Month: September 2016

191. Dragonmead Microbrewery – September 24, 2016 – Warren, MI

20160924_19062020160924_192537Dragonmead! I’ve been wanting to visit the joint since the beginnings of this blog. It only took me two and a half years to get there!

The Warren brewery that makes its own beer, wine, and mead lived up to the hype that had been created in my head. The pint of its Redwing Raspberry Wheat I 0rdered was INCREDIBLE – definitely the best raspberry wheat I’ve ever had. You could tell by the scent and taste of it that real raspberries were used. I also enjoyed my glass of Gewürztraminer wine; it was crisp and tart. And the pizza! The Fat Drunk pizza, topped with Cajun sausage and caramelized onions and slathered with an addictive cheddar bacon cheese sauce, was out-of-control good. It was the perfect drinking accompaniment.

Shout-out to the beer flight at Dragonmead, as well! The flight shown in the photo above is the one that my friend ordered. The five samples were generous pours and only cost around $10.

My conclusion? Dragonmead is an excellent brewery and a perfect fall destination for all of you fellow Metro-Detroiters or visitors of our fine area. Happy drinking!

14600 E. 11 Mile Rd.

Warren, MI 48089

www.dragonmead.com

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190. The Current – September 20, 2016 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20160920_190315Hello, all! Happy Monday! OK, I know Mondays are not the happiest days for all of us. But there’s a way you can make your Monday special: by doing some area exploring. Hit up The Current in Saint Clair Shores for dinner!

I was there for a good friend’s husband’s surprise birthday party last week, and let me tell you, being there amongst a bunch of cool people made my Tuesday evening so much more interesting.

The Current is in a plumb waterfront location of the Nautical Mile, in a building that has housed multiple incarnations of restaurants in the past decade or so, including a Rojo’s that I’d once visited. The view of the water from the restaurant is excellent. We ate inside, but I’d love to dine on that lakefront patio! The patio has an abbreviated menu (mostly appetizers, salads and sandwiches), which is why we didn’t eat outside.

I had no complaints about the food and drink I ordered off of The Current’s menus. My eight-ounce sirloin topped with Gorgonzola bacon butter was delicious, and I loved that amongst the proffered local beers was B. Nektar’s Zombie Killer – YES! It’d been awhile since I’d had that honey and cherry-infused hard cider, and I was all about it.

One thing I was not all about at The Current that I feel is worth mentioning is how incredibly staggered our food was coming out. Our group was large – probably about 25-30 people sat at two long tables. One server had each table. I heard a fellow diner say that the way the order input goes down there is that the server enters the order on a tablet, and the kitchen starts on each individual dish as it is entered in. Not the greatest method for a large party such as this – it resulted in what I estimate was about twenty minutes between the first and the last dish being brought out. Not cool, Current! There should not be more than five minutes between the serving of the first and last dish in a group of that size.

That is enough of me on my former-server soapbox. I prefer to highlight only the positive aspects of the places I visit for this blog, but occasionally, I feel the need to point out a less-than-stellar facet if I believe it will be helpful for you guys to know before visiting. I would definitely say The Current is worth a visit, but if you go with a large group, it would be wise to talk with your server(s) to make sure that your entrees will come out relatively all at once.

24026 Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

(Open for dinner Monday through Friday and lunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday)

www.thecurrentrestaurant.com

189. Bald Mountain Recreation Area – September 4, 2016 – Oakland Charter Township, MI

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Hello, all! Happy Sunday! I hope wherever you are, the weather is phenomenal, as it has been here in the Metro-D this weekend. Fall is here, and it’s gorgeous!

I love fall, but I held on to summer kicking and screaming this year, because our summer was so wonderful. I was not ready for cooler temps! But with the official first day of fall Thursday, a flip switched in me. I was finally ready. I’ll be pulling out my autumnal leaf garlands and pumpkin couture today!

You know what one benefit of fall is? No mosquitoes. Seriously, the mosquitoes have to be dead by now, right? I hope so! I am the kind of person who sets bugs I find in my house free out of doors. But if mass exstinquishing by seasonal change is part of the mosquito’s natural life cycle, well, I’m not going to protest that – especially after my visit to Bald Mountain Recreation Area during Labor Day weekend. The little buggers were still alive and well then – in droves.

I went on a four-mile hike on a portion of the north part of the park’s trails with an outdoor-oriented Meet-Up group. The hike was in preparation for my recent trip to Portugal, which was a hiking-focused trip. I am not an avid hiker, and I wanted to break in my new boots before going. The boots were great, and the trail was gorgeous – manageable up-and-down terrain snaking through woods and a meadow with a pond in it, sprinkled with a few little boats. The mosquitoes, on the other hand, were absolutely disgusting. They swarmed us constantly. I applied bug spray three times during the duration of the hike, and still, the back of my neck was totally chewed up. So unfortunately, I did not enjoy the natural beauty of the park as much as I would have liked to. But you can learn from my lesson and visit the Bald Mountain Recreation Area trails during fall, when all of the mosquitoes are gone!

In case you are interested in hiking the same section of trail that I did (which is arranged as two loops that encompass about 7.5 miles), you can access it right off of a tiny dirt parking lot at the corner of West Predmore and Harmon roads in Oakland Charter Township.

Speaking of location, I had the hardest time deciding on the city to use for this visit. Because Bald Mountain Recreation Area is so huge – broken into a north and a south territory over 4,637 acres (!) – I’ve seen addresses for it given in Lake Orion and Orion Charter Township in addition to Oakland Charter Township. But because I visited the park within Oakland Charter Township, that’s the city I decided to count for my visit. So welcome, Oakland Charter Township, to the blog! Any of the three cities actually would’ve been a first for 100 Places in the D. I do not make it out to that neck of Oakland County very often – that will have to change!

