Month: July 2017

253. Eastside Bagel – June 11, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170611_110033 (2)20170611_111700 (2)Good morning, all! If this morning has not been as good as you’d like it to be, there’s still time to redeem it by heading over to Eastside Bagel in Saint Clair Shores. I mean, check out that delightful Everything-bagel sandwich above with its turkey and bacon and spicy cream-cheese. Perfection! Not hard to see why this place was bustling on the weekend morning that I visited it last month, patrons crowding around the little tables to enjoy their bagels, sandwiches, salads, and soup in leisurely Sunday-morning fashion.

21601 Harper Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.eastsidebagel.com

252. Vertical Detroit – June 8, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170608_191848 (2)20170608_203101 (3)After glorious food and drink at Wright & Co. on a beautiful summer’s night in the D last month, my friend and I decided to continue the evening on Vertical Detroit’s patio. I was excited to visit the wine bar, because it was yet another place that had been on my radar for a long time, and because I HEART wine.

What I didn’t realize was how baller-wine-territory this place would be. Vertical’s wine menu is not playing around! There are numerous glasses of wine in the $20-$45 price range. I’m used to wine costing that much in restaurants – by the bottle, not the glass.

What I’m trying to say is that many of Vertical’s offerings were too out-of-our-price-range-at-this-juncture for my friend and I to consider. But there were also a number of by-the-glass choices costing in the teens and even a few for $9 (now we’re talking!). I decided on a glass of one of the most affordable ($11) reds, the 2014 Brunelli “Apricale” Sangiovese Blend from Tuscany, and enjoyed sipping it while catching up with a good friend and soaking in the tranquil early-evening city vibes.

I love wine, but I am by no means an expert in wine – even after participating in several extensive wine tastings and trainings during my years working as a server. My mind simply doesn’t retain info on grape varietals, vineyard terroirs, and the like, and no matter how hard I try, I’ll likely never be able to pick out those flavor notes of tobacco and leather. I am sure if I could that I’d be better able to appreciate Vertical’s extensive menu of dearly-priced finds. I am sure those wines have been chosen with care and are the best-of-the-best.

I do wonder if my tastes will ever get so rich as to entice me to pay $45 for a glass of wine. Probably not, even if my wallet gets rich. I would rather put that money toward the food-aspect of the meal and drink a second-rate glass of vino. My palate doesn’t seem to care about grape pedigree, even as it (very much!) respects the craft of wine-making.

Ambiance, on the other hand . . . ambiance is definitely important to me. I dug Vertical’s interior, which was elegantly dark and cozy with its richly tiled walls and chandeliers.

Besides offering an extensive wine list, Vertical Detroit offers craft cocktails and a selection of (mostly local) draft beers. It also boasts a food menu offering a sophisticated array of appetizers, small plates, and desserts such as lamb heart tartare, pork osso bucco, and crème brûlèe.

1538 Centre St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.verticaldetroit.com

251. Wright & Co. – June 8, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170608_175218 (2)20170608_180557 (2)20170608_180748 (2)Wright & Co.! I’m in love with you!!!!!

I’d heard great things about Wright & Co. and had it on my radar for months. I finally had an excuse to visit it last month when I went downtown on a Thursday night to get tickets from the Comerica Park box office and recruited a friend to go with me.

OK, I love visiting Detroit any day of the week, but it’s especially exciting to go down there on a week night after work because work days aren’t always the most intriguing for me. The most excitement I generally have on a work night is when I decide to drink wine and eat popcorn at the house while exhorting the characters in my fave cheesy-good TV dramas to not sleep with that shady dude and ruin their relationship with So-and-So! Full-throttle thrills there.

But when I go downtown on a work night, it automatically feels special, and I’m able to at least partially ignore the fact that I have to go into the office the next day while I’m drinking an alcoholic beverage akin to the nectar-of-the-gods and eating glorious treats such as loaded potato chips.

Loaded potato chips were one of the small-plates dishes my friend and I shared at Wright & Co. They are called Fresh Potato Chips on the menu and are a true thing of glory – check out the photo of them above! Are they not magnificent, those crispy, golden house-made potato chips smothered in white cheese sauce, bacon, scallions, and a tomato relish??? As you can imagine, they were insanely good.

