Month: July 2018

346. New Order Coffee – July 21, 2018 – Detroit, MI

July2018NewOrderCoffee3 (2)July2018NewOrderCoffee1 (2)July2018NewOrderCoffee2 (3)As I’ve exclaimed in many a post, I ADORE coffee shops – especially locally-owned ones, naturally. So I was thrilled to finally visit New Order Coffee on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary (hence the birthday balloons in the above photos).

What a lovely space this is! I didn’t expect to spend over two hours at New Order Coffee that Saturday afternoon, but I found my experience in the bright, airy shop so pleasant that I didn’t want to leave after one drink – so I consumed another.

That first drink? It was a Crunch Berry Cereal Milk Latte, as pictured above in all its whipped-cream-and-sprinkles-bedecked glory. The barista who served me recommended both it and the regular Cereal Milk Latte when I remarked that it was my first time at New Order; I chose the Crunch Berry one because he told me it was his favorite. He said both lattes are made with milk imbued with sugary cereal – I believe frosted cornflakes are used for each of them, and then the Crunch Berry latte has the addition of the Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries Cereal in its infusion.

Does that not sound like a formula for deliciousness? Indeed, this Crunch Berry Cereal Milk Latte was creamy deliciousness, sweet without being overly so. I sucked it down and transitioned to sipping my second beverage, an Earl Grey tea latte topped with frothy milk – a fine representation of the cozy classic.

Those delectable drinks weren’t the only reason I had a hard time leaving New Order. All of the baristas I encountered were polite, friendly, and professional, fostering an awesome ordering experience, and in general, the place just had good vibes. It felt relaxing, restful – an ideal place to momentarily slip away from the oft-chaotic everyday.

I enjoyed my spot perched at the window-facing counter looking out along Woodward Avenue, watching passersby. Additional seating options exist toward the back of the shop, as well as in a separate section across from the barista’s station. I didn’t realize until I left and was walking by it from the outside that the latter area has a patio-esque element, with windows that open to the outdoors.

Every seating area was pretty well populated during the Saturday afternoon I was there. I got the impression that New Order is a hub for academic study; “Are you a student?” was a commonly asked question by the baristas, making me wonder if college attendees qualified for a discount (worth asking about if you’re in school!).

Whether you’re a student or simply a coffee-shop devotee like me, I would highly recommend stepping into this shop for a cereal-milk-fueled sojourn from the outside world the next time you need one.

3100 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.newordercoffee.com

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345. Emerald Theatre – July 15, 2018 – Mount Clemens, MI

July2018EmeraldTheatre2 (2)July2018EmeraldTheatre1 (2)While I was volunteering at the Femmes of Rock concert at the Emerald Theatre a few weeks ago, it hit me that it was my first time visiting the venue.

Could that be possible? I asked myself. I’d grown up in relative proximity to the Emerald; it seemed crazy to me that I’d never before witnessed a concert or other live event at the popular venue located in the heart of downtown Mount Clemens. But I’ve since racked my brain, and unless I visited the place as a kiddo and have totally forgotten it, it indeed appears that this was my first time in the space. So . . . new-place time!

The gorgeous, nearly 100-year-old (built in 1921) theater is small and intimate, as you can see from the above photo of its interior; it seats approximately 1,600. According to its website, it’s been revamped in some respects since its inception; that mural on the face of its exterior obviously isn’t circa 1921, for instance (but man, is it striking!). There’s a bar in the theater area, and upstairs there’s a sleek bar space called the Rock Room open on Friday and Saturday nights that features live performances.

While I was at the Emerald in a volunteer capacity, I was able to watch the show performed that night – which was AWESOME. The performers, Bella Electric Strings – a quartet of female violinists backed by a three-piece rock band – KILLED it! The ensemble brought mad energy and skill to the classic-rock tunes they played; I highly recommend you check them out if you’re interested: www.femmesofrock.com. And of course, check out the Emerald for a live performance!

31 N. Walnut St.

Mt. Clemens, MI 48043

www.theemeraldtheatre.com

344. For the Love of Sugar – July 15, 2018 – Detroit, MI

July2018FortheLoveofSugar1 (3)July2018FortheLoveofSugar2 (3)July2018FortheLoveofSugar4 (2)A new Detroit visit graces 100 Places in the D!!!

After enduring a 2.5-week stretch between visits to new places and nearly a month-long hiatus from Detroit, I was dying to get down to the D. So I fit in a jaunt to downtown-based bakery For the Love of Sugar, because how could I not make time for an afternoon caffeine-and-sugar-fueled sojourn?