Official park address:

1330 E. Greenshield Rd.

Lake Orion, MI 48360

(But the Bald Mountain – North trails that I hiked can be accessed at the corner of West Predmore and Harmon roads in Oakland Charter Township.)

http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/details.aspx?id=435&type=SPRK

188. Pop’s for Italian – August 31, 2016 – Ferndale, MI

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Pop’s for Italian’s gnocchi with sausage and Gorgonzola cream sauce

Hello, all! Happy Third Day of Fall! I’ve been absent from the blog for the last few weeks because I was busy exploring – this time, in another country! I vacationed in gorgeous, sunny Portugal. It was awesome! I would highly recommend Portugal if you are looking to vacation in Europe. It’s the most affordable of the western European countries, and the natural beauty is absolutely STUNNING.

My trip was so excellent that adjusting back to everyday life has been much more challenging than I expected. This was a journey that I had planned and saved for over the course of about a week and a half, and in 10 days, it was over in a blink of an eye! And there I was, catapulted back into real life – work and household chores and appointments. ~Sigh.~ At least I live here in the Metro-D and can console myself with some exploring, which I plan to do this weekend (a long-awaited local brewery visit is on the docket!).

While it’s currently late September, we’ll travel back in time to the last dregs of August, to my night out in Ferndale over three weeks ago that I recounted in part in my last post on the Greenspace Café.

Here my friend and I were, having these exquisite drinks at this gorgeous, pristine vegan café – and we were craving mainstream Italian food: meat and cheese and unabashed, unfiltered carbs.

What can I say? Eating healthfully is awesome, but eating everything is kind of more awesome. And this is coming from a girl who also writes a clean-eating recipe blog! It’s undeniable: Italian food is LIFE.

So we left, and we walked over to Pop’s for Italian, also in downtown Ferndale.

Immediately I was impressed by the fact that it was around 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, and the place was KICKIN’. The cavernous restaurant/bar, which my friend reminded me was formerly a B’DUbs, has been tricked out in the industrial-chic style so popular around town – lots of exposed beams and metal and bare bulbs. I happen to love that vibe, so I was down with it.

I was also down with the menu and our server’s recommendations. She was spot-on in touting the gnocchi with ground sausage and Gorgonzola cream sauce and the caramel budino (a rich, custard-like dessert topped with house-made caramel sauce). As an Italian-cuisine snob (just say NO to Olive Garden!), I can confidently say: Pop’s is legit.

Another great selling feature of this place: its wine menu. Pop’s offers an extensive one, with 32 wines that it says it rotates and various tasting options, including a flight sampler. From what I remember, most of the wines are not cheap. However, Pop’s does offer some house wines, called Pop Wines, that are much more affordable.

Worth noting: Pop’s is closed on Mondays and only open for dinner on Tuesdays through Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays, it’s open for brunch in addition to dinner.

280 W. 9 Mile Rd., Ste. 2,

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.popsforitalian.com

 

187. Greenspace Café – August 31, 2016 – Ferndale, MI

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Hello, all! It’s official: summer is OVER!

Ok, according to the calendar, it’s not, but everyone knows that Labor Day signals the end of summer here in Michigan. Long-stretching daylight, flavorful tomatoes, and searing heat, I will miss thee!

I am one of those rare few who relishes an 85-degrees temperature and full-bore sunshine, so this week I will enjoy what are probably the last few days of that until, what, nine months from now? Yikes.

The good news? We’ve got fall on the docket. And autumn here in the Metro-D is pretty damn delightful. I am not ready to let go of summer, but jewel-toned leaves, fresh cider-house donuts, and the recent reemergence of my beloved oversized fleece sweatpants (best purchase EVER) will make its exit a little more bearable. I do love fall!

When I met a friend for drinks at Greenspace Café in Ferndale around 8 p.m. last Wednesday, there was already a chilly autumn-esque nip in the air on an otherwise gorgeous night. But sipping the deliciously nuanced rosebud, vanilla bean, and blood orange-infused American Beauty martini made the prospect of grabbing hold of summer and hanging on tightly a sweet possibility.

I’ve incredibly impressed with Greenspace’s attention to detail in providing a clean-eating dining experience. According to its website, owner and cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn’s mission is to aid in preventing heart attacks by promoting a vegan, preservative- and GMO-free diet via his restaurant’s offerings. He and his family have done an impeccable job in curating the menus. Here’s what Greenspace’s website had to say about its cocktail menu: “Even all alco­hol is researched to assure no dyes, no added sul­fites, and no ani­mal prod­ucts are used in the fin­ing process.”

How many restaurants can actually say they’ve done that?

Even the water used to wash your hands in the restroom has been thoroughly cleaned by  a UV sterilizer and filtration system. I have no idea what a UV sterilizer is or what it does, but I most certainly appreciate the dedication to keeping icky crap out of my body!

Additionally, local organic raw juice purveyor DROUGHT has a counter inside the restaurant where it offers its wares (though its hours of operation appear to vary at least somewhat from the restaurant’s; the counter was closed when I was there). Some of its concoctions are ingredients in several Greenspace cocktails – making spirit-imbibing a healthier activity (yay)!

It’s safe to say that I will be back at Greenspace to sample its cuisine. I’m intrigued by the prospect of its vegan (cashew) cheese board.

215 W Nine Mile Rd.

Fer­n­dale, MI 48220

(Open Tuesday through Saturday)

www.greenspacecafe.com