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Dinner and Dance for Ladies in Detroit

Published in The Battle Creek Enquirer 2/15/13

When the opportunity to attend a world-class dance performance presented itself, I excused my husband and gathered up three girlfriends to set out for an evening in Detroit.

With tickets secured at the Detroit Opera House for an evening with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the next task was to find a reasonable hotel room.

A few years ago, the Westin adapted the historic Book Cadillac into a terrific modern hotel. The rooms are extra-large, including an oversized marble bathroom. The queen beds are some of the best you’ll find in a chain hotel. We got a special winter rate, and it was just what was needed for our overnight.

What girlfriends’ outing is complete without a spa visit? A little Internet research turned up several options, including a spa at the hotel itself.After looking at the treatment offerings, the Woodhouse Day Spa was the choice. How can you turn down a red velvet manicure with hints of chocolate?

The Woodhouse was, as advertised, a tranquil oasis. My treatment included a salt scrub, soak and massage. More specifically, I enjoyed “a sea salt and rice bran oil scrub with a creamy scent.” A soak in a sweet cinnamon body oil was followed by a massage with the same oil. I was fully baked after the 80-minute treatment, and all with zero calories. How do they think up these treatments?

Thoroughly pampered, our next stop was dinner at a new Detroit restaurant, Rodin, next to The Detroit Institute of the Arts. Named after the famous 19th-century French artist, Auguste Rodin, the menu is twisted French chic with a distinctly Detroit vibe. Chef Kate Williams is a homegrown MSU grad with an impressive resume of high-end restaurants. She linked up with Torya Blanchard, who also owns Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes next door. The white tablecloths and black-clad servers at Rodin contrast with the poured concrete and massive green and silver striped columns.

Starting with a spiced bowl of popcorn (anchovy and chile), we followed with cauliflower beer soup and an unconventional fish and chips. Chunks of salmon were served in a small cast-iron skillet on a tasty bed of potatoes. The pommes frites — seasoned with salt, garlic powder, oregano, sugar and Parmesan — took me back to bistro fare in Paris. A nice French wine complemented the unusual menu.

The grand red velvet curtains at Rodin would have been perfectly at home at the Detroit Opera House. First opened in 1922 as one of the world’s largest movie houses, the Italian Renaissance-style theater now seats 2,700 people amid gilt, marble staircases, brass fixtures and chandeliers.

Seated in the orchestra pit only a few rows from the stage, it was almost like we were participating in the fabulous Dance Theatre of Harlem performance. In March, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater will be on the stage and worth a return visit.

Not yet finished with our evening out, we stopped for a nightcap at The Sugar House, a trendy but comfortable Detroit establishment. The walls were adorned with large heads of various big game animals, and the long wooden bar completed the décor. Given the weather outside, it was a perfect time for a hot toddy from their winter drinks menu.

All good things must end, and our night on the town ended with a good night’s sleep and a quick breakfast at the Westin’s restaurant.

Great conversation, terrific food and drink, and a dose of world-class dance made our 24-hour outing feel much longer.

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