If you go out to eat at Dearborn’s Bistro 222, please, don’t ask for ketchup.
Proprietor and chef Michael Chamas said he strives to serve dishes that need no additives—made with the freshest ingredients, and spiced to perfection. Clearly, he’s doing something right, because five years in, it’s difficult to get a table without reservations at the west downtown dinner spot.
It’s because of Bistro 222’s distinctiveness, Chamas says.
“Dearborn is a meat-and-potatoes kind of town,” he explains. “I wanted to try something unique.”
Chamas is not new to Dearborn, or to the restaurant scene. A native of the area, he spent time in California under the tutelage of Wolfgang Puck.
“He’s the one who encouraged me to open my own restaurant,” he shares.
Naturally, he listened.
Chamas started the popular lunch spot L.A. Express, which has now grown and is under different ownership as L.A. Bistro.
Bistro 222 still seats just around 50 people at intimate tables with a picture-window view of Michigan Avenue. The décor is natural, but classy. The scene is a mixture of business dinners, date nights and friends enjoying a night out. The clientele, Chamas says, dress casually—considering the upscale nature of the restaurant.
As Chamas puts it: “White tablecloths in Dearborn—it’s unheard of.”
But that’s what he loves about Dearborn—the mixture of tastes and cuisines, and the fact that Bistro 222 can shine as a “gem” of the city.
“We’re totally different than any restaurant on the strip,” he says of his location in west downtown. “It doesn’t have to be ‘Let’s go to Birmingham.’”
The cuisine is fresh and local, with vegetables from local growers and fish and meat brought in daily. It’s a combination of Mediterranean and Californian cuisines—a mixture of Chamas’ Lebanese heritage and west coast training.
But that’s the other thing: Chamas has no formal training as a chef. He laughs as he explains that it’s not an issue when you’ve been in the business for more than 25 years. Instead of relying on a piece of paper that calls him a chef, he strives to make his dishes exactly as customers want them, treating each as though he were dining on it himself.
And, Chamas adds, they truly stick to their motto at Bistro 222: Live, Love, Eat!
“That’s the key: You have to have the passion,” he explains. “If you don’t, I don’t care how many stars your restaurant has.”
Or if they serve ketchup.
Bistro 222 is open Monday-Saturday from 5-9:30 p.m. for dinner. Reservations are highly recommended, and can be made by calling 313-792-7500. Bistro 222 also validates parking.