I stepped inside the chic bakery off Woodward Avenue with its crystal chandeliers and turquoise-and-white color scheme on a mission to snag some of its macarons, which I’d heard were excellent. I was pleased to discover an assortment were available and chose four: one each of the Nutella, Birthday Cake, Lavender and Honey, and Ashta varieties. I also got an iced coffee.

Sitting at an umbrella-covered table on For the Love of Sugar’s street-facing patio, I sipped my coffee and tried two of the macarons.

The blue Birthday Cake variety with its colored sprinkles was yummy; the Nutella one blew me away. WOW, was that chocolatey-rich, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness! I could’ve eaten a platterful of those Nutella macarons.

I enjoyed the other two macarons later and appreciated the sweetness of the honey and the distinct yet not overpowering floral notes in the Lavender and Honey. The Ashta with its pistachios, orange, and ricotta filling was also quite good.

While For the Love of Sugar is known for its signature cakes and macarons, it’s also worth visiting for its coffee – because let me tell you, the iced coffee I had there was FANTASTIC!

What deliciously nuanced flavor this coffee had! I liked it so much that I asked one of the staff members who supplied it, and she said it was developed especially for the bakery by a coffee company based in Plymouth. The identity of that place unbeknownst to me, I’ll simply have to frequent For the Love of Sugar for my caffeine (and sugar) fix!

100 Erskine St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.fortheloveofsugar.com

343. The Pita Peddler – June 27, 2018 – Chesterfield, MI

June2018PitaPeddler1 (2)Visiting a friend’s new home one evening in late June also meant new-place-time for the blog (YES!), as I stopped en route for carryout at The Pita Peddler, a Mediterranean restaurant in Chesterfield.

The Pita Peddler has dine-in seating, but it was all about carryout orders the Wednesday evening I was there. Carryout business was KICKING on that night! I sat and waited for our order at the counter of the sleek, fully-stocked bar, which according to my friend is a more recent addition.

After perusing The Pita Peddler’s extensive menu loaded with traditional Mediterranean appetizers and entrees as well as a variety of non-Mediterranean salads, pita melts, and pita wraps,  I’d opted for a Fattoush side salad and Chicken Shawarma pita wrap.

The Fattoush salad was amazing, fresh and zesty and festooned with those crunchy fried pita chips that I love. Topped with grilled chicken, it would be a meal in itself. The hefty Chicken Shawarma wrap contained several ingredients in addition to the grilled chicken, pickles, and garlic sauce I’m used to: lettuce, tomatoes, and pickled banana peppers.

The banana peppers surprised me! But really, they are in the same vein as pickles with their sour vinegar pop of flavor, so why not?

I perused recipes online while writing this post to see if banana peppers in chicken shawarma dishes is a more widely embraced thing beyond The Pita Peddler’s kitchen, and apparently it is. At any rate, it’s a new concept to me. So thanks, The Pita Peddler, for expanding my horizons!

46610 N. Gratiot Ave.

Chesterfield, MI 48051

www.thepitapeddler.com

342. Baffin Brewing Company – June 23, 2018 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

June2018Baffin1 (2)June2018Baffin3 (2)It’s time to recount leg two of my recent Saint Clair Shores-based brewery tour! Readers of 100 Places in the D, welcome Baffin Brewing Company to the blog!

This brewery tour was admittedly more of a jaunt: a friend and I visited Jamex Brewing Company for the first time and then continued with Baffin Brewing Company on Jefferson Avenue north of 10 Mile Road. But it’s summer, the season for grand adventures, so why not envision a two-brewery-tour as an epic production? When visiting such delightful brewhouses as these two, it’s not hard to do!

Baffin came onto my radar after frequently passing it during my travels around Saint Clair Shores. I’d assumed it had opened within the last year because that’s when I started to notice it and was surprised to recently discover that it opened in early 2015 (Wow, how did I miss that???).

It was obvious that the general Metro-Detroit population had been hip to Baffin for longer than I had: the place was PACKED during the Saturday evening of my visit. It was standing-room-only for us initially.

We approached the bar, preparing to wait for one of the bartenders to notice us, and were pleasantly surprised when a staff member roaming the floor approached us to collect our drink orders. The promptness of being greeted and the convenience of not having to vie for the busy bartenders’ attention made an instant positive impression on me. Well played, Baffin!

