Carmel is unrecognizable from when I first set eyes on its barren streets and storefronts some twenty-odd years ago, and it's pleasing to see decent grub starting to appear alongside the galleries and boutiques.
The newest addition to the culinary roster is a pair of related eateries, Detour Grille and Taste of Sensu. The latter offers a pared-down version of its downtown Indianapolis menu, and will be covered here at another time.
Detour presents itself as a fun-filled bar and grill, family-friendly, with musical entertainment on the weekends. In short, a bit of something for everyone. The décor, in keeping with the general theme of the neighborhood, is safely respectable suburban loft chic, with some visible pipes and exposed brick, but nothing too radical or challenging to the eye.
The menu, quite lengthy for this kind of establishment, offers a broad range of dishes: part pub grub, part American-Mexican and a little Pacific Rim fusion. This eclectic approach is sure to net a good cross-section of locals, who can also choose whether to eat at the bar, in the ample dining room or, when weather and construction permit, in the substantial patio area.
Because of its eclectic nature, Detour doesn't feel like a real destination restaurant. Right now it gives the impression of being somewhere you stop when you're going somewhere else. Hence, I suppose, the name.
On a recent visit, my wife and I tried a few dishes from across the broad menu, starting with the excellent creamy spicy crab ($8.99): a generous portion of surprisingly briny, fresh-tasting and readily identifiable chunks of crab meat swimming in a generous portion of, well, creamy spicy sauce laced with scallions. Served with crisp crostini for mopping up, this was a delicious and abundant dish. Next was the rock shrimp tempura ($8.99), again fresh-tasting, the batter crisp, light and well-seasoned. Excellent.
Detour's friendly and enthusiastic staff makes a lot of their main signature dish, the Triple Bypass. Cynically, I believe the sole purpose of this dish is to get Man vs. Food's Adam Richman to pay another visit to the area. Essentially two pounds of Italian beef with all the garnish, there's a prize and professional counseling for anyone managing to finish in 45 minutes.
Not having the stomach for such a monster, we instead shared the regular Bypass ($11.99): a scaled down version served Chicago-style with hot giardiniera and beef jus on the side. Actually not quite Chicago-style, as the beef was moist but not soaking wet, with the consequence that the rather good Italian baguette could actually be delivered to the mouth manually rather than with the aid of a fork and spoon.
With twenty beers on tap, and an abundant cocktail menu, there's plenty to choose from in the drinks department.
Although quite pricey for bar and grill fare, you have to consider the neighborhood and your purpose for being there: to whit, spending money. While Detour doesn't justify a long drive, it is worth, well, a detour.
[Food+Drink] Dining Out