372. Royale with Cheese – October 18, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018RoyalewithCheese1 (2)October2018RoyalewithCheese3 (2)October2018RoyalewithCheese2 (2)Last month, in between visiting Sfumato, a perfumery by day, and Castalia, its cocktail bar alter-ego, a friend and I hit up Royale with Cheese, a Midtown/Cass Corridor-based burger joint.

OMG, had I been eager to try this place! Photos of its beefy burgers exuberantly laden with sides had enticed me from its Yelp profile for months, so it was exciting to finally be immersed within the Royale with Cheese experience.

I got in line at the counter of the fast-casual restaurant and scoped out the overhead menu. I decided on the namesake burger, the Royale, with its pulled smoked brisket topped with cole slaw, avocado, caramelized onions, corn relish, a gouda fondue, and Royale sauce (how’s that for decadence?). I added a side of tater tots – because tots make my heart happy – and my friend and I paid for our food and found a seat in Royale’s dining area to await our orders’ arrival.

Admittedly, I thought the Royale was going to be a burger, with a traditional beef patty and pulled brisket loaded on top of that, so when ordering I’d asked if a cooking temperature was taken for the burger and gave my preferred doneness of medium. But while awaiting my order, I was approached by a kitchen staff member and asked whether I knew the Royale didn’t contain a beef patty – it was pure brisket – and whether I wanted to change my order upon knowing that information.

Whoops – apparently I’d been amiss in my interpretation of the menu. I was a little disappointed to realize I hadn’t ordered an actual burger but decided to stick with the namesake sandwich in the name of exploration – and also in gratitude to the staff member who’d come out to clarify things for me (why make his job harder by changing my order on the fly?).

The food came out promptly thereafter, and I wasn’t disappointed in my decision. Generously coated in rich barbecue sauce, the pulled brisket on the Royale was a tender, flavorful base for the other indulgent ingredients, specifically the creamy avocado and the gouda fondue. Mmm, mmm, mmm, MMM! The tater tots were irresistibly crispy, as well.

After relishing our meals and feeling satisfyingly full, my friend and I agreed that we needed to return to try Royale’s milkshakes. I am thinking the shakes with their house-made custard-ice-cream bases would be meals in themselves – and what sumptuous meals they would make with such flavor options as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Butter and Nutella, and Chocolate Espresso!

In addition to burgers, sandwiches, and shakes, Royale with Cheese offers salads, soup, and Bites, appetizer-esque snacks that threaten to rival the desserts and main courses in their richness: see the Fried Mac & Cheese and the Nacho Cheese Ravioli, the latter of which is described on Royale’s online menu as “handmade deep-fried Doritos Ravioli filled with Jalapeño Nacho Cheese, ‘New World’ Roasted Tomato Sauce.” Dang! Royale with Cheese is NOT messing around in the decadence department!

4163 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.royaledetroit.com

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371. Sfumato/Castalia – October 18, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018SfumatoCastalia1 (4)October2018SfumatoCastalia2 (2)October was a busy month of visits for me (11 in total!). And when I called upon a gorgeously-kept Victorian manse one Thursday evening in mid-October, I got two visits for the price of one via Sfumato/Castalia, a perfume shop by day and cocktail bar by night.

I’d stumbled across this unique establishment while searching online for naturally made perfumes sold in the area. I was in need of a new scent but wanting to veer away from traditionally-made perfumes with their oft-synthetic ingredients. Sfumato’s site popped up in my search results, and I was psyched to learn that a perfumery creating signature scents from plant-based ingredients resided right in Midtown.

According to Sfumato’s website, its scents are concocted from “trees, flowers, herbs, and spices.” This is evident when you step into its basement-level shop and sniff sample sticks of the eight perfume varieties currently for sale.

Four perfumes reside in Sfumato’s Signature collection, and four are deemed Black Label. An eight-milliliter bottle (dubbed the Travel size) of a Signature scent is $30; a Black Label variety in that size is $40. Sixty-millileter Standard size bottles run $90 and $120, respectively.

And then there are the perfume flights – the route I ended up taking. I couldn’t decide which of Sfumato’s scents I liked the best, so I decided to get to know the four Signature varieties (Epiphany, Gravitas, Siren Song, and Survival Instinct) better via the flight option, which proffers one-milliliter sample vials of each for $15 (the flight containing the four Black Label perfumes is $20).

