Month: February 2016

167. Sister Pie – February 27, 2016 – Detroit, MI

20160227_12284420160227_12355620160227_123646Pie! Who doesn’t love a delicious piece of pie? It’s cozy and comforting, especially on a chilly winter’s day, accompanied by a hot cup of coffee or tea. Yum!

After my visit to Parker Street Market yesterday, I headed across the street to Sister Pie in search of a slice of its fabled wares. This pie shop/bakery looms large in my mind, literally. I was introduced to it by a large billboard that once ran along I-94 that I passed (creeped along in a cluster of rush-hour traffic is more like it) daily on my way to my then-job in Dearborn. The billboard was touting it as the winner of a local entrepreneurial grant competition (Hatch Detroit). I was intrigued, not only because I love local small businesses and supporting them, but also because I appreciate a well-constructed baked good (it’s a legitimate art form in my book!). Sister Pie was added to my list of places to visit.

Apparently, this bakery was on a lot of other Metro-Detroiters’ lists, too. The bright little shop’s tables were crammed with people on my visit there yesterday afternoon. Fortunately there was a space open for me, at a high-top table with no chairs, where I stood and enjoyed the custardy, silky-sweet, salty goodness of a slice of salted maple. Two other pies were also being featured yesterday: a chocolate one called Red Hot Chocolate and a lemon meringue. Wanting some take-home treats, I also purchased an assortment of cookies – a triple chocolate one, a peanut butter-and-paprika, and a snickerdoodle-fennel seed – as well as a slice of pear- and chocolate-studded coffee cake. All were delicious in their own right, but the coffee cake and the snickerdoodle-and-fennel-seed cookie were especially memorable. I love when bakers and chefs aren’t afraid to experiment with flavors. Fennel seeds in a cookie, for instance, might sound odd, but they were the perfect complement to the cinnamony sweetness of the snickerdoodle.

So Sister Pie gets a major gold star in my book for deliciousness and inventiveness of its wares (and offering a pie with a crisp, non-soggy crust – holla, blind-baking!). Just as important, it also gets major props for ambiance. There was a convivial air to the place yesterday, a sense of connection. The staff members who helped me were friendly and obviously enjoyed being there, joking with each other as they worked; the woman who rang me up came over to me later to see how I liked the pie. When I’d explained to her in my excitement as I approached the counter that I was new to the place, a sixty-something guy who was obviously a regular overheard me and exclaimed, “You’re gonna love it!” I have a major soft spot for places full of friendliness, enthusiasm, welcomeness – maybe because the field that I work in in my day job doesn’t evoke those feelings in me nearly enough. I think we are all seeking to inhabit such inviting havens in our lives – ideally as places we work and hang out in on the regular, but at the very least, where we can stop in once in a while and savor a slice of pie.

8066 Kercheval St.

Detroit, MI 48214

www.sisterpie.com

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166. Parker Street Market – February 27, 2016 – Detroit, MI

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My purchase from Parker Street Market.

I’d been craving a visit to Detroit all week, which is how I ended up at the corner of Parker and Kercheval earlier this afternoon. A jaunt into our lovely city is the perfect antidote to the residual effects of a week of soul-sucking corporate office drudgery (someday I will get out!). And Parker Street Market is the antidote to soul-sucking, disconnected corporate grocers and convenience stores. There it rests, at the helm of a quiet residential area, a beacon of organic and artisan goods. Doing the good work! That’s the phase that ran through my head after my visit.

I’d read about Parker Street Market in Hour Detroit and added it to my long and ever-expanding list of places I want to visit in the city. I liked the sound of it, how the owner (who I believe was the friendly guy helming the front counter when I was there) curated the items of this tiny store with care, how he featured locally-made items such as the lovely-looking Gus and Grey handcrafted Blackberry Bourban Vanilla Jam I purchased. (I’d read about Gus and Grey’s exquisite-sounding jams when the founder was featured in an issue of Hour, as well. So excited to try this stuff!)

