Month: October 2017

285. Breakfast Club – October 8, 2017 – Farmington Hills, MI

BreakfastClubOct2017-4 (2)BreakfastClubOct2017-3 (2)BreakfastClubOct2017-2 (3)Farmington Hills is represented on the blog! Yes, Farmington Hills is a new-to-the-blog city on 100 Places in the D!

My knowledge of Farmington Hills is limited to the time I spent there working my first job out of college, a six-month paid internship at a publishing company. I don’t have much memory of the city and its ethos from that time; I didn’t venture out for lunch much or for after-work happy hours ever. So I was excited to have an excuse to become reacquainted with it a few weeks ago when it turned out to be a logical halfway meeting point for me and friends from Mt. Pleasant who’d been in Ann Arbor for a wedding. We decided on the aptly named restaurant, Breakfast Club, for our Sunday a.m. meet-up.

Once I exited the expressway and rolled into Farmington Hills, I remembered, right, it’s not too different from where I live: the respectable-suburbia category of turf. Breakfast Club is located in a strip mall on 10 Mile Road. It’s open for lunch and breakfast daily; its extensive menu includes dishes from both mealtimes.

The most intriguing choice on Breakfast Club’s menu for me has to be the Oven Baked French Toast, which you’ll see a picture of if you pull up the menu on the restaurant’s website. It’s a brick of a thing that more resembles a gargantuan serving of bread pudding than French toast; it’s topped with luscious-looking berries, coffee cake crumbles, and raspberry sauce. WOW.

I’ve become leery of ordering sweet, carb-centric items such as French toast, pancakes, and waffles at restaurants for fear of the energy crash that inevitably occurs a few hours later, but I would love to go back to Breakfast Club and split a salad and then the Oven Baked French Toast for dessert; I think that would be a happy compromise.

What did I end up ordering at Breakfast Club if not the Oven Baked French Toast? Well, because I’m more of a lunch person than a breakfast person, I zeroed in on the sandwiches on the menu and decided on the Pot Roast hoagie with its thinly sliced beef, sauteed onions, gooey provolone, and just the right amount of horseradish sauce, accompanied by a side of mixed fruit. The sandwich was big enough that I was able to save half of it to take away, which I was happy about, because it was super delicious and reheated well in the oven so I could recreate the whole comfort-food-indulgence experience in the comfort of my own home.

Speaking of home-sweet-home, the ambiance of Breakfast Club was sophisticated-cozy; the warm-hued walls, floral accents, paintings and wall hangings, and floral tablecloths evoked the feeling of dining in a loved one’s home.  A chalkboard with the specials of the day also hung on one wall, which my friends ordered from: one had the Benedict Con Queso, and the other had the Cactus Chili Bowl. Both dishes looked amazing, constituted big ol’ portions, and were reportedly quite tasty, too; they had me wishing I could rethink my attitude around eggs (which alas, I’m not a fan of, limiting me from trying many breakfast dishes on restaurant menus).

In addition to ample amounts of egg-centric dishes – including omelets and benedicts plus egg-studded combos and breakfast bowls – Breakfast Club’s breakfast portion of the menu includes various pancake, waffle, and French toast choices, while the lunch portion has the sandwich section I mentioned earlier, plus entree salads, soups, and soup-salad-sandwich combo options.

For me, the most charming aspect of this bustling brunch spot actually involved the part of the meal that is generally the most uncharming: the check presentation. Because on the day we were there, we were each given a chocolate-covered strawberry to go along with our bill. What a delightful way to soften the financial blow to patrons’ pocketbooks! I have no idea whether Breakfast Club does this all day every day or if it’s a gesture limited to Sundays or just-because times, but I thought it was an ingenious above-and-beyond customer-service move, the perfect gesture to distinguish itself from the other area breakfast/lunch joints.

38467 W. 10 Mile Rd.

Farmington Hills, MI 48335

www.breakfastclubfarmingtonhills.com

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284. Bommarito Bakery – October 7, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

BommaritosOct2017-2 (2)BommaritosOct2017-1 (2)I’d never visited Bommarito Bakery in Saint Clair Shores until a few weeks ago; however, I did have a memorable run-in with one of its cassata cakes a few years ago.