Three and a half weeks after my visit to Sfumato, I’m down to the dregs of those four vials of Signature scents, and I’ve enjoyed the heck out of them. I find wearing the herbal, woodsy, citrusy, luxurious plant-based scents both soothing and exotic.

It’s a close call between Gravitas, Survival Instinct, and Epiphany as to which one is my favorite, but my snap-judgment verdict at the moment is that it’s Epiphany, with its aura poetically described on Sfumato’s website of “intense greenness with hints of dew-covered moss and life ready to step into the sunlight. An elegant party that always pleases, no matter who attends. The scent of myself, delivered divinity on a fresh spring day.” How can one not feel transformed by the wearing of a scent with a description such as that?

As the wearer feels transformed by the donning of Sfumato’s enchanting scents, so Sfumato itself transforms into something else entirely. In the evenings, starting at 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, its shop counter turns into a bar rail, and it becomes Castalia, the cocktail bar.

And as one might expect, Castalia is not your typical cocktail bar. Each of its signature alcoholic beverages have been inspired by one of Sfumato’s scents. When you order one, it’s served to you with a napkin sprayed with the scent that inspired the drink. You’re encouraged to sniff the napkin as you sip the drink to mingle the olfactory experience with the tasting experience. Non-alcoholic versions of each cocktail are also available.

I decided on the cocktail that paired with the Mocha Valentino Black Label perfume, the Cacao Manhattan, and savored the rich notes of chocolate, coffee, and spice in the whiskey-based drink as well as in the scent that accompanied it.

While as a perfume shop Sfumato’s tiny interior had been welcoming, I especially adored the environs as a bar. With its dusky lighting and stone walls, it was intimate and cozy; the bartenders were the consummate hosts, friendly and charming. What an ideal place to enjoy a warming cocktail and the rich scents that accompany it on a dreary winter’s evening (or any evening, really)!

3980 Second Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.sfumatofragrances.com

www.castaliacocktails.com

370. Crispelli’s – October 10, 2018 – Berkley, MI

October2018Crispellis1 (2)October2018Crispellis4 (2)October2018Crispellis3 (2)The pizza drew me to Crispelli’s of Berkley, but what captured my heart was its salad.

The heart-capturing was specifically carried out by Crispelli’s Mediterranean salad, with its wonderfully zesty lemon-oregano dressing and super-fresh-tasting ingredients: crisp mixed greens and cucumber; marinated red onion; vibrant beets; briny Kalamata olives; creamy chunks of feta; and crunchy toasted breadstick.

This Mediterranean salad is LIIIFFEEE, my friends. I got the side-salad version of it, which was hearty for its size; entrée and family-sized versions are also available. In my humble opinion, it would 100 percent not be a mistake to come to this pizzeria and order that salad as your entrée. And that’s saying a lot, because I love me some pizza.

And Crispelli’s, the local pizza purveyor with additional locations in Troy and West Bloomfield (and a bakery, Bread by Crispelli’s, in Royal Oak), is known for its pizza. It’s kind of a big deal around these parts, so it’s crazy to me that it took me over 4.5 years of blogging at 100 Places in the D to finally sample its wares. The Red Pie pizza I  ordered, with its chunks of fresh mozzarella, sausage, caramelized onion, and Detroit-style deep-dish crust (patrons are given a choice between that and thin crust), was good. But I’m telling ya, that salad!

Aesthetics-wise, I enjoyed the mish-mash of ambiance at the Berkley location of Crispelli’s. The front part is casual: an order-at-the-counter dining hall-type set up. The back area is fancier, with a bar and servers to attend to guests, and there are patio areas where you can receive sit-down service, as well. I enjoyed sitting on the front patio in what was presumably my last outdoor dining experience of the year (R.I.P. ’til 2019, patio season!).

28939 Woodward Ave.

Berkley, MI 48072

www.crispellis.com

369. Basement Burger Bar – October 7, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018BasementBurgerBar1 (2)October2018BasementBurgerBar4 (2)What do mac ‘n’ cheese bites, dried cranberries, peanut butter, and grilled pineapple have in common? They’re all burger toppings available at Basement Burger Bar in Detroit.

Recent celebrations of my birthday included a Sunday lunch with friends at the downtown-based location of the local restaurant chain. I’d wanted to dine at a place known for its great food and casual, pub-like atmosphere; Basement Burger Bar checked those boxes.