Besides locally-made food items, Parker Street Market sells a range of other items, such as healthy packaged snacks, environmentally-friendly cleaning products, craft beer, and wine. And according to its website, it will deliver your grocery order to anywhere within the city of Detroit for only $5 – a pretty sweet deal!

1814 Parker St.

Detroit, MI 48214

www.parkerstreetmarket.com

165. Lone Wolf Paintball – February 18, 2016 – Clinton Township, MI

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I did not take my cellphone into the fray to take pictures at Lone Wolf Paintball, but here are my battle-stained clothes after several matches.

Paintball, you’re so crazy! Seriously. Last week, my visit to Lone Wolf Paintball in Clinton Township as part of a friend’s birthday extravaganza was an experience. I got shot with a paintball pellet in the mouth – the mouth! It jumped in under the gap at the bottom of my helmet, and it hurt like a bitch! Paint all over my mouth, and I was convinced I was bleeding. Nope, just a red, welted mouth-chin area that quickly dissipated, fortunately. A temporary battle scar that resulted in no real scar and no real street cred, but maybe a little paintball-field swagger.

 

So obviously, paintballing can get intense! Then again, I was only engaged in matches within a group of five polite, considerate friends, not in games filled with hardcore, competitive paintballers – though there were various packs of them herding off and onto the field when we were there. Lone Wolf Paintball has quite a following!

This was my first time playing, and I must say, the thrill of dodging those plastic paint-filled pellets was pretty exhilarating. And the time I got hit in the mouth was the only time I was (painstakingly) aware of myself getting hit by a splattering paintball – though as you can see, the clothes I wore there were covered in paint by the end, so I either got hit more than I realized or got paint all over me from leaning against the large inflatable barriers studded all around the field (likely possibility). Luckily, it is a cornstarch-based paint that washes out incredibly easily.

Many props to the kind and friendly guys who were working at Lone Wolf that night, who showed us the ropes and tolerated us in our newbie-ness. They made us feel at ease despite our coming in totally clueless and made the experience enjoyable.

I will probably stick to the pain-free version of paintball – laser tag!!! – in the future. But I’d definitely say it’s worth trying at least once if you’re curious. The cool thing about Lone Wolf Paintball is that in addition to the indoor field in Clinton Township, it also has outdoor fields in Mount Clemens and Metamora, which are open on the weekends during warm-weather months.

44323 Reynolds Dr.
Clinton Township, MI 48036

www.lonewolfpaintball.com

164. Detroit Institute of Bagels – February 14, 2016 – Detroit, MI

20160214_10382320160214_11052520160214_104832Love is . . . taking yourself on a drive to Corktown on a brisk, sunny Valentine’s Day morning and gorging yourself with the most delicious bagel sandwich you’ve ever had in your life. Seriously – go. to. Detroit. Institute. of. Bagels. Tomorrow morning. Get the mind-blowing #9 (the Turkey, Bacon & Avocado sandwich with gouda and spicy mayo) on a toasted whole-wheat Everything bagel, or try one of the other amazing-sounding bagel sandwiches. Soak up the rustic hipster ambiance and the cheery vibes from the happy, friendly staff. And fall in love with this charming bagel shop!

1236 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

 

www.detroitinstituteofbagels.com

163. Oak City Grille – January 30, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

20160130_200605Oak City Grille is a solid establishment with a menu catering to the classier crowd that frequents Royal Oak (think steaks, lamb chops, lobster raviolis). A raised stage behind the bar featured a talented singer-guitarist strumming acoustic versions of popular tunes on the Saturday night I was there – and according to the restaurant’s website, musical entertainment is presented every night Tuesday through Saturday from around 8:3o or 9 until closing time. Good to know!

