If you live in metro Detroit and have been watching channel two at around 2:30 a.m., you may have seen a commercial for a little local shrimp joint, 7 Mile Shrimp Palace. The commercial features a friendly, enthusiastic, welcoming voiceover describing what this palace of fried goods has to offer. What really makes it work is its low-budget aesthetic and the voices of children in the background repeatedly chanting, "7 Mile Shrimp is REAL good."
After seeing the commercial one sleepless night a few months ago, I suddenly remembered it out of the blue and found it on YouTube. After making it "go viral" in my office, my colleague Trevor and I decided we'd make the 16.5-mile trip to Detroit for lunch. We hoped we wouldn't go viral ourselves, and we didn't.
Long story short, 7 Mile Shrimp IS, indeed, real good.
I honestly had no idea what to expect from 7 Mile Shrimp Palace. On our journey there, we crossed paths with everything one does when travelling the perimeter of downtown Detroit: Horrible potholes, roads with undetermined numbers of lanes, abandoned rib shops, burned out traffic lights and scores of hand-painted signage. That's one thing I love about visiting the outskirts of Detroit -- Seeing the peeling works of sign painters past. Also impossible to ignore is the red and yellow color scheme that seems to be mandated by the Detroit Signage and Building Painting Style Guide.
7 Mile Shrimp Palace is not exempt from this motif. We entered the lobby, made our choices from the menu (1/2-pound shrimp baskets with fries and potato salad for $10.28 after tax) and ordered from in front of the bullet-proof glass. They fried our shrimp on-demand as we waited and soaked up the lobby's atmosphere.
A flat-screen TV, surrounded by depictions of fish and shrimp by a local artist, displayed a CSI-like show that depicted dead bodies covered in beetles. A glimpse behind the bullet-proof glass revealed rather sparse facilities. Behind the modest kitchen was a modest utility area, semi-masked by large beverage coolers with sodas and grape drink inside.
After a 10-minute wait, our orders were ready and dispensed to us through the bullet-proof glass carousel. We hightailed it to my car to rush back to the office, since there were no tables to dine upon in the restaurant lobby. As I navigated back toward the Southfield Freeway to save time, Trevor broke open his styrofoam box so we could feast on shrimp "hot and fresh out the kitchen."
The jumbo shrimp had a "beer batter" style coating. They were piping hot, light golden brown, and the perfect texture. I was later told by a friend that this style of batter is called Calabash for the town in North Carolina, "The Seafood Capital of the World." Sadly, I cannot verify this since I am known to dine at Red Lobster.
I can honestly say that this was the best fried shrimp I have ever had. The low-budget advertising got me in the door on kitsch value alone, but the shrimp will absolutely guarantee a return trip.