Most – if not all – of the items on Wright & Co.’s menu are the small-plate size; guests are encouraged to select and share several dishes. My friend and I also ordered the Butternut Squash Pasta – another out-of-control-good dish. The butternut squash and parmesan made for a decadently creamy pasta whose richness was enhanced by flavorful pork belly and Brussels sprouts. We also got the Pork Belly Sliders, which were pure perfection topped with arugula, tomato jam, and sriracha aioli. YEESSSSSS! This place IS obvi one of the special ones.

Wright & Co. isn’t in the upper-echelon of Detroit restaurant glory solely because of its food; its craft cocktails are damn good, too. Now, could I tell you what beverage I ordered there? Unfortunately, no. I captured the names of the dishes I tried at the restaurant that night, but I immediately forgot which drink I ordered. Whoops. It was the pink one shown in the photo above, and I think it had whiskey in it. All I remember is, I dug it.

I dug the interior of the restaurant, too. Wright & Co. has this classy-industrial vibe going on with its brick walls, copper hardware, and exposed-bulb lighting accented by rich-red booths and a painting of a stormy seafaring scene that looks like it belongs in your old-money uncle’s study. The windows of the restaurant also offer a premier view of downtown.

Wright & Co. is open for dinner at 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and for brunch on Sundays (from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Another aspect of the restaurant worth noting: we found it challenging to find. We spent about five minutes staring at GPS confused and walking around in circles because we didn’t see the restaurant. We then noticed a nondescript door in the building it was shown to be located within, 1500 Woodward Avenue. The door is not actually off Woodward but is around the corner. There is a buzzer system like in an apartment building where you can buzz the restaurant to let you in; I believe the door would be locked otherwise but am not sure because a guy inside the building saw us and opened the door for us.

Once you get inside the building, you enter an elevator and go up to Wright & Co. on the second floor. The elevator door opens, and you are there! You’ve stepped into an escape away from your everyday workaday world.

1500 Woodward Ave., Floor 2

Detroit, MI 48226

www.wrightdetroit.com

250. KouZina – June 2, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170602_135821 (2)20170602_132001(1)I’m especially excited about today’s post because I especially LOVED this place. OMG, KouZina!

How had I NOT been to KouZina before? I became aware of it on Yelp but realized upon visiting it that I’d passed it on Main St. in downtown Royal Oak jillions of times. It’s set slightly apart from the strip where most of the Main Street businesses are clustered, just north of 11 Mile Road and across from the Emagine movie theater.

KouZina is what some might liken to a Greek Chipotle: a fast-casual establishment that allows you to create your own signature bowl with the meat, rice, and topping options you choose. I had the KouZina Large Signature Bowl, which contained all three meats that are offered (gyro-style lamb, chicken, and pork), rice (I chose brown), and my chosen toppings: fresh spinach, cubed beets, cucumbers, banana peppers, chickpeas, red onion, feta, and a spicy feta sauce. OH YEAH. It was delicious with a capital “D” and in 12-foot letters! That spicy feta sauce . . . MMMM. So, so good – and even better enjoyed outdoors on KouZina’s open-air patio.

Besides giving patrons the option to create their own signature bowls, KouZina offers gyros (of course!) and classic Greek salad, soup, and side-dish options such as Greek salad, lentil soup, Spinach pie, pita chips, from-scratch Greek yogurt (yum!), and this insanely amazing-sounding dessert called a Bougatsa, which is described on the menu as “Warm custard wrapped in phyllo dough, topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon” (!!!). I badly wanted to try one, but I was so full after the meat-rice-and-veggie-bowl that I knew I would have to save that for another visit – because I will DEFINITELY be back to KouZina.

121 N. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.gokouzina.com

249. The GrubHouse – May 23, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170523_183051(1)20170523_183123 (2)May 23 was a busy day for me in visiting new places. I got a carryout lunch from the Troy location of Neehee’s, an Indian vegetarian street food joint, and enjoyed it at a picnic table overlooking the lake at Sylvan Glen Lake Park. Then I had dinner with a friend at The GrubHouse, a diner-type restaurant in Saint Clair Shores.

I appreciated that the decor at the GrubHouse was super cute and modern compared to the (non-existing) style you would see at a typical diner. It was obvious that the owners had put attention and care into its ambience. I also appreciated that the service was attentive, the food came quickly, and that the Michigan Cherry Salad I ordered, with its herb-marinated chicken, dried cherries, walnuts, feta (substituted for its usual blue cheese), red onion, cucumbers, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing was DELICIOUS.