The interior of the Detroit location of Basement Burger Bar is certainly glossier than your typical basement. I’d call it industrial-chic-meets-laid-back-sports-bar. There are plenty of flat-screen TVs situated about so you can focus on the day’s sport offerings; the Lions played (and won!) while we were there, and the raucous cheering of football fans adjacent to us enhanced my enjoyment of the meal (their energy was infectious!).

The drink menu included plenty of Michigan-made craft beer offerings (including the Founders Rubaeus raspberry ale I enjoyed) as well as signature cocktails and a selection of wine. My main focus, however, was the food menu, which included loads of appetizers, entrée salads, and a few featured burgers. But the pièce de résistance dominating that menu was the build-your-own-burger section.

This custom-burger menu is the most extensive I have seen to date! Seven steps are involved in the crafting of your dream hamburger:

-Step 1: pick a patty. Basement Burger Bar is getting creative here, with more than just your standard ground-beef patty as an option. You can also choose from bison, American Kobe beef, poultry (turkey burger, grilled chicken breast, and breaded chicken tenders), pulled pork, and vegetarian options (falafel, black-bean patty, and portabella mushroom cap, respectively).

-Step 2: denote a burger cooking temperature, from rare to well.

-Step 3: select your bun. Brioche, nine-grain, pretzel, and gluten-free varieties are available (the latter two going for an extra charge), and you can choose to go no-bun (the menu says you’ll receive “extra veggies” with your burger if you do so).

-Step 4: opt for a sauce. One is free; each additional sauce costs 25 cents each. Most of the sauces (or “spreads,” as they’re referred to on the menu) are noted as homemade, including the hummus, basil pesto, and buttermilk ranch.

-Step 5: gather your toppings. The first five are free; each additional topping thereafter is 25 cents. Most of the toppings listed here are pretty standard – tomato, pickles, red onion, relish, for instance – but some, such as the carrot strings and aforementioned cranberries, caught my eye. A sub-category of this section is the premium toppings, which are each an additional designated charge. These are the truly delectable toppings: your homemade guacamole, hickory-smoked bacon, grilled pepperoni, Detroit-style chili, mozzarella sticks, Frickles (which I can only assume are fried pickles) . . ..

-Step 6: choose your cheese. No vegan cheese here; this is all straight-up dairy, from Gouda to feta, nacho cheese to Swiss.

-Step 7: designate your sides. Sides are an additional cost, but how can you resist the siren song of beer-battered fries, onion rings, and my personal favorite, tater tots? Side-salad and coleslaw are included in this section in case you are feeling virtuous – as are toppers of nacho cheese, chili, and what’s designated as “The Works” (sour cream, bacon, and onion) in case you are not (chili-cheese tots would be LIFE, wouldn’t they?).

With all of the decision-making involved in this burger design, it would’ve been easy to get overwhelmed as I filled out my menu card. But I decided to keep it relatively simple, not going overboard with the toppings. The result did not disappoint me.

Imagine a hefty ground-beef burger cooked to a juicy medium perfection and nestled within a pillowy brioche bun along with thick-cut red onion, juicy tomato, crunchy pickles, creamy guacamole, spicy ketchup, and jalapeño jack cheese, accompanied by irresistibly crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside tater tots. YUM, YUM, and more YUM: this burger was INCREDIBLE!

So while I didn’t opt for the zany factor while designing my burger at Basement Burger Bar – no peanut butter, carrot strings, or Frickles for me – I found its rendition of a pretty-much-classic cheeseburger (jazzed up with that spicy ketchup and guacamole) ideal as it was, and I enjoyed the heck out of it – as I did the relaxed ambiance and prompt service. This one is a keeper!

1326 Brush St.

Detroit, MI 48226

(With additional locations in Canton and Farmington)

www.basementburgerbar.com

368. Loui’s Pizza – October 6, 2018 – Hazel Park, MI

October2018Louis1 (2)October2018Louis2 (4)October2018Louis3 (3)Loui’s Pizza: I’m OBSESSED!!!!

The last-but-most-certainly-not-least of the five new places I visited on my 34th birthday, the Hazel Park-based pizzeria majorly exceeded my expectations, even dethroning Buddy’s Pizza as my favorite local pizza purveyor, which is a VERY BIG DEAL.

