Month: February 2018

307. Thai Street Kitchen – February 14, 2018 – Bloomfield Hills, MI

February2018ThaiStKitchen2 (2)February2018ThaiStKitchen4 (2)Today’s post recounts a visit made on Valentine’s Day, which was already almost two weeks ago.

Valentine’s Day was two weeks ago? We are at the end of February already? Where has the year gone????

2018 is melting away faster than snow melting in a thaw. And yet, I can’t say I’m sad about it.

To say winter is my least favorite season is an understatement. But it also realistically makes up a third of our year here in Michigan, so I work with being in the moment every day and loving where we’re at seasonally. And also, I am thrilled that it’s almost March. We’re GONNA make it, people!

Delightful times like this most recent Valentine’s Day make it so much easier for me to love where we’re at in the throes of almost-gone-but-still-here winter. On that day, I got to see my dear friend from Mt. Pleasant and have dinner with her at Thai Street Kitchen in Bloomfield Hills when she was down here dropping her husband off at the airport. We got to be Galentines!

In case you ever need a Metro-Detroit meeting point that is right off I-75, may I suggest Thai Street Kitchen? It’s conveniently located near the expressway, on Woodward Avenue near Square Lake Road and the I-75 Square Lake exit (and a few minutes from the M-59 I-75 exit). More importantly, its food is tasty.

During my visit, I enjoyed an order of beef curry noodles that was deliciously creamy and perfectly spiced – actually hot like I ordered it. So many Thai restaurants seem to not believe me when I say I like it HOT! (or have a more watered-down definition of hot than I do). Not so with Thai Street Kitchen; they brought the heat perfectly, and the server even left a spice tray on the table in case I wanted to add more (which wasn’t necessary given that the dish was perfect as-is).

Despite it being Valentine’s Day, Thai Street kitchen’s small, pleasant dining room was not especially busy. I expect the place gets more carryout business than dining-in patrons, but the orange-hued interior with ornate designs painted on the walls is elegant and cozy.

The restaurant’s menu contains iconic Thai dishes such as the Curry Noodles, Drunken Noodle, and everybody’s favorite, Pad Thai, plus soups like the classic Hot and Sour and appetizers such as Chicken Satay and Spring Rolls. A selection of organic teas are also offered.

Service was prompt and attentive. When my friend commented to our waiter at the end of the meal that her dish wasn’t quite what she expected, the chef came out and offered to cook her a new plate of whatever she wanted for free. I was quite impressed by that. It’s basic customer service, but not every restaurant will insist on cooking a new dish free of charge for a guest at the end of a meal.

Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, or any other day of the year: Thai Street Kitchen, you are a keeper in my book!

42805 Woodward Ave.

Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

www.thaistreetkitchen.com

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100 Places in the D’s Top 10 Places Visited in Blog Year 4!

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The Keep (Visit #273)

It’s time for one of my favorite posts: a top-ten post!

Today I’ll be highlighting my absolute fave visits completed during the recently ended Blog Year 4, which ran from February 8, 2017 through February 7, 2017. There are some goodies!

Seven of the top ten happen to be places located in Detroit, which may reflect my bias toward the city – but in my defense, Detroit does house a boat-load of magical places. And frankly, I’m happy to favor the D whenever I can, because it deserves some love!

So here they are, listed in no particular order [DRUM ROLL . . .]

100 PLACES IN THE D’S TOP 10 PLACES VISITED IN BLOG YEAR 4:

Stache International (#294, Detroit): Those Firecracker Bites! That Turkey Mondulo sandwich! The kitchen crew at this Eastern Market sandwich joint/watering hole are culinary wizards.

The Keep (#273, Detroit): If I brought a stack of books to this dimly-lit, cozy basement bar with a friendly vibe and delicious craft cocktails, I would most decidedly never leave. The Keep is a KEEPER!