As with any quality home-style restaurant, the GrubHouse’s menu covers a lot of ground, offering an extensive selection of appetizers; sandwiches; salads; burgers; Coney dogs; seafood dishes; and meat-centric entrees such as a chicken kabob platter, country-fried steak, and lamb chops (a steal at only $13.99!).

22230 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.mygrubhouse.com

248. Sylvan Glen Lake Park – May 23, 2017 – Troy, MI

20170523_13092620170523_123429After ordering delicious vegetarian Indian carryout from Neehee’s in Troy back in late May, my colleagues and I decided to enjoy our lunches on the grounds of Sylvan Glen Lake Park.

I’d passed this little park off of Rochester Road between Long Lake and Square Lake roads dozens of times over the years and had always intended to check it out. While it’s small, I found its vibrant green grounds nestled up to a lovely little lake a beautiful and tranquil place of respite. We ate lunch at a picnic table right in front of the lake, taking in the sunshine, pleasant temperatures, and views of people fishing and otherwise enjoying the grounds.

Now I know where to go when I need a momentary retreat from hectic suburban living.

5501 Rochester Rd.

Troy, MI 48085

247. Neehee’s – May 23, 2017 – Troy, MI

20170523_115311 (2)20170523_121542 (2)20170523_123712Hi, guys! It’s so great to be back to the blog after being gone for over a month and a half. I didn’t mean to be, but once again, life got a hold of me (in a good way)! Mostly I was busy preparing for and taking an 11-day vacay to Europe (with two days in London and the rest of the time in Switzerland).

I’ll admit, after luxuriating in the beauty of the Swiss Alps (truly breathtaking!), I was reluctant to come home – unusual for me, as I’m generally a home-sweet-home kind of person. But now, after being back for two weeks, I’m settling into my regular routines and feeling content and pleased to be here. After all, I love my D and realistically couldn’t stand being away from it for too long! 🙂

What else have I been up to for the last month and a half? Well, even though I wasn’t posting here, I was busy visiting new places; I hit 13 counting today’s visit! So now that I’m back in the swing of everyday life and not gallivanting about the Old World, I’ll be going H.A.M. on the posting and hopefully inspiring you to do some good ol’ summer exploring (because we all know that summers in the D are THE BEST!!!).

One place to add to your must-visit-this-season list if you’re a fan of Indian food? The Troy location of Neehee’s, an Indian vegetarian street food fast-casual restaurant whose flagship store is in Canton. I’d been wanting to make the (for me) voyage-with-a-capital-V out to that Canton location since learning about it in Hour Detroit. But now there was a Neehee’s practically in my backyard! After discovering this, I recruited some coworkers to hit up the bright-yellow building on Rochester Road for some lunchtime Indian deliciousness.

One of the first things you’ll likely notice when you walk into Neehee’s is the extensive overhead display of menus above the counter where you order. There are a LOT of choices. The Chaat section features snack-sized portions, and there are sandwiches and meal-sized portions as well, including what the restaurant’s website refers to as “Indo Chinese fusion” dishes in addition to South Indian fare.

After at least 10 minutes of super-serious deliberation (because making the right lunch choice IS serious business, right?), I decided on the C3, the Bhel Puri, from the Chaat section of the menu, described there as “Crispy rice puffs mixed with chutneys, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cilantro and spices.” It was fresh and flavorful and healthy tasting (in a good way). It also came in a much larger portion size than I expected. I was told by the friendly counter person helping us make our choices that it would be small and would not likely fill me up, but as you can see from the photo above of my selections (that’s it on the left in the nearest photo pictured), it was pretty large-and-in-charge for a snack. It could have easily been a meal for me.

But I’m glad I didn’t stop with the Bhel Puri and that I also ordered the A4, Gobi Manchurian, from the Indo-Chinese side of the menu, because WOW! That stuff was GOOOOOD! The breaded, crispy cauliflower tossed in a spicy sauce with diced veggies mixed in was addictive. It’s hard to believe that cauliflower can taste that decadent! But once you taste it, you’ll become a believer.

And believe me when I say to you, fellow omnivores, that you won’t be missing meat when you dine on Neehee’s creative, flavorful dishes! THIS is where I would be going on the regular if I decided to cut the carnivore act from my diet.

4924 Rochester Rd.

Troy, MI 48085

www.neehees.com