I actually feel sacrilegious saying I like Loui’s Pizza better than Buddy’s, because Buddy’s is a part of the family mythology on my mother’s side. My great-grandma made the sauce at the original, still-open location at Six Mile and Conant in Detroit. Buddy’s Pizza is sort of in our DNA – or at the very least, our go-to main course for family celebrations. But MAN, is Loui’s Pizza good!

The pizzeria was PACKED when my mom, stepdad, and I arrived around 7:30 on that rainy Saturday evening. Its cheery red interior felt homey and welcoming with its ceilings hung with twinkle lights and multitude of empty wine bottles signed by patrons; it vibrated with good energy. Loui’s cozy-retro confines felt like the warmth of a beloved grandparent’s hug: safe and secure and reassuring.

Our server was prompt and friendly. While we waited for our pizza, we shared an individual-sized antipasto salad. I’m generally not one for antipasto salads, but this one impressed me: it was fresh and flavorful, with chunks of ham in addition to the salami and a tasty dressing.

And then, it was the moment of truth: our pizza arrived. I bit into my first slice of sausage-and-onion-topped pie, and O.M.G.

Loui’s pizza may be the best pizza I have ever eaten; it’s certainly the best pizza I can recall eating. The cheese was rich, plentiful, and flavorful. The edges of the crust were crispy, greasy deliciousness. The bottom part of the crust was not super well-done, allowing us to taste its doughiness – which we enjoyed, because it was wonderful tasting. The sauce was not as plentiful as Buddy’s, and also not as strongly flavored, and we liked that.

We all agreed: this iteration of Detroit-style pizza was better than Buddy’s, however awkward that was to admit in the face of our family mythology (sorry, Buddy’s – we still love you!).

The gloriousness of Loui’s pizza continued for me with the two leftover slices I took home along with a portion of cheesy breadsticks my mom had ordered to-go because they’d taunted us from a nearby table. How good those were, too! They were loaded with that rich, flavorful cheese.

Two weeks later, I’m still dreaming of Loui’s and its epic pizza and breadsticks. I want to hole up within its cozy interior and get some of that cheesy, greasy, doughy perfection back into my belly!

Worth noting: Loui’s is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

23141 Dequindre Rd.

Hazel Park, MI 48030

367. Detroit RiverWalk / Cullen Plaza – October 6, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018DetroitRiverWalk2 (3)October2018DetroitRiverWalk4 (2)October2018DetroitRiverWalk1 (2)October2018DetroitRiverWalk6 (2)The Detroit RiverWalk + Cullen Plaza = I’m in LOVE!

Somehow I made it all the way to my 34th birthday without traversing the Detroit RiverWalk. It had been on my list of to-visits since the inception of 100 Places in the D in 2014. I’d walked the Windsor side of the Detroit River a number of years ago. I’d resolved to experience the Detroit side this summer . . . and summer came and went.

It was looking yet again like the Detroit RiverWalk would be relegated to the ever-elusive “next year.” And then Destiny intervened: an Eastern Market-themed cycling tour I’d signed up for through Wheelhouse Detroit started and ended at the bike shop’s Detroit location, which happened to be based along the riverfront in Cullen Plaza. The RiverWalk jaunt was HAPPENING! And it was happening on my birthday, which made it extra special.

What a treasure this slice of Detroit is! Until my visit, I had no idea just how gorgeous this area along the riverfront is, landscaped to feel like a natural oasis, a retreat from urban life.

This is one of those free public resources that begs to be used. And people were using it on the afternoon I was there: after furious bouts of rain throughout the morning, it had cleared up, and people of all ages were out walking, biking, chatting, playing, and enjoying the riverfront bounty. It was wonderful to see all of these folks mixing and mingling together, sharing this space.

Imagine the scene, one of gardens and benches and wild grasses waving in the wind; cyclists and scooters and dog walkers; families and elderly friends and pensive souls staring off across the water. See kiddos scrambling around inside a giant-sized sandbox, a captivating boardwalk carousel, display boards highlighting wildlife that call this area home.

And see the Detroit River, its majestic blue-green surface. I was surprised by how magnetizing I found its pull, how soothing its effect was on me. Maybe there’s something to be said for the school of thought touting the benefits of being around large bodies of water.

