Month: April 2018

321. Megha’s Athidhi Indian Cuisine – April 21, 2018 – Sterling Heights, MI

April2018MeghasAthidhi1 (2)

Somehow, I’m never eating as much Indian food as I want to be. It’s a cuisine I adore but tend to forget about, so I’m always excited when someone who I’m planning to dine with proposes it. And when the Indian restaurant proposed to me is a new-to-me place? Well, you KNOW I’m THRILLED about that!

So it was last weekend, when I was introduced to Megha’s Athidhi Indian Cuisine in Sterling Heights and its aloo gobi and garlic naan.

Aloo gobi, you warming dish of cauliflower and potato tossed in a spicy, curry-infused sauce, how I adore thee! Megha’s Athidhi aloo gobi was on point: infused with rich spices, fresh mint, and sautéed onion and tomato, plus the perfect level of heat (I like my Indian food HOT, and the spice level didn’t disappoint me here). It was served with white rice and perfect for scooping up with the garlic naan, which was wonderfully fresh and chewy and flavorful.

I didn’t eat at Megha’s Athidhi; my friend and I ordered carryout and devoured it in front of the TV while binging Fuller House episodes (OBSESSED – keep the reboots of beloved ’90s sitcoms from my childhood coming, please!), which I highly recommend as an delightful way to enjoy this delightful Indian fare. While I can’t speak to the level of the dine-in service at the restaurant, I can vouch for our carryout orders being ready in a timely manner and the man at the pick-up counter being polite and pleasant.

While I zeroed in on one of my two Indian-cuisine obsessions while perusing Megha’s Athidhi’s menu (chicken vindaloo is my other love besides aloo gobi), I found it to be loaded with a ton more vegetarian and meat-centered entrees, appetizers, and soups. My mouth is watering and my stomach growling as I again scan the menu on the restaurant’s website and dream of being there for lunch.

Speaking of lunch, Megha’s Athidhi offers a mid-day buffet spread on weekdays. All-you-can-eat Indian buffets are, in my book, the best type of all-you-can-eat buffet – really the only kind that I adore at this point. I have a feeling I won’t be forgetting how much I love Indian cuisine anytime soon with that lunchtime smorgasbord on my mind!

2079 15 Mile Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48310

www.miathidhi.com

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320. La Mia Lebanese Cuisine – April 18, 2018 – Clinton Township, MI

April2018LaMia1 (2)April2018LaMia2 (3)Shout-out to my friend Jac for introducing me to this gem of a restaurant, La Mia Lebanese Cuisine in Clinton Township!

We went there Wednesday and ordered carryout. I thoroughly enjoyed my shawarma wrap with its grilled pita stuffed with tender chicken, crunchy pickles, and delectably garlicky sauce. The crushed lentil soup was piping-hot, savory deliciousness, as well.

While we didn’t eat in the restaurant, I appreciated the clean, pleasant dining area and friendly service we received. I was also impressed by how quickly our carryout orders came out – they were ready in about five minutes.

I’d not previously heard of La Mia, and I live relatively close to it. It’s on a part of Gratiot Avenue – just south of Hall Road/M-59 – that I don’t often traverse. I’m admittedly fascinated by such unfamiliar pockets, those sections of towns that I live relatively close to yet rarely pass through or visit. They’re one of the best types of places to explore, if you ask me, because they’re near familiar ground and yet feel novel. Ideally, they contain all kinds of intriguing new-to-us establishments just waiting for us to discover them and declare “NEW PLACE TIME!!!!!!!!!”

Whether or not you live in the general vicinity of La Mia and/or are familiar with the neighborhood it’s in, I invite you to check it out if you’re a fan of Mediterranean food and have not yet been there. It’s a goodie!

43998 N Gratiot Ave.
Clinton Township, MI 48036

319. Detroit Public Library – April 7, 2018 – Detroit, MI

April2018DetroitPublicLibrary1 (2)April2018DetroitPublicLibrary2 (2)April2018DetroitPublicLibrary3 (2)April2018DetroitPublicLibrary4 (3)Libraries are some of my very favorite places in the world. So it’s insane to me that I’d never been inside the Detroit Public Library before my visit last Saturday.

At least, I think I’d never been inside the library before then. I’d definitely previously examined the building’s exterior, with the names of famous philosophers and emblem of “Knowledge is power” carved into its white stone, and viewing it again made me wonder, Have I been here before and forgotten? It definitely seems like the kind of place we would’ve toured via a school field trip, such as the downtown architectural tour I took with my high school Humanities class.

Prior to writing this post, I consulted a friend who was in that class and has a memory far superior to mine, and she doesn’t recall touring the Detroit Public Library on that Humanities field trip. Whew. This place is too good not to recount on the blog, so I’m happy to be able to count it as a new-to-me place! And I hope I wouldn’t have forgotten visiting a building with as stunning an interior as this one.

Now, when I’m referring to the Detroit Public Library, I’m referring to the Main branch, the grand old building on Woodward Avenue across from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Did you know there are additional branches of the Detroit Public Library throughout the city – over twenty? I knew there were multiple locations of the DPL before recently perusing its website, but I didn’t realize there were that many!

I count 22 branches of the Detroit Public Library currently on its Locations page of its website; in its About section, it references 23 (perhaps one has closed since that was written). Either way, it’s a heck of a lot of locations, which makes me happy, because in my humble opinion, every neighborhood deserves a library.

Libraries are one of my safe spaces! I find them calm and soothing and peaceful. I’m sure much of why I feel that way has to do with the fact that I’ve adored books since I was a small child. Books are also my happy place; I love, love, love to read. Exploring the world via books is as enjoyable to me as exploring the world in real life is.