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Narrow Way Café and Shop (Visit #271)

–Narrow Way Café and Shop (#271, Detroit): What a delight this place is! From the beautifully mod, soothing ambiance to the wonderfully friendly staff to the delicious coffee drinks and pastries, I kinda-sorta-most-definitely fell in love with this Avenue of Fashion-based coffee shop.

Taqueria Alma (#240, Center Line): Mexican food is LIFE to me. Taqueria Alma crafts Mexican food of the ultimate life-affirming variety (try the steak tacos – SOOOO good).

–Apparatus Room (#274, Detroit): Housed in a former fire station and the current Detroit Foundation Hotel, this chic restaurant is about more than its stunning ambiance: the food is mouthwateringly good (heck yes, Crispy Confit Chicken Sandwich!).

–Axle Brewing (#258, Ferndale): Heaven is . . . a summertime evening spent gorging on some of the best food of your life with friends at a super-sweet brewery (whose beers are pretty damn good, too).

–Wright & Co. (#251, Detroit): If I was stuck repeating a day from my past in a

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The Fresh Potato Chips from Wright & Co. (Visit #251)

continuous loop à la Groundhog Day, I would not be disappointed if the one that repeated was the day I visited Wright & Co. To be trapped in a scenario where I visit a gorgeously classy establishment with KILLER food and drink again and again and again – yes, please!

–KouZina (#250, Royal Oak): Once I finally visited KouZina, I was like “How have I never been here before?” Building my own signature Greek bowl loaded with fresh meat, rice, and veggies was a legit highlight of my summer. That spicy feta sauce is STELLAR!

–Treat Dreams (#283, Detroit): I’m admittedly not a big ice cream person – unless the ice cream is next-level good like Treat Dreams’ is. The dark chocolate variety with sea salt and olive oil that I had on my birthday there was a revelation. Now THAT is ice cream!

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The life-changing tacos of Taqueria el Rey (Visit #286)

–Taqueria el Rey (#286, Detroit): The carnitas tacos I got from this unassuming Mexicantown restaurant were unequivocally the best tacos of my life thus far. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing they were, so fresh and juicy and flavorful, with that creamy jalapeño sauce . . .. They are the MIC DROP of tacos! They are a shining example of the wondrousness that can be found when venturing outside of the familiar and into the unknown – and why I adore working on this blog so much!

306. Peppy’s Pizza – February 13, 2018 – Troy, MI

February2018Peppys2 (2)February2018Peppys3 (3)February2018Peppys4 (3)You know that place in your neighborhood that you’ve passed by for years and always meant to visit but still haven’t? That was Peppy’s for me – until I went there for the first time last Tuesday.

Peppy’s is not in my neighborhood, per say, but it’s close to where my mom and stepdad live, so I’ve driven by it a lot over the years – so much so that it feels like it’s in my neighborhood. My mom had told me that the little carryout joint made good pasties and other foods such as pizza, subs, and baked goods, and I’d long been curious to check it out.

Fast-forward to last week when, in the throes of a ravenous attack of hunger, I finally made a pit stop at the place after spontaneously deciding to pull into Peppy’s parking lot on the way to my mom’s house. New-place time!

Peppy’s neat, tiny storefront interior was dominated by glass display cases of pasties and other baked goodies, plus large overhead menus including chicken, ribs, pierogies, salads, fish ‘n’ chips, appetizer side dishes, and desserts such as seven-layer cake and baklava – in addition to an extensive selection of pizza, pasties, and grinders.

I’ve never met a piece of baklava that I didn’t like, so I knew I had to add two pieces of the pistachio variety to my order. I also picked up two of the pasties, one beef and one spinach-and-feta.

The pasties were large; cutting them in half produced two solid pie-like slices. Both were delicious! The spinach-and-feta one was especially amazing with its rich, savory filling, and the beef pasty was warming and hearty with its ground meat, cubed potatoes, diced carrot, and onion. The crust used for both was addictively good.

