Thursday, August 6, 2009

River’s Edge Grille is a Detroit secret worth discovering

The big plastic sign that once hung on the building’s façade was busted up and tucked out of sight. Heavy snow tore it from the building last winter. A guy on a ladder holding a paintbrush shook his head and smiled. “Can you believe that? They put a sign up that can’t handle snow! This is Michigan, man!”

With its signage temporarily displaced, the River’s Edge Grille relied on less visible means of announcing itself earlier this summer. I doubt that fact has anything to do with the bar referring to itself on its website as being “Detroit’s best-kept secret,” but it’s kind of a funny irony.

And beside, the website might be right.

Ten or 15 years ago it was no secret. The River Rock Café, which once occupied the same building on Franklin just east of the RenCen, was one of the most popular hangouts downtown. And for years before it was River Rock, McNarney’s Irish Pub was well-known place to eat and drink. River’s Edge isn’t there yet, but my guess is it will be.

So close to the Ren Cen you’ll hurt your neck looking up at the 72nd floor, River’s Edge is a nicely refurbished, three-room bar that’s definitely worth a taste. The bar & grill up front is finished with a mix of stained wood and old brick, and features the requisite ceiling-hung flat screens that bars are required these days. Both high-top and standard tables fill the space.

The back room looks more like a lounge, and on Fridays it hosts live music, typically from whatever cover band is on the schedule.

Be sure to stop by before summer fades away to check out the third room, the rooftop patio that gives a decent look toward the river. (Incidentally, during my lunch-time stop, I noticed steel-tip darts and a dartboard set up on the patio. I’ve got to believe those get put away at night.)

For more info: Stop by the River’s Edge Grille at 673 Franklin, call 313-393-3337, or visit