My dinner club that has been around since the late 1800’s has had many changes over the years. If you look at the founders of the club, you will notice that they were business titans, politicians and from families that still have streets named in the honor in Detroit. At Detroit 300, the club was recognized as one of the oldest societies still functioning in Detroit. Membership has always been limited to forty-four members and originally the meetings were held twice a month; and a member was the host at his home for dinner and drinks; then he enjoyed the hospitality of the other member’s homes during the rest of the course of meetings. It changed venues during the Depression when people stopped having dining rooms large enough for the group; the meetings were held at different residential hotels that had dining facilities or at some of the private clubs in the city. Eventually with members moving to the suburbs, the meetings were held at restaurants and three members were the hosts for the meeting. That is how it was when I joined in 1989.
Nowadays, the hardest thing to find is a restaurant that has a private room, that has become passe. We started our “Summer Attire” rules, which is no neckwear and sport coats and blazers are optional. We were meeting at one of our tried-and-true restaurants Rocky’s of Northville, which began life as Northville Charlie’s. The restaurant as per our tradition offered three choices of an entrée; Broiled Salmon, Chicken Piccata or a New York Strip Steak. All the meals began with a Rocky’s Salad with dried cherries and a Maple Vinaigrette and some great fresh baked dinner rolls (which was one of the hallmarks of the old Charlie Muer restaurants). The meetings always end with a Chocolate Sundae, though here we have Hot Fudge.
Another change in the club, besides the recently installed “Summer Attire” is that drinks are Dutch Treat, whereas for years it was the host’s responsibility. The only good thing is that I no longer have to drink “well drinks” or “wine by the glass.” Usually, another member and I will just buy a bottle, which is two good pours each and much better compared to what is offered by the glass. We were glad to see that Celani Family Vineyards Robusto Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley 2019 was back on the wine list. Tom Celani is famed for his philanthropic donations in the Detroit area, before he moved to Napa Valley and bought an Italian villa, though he still maintains his Detroit ties and still raises money for charities. While the wine is listed as Proprietary, Tom explained at a tasting that it is pure Merlot, and the winery is very partial to new French Oak. The wine has a nice rich color with notes of red fruits. On the palate the fruit is forward, but not jammy and it is excellent to drink young, very chewy, soft tannins and a nice lingering finish. As soon as the entrées were served, the restaurant lost all its power, as well as the neighboring areas of the city. We had no desserts, and the poor waitress, had to write out every bill on paper receipts and she was hoping that everyone was paying in cash. The dinner was delicious as ever, just very abbreviated, but it was still good to see all the members.