A friend of mine had a party at which she presented the cake; I tried some, and my mind was BLOWN. It was the best cassata cake I’d ever had – which is saying a lot, because cassata cake is one of those things I’m particular about – i.e., something I’d previously specifically entrusted Vito’s Bakery in Clinton Township to make for me, because Vito’s cassata cake was THE cassata cake. It was its cannoli filling, with those chunks of chocolate and the perfect amount of cinnamon, that sealed the deal . . . my family and I have long seen Vito’s as the winner in the cannoli-filling department. But here was Bommarito Bakery totally dethroning Vito’s in my mind. What was happening????

After Bommarito and its bomb cassata cake shook up my world and earned my respect, I knew I had to visit the bakery so I could cover it for the blog. Earlier this month, I finally did and learned that Bommarito is much more than a bakery; it’s also a pizzeria, grocery, and wine store.

The evening I was there was a busy one, as it was the night of the annual Michigan vs. Michigan State football game; people were loading up on grub for their viewing parties. I myself was there to pick up a pizza I’d ordered. While waiting in line to pay, I was able to scope out the shop in greater detail.

Not only is this place a purveyor of freshly baked breads, cookies, cream puffs, cannolis, donuts, cakes, pies, and the like, it also offers sub sandwiches and gelato – in addition to the aforementioned pizza. Then there’s the extensive wine selection and the rows of dry and refrigerated groceries. Bommarito Bakery really has all of its bases covered! Not only can you stop there and pick up some tasty baked goods for your next office potluck, while you’re at it, you can grab some subs for dinner, some wine to accompany it, that milk you ran out of, the bread for the kid’s sandwiches, that mind-blowing cassata cake. . . it’s truly a one-stop-shop kind of bakery!

21830 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.bommaritobakery.com

283. Treat Dreams – October 6, 2017 – Detroit, MI

TreatOct2017-1 (2)TreatOct2017-2 (2)During a recent afternoon trip to Detroit to celebrate my birthday with my mom (the mother/daughter b-day thing is kind of an annual tradition), I FINALLY visited Treat Dreams. The local ice cream slingers with shops in the Midtown/Cass Corridor area of Detroit and Ferndale are much renowned for their scrumptious, ever-changing, oft-unique ice cream flavors, so I was excited to try some of their wares.

After studying the chalkboard touting the day’s selections, including such intriguing varieties as lemon basil, pumpkin truffle, and amaretto, we decided to share the Dark Sea Olive Oil, a chocolate concoction (there was really no way it was not gonna be something chocolate for us two; we are both in agreement with chocolate being LIFE). At the last minute, I decided it had to be in a waffle bowl, because what is a better container for ice cream than a fresh-baked waffle bowl? It’s practically a bona-fide fact that it’s numero uno in the ice-cream container department – at least in my mind it is.

The Dark Sea Olive Oil ended up being an amazing choice. It was rich and creamy – likely due in large part to the olive oil – with an irresistible chocolateyness and a perfect hint of sea salt. Perfection!

Another thing I love about Treat Dreams besides its ice cream being hands-down delicious is that it also offers coffee drinks – including COFFEE DRINKS THAT CONTAIN ICE CREAM. Best.idea.EVER. There is an espresso-laced shake, as well as the Affogato al Caffé, which is a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of ice cream. The ladies working the counter told us it’s a real popular one with med students who are studying for finals (no surprise there!). I’m sure we can all think of our own excuses to need one of those in our lives, stat!

4160 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.treatdreams.com

282. Cake Ambition – October 6, 2017 – Detroit, MI

CakeAmbitionOct2017-2 (2)CakeAmbitionOct2017-1 (2)After enjoying lunch at Selden Standard and making a couple of purchases at the lovely independent bookshop Source Booksellers (which I visited for the first time on my birthday last year), my recent birthday celebration downtown with my mom continued in search of sweets. Spurred on by a recommendation of one of the Source clerks who raved about its cheesecake, we went in search of what she called the “cheesecake lady” shop next to Blossoms florist.

After locating the florist, we realized the actual name of the cheesecake shop was Cake Ambition and that it sold much more than cheesecake. The vibrantly colored space (no way you can walk into this place and not smile!) also sold a selection of cupcakes and other baked goods such as coffee cake and spinach pies; old-fashioned candies such as salt-water taffy and striped candy sticks; and packaged goodies produced by other local vendors such as the fabulous Gus & Grey, which you may remember me mentioning in previous blog posts such as this one. Its jams are FANTASTIC, with unique flavor offerings such as the blueberry-lavender Spellbound, which Cake Ambition had in stock and which I decided to purchase.

