Detroit's 2015 Eater Awards Winners

By: Brenna Houck

Restaurant of the Year: Republic

A long-awaited opening, Republic lived up to and transcended the buzz. Despite an unexpected chef shuffle, the restaurant’s exceptional team managed to maintain strong service and food that speaks to both the quality and creativity of the city’s growing restaurant scene.

Chef of the Year: Sarah Welch

It can prove challenging to follow in the footsteps of a predecessor whose name is so closely entwined with two restaurants — even more difficult to define your own style as a chef while maintaining continuity between past and present. But Sarah Welch has accomplished just that, moving from sous chef to executive chef last spring. She continues to produce an exceptional nose-to-tail eating experience at Republic and doesn't shy away from introducing personal touches like her family’s recipe for pepper bread. In Republic’s sister restaurant Parks and Rec, Welch further expressed her point-of-view in the kitchen by delivering a chef-driven menu in a laidback diner.

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Bartender of the Year: Rudy Leon

As part of Selden Standard’s outstanding team, bar manager Rudy Leon helped define the relaxed yet refined ethos that describes the restaurants appeal. Leon’s style airs of the side of simplicity, but incorporates house-made bitters and infusions with newer liqueurs for an elevated cocktail experience.

Best New Bakery: Sister Pie

Eater Young Guns winner Lisa Ludwinski’s charming little West Village bakery produces divine pies, cookies, and other pastries, that could easily contend with some of the best shops in the country and they do it with style.

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So Hot Right Now: Batch Brewing

After two years of teasing Detroiters, Batch Brewing Company debuted its nanobrewery concept last winter in Corktown and people can’t seem to get enough. From the rotating selection of beer to chef Matt Johnson’s enticing, yet approachable menu, Batch was well worth the wait.

Stone Cold Stunner: Republic

Mindfield’s renovations of the G.A.R. Castle returned one of downtown’s stunning pieces of architecture into a worthy dining destination. Republic’s design pays homage to the building’s past without being chained to it. Designer Peter Gurski’s flair for set design shines through in jewel-toned seating and antique mirror wall, while artist Greg Siff’s expressive painting brings the restaurant firmly into the present.