When is the last time that you were greeted at the door of a restaurant with a huge bowl of matches? Most restaurants don't do that anymore, but Mario's does. It's that kind of restaurant that seems do be frozen in time in the 1960's, a place that could be the setting of a mafia movie or an old supper club. We ate here on Friday night before our monthly concert with the Detroit Symphony. I can remember hearing about Mario's as being a very classy restaurant back in the 70's, but this was my first visit.
The atmosphere here is a faded elegance - definitely what was considered fancy way back when with the mirrors and fabric on the wall, sparkly lighting, and Italianish accents. Things look a bit worn around the edges which I guess adds to it's quirky charm. This isn't a place that has tried to create that effect, I think they just haven't updated in a while. I was a bit annoyed with required coat check (ok, why would insurance require coats to be checked, I'd like to know!) and an attendant in the restroom that hands you a paper towel (and guilts you into tipping). But the wait staff was attentive and nicely dressed in black tie and the table set with real linens. Although not full, it was busy - Mario's is popular with people who attend events downtown because of their shuttle service.
The menu had a lot of variety and most of the pasta and chicken entrees were about 20 dollars. This is quite reasonable because the price includes multiple courses. The meal starts with an antipasto plate that had salami, shrimp, olives, peppers, tapenade, green onions, celery, and beets. The bread basket was filled with crusty white bread and bread sticks. Second course was a salad that had a very tangy Italian dressing. Then we had onion soup - it wasn't covered with melted cheese but it was thick and had a nice rich flavor. Then came a small plate of pasta with tomato sauce - nothing special.
My friends had Chicken Mario and a canneloni plate. I had Chicken Francaise which was chicken with a white wine sauce with mushrooms and green onions. Very nice. It came served with green beans that were cooked perfectly and roasted potatoes that had a wonderful golden crust. Actually, I think the vegetables were my favorite part of the meal, isn't that strange?
When the waiter was boxing up our leftovers, it dawned on me, "I should have taken pictures for the blog." Alas, too late, so below is a picture of my leftovers before I ate them for supper tonight. (Yes, there is chicken under the mushrooms!)