Not only does Cullen Plaza foster the above-mentioned splendor, it also offers these amenities: a playground; public restrooms; concession stands during warm-weather months (the carousel is also in operation during warm weather only, according to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy website); and the pièce de résistance: free lot parking.

And as mentioned, Cullen Plaza is home to the Wheelhouse Detroit bike shop – which in addition to offering guided tours, rents out bikes that can be ridden along the RiverWalk and elsewhere.

Try as I might here, the grandeur of the Detroit RiverWalk and Cullen Plaza can’t be adequately outlined in writing; both demand an in-person experience. Summer is the obvious time to visit the riverfront, but I’ll advocate for an autumn-time drop-in: the brooding beauty of the season is sure to provide a striking back-drop to the already stunning landscape.

1340 Atwater St.

Detroit, MI 48207

www.detroitriverfront.org/riverfront/east-riverfront/cullen-plaza

366. Rocky’s Historic Eastern Market – October 6, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018Rockys1 (2)October2018Rockys2 (2)During my recent birthday jaunt to Eastern Market via a bike tour with Wheelhouse Detroit, I made a first-time visit to Rocky’s Historic Eastern Market, a dry-goods store on Russell Street.

What an impressive assortment of goodies this place peddles! Certain items especially caught my eye:

-The wide assortment of nuts and nut butters, including the intriguing ghost-pepper peanuts and spicy peanut butter

-Locally-made goods such as Gus & Grey jams (an obsession of mine!)

-A bulk candy section brimming with chocolates and glossy hard candies in every color of the rainbow, delighting my inner six-year-old

-Ant Wafers. These are chocolate-covered confections crunchy with – you guessed it – real black ants(!).

I left Rocky’s with an item small enough to easily carry back with me on my bike: a jar of Gus & Grey’s Hubba! Hubba! raspberry-habanero jam. Those ghost-pepper peanuts still entice me, though!

2489 Russell St.

Detroit, MI 48207

365. Germack – October 6, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018Germack1 (2)October2018Germack3 (2)Surrendering to the experience at play brought about my visit to Germack last Saturday.

If you read my last post regarding my visit to Wheelhouse Detroit, you’ll know that Saturday was my birthday and the day I took a guided bike tour to Eastern Market during rain showers. During a hiatus in the tour where our group was allowed to explore Eastern Market on our own, I found myself wandering in a downpour with two hours on my hands and no umbrella.

What to do? I felt crabbiness at the situation start to settle in – then shrugged it off. Nope, I wasn’t doing the bad-mood thing – not on my birthday. “Surrender to the adventure” became my mantra.

The practice was at play then. After fortifying myself with some pierogis from the People’s Pierogi Collective stand at Eastern Market (and discovering that its Corned Beef and Swiss pierogis are LIFE), I surrendered to the adventure by wandering towards Germack’s Russell Street-based café and shop.

As you may already be aware, Germack is a Detroit-based purveyor of nuts, coffee, chocolates, dried fruits, and other dry goods. (When I think Germack, the Tigers-branded bags of roasted and salted shelled peanuts sold at Comerica Park always come to mind. So simple and yet so addictive!) According to its website, it’s also an O.G. of nut-roasting, declaring itself the “oldest roaster of pistachio nuts in the United States” (who knew?).

Aware of the company’s rich local history, I was pleased at the opportunity to visit Germack. Desire for a hot beverage and to scoot my soaked and bedraggled-looking personage away from the crowds was also a motivating factor.

The building’s interior is allocated for the coffee house on the left and the shop on the right, with no dividing wall in between. I didn’t browse the shop, but I know it sells nuts and coffee and chocolates and spices and coffee-brewing equipment and probably a myriad of other things. In that visit, I was focused on ordering a coffee, settling down, and drying off.

I ordered a cappuccino and felt extremely fortunate to nab the last open table in the bustling café. My cappuccino was brought to me, and it was boldly flavored and piping-hot. Initially disappointed that I had no book with me, I remembered the reading app on my phone and opened a writing about – interestingly enough – being relaxed about life to encourage a positive outcome.

The book’s stance could be dismissed as woo-woo, sure. But as I sat there reading it, sipping my cappuccino and enjoying the urban-rustic coziness of the Germack shop, I realized that my mood had become relaxed, present, pleasant. And that – miraculously! – the rain had alchemized into blue skies and sunshine. Surrendering to the adventure felt pretty good right about then.