I wanted to purchase the jam not only because I love Gus & Grey but also because I wanted to support the super-cheery shop and its friendly owner. My mom and I had decided not to purchase any cheesecake from Cake Ambition because there was only one slice currently being offered, and we decided amongst ourselves that we would move on to the other dessert place we’d had in mind instead, which I’ll cover in my next post (hint: it involves ice cream!).

Even though I didn’t sample any of Cake Ambition’s baked goods, I’m happy it was brought to my attention, because now I know not only where to go if I need a shot of childhood-level cheer and nostalgia (I just love the vibe of that colorful shop!), but also where I can order a baller custom cake. The gallery on Cake Ambition’s site shows cakes sculpted into realistic-looking models of athletic shoes, a pirate ship, and the Mad Hatter hat of Alice in Wonderland-fame, to name a few of the works of art displayed there. I am fascinated by the level of artistry obviously required to craft such desserts; these guys are definitely talented!

4154 3rd St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.cakeambition.com

281. Selden Standard – October 6, 2017 – Detroit, MI

SeldenOct2017-3 (2)SeldenOct2017-4 (2)SeldenOct2017-1 (2)October 6 was a very special day for me, because it was my birthday! And I LOVE my birthday. I find birthdays to be the ultimate excuse for myself to turn off that go-go-go, disciplined part of me that generally won’t quit and just chilling, doing what I want, and celebrating the fact that I got to spend another year on the planet.

I DO NOT work on my birthday. I haven’t since 2010. Generally my mom will take the day off with me, and we’ll spend the day together. That’s what we did this year – and the best part is, we made it a Detroit Day!!!!

Yes, we did one of my favorite things on the planet: spend the afternoon downtown, starting with a birthday lunch at a restaurant I’d been curious about for years, Selden Standard.

In case you haven’t heard of this much-lauded restaurant, Selden Standard is in the Cass Corridor neighborhood. It’s a modern-looking establishment with a bright and clean ambiance: lots of gray and white, bricks and concrete, wood-planked ceilings and wooden countertops.

It was busy on the Friday we were there; we were offered seats at the bar and the chef’s counter near the wood-fired oven and bustling kitchen crew. We chose seats at the latter and had an open view of the kitchen beyond it, which looked very clean and professional. I always appreciate a restaurant that’s not afraid to give a window into its kitchen to guests!

Selden Standard is big on shareable plates, we learned from our server. My mom and I had different things that we wanted to try, so we each got two of our own dishes. I had the Heirloom Tomato Salad and the Chicken Sugo pasta, which were both phenomenal. The flavorful heirloom tomatoes in that first dish were paired with an irresistibly creamy ricotta, crispy fried bread, and my favorite touch, mint – which I wouldn’t have expected to go so perfectly with the tomatoes and cheese, but it so did. The Chicken Sugo with campanelle noodles, tomato, ricotta, and fennel was wonderfully rich in flavor, with this lovely smokiness to it. My mom enjoyed her potato soup (which was the soup of the day) and the Grilled Shrimp with eggplant, peppers, and pickles.

It was a special birthday meal, one that I felt privileged to be out enjoying in a city I love on a weekday when I normally otherwise would have been working. Sometimes, I remind myself during times like these, you really do need to say “F’ it!” to all of the obligations and to-dos and take time out specifically to have fun so you can remember how fun life can really be – and if you can’t do that on your b-day, when can you?

Worth mentioning: Selden Standard has pretty specific hours; it’s closed for a few hours between lunch and dinner (or brunch and dinner on the weekends). Lunch currently runs from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; brunch is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; dinner is from 5 to 10 p.m. every day. The bar area has slightly extended evening hours; it’s open from 4:30 to 11 p.m. every day.

3921 Second Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.seldenstandard.com

280. Luigi’s – October 3, 2017 – Harrison Township, MI

LuigisOct2017-1 (2)LuigisOct2017-2 (2)I’m always thrilled to discover another legit, family-owned, real-deal Italian restaurant in the Detroit area, because I am an Italian-restaurant snob. I am a quarter Italian via the bloodline of my beloved maternal grandmother, who was second-generation Italian-American (her parents’ parents were from Italy), and I always wish I was more Italian; I romanticize that part of my heritage, because what’s not to like? For one, Italian food is LIFE. All that garlic and sauce and cheese and spices and rich flavor – the BEST! OK, I know there is more to being Italian than the food, but the food does play an integral role in the culture – and for good reason, given its sky-high deliciousness factor.

Luigi’s in Harrison Township is one of those legit, family-owned, real-deal Italian restaurants peddling cuisine steeped in sky-high deliciousness. According to its website, it’s been around since 1953, which I wasn’t surprised to find out, as the restaurant interior has a real old-school vibe. It feels like a bit of a labyrinth as you wind through the low-ceilinged, multi-roomed structure – but in the coziest of ways.