212 W. 6th St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.oakcitygrille.com

162. Two James Spirits – January 24, 2016 – Detroit, MI

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In my next lifetime, I am going to come back as one of those pretty, tattooed female bartenders you see everywhere around Detroit, and I am going to tend bar at an establishment just like Two James. A bright, beautiful bar, the perfect mix of gritty (set in an obviously former industrial building) and elegant (featuring vivid floral-themed artwork and metallic orb light fixtures with delicate cutout design work floating around the bar). Small and intimate. And crafting with care a deliciously stiff drink. Damn, was the drink I had there amazing! It was a White Russian, and I think it had a name other than White Russian on the menu – but of course, I can’t recall that name (I need to start taking notes in my travels – this is critical info!).

While I was prompted by the menu description to order this, I’ve heretofore never been much of a White Russian girl – and it’s probably because, I am realizing now, I never had one that was made properly! Two James’ is perfection – due in large part, I am sure, to the fact that it contains its own distilled vodka. The distillery also produces various whiskies, two kinds of gin, a bourbon, a mezcal, and absinthe. So yes! It is the perfect establishment for some chill Sunday afternoon spirits-imbibing.

The day I visited Two James and also Mercury Burger and Bar, January 24, also happened to be the one-year anniversary of me hitting the landmark of 100 local places visited since starting this blog (with my visit to Grand Trunk Pub in Detroit on January 24, 2015)! That I had planned this visit to Detroit on this day was a happy accident – but one that I was pleased to discover.

2445 Michigan Ave.
Detroit, MI 48216

www.twojames.com

161. Mercury Burger and Bar – January 24, 2016 – Detroit, MI

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Glorious Southwest Detroit burger with chorizo, avocado, jalapenos, pickled carrots . . . out-of-control good! 

I’m OBSESSED!!! Ok, I say that about a lot of places I visit lately, but I truly am experiencing feelings of obsession around Corktown’s Mercury Burger and Bar and the AMAZING Southwest Detroit burger I had there about a month ago. Seriously, it was glorious. It was PERFECT. It had to be one of the very best burgers I’ve ever had.

That weekend was the weekend of burgers for me, apparently. I’d visited another peddler of excellent burgers, Luxe Bar and Grill, just two days prior. The trip to Mercury was part of a Detroit Day – one of my very favorite days in the world! – on which a good friend and I spend an afternoon jaunting about Detroit, exploring establishments we’ve never been.

Not only was the burger I had amazing, but so were the poutine tater tots (poutine tots!!!). Another plus: the interior of the diner is so bright and cheerily Detroit-centric, with a friendly, welcoming bar staff if you decide to perch along its rail and enjoy a local craft ale with your meal as we did. All in all, it is almost impossible not to fall in love with this place.

2163 Michigan Ave.
Detroit, MI 48216

www.mercuryburgerbar.com

160. Luxe Bar and Grill – January 22, 2016 – Birmingham, MI

20160122_20450520160122_191948Tiny doesn’t begin to describe the Birmingham location of Luxe Bar and Grill. On the Friday night that I was there, waiting 40 minutes for a table in the cramped confines of the dollhouse-sized lobby/bar area took a special kind of endurance (there is NO way I could be a server there. Seriously, they must all be wonderful souls with monk-like patience, because there is no way I could push myself through packed throngs of people waiting everywhere on a regular basis without going insane). Fortunately, the food was amazing and made it well worth the wait in that purgatory of a floor plan. I came for Luxe’s specialty, the burger, and I was not let down. The barbecue bacon one I had was awesome – and massive! I washed it down with a side of chili-cheese fries and a delicious craft cocktail and TGIF!-fueled sentiments hummed happily through my veins.

525 N. Old Woodward Ave.
Birmingham, MI 48009

(Location in Grosse Pointe Farms, as well)

www.luxebarandgrill.com

159. Bosco’s – January 17, 2016 – Ferndale, MI

20160117_112931Do brunch at Bosco’s on a frigid Sunday morn and savor the cream-cheese-stuffed berry French toast and an Irish coffee. Your stomach will smile and radiate warm and fuzzy feelings toward you. Seriously, the French toast is amazing, and the drink pours are substantial here (my friend’s mimosa was practically as big as her face!). Love the wood-paneled, rustic-chic look going on, too.

22930 Woodward Ave.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.theboscocafe.com