Everyone should take the drive into from Detroit into Grosse Pointe Park at least once in their lives. The second you cross the border into Grosse Pointe Park, it’s like God flicked a light switch. Instantly, the slumped over people, the dirt, the grime, the emptiness, the buildings falling down – it all magically disappears, a bad dream. The world is again shiny and happy, the way it should be. Compared to most of Detroit’s east side, Grosse Pointe Park is heaven on earth, a kingdom on high. Nowhere else in Metro Detroit is the juxtaposition between the city and its suburbs more obvious.
And it’s within this context, a few short blocks from Detroit, that Greengos serves up its flexitarian fare in a tiny shop on Kercheval to ridiculously grateful customers. “The seasoning was perfect,” they say. “That was really, really good.” They can’t get enough of Greengos. On a Saturday the intimate diner quickly runs out of room, as one hippy disguised in a North Face after another piles in.
What, are they that sick of greasy, inexpensive coney dogs and $5 pizzas? You mean they’re actually willing to dish out almost $7 for a tiny salad with kale and cauliflower? Where are the grilled chicken cubes, for Christ’s sake? This is insanity!
You see, at Greengos, chefs Michell Danell and James Folden are all about fresh food made from scratch with quality local ingredients. Think raw portobello slices, avocado, and sunflower sprouts on raw flax bread; raw juice made from kale, celery, spinach, cilantro, lime, and ginger; carrots a deeper shade of orange than you ever thought possible. The portions may be modest, but the dietary benefits are irrefutably immense. Eat a meal at Greengos and any toxic substances lingering in your body are sure to beeline it straight to the nearest pore. A quick trip to the spa or sweat lodge afterward and the decades of alcohol and grease abuse will wash away and you, my child, will be reborn.
There are downsides to Greengos uncompromising approach, though. You’re gonna wait for your food, and a salad somehow takes them about as long to prepare as a sandwich. But – but – that’s because of all the love and affection they’re lavishing on your meal. They arrange their kale salad with the same level of care you’d expect from a florist. No grill marks are left amiss on your panini, and the cilantro chutney is always spread evenly. The bread is even homemade, I believe. I’d almost call it art.
None of that would matter, though, if the food didn’t taste good. Luckily, it does. The brie panini I ordered was, to quote Guy Feiri, “off the hook.” In fact, I could’ve seen him taking a huge, two-fisted bite out of the somewhat small sandwich and then asking his bewildered hosts Danell and Folden to pound it. “This is good. Oh, this is so good. The way the brie gets all creamy and mixes in with the honey mustard – aw, dude! And is this horseradish I’m tasting? Man! The caramelized onions and spinach are a nice touch; the grill marks on this homemade bread are killin’ it, too. Dude… dude. I mean it, you gotta pound it.
“No, seriously. It’s, like, not an option, man. Pound it!”
Well, that’s what I felt like inside, anyway. But instead I politely thanked the hardworking duo in back like everyone else. With service so attentive and food so thoughtful, you can’t help but say: “That was really, really good.” You’d be a jerk not to.
Now to be fair, sometimes the food can be a bit plain compared to the butter, butter, and – oh – more butter fare you get at the average restaurant, but look at it as an opportunity to really get to the soul of the ingredients. Sometimes, tofu by itself is enough. Appreciate it for what it is, another gift from good ol’ bountiful Mother Earth.
Sure, I guess you could call Danell and Folden health freaks, but hey, they just believe in the food.