Initially, the Detroit Public Library was not looking like it was going to be a safe or happy or enjoyable space at the time of my visit. Approaching it, I heard angry yelling and spied a collection of blue-shirted men clustered near the entrance. I was confused – were the security guards arguing amongst themselves out in public? Turns out, no, the bulk of the yelling was coming from a disgruntled library patron who was being ejected.

Yikes. Libraries are generally safe spaces, but because they are spaces that are free to the public, they are liable to having the occasional tortured soul show up – like that guy, who appeared to be grappling with larger problems than being someone who got kicked out of libraries. The moment energetically threw me off, but it also imbued me with a sense of gratitude for not having bigger issues to deal with in my life than the relatively small ones I wrestle with – and for being someone who doesn’t have to worry about getting kicked out of libraries (since I am OBSESSED with them!). The fracas concluded, my curiosity took over, and I began to explore.

Something I’d assumed about the Detroit Public Library Main branch was that because the building that houses it is large, its collection must be large, as well. I didn’t find that to be the case on my visit. It’s completely possible I missed a huge swath of its collection, but from what I saw, proportionate to the size of the building, the Main Library’s holdings seem to be rather small.

But there is fiction and nonfiction and biographies and graphic novels, a teen’s section of the library, and the Burton Historical Collection, a Detroit-centric historical archive started from the donated private collection of Detroiter Clarence Monroe Burton, which I didn’t see but that sounds impressive from its description on DPL’s website. And let’s not forget that this branch share resources with over twenty other locations across the city, which is kind of mindboggling to contemplate. Over the entire network of libraries, there must be an impressive accumulation of resources.

And the space itself! As is the case with many of the buildings in Detroit, the one that houses the Main branch of the Detroit Public Library is old and elegant. It was built in 1921, in the “Italian Renaissance Style,” according to DPL’s website, and it shares those supremely grand details of that style and era. There are stained glass windows, intricate murals, gold-leaf detailing – beauty that I have neither the architectural aptitude nor vocabulary to describe. It’s stunning – just stunning!

The hall shown in the last photo displayed above was my favorite area of the building. Is that not the most magnificent place to read and work and study? I sat at one of its tables and read for about a half hour, pausing periodically to gaze in wonder at the intricate metalwork of its ceiling and the vibrant murals painted on its walls. That is beauty, my friends – this city is indeed beautiful, in large part because of the many stunning architectural gems, such as this one, that it houses.

5201 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48202

(Closed on Mondays; with over twenty additional locations with varying business hours)

www.detroitpubliclibrary.org

318. Cheng’s Asian Bistro – April 4, 2018 – Sterling Heights, MI

April2018Chengs1 (2)April2018Chengs2 (2)April2018Chengs3 (2)When I saw Cheng’s Asian Bistro in Sterling Heights open up a few years ago, I felt compelled to try it. Having “bistro” in its name made it sound fancy, and I mused over what the food and interior would be like beyond the unpretentious storefront located in a strip mall.

This past Wednesday, I finally made it over to Cheng’s (it cracks me up how often this is the case – that it takes me years rather than weeks to visit a place I’m curious about. Time truly flies, doesn’t it?). My dinner there turned out to be a momentous occasion in my life.

It was a momentous occasion because based off of my experience there, I have decided that I am hereby designating Cheng’s Asian Bistro as my [DRUM ROLL]: Official Chinese Carryout Joint.

If you are like me and rely on having a go-to, tried-and-true Chinese restaurant to order carryout from, one that’s so good you never question switching it, then you likely get what a big deal this is for me to be switching mine.

While overall in my life I adore – no, am OBSESSED with – trying new places, when it comes to Chinese food, I am particular; I’ve thusly ordered takeaway from the same, tried-and-true Chinese restaurant for years. But my former standby has OFFICIALLY BEEN DETHRONED by Cheng’s Asian Bistro.

It was obvious to me when I tasted Cheng’s Kung Pao chicken that it had to be this way. This version of my go-to Chinese dish was the BEST Kung Pao chicken I have ever eaten; it was PERFECT! Its fresh, crunchy vegetables, tender chicken, and optimal heat-level (I ordered the spice level as Hot, and it was my kind of hot – for-reals Hot!) had me raving. I could not stop marveling over how great the meal was during the duration of it, and I could not stop thinking about that Kung Pao chicken for the rest of the night. Cheng’s had hooked me!

So after years of driving by the restaurant and wondering what its food was like, I finally knew it was delicious enough to beat out my as-of-then go-to Chinese carryout joint – no easy feat. Was the inside of Cheng’s Asian Bistro as fancy as its name had suggested to me?

It turns out that the interior isn’t the elegant, dimly-lit environs that I’d envisioned. But it’s clean and bright and pleasant, with yellow-gold walls, dark-stained wood paneling and floors, and colorful pom-poms and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Probably it offers better ambiance than many elegant, dimly-lit establishments, because let’s face it: those places can be stiff and gloomy at times. I’ll take cheery over stiff and gloomy any day.

Service was prompt and friendly at Cheng’s and prices were affordable, too: my Kung Pao dinner combination plate with its fried rice, cup of wonton soup, and egg roll was $10.95; the portion was big enough that I was able to make two meals out of it.

I’m thrilled to have had such a positive experience at Cheng’s Asian Bistro, and I can’t wait to have an excuse to order from my new Official Chinese Carryout Joint! Perhaps a sweatpants-and-movie-and-takeaway night is in order – or a celebratory dinner to commemorate when spring finally makes its way to the D for real (please may that be soon!).

43005 Hayes Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48313

www.chengsasianbistromi.com