The restaurant is dimly lit; red twinkle lights festoon the dining area around the bar; the tables are intimately close together and covered in red-and-white-checked tablecloths. The ladies room is hilariously tiny; the walls of its only stall are super low, where my head was sticking clear up above them while I was standing in there. A lady who was waiting in line while I was in there and I were cracking up because it felt awkwardly intimate; we’re locking eyes as I’m finishing up going to the bathroom. Not your usual restroom-stall setup in 2017! If you’re a woman and tall in heels as I am, maybe don’t wear them on the day you visit Luigi’s – or do if you want a laugh.

Anyway, enough about Luigi’s amusing bathroom proportions – let’s talk about the food! I’m on a real eggplant parmesan kick lately, so that’s what I ordered. It was perfection: crispy-fried breaded eggplant covered with mozzarella cheese, cradled on a bed of linguine doused in tomato sauce. From my recollection, eggplant parm isn’t on Luigi’s menu, but of course they’ll make it for you, because every Italian restaurant worth its salt will make you eggplant parmesan (and it will be DELICIOUS.). A quality side-salad came with meal – it was actual greens, not some sad iceberg concoction being passed off as a salad, which I much appreciated. I had a glass of pinot noir and a slice of rich, creamy tiramisu for dessert and was thoroughly stuffed by the time my bill came. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the entire meal cost just over $28 before the tip, which I found quite reasonable, especially given the generous portions.

If you’re in the area and looking to visit Luigi’s (you so should!), it’s definitely worth noting that its website currently states that it will be shut down for construction in the near future; the expected dates of closure are October 30 to November 20, 2017 (maybe the ladies’ room is getting a remodel?). Here’s hoping the renovations will retain the restaurant’s singular charm.

36691 Jefferson Ave.

Harrison Twp., Michigan 48045

www.luigisoriginal.com

279. Chomp – September 26, 2017 – Rochester, MI

October2017Chomp1 (2)This week I learned that the holiday lights start appearing on the buildings in downtown Rochester in mid-October. Mid-October! I’m not ready for that time of year yet and am trying to block out all references to it that I’m starting to see (I’m steadfastly one of those “It’s still fall!” people). Downtown Rochester did otherwise give off autumn vibes when I was down there Monday evening, with pots of mums on display and fallen leaves skittering about on a brisk wind.

The reason I was in downtown Rochester Monday was to take a re-take photo of Chomp, a restaurant I visited for lunch a few weeks ago and where I enjoyed a ridiculously good sandwich, The Nolan, an amalgamation of – get this – turkey, bacon, Brie, fig jam, arugula, and pear. It was HEAVEN. I mean, a turkey sandwich with rich Brie AND sweet fig jam AND peppery arugula AND juicy pear AND bacon – are you kidding me???? It was fantastic.

Chomp’s menu in general abounds with amazing-sounding sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas, and burgers that I need to return and sample more of. Raw juices and smoothies are also offered.

The restaurant is a casual establishment. You walk up and order at a counter, then can take a seat in the dining area, and your sandwich will be brought out to you. Our food was delivered promptly on the day I was there, despite the fact that a sizable lunch crowd had descended upon the tiny establishment.

I believe the best restaurant meals are the ones that make you think about them for days after eating them. The Nolan was certainly on my mind after my encounter with it; I mused about recreating it at home but have yet to do so. But I know that with months of cold weather and waning daylight setting in, I’ll be looking for things like that sandwich to be bright spots in my day (because inevitably it’s the little things that brighten life, isn’t it?). And if I can’t recreate that bacon-Brie-arugula-pear-and-fig-jam turkey sandwich, well, I certainly know where I can find it.

200 S Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

278. A Bean to Go – September 23, 2017 – Lake Orion, MI

Bean1Bean3I had the BEST ICED COFFEE OF MY LIFE at A Bean to Go in downtown Lake Orion a few weeks ago. It was prepared with cold-brewed coffee, and it was wonderfully rich in flavor – not at all like the watery iced coffee you’re presented with at some java joints. And it was strong – that coffee had me revving for hours afterward! Granted, that’s not a hard thing to achieve in someone with a low caffeine threshold like me, but still. What I’m trying to say is, this stuff is the good stuff!

