Off the beaten path, away from the sports bars of Foxtown and the expensive drafts inside Ford Field, way away in Corktown on Bagley Avenue, you'll find St. Cece's Pub. Outfitted with doors taken from a Catholic church, cobbled floors, stained glass, suits of armor, dark wood, and long, heavy tables, it's dim inside (ladies, you might need a flashlight in the powder room) and you'll rarely find a crowd, let alone a single, rowdy, face-painted Lions fan.
There are a couple of TVs behind the bar, although you'll really have to look for them. Usually, they're turned off, though on Sunday mornings they play cartoons during brunch — and once the game comes on, they switch over to the channel, but this isn't the sort of place you go to watch the game, or cartoons, or TV at all.
Unique in its aesthetic, St. Cece's is also unusual in that its menu is focused on whole foods, fresh ingredients, and mindful recipes that are inclusive of people with food allergies and those who adhere to special diets. Some of our favorites include a vegetarian stir fry that comes with quinoa, a Reuben piled mile-high with corned beef, and an enormous burger served on a house-made brioche bun. Ingredients are locally procured, and most items are made from scratch right inside the kitchen.
St. Cece's isn't inexpensive. A cocktail will cost you at least $7, and some are as much as $12, but they're markedly better than your average rum and Coke and usually come in an appropriate glass, which is generally enough to make us happy. Our favorite is the Alexander Hamilton, a simple palliative made of whiskey and grapefruit juice, and their other alcoholic offerings include an absinthe cocktail, as well as Le Petite Nain Rouge, which includes gin, sloe gin, hibiscus gin, and simple syrup. They had us at gin.
A small but fine selection of draft beers are available here, including local brews from Griffin Claw, Blake's Hard Cider, and Founders. Among the liquor bottles we saw Two James Grass Widow, Hendrick's Gin, and Buffalo Trace, and no one turned up a nose, booed, hissed, or gasped in horror when we ordered a simple gin and tonic.
The waitstaff is smiley and the sort of people who offer up information without being asked. After merely glancing around at the art on the walls, the bartender informed us that a recent art show was held inside the pub and raised money for a nonprofit that helps fund art programs in schools with budget constraints. Though the show is over, some pieces are still available for purchase, including a Lee DeVito original.
Out back, patrons will find a patio with a small putting green, some seating, and a place for those people who still haven't quit smoking. While St. Cece's interior is dark, offering a respite from sunny, end-of-summer days, the patio allows guests to enjoy the fleeting warmth of the season along with all the comforts this pub has to offer. mt