember from my youth, that Black-owned establishments rule!

    Like

  2. Speaking for the Blue-eyed Devil Community, I can give two thumbs up to the River Bistro as well as your review. We Yakubians also like tasty burgers, shrimp and devilishly delightful desserts.

    Moreover, even my Becky likes the River Bistro which makes our dining options an easy choice. Thus far we have visited a dozen times and have never left disappointed.

    The River Bistro is indeed a gem and a welcome addition to Detroit’s food scene.

    Finally, I liked your review. It was well-written and presented the reader a level of excitement to a new restaurant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear T.B.M.,

    Next time you venture to Detroit allow me to take you to some nice white-people restaurants. I will introduce you to some perennial favorites within the Tastebud-Challenged community.
    Mayo on really soft white bread.
    Trump-Orange mac n cheese.
    Tiny slices of cucumber on saltines.
    Pepsi Zero, no ice.
    Windmill cookies.

    You may leave hungry but it will give you an added appreciation for all of those foil covered plates your auntie makes you take home.

    Liked by 1 person

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