CADIEUX CAFE: Flex Those Mussels
It is rare that simply walking through a door sends you back into history, but set one foot into the Cadieux Cafe and tell me there isn't something special going on. From the classic rec room décor to the sepia-toned photos on the wall, this place is steeped in history.
Owned and operated by Paul and Ron Devos (2nd and 3rd generation respectively), Cadieux Cafe has been owned by the Devos family since 1962 when Yvonne and Bob Devos purchased the cafe and bestowed its signature Belgian influence upon it.
"In the 1960s, there was a huge Belgian population around here," says Ron Devos. Before the Devoses took over, feather bowling had already been a huge part of the experience. With roots in Flanders, Belgium, feather is truly Belgian game. Cadieux Cafe boasts the only true feather bowling court in North America. "Our Thursday men's league has been active for 78 years," says Devos.
Belgian-inspired cuisine has been a part of Cadieux Cafe since around 1962. Mussels, their most famous dish, were a Friday-only special during the 1960s. "[Mussels] caught on really well. We made them an everyday option in the seventies," says Devos. Even forty years later, mussels are still a relatively unique menu item. Cadieux Cafe serves close to 10 different varieties of mussels from appetizers to entrees.
The most popular mussels entree is Forte Dei Marmi, or mussels in white wine, garlic and olive oil. I'm not kidding when I say the amount of mussels included in an order is almost incomprehensible. Two large metal mixing bowls are brought to the table – one full of mussels and another empty for empty mussel shells.
It was difficult photographing this dish because of its intoxicatingly fragrant aroma. Garlic punches you in the nose followed by a delicate mustiness, similar to a lake or the ocean. However, mussels taste much more nuanced then they smell. Mussels are somewhat sweet, but take on the pungentness of garlic and tangy savoriness of white wine quite well. One order of mussels is easily enough to share. On Mondays, Mussel Madness means all you can eat mussels for only $14.95.
Of course, mussels alone do not make a meal. Cadieux Cafe is known for a couple starchy sides – spinach mashed potatoes and pomfrites. Spinach mashed potatoes are a Belgian specialty, but I did not sample them, rather I was offered a heaping pile of pomfrites.
Unlike typical French fries, pomfrites are double fried. This technique makes for an especially crisp outside with a fluffy, creamy inside. Served with a side of house made spicy mayo, pomfrites are an ideal textural companion to mussels.
Given that Cadieux Cafe is serving Belgian cuisine, it makes sense that they would stock a whole bunch of Belgian beer, too. "Our Belgian beer selection changes periodically," says Devos, "but all of the big hitters are always in stock. We have Stella [Artois] on tap, Duvel, and Chimay." Pitchers are $8 Monday through Thursday after 10 p.m. A pitcher of Stella for $8 is cool, but paired with a bowl of mussels, well, that's like heaven on Cadieux. | RDW
4300 Cadieux Rd., Detroit 313.882.8560 • cadieuxcafe.com
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 4 p.m.- 11p.m.; Friday/Saturday, 4 p.m.-midnight; bar open 'til 2 a.m. daily, late-night menu served 'til 1:30 a.m.