PHOTOGRAPHY BYu00a0MARVIN SHAOUNI
When the restaurant Lady of the House, in Detroitu2019s buzzing Corktown neighborhood, was praised in the New York Times and subsequently nominated for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant earlier this year, the rest of the country learned what Detroiters had known since the place opened in September 2017: Chef Kate Williams is turning out some of the most inspiredu2014and, more importantly, deliciousu2014dishes in the country. One of the more sneakily game-changing menu items is the steak tartare and eggs, which she serves for brunch at her homey 60-seat restaurant.
Williams, who is Irish-American and says Lady of the House is Irish-inspired, nevertheless acknowledges other influences on the menu: u201cWe have a fun play on the classics, but some dishes are more experimental and from all over.u201d Count the tartare among those. Itu2019s to be expected, given Williamsu2019s background: She studied food science at Michigan State University, and then left for New York and the French Culinary Institute, before heading to Chicago and then back home to Detroit, stopping to cook in Copenhagen for a few months.
u201cIu2019d made tartare in a lot of restaurants throughout the years, and I really started to love it when I was in Copenhagen,u201d she says. u201cThe Danish have a really interesting take on raw meat.u201d (Think of Noma chef Renu00e9 Redzepiu2019s beef tartare with sour ants.)
For her own version, Williams soft boils eggs and marinates flat-iron steak (sourced in Michigan, like most of Lady of the Houseu2019s ingredients) before chopping it by hand along with herbs such as tarragon, parsley, and chives. Next, she spreads garlicky aioli on a slice of in-house baker Shelby Janischu2019s rye-sourdough, which she tops with the tartare and a perfectly runny-yolked egg. Pickled mustard seeds add texture, she says. u201cItu2019s almost syrupy and candied, but itu2019s pickled, so I like the bite of it and the contrast to the soft meat and crusty bread. Thereu2019s this pop in your mouth.u201d