5561 Middlebelt, Garden City • 734.525.5231 • albertsonthealley.com
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday, noon-2 a.m.
Situated between Dearborn and Livonia, Garden City is often times forgotten, which makes Albert's existence there all the more impressive. Able to seat close to 500 people, Albert's is a huge place. From the bar to the game room to the VIP section, each area has its own personality, but the food remains constant throughout.
There's no denying the chef has a steakhouse background; decadent, buttery sauces, heavy on cheese and a menu slanted toward steaks. Yes, Albert's is a bar, but with Chef Darin Thompson at the helm, food is as important as anything else. Chef Thompson was the executive chef at Laffery's Steaks on the Hearth, a now defunct steakhouse that many metro Detroiters grew to love. "I'm going to use my culinary experience from Laffery's to bring new life to the kitchen at Albert's," says Thompson.
It may seem strange that a former fine dining chef is trying to recreate prior magic in a raucous bar setting, but Albert's is large enough that it has multiple identities. Albert's is quite literally divided into four or five areas, each area with its own distinct vibe. It is quite possible to enjoy a meal with the family while folks are partying at the bar.
With the menu Chef Thompson is serving, the food deserves your full attention. Start with the calamari. I know, I know ... not another calamari appetizer. Yes, this is a fried calamari dish, but there was something special about the white wine sauce: a velvety tartness that blankets salty, delicately crunchy calamari. Topped with capers, fresh tomatoes and scallions, this calamari is prepared well and tastes good.
Broad menus can be a kiss of death; too many choices usually means nothing is done particularly well. Luckily at Albert's, it's not unususal to have a steak one night and pizza the next.
With Thompson's background, you can bet the NY Strip steak is going to be a sight to behold. Thompson's background shines here as the steak is simultaneously crusty on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside. Cooking a steak is no easy feat, but Albert's has a winner.
Speaking of winners, can I interest you in a food challenge? Want to get your name immortalized on the "Wall of Flame?" All you have to do is consume 12 insanely hot chicken wings in 10 minutes. When I say insanely hot, I mean it. This is Thompson's housemade concoction of ghost peppers, habaneros, other chiles and hot sauces. I sampled one wing and felt the residual effects for at least 20 minutes after eating, but it was delicious. Only the brave should attempt this challenge – these wings are no joke.
Even though the menu has undergone a facelift since Thompson started, certain items remained, pizza being one of them. A typical problem "loaded" pizzas tend to have is that the sheer volume of toppings will usually cause the crust to collapse, leaving only a mere shadow of where a true crust should be. However, the loaded pizza at Albert's – with its seven toppings – passes the toppings test with flying colors. Crunchy and sturdy with a proper chew, this is a damn fine
pie. If you're hanging out late on Friday or Saturday nights, slices are $1 after 1 a.m – not a bad way to satisfy your late night food cravings.
Drink and food specials run throughout the week, as well. And while Garden City is a trek, Albert's on the Alley is well worth the gas money. With its unique fine dining meets bar food menu, you're bound to find at least one dish that impresses – maybe more. | RDW
Make Your Own ...
Amazing Steak Marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 gloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mix ingredients, coat steak and let marinate in refrigerator overnight (six hours minimum).