At Sapporo Ramen & Noodle Bar, chef and co-owner Patrick Rubley wants you to start with the hakata modern — a bowl of ramen in a gorgeous pork bone broth (tonkotsu) that takes 12-18 hours to simmer.
Two hours before dinner service commences, Cygnus 27 chef de cuisine Stephan VanHeulen has deftly inspected the kitchen, marveling at the diver scallops — gorgeous, pearly pink and way more substantial than anything you can buy at a supermarket; smelling the exhilarating earthiness of the fluffy hen-of-the-woods, royal trumpet and white beech mushrooms; and tasting the whipped root vegetable purée. But it’s the massive octopus with eight tentacles, a dangerously delicious beast, that stopped him in his tracks.
At French-trained pastry chef Susan VandenBerg’s kitchen table, she might present you with a petite dessert plate of raspberry pistachio tartlet, browned-butter almond cake crowned with Michigan blueberries and sliced almonds, and two delectable versions of buttery shortbread cookies — one lemon-pistachio-sesame, the other rosemary-pecan. The exquisite quartet captivates the senses at once.