2517 Russell St.

Detroit, MI 48207

www.germack.com

364. Wheelhouse Detroit – October 6, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018WheelhouseDetroit1 (3)October 6, 2018: a gnarly-weather day + my birthday + the day I visited Wheelhouse Detroit for the first time and took a guided tour with them.

I embrace the birthday warm-and-fuzzies wholeheartedly, because what better holiday exists than one where you get to celebrate being born/still being alive? I like to do special stuff on my birthday, and a bike tour with Wheelhouse Detroit remained undone on my 2018 bucket list, so I decided to book a spot on its Eastern Market-themed outing that landed on my birthday.

I knew when I booked the Saturday tour earlier in the week that I was taking a risk with the weather. Cue to one-and-a-half hours before the start of the event and me staring gaping-mouthed from my living room couch at the torrential downpour outdoors. Rut-roh.

I was tempted to scrap the whole thing, chucking the $50 I’d paid for the tour ($35 for the tour itself, $10 for a bike rental, plus fees) to stay planted on my couch reading a novel. But that wouldn’t be a birthday adventure, would it? I called Wheelhouse Detroit to confirm the noon tour was still on (it was – I was told they only cancel when extreme weather of the thunder-and-lightning variety is involved), and did my best to surrender to whatever journey unfolded.

Arriving at Wheelhouse Detroit’s riverfront shop based in Cullen Plaza (formerly Rivard Plaza) on Atwater Street during a brief hiatus from the showers, I was glad to see that four other tour attendees had shown up. I was asked to sign a waiver, given my helmet and a poncho, and my bike seat was adjusted by a staff member.

Hopping on the bike, I was pleased with how comfortable it was. I’m no bike expert, so I couldn’t tell you what kind it was besides . . . standard bike? It was obviously quality but wasn’t some intimidating racing bike or anything. It was super comfortable and easy to ride, to my relief. To my memory, I’ve only ridden a bike once in the last three-plus years (since my Summer 2015 Nautical Ride excursion): on an extremely bumpy, zippy downhill mountain route that did not inspire confidence in my cycling abilities. I was seeking ease and comfort on this Detroit bike tour, and I found it.

The three-hour tour started with our guide, Henry, routing us to Eastern Market via the Dequindre Cut.

The Dequindre Cut – so MAGICAL! I want to cover it in its own post on 100 Places in the D – it deserves to be highlighted – but I wasn’t able to stop and take any photos of it during this ride. A return trip to adequately capture the beauty of this bike/pedestrian path running along the site of a former rail line under overpasses vibrant with artwork is definitely in order.

We approached Eastern Market after 20 minutes of riding, amidst a fresh downpour. We had two hours to explore the market independently, we were told by Henry.

I wasn’t especially enthused to learn that two hours of the three-hour tour were dedicated to exploring Eastern Market on my own, in a downpour, on my birthday. But hey, surrendering-to-the-adventure was the theme of the day, and after some initial crabby wandering in the rain outside Eastern Market like a wet dog, I adjusted my attitude and did just that. I’ll highlight what new-to-me places I visited during this time in upcoming posts.

When our group reconvened, we rode for another 40 minutes, back down the Dequindre Cut and along the Riverfront. It was a lovely ride – all sunshine and blue skies by that point (hooray!) – and I adored it.

Overall, this tour with Wheelhouse Detroit was great. Henry was a kind and pleasant guide, riding at an easy pace, signaling when we needed to turn, guarding our bikes during the Eastern Market sojourn, and providing interesting information about the Eastern Market and RiverWalk (including plans for the RiverWalk’s expansion).

Considering that the Eastern Market trek is the shortest of Wheelhouse Detroit’s tours in terms of mileage biked at five miles (most advertise mileages in the teens), I should’ve suspected that the shopping portion would occupy a considerable chunk of it. I’d love to explore some of the longer tours, including those that highlight Southwest Detroit, Belle Isle, and “Haunted Detroit” (a showcase of allegedly ghost-populated locales running this October in honor of the spooky month-end holiday).

Of course, Wheelhouse Detroit is more than a provider of tours. According to its website, the shop sells new and used bikes as well as a myriad of cycling-related products, including tires, tools, helmets, clothing, and biking-related accessories such as locks, cargo bags, and lights. Bikes can be rented independent of the tours for jaunts along the riverfront and throughout the city, as well.

