• December 12, 2018 | 38° F 50d Haze

'We Are Detroit,' a New Downtown Restaurant Boasts (Too Brashly?)

March 08, 2018, 3:15 PM by  Alan Stamm

We assume the pizza, pasta, chops, salmon, salads and other items will be easier to swallow than the preview hype from Asaysia, opening downtown next week between Harmonie Park and Greektown.


In a media release, at its site and on Facebook, the shared-plates tapas spot at 1452 Brush St. serves language as bubbly and gassy as sparkling San Pellegrino.

That won't matter if an appealing concept, ambiance and menu selections are created by owner-general manager Matt Palmer and executive chef Larry Middlebrooks. But until the March 15 opening, words and a few photos give the only preview tastes. 

Some descriptions seem overly seasoned. Others have clashing or confusing ingredients. Examples:

♦ Asaysia "celebrates the unique Detroit culture reflected through food and drink" and has "unique Detroit-made décor," says a nine-paragraph release issued Wednesday. (Seven food photos are appealing, though it's unclear how those dishes or others celebrate "the unique Detroit culture.")   

♦ The 150-seat restaurant offers "a casual, polished and relaxed atmosphere," says the handout, making us wonder how a nightspot has a casual, relaxed vibe while also being polished. (The polished part seems accurate, based on a description of "handmade stainless steel finishes throughout, quartz bar tops and onyx light fixtures." If that setting also is somehow laid-back, props for a magic mix.) 

Asaysia's "locally sourced, scratch-made pizza" makes us hungry, it's true. (Company photo)

♦ A suburban PR agency also tells journalists that Asaysia will be "serving locally sourced, scratch-made pizza," apparently to banish any thoughts that pizza will come from out-of-state, a vendor's freezer or a chain store.  

♦ "We are Detroit," says its About Us page -- a brash claim for any new business, even one that posts: "Founded in 2018 by local restaurateurs." 

♦ The same blurb says diners will "be greeted with the history and style of Detroit in a way that's not often seen around town." That refers to Pewabic Pottery tiles and vases, photos of local notables and reproduced scenes from "Detroit Industry" frescoes by Diego Rivera -- all of which actually can be seen around town.  

♦ Palmer, the owner-manager, talks in the release about "this authentic dining experience." We'll just leave that there.  

Aaron Foley warns about some of these pitfalls in Chapter 13 ("How to Do Business in Detroit") of his 2015 guidebook:

"Anyone opening a business should be aware that they'll meet with some resistance if they try to build a brand on the back of . . . the city's heritage in general, the charisma and mystique that makes this city what it is."

But hey, as noted at the start: What counts is what comes next week from the kitchen, bar and wine racks.

So if Asaysia (pronounced ah-SAY-jia) becomes a popular dining destination, we'll eat our words -- and try to get a table.

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