The Money Tree

I recently got into a conversation about the old days of downtown Detroit, and I am sure that it will not surprise my regular readers that eventually the topic of restaurants came up. We started to mention some of the restaurants that were on the top of everyone’s list back in the day, but they have not survived, which is a shame. One of the restaurants that came up, and it wasn’t by me, but I do remember dining there once was The Money Tree. The name was catchy, and it was on the main floor adjacent to a bank, in what was then known as the financial district of downtown, whether the district is still called that, I can not say, but back then it was a lively area. It was an era when business attire was still expected in the better restaurants, and that I do recall. It was a very modern and airy restaurant, quite different in appearance from most of the fine eateries of the day. There was a flautist and a guitarist furnishing background music the night I was there.

Ch Pape Clement 1970

The restaurant was very continental in its approach to dining, which to me means French cuisine. I remember wanting to try the escargots, but I went with a plate of assortment of pate instead. I really was not sure what I was eating, but I enjoyed it, especially the chicken liver, which I could identify, after all I was still a youth and just discovering what food could be. One of the specialties of the house was Braised Veal Sweetbreads in Madeira wine, but I was not that brave, and to be truthful, I still am not that brave. Everyone assures me that it is a wonderful entrée to enjoy, but it is just too far off the beaten track for me, even though I love Foie Gras, so go figure, and I have also enjoyed liver and kidney dishes, but the pancreas somehow is beyond my comfort level. Of course I did find a dish that I could enjoy, and it was a duck dish. The duck dish was different all the time, or at least that is how I recall it being stated on the menu, it was the Chef’s call each night, and since I only ate there once, I cannot state it as gospel. I just recall that I had the duck, prepared very well, and much to my happiness it was not a sweet dish that evening, which would have made me look for another dish. I guess I am still quirky about food, but a bit more open to trying something different at times.

MI The Money Tree Logo

That evening I guess I splurged a bit for the wine, but it was not that expensive for what it would be today, especially with today’s markups in the restaurant business. I had a bottle of Chateau Pape Clement 1970, a Grand Cru wine of Graves. It is the oldest winery in Bordeaux and its name is from the owner who was originally the Arch-Bishop of Bordeaux and later became the Pope, and I believe the same Pope, who created the new estate near Avignone which is known as Chateauneuf du Pape. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but they are also know for a white wine, and have in later years created secondary wines, to maintain the Grand Cru wine as something extraordinary.

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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2 Responses to The Money Tree

  1. Claude Davy says:

    One of my most fondest memories! I worked there as a young full eyed asst waiter , the management was incredible ! John Bumgarner who hired me, was so kind , giving, thoughtful! I needed a job badly during those times. I came in almost every other day looking for work.

    I almost gave up.. until one Saturday Evening, I walked in saying the same old line over and over.. ” Any work available? ” He smiled at me, and said okay kid, what size are you?

    I had no clue what he meant? He took me downstairs. showed me an assortment of Tuxedos! He found the right size for me and said.. Wear this! you have it on loan until you can afford your own.
    My role that night was small , yet very big, just to help out with the Bus staff , and fetch the coats.

    I received a $100 tip from one of the Ford Family members for simply opening the door, getting their coat and walking them to their car during a rainy day.

    The place was more than just an exciting place to work! We had News Anchors eat there, celebrities , etc the list goes on and on. Someone, more eloquent than myself should seriously write a book on the events there.

    I never had a chance to tell John Thank you for that opportunity that change my life path, because it did.. I join the Navy, and Later on worked proudly for the D.O.D For many years.

    I have eaten at some beautiful 4 star restaurants, in various city locations, yet not ONE comes to the Magic Environment and Staff of The Money Tree Restaurant!

    • Claude,
      Thank you for such a nice note. It is amazing how people find my notes about the famous restaurants that were Detroit. I really enjoyed your message, and you were very eloquent.
      – John

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