And the baklava! It was soooo on point, with its butter- and honey-saturated, nut-studded layers of phyllo dough (DELECTABLE!). I think I need to add “eat more baklava” to my list of 2018 resolutions – for real!

If adding more baklava to your life sounds like a fine goal to you, too, go check out Peppy’s! And while you’re at it, pick up some dinner from that extensive carryout menu (unless the baklava IS dinner, which does sound like a very fine dinner, indeed!).

5965 Livernois Rd.

Troy, Mi 48098

(Open 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; closed Sundays)

www.peppyspizza.com

100 Places in the D’s YEAR FOUR REVIEW!

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#256, Red Crown of Grosse Pointe Park, a Blog Year Four visit

Hey, guys – happy Friday! I’m so excited to bring you today’s post: 100 Places in the D’s YEAR FOUR REVIEW!

I love doing these reviews of recently ended blogging years because they give me an opportunity to geek out over stats about the kinds of places I’ve visited for 100 Places in the D over the last year, which I find so, so fun. So I’ll dive right in and chat about Blog Year Four, which ran from February 8, 2017 to February 7, 2018 (I base the blogging years around the anniversary of the date of my first visit for 100 Places in the D, which was February 8, 2014).

I’ve gotten into the habit of creating goals for myself for each blogging year, and my goals for Blog Year Four were as follows:

Visit 71 new places, so I can hit 300 overall visits since the blog’s inception.

Have at least 12 of those visits be to establishments located in new-to-the-blog cities (cities in the tri-county Metro-Detroit area that have not yet been represented on 100 Places in the D).

Visit at least 20 places in the city of Detroit itself (because I heart going down to Detroit, and this blog is after all named 100 Places in the D, so I want it to be the city I represent the most).

I’m happy to report that I achieved all three of these goals! I visited 76 total new places in Blog Year Four, hitting 305 total visits for the blog. Twenty-five of those visits were within the city of Detroit. And I visited these 12 new-to-the-blog cities:

-Beverly Hills

-Center Line

-Chesterfield

-Farmington Hills

-Grosse Pointe Park

-Grosse Pointe Woods

-Hamtramck

-Highland

-Keego Harbor

-Lake Orion

-Romeo

-Utica

I was especially excited to achieve the 12 new-to-the-blog cities milestone because I attempted it in Blog Year Three and fell short (I only visited six new-to-the-blog cities that year – wah wah). I want to continue to expand the list of cities I’ve covered on the blog, so I aim to keep that in mind during Blog Year Five.

That being said, I only have one official goal for Blog Year Five – but it’s a big one, and I’m very excited about it. In Blog Year Five, I plan to [DRUM ROLL. . .]: Visit 50 new places in the city of Detroit!!!!

Yes, 50 new places visited in Detroit alone from February 8, 2018 through February 7, 2019! It’s a HUGE endeavor – an average of about one visit per week to Detroit – but I’m psyched for the challenge.

I LOVE Detroit; I love visiting it, and while driving around its streets with their oft-confusing mash-ups of one-ways and circuitous routings periodically throws me into near-panic-attack mode (driving is SO not my fave thing in the world), I believe that with intention and planning, I can totally achieve this goal.

I considered making the goal to actually visit one new place in Detroit every week of the blogging year, but that quickly felt too restrictive. I realized that I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I felt like I must go downtown every single week, even when it didn’t make sense: to feel compelled to sit in rush hour for over an hour post-work on a Tuesday to drive 30 miles downtown, pay $10 for parking, and spend half an hour eating a sandwich bought somewhere convenient before again entering the thick traffic on my pilgrimage back home just so I could get a visit in for the week (as I found myself attempting to do this Tuesday before opting for the blessedly more flexible goal). I never want going downtown to feel like a chore; I want it to feel like the magical foray that it is.

