By Jenna Wos, Guest Writer
As I drive east down Ford Road, the morning sun illuminates the Detroit skyline. Never having been to the city on my own, I am a bit skeptical and nervous to be alone. However, when I arrive at my destination, I am pleasantly surprised by the inviting environment, just as any guest would be if they were to dine at Seva.
In 1973, the first Seva was opened in downtown Ann Arbor, on State Street, and has recently moved it’s location to Jackson Avenue on the city’s west side.
George N’Namdi, a University of Michigan Alumni, frequented Seva in Ann Arbor in his college days. Because he owns a building in midtown, he decided to open a Detroit location.
I meet with Manager, Michael Mikolowski, who offers me a cup of coffee as we sit outside. Round, black, metal tables with green umbrellas dot the patio. Along one side runs a wooden fence adorned with plants and on the other is the indigo building, the windows outlined in silver.
From my chair, I can see over Seva’s roof; a Wayne State building just blocks away. Also in the neighborhood is the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and the Detroit Medical Center.
“Thank God for walking traffic,” Mikolowski says and he notes that the hospital population is huge; employees, patients, and their loved ones, frequent the restaurant.
Being in the center of the art district, other regulars include artists who have ties to the community. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra also gives a lot of business, he adds.
At 11 a.m., the restaurant is officially open. Square, wooden tables with black chairs line the dining areas. Some walls are made of brick while the others are painted dark gray or lime green, both decorated with abstract paintings donated by N’Namdi. I pour myself another cup of coffee and sit down at the wooden bar as “Hang Me Up To Dry” by Cold War Kids plays on the radio.
Because Detroit has a strong art center, there is a good compliment between the intellectual climate and the mind, body, and soul. As a guest, one may not think to stop and talk with the staff or the customers. If they did, however, they would find out there is a lot of art and culture within the confines of this establishment.
Gary O’Connor is the custodian and dishwasher at restaurant, and although washing floors and silverware may seem mundane, his life and work are far from it. As a stand-up comedian, poet, and artist, he has lived in New York City and Los Angeles, and has very intriguing work to hear, read, and see.
Former employee and customer, Tyler “Darko”, is a photographer who attends Wayne State. He came to Detroit looking for opportunity and is working on the Grand River Creative Corridor project, which features over 100 murals on 15 buildings on Grand River Avenue.
I order Tofu California for breakfast, which is tofu scrambled with baby spinach, tomatoes, and green onions, topped with Daiya mozzarella and avocado, with roasted rosemary potatoes and multi-grain toast. With that, bartender Zack recommends apple-cucumber-carrot-grapefruit juice, an interesting yet delicious combination. I eat my cruelty-free breakfast to the sound of “New Slang” by The Shins.
The chefs are caring, knowledgeable and enjoy that they get to be inventive with recipes. N’Namdi likes that the restaurant “deals with making very creative dishes, not based on a meat substitute” and Mikolowski notes that the mess is quite a bit less, not having to deal with the shelf life of meat or fish.
Among the workers and owner, favored dishes include: Cilantro-Peanut Stir Fry, TLT (Tempeh, Lettuce, and Tomato), and Grilled Pesto Pizza Sandwich.
Offering a complete vegetarian menu with vegan options, a full bar, a fresh juice bar, and a casual atmosphere, Seva is an excellent choice when dining in Detroit. Not only will a guest get a taste of the humane, one-of-a-kind food, but also a taste of the unique culture, people, and environment.