...and I still think very, very highly of the place.
They just started lunch last week, and I had it in my head to make a special trip downtown to try it, since I haven't been there in quite some time. They've revamped the website, and the menus (and even pictures of many of the dishes!) are far easier to access and navigate. I looked at the picture of the BBQ braised beef short rib "sandwich" with roasted corn and jalapeno salsa, and knew that was what I was going to have. It was all of $9, *and* it was served with either pomme frites or their "simple salad". I chose the simple salad, and was glad that I did.
First, I've got to say that *anything* here that sounds like critiquing is very, *very* minor quibbling on my part...just trying to make it basically perfect, which nothing ever is. This was a great sandwich at (what I consider to be) an *outstanding* value, and I loved it. What a great sandwich/salad offering: you might as well consider it to be an open-faced sandwich (the picture is quite accurate of its look/presentation, in fact), and the bread happens to be a biscuit, which I wish would have been lighter/fluffier. Again: quibbling. It's not about the biscuit. Really.
There's just a ton of braised short rib on there for $9. Somewhere, Wes from Jacques' Tacos is screaming for what seems to him to be no apparent reason whatsoever. ;) It's lovely beef, fork tender (as it should be), and it's got a nice compliment in the fresh, obviously hand cut corn/jalapeno salsa, which I wished was just a bit heavier on the jalapeno (or at least its spiciness). The corn's great, but the salsa's taste is a bit overshadowed by the BBQ sauce.
Not that that's real problem, though, because I like the BBQ sauce served on the meat. I can't say whether or not the BBQ is made in house, but it very well could be. I liked it, anyway. The simple salad is, indeed, quite simple (various field greens, onion, sea salt and pepper, herb vinaigrette), but it works hand-in-hand with the BBQ beef to offset some of the sweet/salty taste of the sandwich with the bitter/sour taste of the field greens, vinegar and onion. It was a decidedly small salad, but again: I come back to the fact that the whole thing was $9, perfectly prepared, and honestly enough for two meals (yes I ate it all, but it was 2:30PM, and it was literally the first thing I'd eaten all day...), and something as insignificant as wishing the side salad was a bit bigger just comes off as ridiculous.
Service by the bartendress Katie was certainly up to snuff. My water glass was refilled at least a couple of times, and she was able to tell me that, yes, she had tried the sandwich I was ordering, and that I was making a good choice. I liked her, and next time if I'm not driving so far I might test out her ability to concoct a potent potable. She got tipped out at over 27%, which knowing me like you folks do, says something.
For my next lunch trip there (and yes: there will be a next time), the Roasted Berkshire Pork Shoulder Tartine with Pickles and Dijon sandwich ($10, again with the pomme frites or salad choice) will get the call, I'm pretty sure. And yes: there's a picture of this on their website, too. I'm excited about it.
So yes, folks, it's time to make your way back to Cliff Bell's. Going to a Tigers afternoon game? This is your destination for lunchtime grub. Still love that room, too...it's just such a uppercrust clubby feeling.