So that’s my big ol’ goal for Blog Year Five! In case you’re interested in a geographical breakdown of where the 76 new-to-me restaurants, bars, shops, venues, parks, and the like I visited in Blog Year Four were located, the following stats provide further illumination (I love nerding out to this stuff!):

Number of places visited in Blog Year Four: 76

Number of cities visited: 27

Breakdown by county: Macomb: 16; Oakland: 30; Wayne: 30

Breakdown by city:

Detroit: 25 (nearly one-third of all the visits!)

Ferndale: 6

Rochester: 5

Saint Clair Shores: 5

Grosse Pointe Woods: 3

Royal Oak: 3

Troy: 3

Beverly Hills: 2

Clarkston: 2

Harrison Township: 2

Pontiac: 2

Rochester Hills: 2

Romeo: 2

Center Line: 1

Chesterfield: 1

Clawson: 1

Clinton Township: 1

Farmington Hills: 1

Grosse Pointe Park: 1

Hamtramck: 1

Highland: 1

Keego Harbor: 1

Lake Orion: 1

Macomb: 1

Mount Clemens: 1

Utica: 1

Warren: 1

Look out for a related Blog Year Four post to drop next week showcasing my top-ten fave visits of the 76 achieved over the last year (always a fun round-up!).

305. Daddy’s Doughnuts – January 25, 2018 – Utica, MI

January2018DaddysDonuts1 (3)January2018DaddysDonuts2 (3)January2018DaddysDonuts5 (2)Utica is represented on 100 Places in the D! It’s crazy to me that it took me nearly four years to visit a place there given that I live in close proximity to it, but there you go: Utica is the 12th of the new-to-the-blog-cities visited in Blog Year Four (goal achieved!).

Blog Year Four ended on Wednesday, February 7, and Daddy’s Doughnuts in Utica was my last visit during that period. So look out for a Blog Year Four review soon, where I’ll nerd out on all of the stats related to this most recent of the completed 100 Places blogging years, as well as a top-ten post where I’ll gush over my faves of the bunch visited during this time period. There have been some gems!

Daddy’s Doughnuts might have to be in contention for that top-ten list. I’d been intrigued by it since the sign for the bakery – which is (dangerously) along my route to work – appeared in the weeks preceding its opening.  There are certainly things in this world less intriguing than fresh-baked, frosting-coated little rings o’ cakey goodness, am I right?

And Daddy’s Doughnuts has an angle on the way it presents its rings o’ cakey goodness: it tops them to order. You can either choose from the twelve signature Daddy’s Dozen frosting-and-toppings-bedecked offerings or create your own custom-topped donuts by mining ingredients such as maple glaze, marshmallow drizzle, crushed Oreos, graham cracker crumbs, and Fruity Pebbles. Either way, the Daddy’s crew will bedazzle those babies with icing and toppings right in front of you.

For nine dollars, I got a half-dozen of select Daddy’s Dozen donuts (one Minty Thin with its chocolate frosting, chocolate sprinkles, and mint drizzle; one Breakfast with its maple frosting and bacon pieces; one Chocolate Covered Pretzel with its chocolate frosting, pretzel pieces, and caramel drizzle; one Peanut Butter Jelly with its peanut butter frosting, crushed peanuts, and grape jelly drizzle; and two Blackouts with their chocolate frosting, Oreo pieces, and chocolate drizzle, because chocolate is LIFE).

Plus, in compensation for signing up for Daddy’s rewards club, I received another (free) donut – how awesome is that?

I dig this bakery not only because of its made-to-order approach, myriad of toppings options, and rewards club but also for its friendly employees, whimsical donut pillows piled onto the window-seat bench seating, and digital clock on display counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, and days until National Donut Day – which is June 1, FYI (how fun is that?).

I also adore that in addition to dealing up donuts, Daddy’s offers fresh-brewed coffee and tea from Michigan-based companies. Yay to that!