I had to lead with that information because it was the first thing that popped into my head when I thought of A Bean to Go as I sat down to write – that COFFEE! While the delightful cold-brew sealed the deal, I’d gathered that I’d like the Lake Orion shop from the moment I stepped into its interior with its rustic-chic, inviting vibe and plenty of work spaces. This is the perfect place to camp out and get some writing, studying, or other work done whilst infusing one’s veins with a steady stream of delectably-flavored caffeine.

No wonder A Bean to Go has such excellent coffee; it roasts its own beans at its facility in Goodrich, MI, where it also has another coffee shop location, as I found out on its website. It sells bags of its various bean blends in the Lake Orion shop and on its website.

Not only did I get to experience another Grade-A coffee shop in the Metro-Detroit area with this visit (I collect them like baseball cards!), I also was able to represent Lake Orion on 100 Places in the D. Yes, Lake Orion is a new-to-the-blog city! We’ve got back-to-back repping-new-cities posts with this one and yesterday’s on Colasanti’s!

While I’m on the topic of Lake Orion, can I comment on how cute its downtown is? It was my first time down there, and I was digging its picturesque small-town vibes. I will definitely be going back there at some time in the foreseeable future – at the very least to revisit to A Bean to Go.

16 West Flint St.

Lake Orion, MI 48362

www.abeantogo.com

277. Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe – September 17, 2017 – Highland, MI

Colasanti's1 (2)Colasanti's2Highland is represented on 100 Places in the D!

I feel particularly joyous about Highland being a new-to-the-blog city because of its distance from where I live in Macomb County (it’s an hour due west of me). I was slated to trek out there for a friend’s baby shower, and I thought, “hmm, could I kill two birds with one stone and get a 100 Places visit in, too?”

Happily, the shower venue was about a mile from Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe, a produce market-slash-butcher shop that piqued my interest.

I was curious about the two names attached to this establishment and discovered the backstory on its website. Snook’s Butcher Shoppe opened on its own in 1979; it moved inside Colasanti’s Market in 1989 at the prompting of the grocery store. Then in 2007, the owner of Snook’s purchased Colasanti’s, and the two entities officially merged. So that’s why the long name!

I am somewhat obsessed with gourmet markets (selecting high-quality produce is a joy to me – nerdy I know, but it’s an art form!), so it’s no surprise that I loved this joint. The large, well-stocked facility is a home-chef’s haven; it offers everything from rows and rows of gorgeous fresh produce; the butcher counter; a plethora of grocery items; baked goods; prepared meals; an ample wine and craft-beer area; bulk foods – AND it has an affiliation with English Gardens where it lets them sell in its parking lot.

If you are in the market for some fresh produce, some fancy hummus, some singular salsa, some fall-focused flowers, or if you are like me and simply like to visit these kinds of places to decompress and get inspiration, then you’ve got to check out this grocery store with the mouthful of a name! Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe, you are AWESOME.

468 S Milford Rd.

Highland, MI 48357

www.colasantis.com

276. Lyla’s Catering – September 16, 2017 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

Lyla's1Lyla's2Lyla's3 (2)On the jaunt from an Arts and Scraps donation run in Detroit to Saint Clair Shores, I decided lunch was in order and that this would be the perfect opportunity to visit Lyla’s Catering, a Lebanese catering and carry-out establishment I’d read about in Hour Detroit a few years ago. And with that Grosse Pointe Woods, a new-to-the-blog city, was represented!

Four of the five Grosse Pointe neighborhoods have now been repped on 100 Places in the D (Grosse Pointe Shores is left). But the most important thing about that day is that I got a scrumptious, flavorful, filling meal at Lyla’s.

I stepped into its sunny orange interior and ordered from the friendly owners the fatoush salad with grilled chicken, plus two spinach pies and two pieces of baklava. They were ready quickly, and I ate a portion of the huge fatoush salad while sitting at one of the two tables inside Lyla’s, savoring the freshness of the greens,  tomato chunks, cucumber slices, and crispy pita chips tossed in the garlic, lemon, and olive oil dressing and the slices of warm marinated chicken breast. What a perfect on-the-go meal: healthful and hearty and void of processed ingredients!

I had the rest of the salad for dinner that night, as well as one of the spinach pies and both pieces of the baklava. The triangular dough-encased mini pie with its vibrant spinach filling had this irresistible hint of nutmeg, and the baklava with its honey-drenched layers of phyllo dough was straight-up addictive.

Lyla’s has both its carry-out and catering menus on its website, so you can check out their offerings and order ahead should you decide to visit – which I highly recommend you do!

20083 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.lylascatering.com