After two years and a more than a few fishing trips, chef Kate Williams will debut her first solo restaurant in Detroit. Here’s what to expect from the rising star.
“Dude, we caught 2,000 pounds of Asian carp last week,” says Kate Williams.
This is a Facebook message I received in late April from Williams, the chef who cut her teeth at Relae in Copenhagen, made her name at Republic Tavern in Detroit and is counting down the days (along with the rest of us) until she opens the doors officially next Wednesday for her first restaurant, Lady of the House in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.
And that message tells you a lot about Williams. This past spring, she ventured over to Peoria, Illinois, to meet a fisherman who specializes in catching the invasive species taking over the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.
“The carp are headed for the Great Lakes and can hatch up to 2 million eggs in their lifetime, so there’s a huge movement to get them in menus,” she says. “They are a pain since they’re hard to fillet, but they taste great, like cod. Just tender white fish.”
Williams toyed with confiting the carp to make the extra set of bones easier to take out, and now for Lady of the House, she’s transforming the notorious fish into a gribiche served with a chilled squash soup and nasturtium oil. That’s the Williams touch—taking what some might see as an obstacle and turning it into opportunity.
The restaurant took two years to open, and she used that dead time to pop up her restaurant around the country and bring a bit of Detroit wherever she went, like Detroit City Distillery gin made especially for her and stocked at the Lady of the House bar. After her first space fell through, the Detroit native took on an old Tigers bar, with its Irish bar design still intact, and made it the house.
With sherry and sake on tap and hearty mains, like lamb steaks with charred cucumber and crispy corn silk, this is the party you want to be invited to. And you'll find Williams there, exceptionally welcoming.
“It’s not like I’m the lady of the house, though,” she says. “It’s the idea of being taken care of. I became a chef because I wanted to be the ultimate hostess.”
Lady of the House, 1426 Bagley Ave, Detroit, MI; 313-818-0218