But most of all, I love Daddy’s Doughnuts for its donuts. The frosting-slathered, toppings-loaded beauties taste as good as they look, all fresh and soft and gooey and flavorful – and that’s the most crucial component of why this bakery is so awesome. If you’re in need of a pre-work pick-me-up, you know where to go!

8413 Hall Rd.

Utica, MI 48317

www.daddysdoughnuts.com

304. 8° Plato Beer Company – January 15, 2018 – Detroit, MI

January2018Plato1 (3)January2018Plato3 (2)8º Plato Beer Company is in the house today!

I’d long been curious about this beer store in the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit, and after lunch at Red Dunn a few weeks ago, my ale-aficionado friend and I stumbled across it and decided to give it a go.

All I can say is Holy Hops! there is a lot of beer here. I mean, obvi, it is a beer store – and it’s a good one, its shelves being stocked with popular local craft ales and ciders and more obscure (at least from my novice perspective) brews from around the globe. Beer-related merchandise such as t-shirts and snacks are offered, as well. A multitude of brews are on tap, too, so it can act as your growler filling station, and there’s a bar counter so you can sit and enjoy a pint in-house.

We decided to cozy up to that bar rail to kill an hour tucked away from the swirling snowscape outside the window and reality in general. (Spending time downtown characteristically has this whimsical effect on me, where I feel like I’m escaping oft-mundane everyday life when I hang out there. It is pretty magical there compared with cookie-cutter-chain-establishment-littered suburbia.).

While we were sitting there, the friendly bartender offered us samples of two sour beers that had recently come in, the names of which totally slip my mind. I do remember that the draft pint I enjoyed was Cheboygan Brewing Co.’s Blood Orange Honey, one of the many Michigan craft brews on draft.

I’m all about lauding the Mitten-made products, so I’m happy that 8º Plato Beer Company is yet another local outlet helping to hype them up. And bonus: the store has another location, on Nine Mile Road in Ferndale.

3409 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

http://8degreesplato.com

303. Red Dunn Kitchen – January 15, 2018 – Detroit, MI

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Happy Friday, and Happy Snow Day to those of my friends in the Metro-Detroit area! The white stuff is currently coming down hard over here, and I’m safely ensconced at home with no intention to burrow out until the a.m. You know I love me some exploring – but I’m wholly content in this case to put that on pause until the blizzard’s roaring ceases and the roadways’ surfaces are cleared.

Brave souls, if you live around here and are itching to get out of the house despite the snow and before your cabin fever consumes you, may I suggest a downtown adventure? The last time I ventured to Detroit, on snowy Martin Luther King Day, I had a most delightful lunch at Red Dunn Kitchen in Corktown.

The restaurant is connected to the Trumball and Porter Hotel, a recently renovated, chic-and-modern boutique accommodation. I didn’t scope out its interior during my visit, but in photos on its website, the hotel looks AWESOME – very fresh and fun.

And, I discovered, the restaurant it’s adjacent to is top-notch! The Red Dunn Kitchen is certainly worth a visit and gives me another reason to declare Corktown as my favorite of the Detroit neighborhoods (I can SO see myself living there someday – especially if the parking situation stays as relatively easeful as it is. Easeful parking is one way to my heart, for sure.).

I hardcore dug the restaurant’s clean, contemporary décor and prevalence of blues and whites. It was amazing to indulge in the whole lady-who-lunches thing there, sipping a Spanish coffee while I gazed out at the snow drifting across the hotel courtyard and felt grateful to be inside, cozy and warm.

Red Dunn’s lunch menu consists of an eclectic collection of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. Jonesing for some “Green Eggs and Ham”? They’re a starter on Red Dunn’s menu, in the form of deviled eggs topped with chives, bacon, and paprika.

Is a Cuban sammie more your thing? Red Dunn’s got it. How about corned beef, blackened shrimp, or Red Wine Braised Short Rib sandwiches? Check, check, and check: Red Dunn’s got ya covered on the cured cow, spicy seafood, and boozy rib-meat fronts.