1340 E. Atwater St.

Detroit, MI 48207

(with an additional location in Hamtramck)

www.wheelhousedetroit.com

363. Dutch Girl Donuts – September 28, 2018 – Detroit, MI

September2018DutchGirlDonuts1 (3)September2018DutchGirlDonuts2 (2)DUTCH GIRL DONUTS is gracing 100 Places in the D!!!!

After several years of fantasizing about tasting the Detroit-based donut shop’s much-lauded wares, I resolved to finally make the dream a reality last Friday morning and planned a pre-work visit.

Part of the reason I’d put off visiting Dutch Girl Donuts for so long was the parking situation. The bakery doesn’t have its own lot; street parking is required. And if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you likely know that I legit have a phobia around street parking in city settings and generally avoid it at all costs. Thusly, the idea of parallel parking along oft-hectic Woodward Avenue in order to visit Dutch Girl Donuts was not tickling me.

And then there was the whole bullet-proof glass thing. Some online reviewers had mentioned the fact that Dutch Girl Donuts had bullet-proof glass separating the bakery employees from patrons, leading me to speculate on why such protection was needed. Was it wise to visit Dutch Girl Donuts on my own?

These worries around parking and security swirled in my head as I contemplated making the visit. In the end, I decided to go for it and trust my gut. If I got to the donut shop and didn’t like the look of parking options or of the neighborhood itself, I could just drive on by and find another bakery to visit.

It turned out – as is generally the case – that my fears were unfounded. The stretch of Woodward Avenue near Seven Mile that Dutch Girl Donuts is located on felt totally safe to me. Given that the donut shop is open 24 hours, perhaps the bullet-proof glass serves more as a necessary security precaution in the evening hours, or perhaps it’s a relic of the past. Either way, I felt comfortable in the area in and around the bakery – as I did parking along Woodward.

I was easily able to procure a parking spot near the donut shop, parking behind a few other cars. There was enough space to maneuver so that parallel parking wasn’t a traumatic experience, and traffic along Woodward was more sparse than I expected, so I didn’t feel like I was walking out into an onslaught of oncoming traffic when I exited the car.

(Interesting parking-related tidbit: there is a fire hydrant right at the curb near Dutch Girl Donuts, which people were flagrantly disregarding and parking right in front of; park if you dare in that premium zone).

Dutch Girl Donuts had a decent amount of traffic coming in and out of it when I walked up – mostly pleasant-looking older folks. I joined the line formed in the donut shop’s tiny interior and watched the goods get made while waiting to be helped. Freshly fried twisted donuts being plopped into a pool of glaze caught my eye. Glorious!

I only had to wait a few minutes before it was my turn to order. I decided on a half-dozen donuts, which were $4.50. I got one plain cake donut, two cake donuts with chocolate frosting, a sour cream, a glazed chocolate-cake stick, and a twisted glazed. I paid in cash; it’s worth noting here that Dutch Girl Donuts accepts credit cards but requires a maximum purchase of $5 when paying with them.

I practically skipped out of the donut shop with excitement. Cruising along I-75 en route to work, I knew I couldn’t wait until I got there to sample the procured goodies; I grabbed one of the cake donuts with chocolate frosting out of the bag and took a bite. The donut was delicious, incredibly soft and fresh-tasting.

And then there was the sour cream donut.

When I got to work, I decided I wanted to sample another donut before I walked in. I went with the sour cream, and O.M.G.

Perfectly soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, dunked in an irresistible glaze, ridiculously fresh, this sour cream donut was quite easily the best donut I have ever had. I instantly wished I had gotten a half-dozen of them.

That’s not to say the other donuts I got from Dutch Girl Donuts weren’t wonderful. The glazed chocolate-cake stick donut ranked right up there with the sour cream, with that perfect crisp and glazing on the outside and pillowy softness on the inside. The plain cake and twisted glazed donuts were also very good; as with the others, they were obviously very freshly made.

This premium on freshness is huge; so much of what makes a donut wonderful is how recently it was made. So thank you, Dutch Girl Donuts, for doing the work and producing AMAZING donuts 24-7. Perhaps I’ll skip the cider mills this fall and do a revisit to your delightful donut shop in the D instead!

19000 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48203

(Open 24 hours Mondays through Fridays;

closes at 6 p.m. Saturdays and reopens at 1 a.m. Monday mornings)