Bijou in Southfield, Michigan

I must be in the “way back machine” from my childhood, as I have been thinking of some of the old restaurants that used to cater to “foodies” before there was “foodies.”  I guess I just happened to discover wine and food at the right time, before it became an arm and a leg to go out on a date, even though it was still expensive as a student, but I guess a good time was worth an extravagance now and then.  There used to be a restaurant called Bijou and it was rather campy even then.  There was a neon nude depicted over the bar, and there were move star portraits on the walls.  After all, when you are called the Bijou what else would the theme be?

 Ruinart Pere & Fils Brut NV

I remember having an avocado and crabmeat appetizer, and this may have been the start of my favoring this, at the time, exotic green plant, which was far out of the realm of my customary dishes.  The other dish I remember having there was a chicken dish, but it was served with a Champagne Sauce with grapes.  Now up to that time, I had been raised on roasted chicken, barbequed chicken and even boiled chicken (when there was chicken soup being made);  so when I saw this dish, it intrigued me and I had to forgo my customary red meat entrée that I was so accustomed to.  Even though I thought I was adventurous, I discovered afterwards that I thought this dish was a little sweeter then I had anticipated, but when I had limited knowledge of food that is to be expected at times.

 MI Bijou MB

I also had a bottle of Champagne for dinner, as I thought it was the proper wine to go with the entrée.  The bottle that I had was a non-vintage Ruinart Pere & Fils from Reims in the Champagne district.  Legend has it, that it was the first actual Champagne house though it was originally in Epernay and then they moved to Reims.  Their classic brut wine is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes.  I have often read and heard that the public likes a “Brut” designation, but the houses make it a little sweeter especially for their classic non-vintage wines that they try to maintain a “taste” year after year after year.  Whether this is true or not, it makes a great conversation while having a flute of Champagne, or maybe more.

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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15 Responses to Bijou in Southfield, Michigan

  1. Erin says:

    I’m curious if Bijou relocated or if there’s another restaurant that is similar that you might suggest. Thank you for your time! – erin

    • Erin,
      Thank you for stopping by. To the best of my knowledge Bijou has not relocated, but there are so many restaurants in the area, that offer fine dining, that I would suggest trying some of the other ones in the area. I am always partial to the Beverly Hills Grill, that you might want to try.
      – John

  2. Flora Goldfarb says:

    Bijou was one of my favorites in the 1980’s. My favorites on the menu were the Abalone and the Shrimp Pernod made table side by the Maitre’d. Wish I could remember his name. Perhaps you remember.

  3. Ms. Goldfarb, someone on my Facebook page offered the following information: You asked about the owner of the Bijou Restaurant in Southfield MI
    It was Walter Maider, wife: Patty, once one of the staff. My last name spelling may be off. Hopefully, another devoted patron will have the details.
    My wife and I took Walter and Patty to Chicago to dine in some of the renown restaurants at that time. That was about 30 years ago.
    Delightful dining experience.

  4. Donald Zalewski says:

    I worked there in the early 80″s under Chef Rene. Great place to work and eat. My favorite was the New Zealand Red Deer! I am trying to remember the name fo the Maitre D and all I can come up with is Jimmy. ANd I don’t think that is correct.

    • Donald, I am sorry that I cannot help you with your request. Thank you for stopping by and it was a most enjoyable restaurant.

      • Jackie says:

        Chef Rene Mouttet was my father. He passed away December 24, 2015. Walter Meader (also deceased) was the owner. Rene and Walter met in California in the early 1960’s and became great friends (both were born and raised in Switzerland). You might be thinking of Jimmy Pappas ( Papadopoulos). I worked at the Bijou through high school and college vacations as a prep cook. I was just telling my husband what an amazing dining experience it was back in the day.

      • Jackie, thank you for your updates and my condolences for your Father. I am so glad to be able to remember the dining in the Detroit area back in the day. – John

  5. Paul Colombo says:

    My name is Paul Colombo I was born and raised in Royal Oak Michigan. I went to the southeast locational educational school in 1972, worked at Mac us red fox 73 and the Swiss pastry shop in Royal Oak Michigan. My chef at Seovec along with my mother prodded me to go the culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park New York where I graduated 1974 thanks to them. My last semester I met a gentleman who was there taking layperson a course named James Thompson. He already owns numerous restaurants in Detroit and the suburbs Ann Arbor Michigan called bicycle Jim’s. Jim THOMPSON told me he was opening up this super high on Gourmet Jewish deli in Southfield Michigan. After spending time at the CIA he became enamored with the true art of culinary from the old world. He asked me to come help him open this brand new concept but now he wanted to make it a white tablecloth restaurant called the bijou named after the chain of movie houses in New York City. I excepted his offer of $13,000 a year which at the time was a decent salary. My first day at work was quite interesting whereas they were pouring the foundation to the restaurant. My job for the next six months was to make sure the carpenters plumbers etc. came to work on time I did the time cards for them. We finally started putting together a culinary team including another CIA alum name Chef Joe and then they hired Ausrtian executive chef Hines from trader VICS fame. Mike was the maître d’ and this was true classic European food. I have the original menus that I will share with you later. We opened New Year’s Night Jim Thompson said he was tired of waiting to open and now‘s the time and we said “really” New Year’s Eve? so we did. Customers were waiting at the door to come in and we were screwing together table tops in the dining room ripping apart boxes in the kitchen getting the pots and pans out. We survived as you always do and the crazy, wild, crazy food service industry. Also had the pleasure of working with the lead waitress Peggy Roche who became my sister-in-law. And I know the name of the maitre d’ was Jimmy who came to us from trader VICS along with Chef Hines. And we had an amazing Lebonese bartender he used to bring all the wonderful family dishes to eat like tabouli and kibi. Till next time, ciao

    • Paul, thank you for that delightful and interesting look at the background of the Bijou. I hope my article did justice and made you smile when you read it. Thank you, once again. – John

    • Fran Stocker says:

      Hello Paul, I just read your interesting article and I have been looking for the recipe for the captain salad which was celery and mushrooms. I cannot remember how to make the dressing. I used to eat lunch at the Bijou with my friend back in the ’80s on a weekly basis and our waiter was kind enough to give me the recipe. I lost it years ago and would so appreciate if you could help me. Thank You!

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