After much deliberation around all of this gastronomical goodness, I got the Two Crispy Pork Belly Tacos with their caramelized shredded pork, carrot, daikon radishes, greens, cashews, and kimchi mayo. I paired the flavorful Asian-fusion tacos with a side version of the Simple Salad – which with its fresh, unboring greens, tomato, cucumber, scallions, and zesty Green Goddess dressing was a total pleasure to eat; I wasn’t pining for the French fries I’d passed up (Win!).

The Red Dunn dinner menu features more refined, supper-esque fare: Marinated-Grilled Strip Steak, Fried Chicken Roulade, and House-Made Cuttlefish Ink Fettuccini, for instance. The breakfast menu offers fancy versions of a.m. favorites, such as Almond-Ricotta Pancakes (YUM!) and Smoked Salmon Benedict.

While Red Dunn Kitchen would be a total slam-dunk to visit at any time of the year, now that I think about it, it’s the PERFECT place to hang out during a snowstorm, what with it being connected to a gorgeous boutique hotel and all. There’s respite right there should you not want to engage in the familiar wintertime post-meal rituals of shoveling out your car and skidding about the icy roads.

1331 Trumbull St., Suite 100

Detroit, MI 48216

(Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, starting at 7 a.m. daily)

www.reddunnkitchen.com

302. Garrido’s – January 14, 2018 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

January2018Garridos1 (2)January2018Garridos2 (2)Today’s post feels especially appropriate for me given that I’ve just returned from a 10-day vacation in South America (Ecuador, specifically): the lovely Garrido’s of Grosse Pointe Woods is being represented on the blog!

The bistro’s menu packed with popular Venezuelan dishes reminds me of fare I consumed while in Ecuador. The Venezuelan Pabellón that I tried during my visit to Garrido’s was healthful deliciousness with its tender shredded beef, rice, black beans, and the kicker: tajadas (ripe plantains).

Man, were those tajadas AMAZING! How can something as simple as a plantain be so mouthwateringly packed with flavor? Caramelized, flavorful, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness constituted those tajadas. I gobbled them with relish, as I did the rest of the  Venezuelan Pabellón dish.

I felt so good about eating this healthful dinner that I figured there was room for dessert, so I capped off the meal with Garrido’s Deep-Fried Cheesecake with Berry Party. The New York-style cheesecake wrapped in fried dough and served with a berry compote was yes, as glorious as it sounds.

What’s on Garrido’s menu besides the Venezuelan Pabellón and the bomb fried cheesecake? There are various appetizers, including fried plaintain chips with pico de gallo and guasacaca (a Venezuelan avocado sauce similar to guacamole) and Venezuelan Tequeños (cheese wrapped in dough and deep-fried). There are arepas (corn-flatbread sandwiches) stuffed to the gills with goodies such as shrimp, black beans, and avocado-bacon-and-cheese-slathered burgers. There are a variety of seafood dishes, including paella, pastas, and a stew loaded with scallops, shrimp, squid, and octopus.

Other traditional Latin fare plus entrée salads and a more eclectic assortment of dishes (spaghetti with lamb meatballs; ahi tuna steak; beef stroganoff) round out the food menu, which is capped by desserts including that fried cheesecake, plus a molten chocolate cake and churros.

While the bistro doesn’t serve booze, it has an in-depth non-alcoholic drink menu – one loaded with various teas, smoothies, and coffee drinks. I NEED to go back and try its extreme hot-chocolate concoction: check out the drink section on Garrido’s menu to see what I mean! This sucker is STACKED (literally) with more than just the typical steamed chocolate milk; it’s a veritable tower of goodies.

It’s obvious that I’m not the only one in the area who is feeling Garrido’s, as the intimate little place quickly became packed during the Sunday evening that I visited it. With good food and a cozy, inviting vibe, it’s an obvious choice if you’re looking to dine within the Grosse Pointes.

19605 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.garridosbistro.com