I wanted to order a flight so I could sample four of Baffin’s brews, but I was worried about having to juggle the flight paddle whilst standing sans tabletop. The bartender convinced me that I simply had to hold the wooden paddle with the glasses hanging off of it level with one hand so I could select and sample with the other. Sold!

I scanned Baffin’s bar-side menu chalked with its current offerings and decided to try the Mango Unchained IPA, Citra Unchained IPA, Porter De Rosey (a porter infused with rose hips) and James Van Der Kriek (a Belgian brewed with cherry and honey). Then I balanced that flight paddle as carefully as I could and started sampling.

As the sipping and savoring of the brews ensued, I quickly discovered that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED all of them! All four incorporated fruit and were incredibly drinkable. The Porter De Rosey, that rich, smooth brew infused with the floral flavor of the rose hips, was especially compelling to me.

(BTW, I’m loving Baffin’s beer titles that play off of celebrity names – here’s looking at you, Porter De Rosey, James Van Der Kriek, and Barley Rae Jepsen!)

Eventually, my friend and I no longer had to stand and juggle our beers, because some kind souls who were perched around a barrel fashioned as a table got up to leave and encouraged us to grab it. We sat down, and it was then that we fixated on another one of Baffin’s selling points: the free popcorn.

FREE POPCORN!!! If I wasn’t already in love with Baffin at this point, I most certainly was after discovering the cart of complimentary kernels from which you can serve yourself basketfuls (popcorn is kind of LIFE to me).

Summing up this visit, I can confidently declare: Baffin Brewing Company, leg two of my Saint Clair Shores-based brewery tour, you are AWESOMENESS with your friendly service and your flavorful brews and that sweet, sweet free popcorn. I can’t wait to revisit you!

25113 Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48081

www.baffinbrewing.com

341. Jamex Brewing Company – June 23, 2018 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

June2018Jamex2 (2)June2018Jamex1 (2)East Side brewery tour! That’s what one Saturday in late June was for me and my pal Jaclyn after a spontaneous drop-in to Josef’s European Pastry Shop of Grosse Pointe Woods.

I should clarify: this East Side brewery tour was specifically a Saint Clair Shores-based brewery tour. Jamex Brewing Company on Harper Avenue south of Nine Mile Road was our starting point.

The place was hopping with a late-afternoon crowd, including several canines (because Jamex allows dogs!). I immediately dug its welcoming vibe and décor (industrial-chic, with a most stunning turquoise-and-copper-mottled bar counter. Can I get that counter installed in my kitchen, please???).

The female bartender who served us was friendly and conversational, explaining the brewery’s background (it was opened last year by a husband-and-wife entrepreneurial duo who love beer), how often new brews are developed and rotated in (fairly regularly; new recipes are constantly in the works), and how public reception has been (overwhelmingly positive).

As we sat and chatted with her, I tried flight-sized sampler glasses of three of Jamex’s wares: the Joe Blonde (described on the chalkboard menu posted above the bar as a “blonde coffee cream ale”), Bubbalicious IPA, and Harvey Milk dark beer. I enjoyed all of them, especially the Bubbalicious with its fruity flavor and the Harvey Milk with its creamy, stout-esque consistency and hint of sweetness.

My conclusion from leg one of the Saint Clair Shores brewery tour: Jamex is definitely worth a revisit! In perusing its website today, I got excited to see all three beers I tried last month advertised as still on tap. I’d love to go back and savor those or the Lemon Drop brew (intriguing!) currently labeled as “on deck.”

21721 Harper Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.jamexbrewing.com

340. Josef’s European Pastry Shop – June 23, 2018 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

June2018Josefs1 (2)June2018Josefs3 (2)Everyone who regularly reads this blog knows that I adore visiting new-to-me places. But man, do I also love when the experience of trying a new place arrives spontaneously, as it did with my visit to Josef’s European Pastry Shop!

The impulsive jaunt came to fruition one Saturday several weeks ago while a friend and I were en route to Saint Clair Shores with the intention of checking out a couple of breweries (which I’ll be covering in subsequent posts, because they are NEW PLACES!). She’s from Clarkston and currently lives in Waterford, so the East Side is pretty much the other side of the world for her, and we thought it would be fun to take a trip to these breweries she’d never been to, as she enjoys craft beer and rarely gets over to that southeast corner of the Metro D.

While we were driving, my friend mentioned that when she was a kid, her maternal grandmother lived in one of the Grosse Pointes and would often take her to this bakery where she would get these little pink-frosted butter cookies that she loved. She couldn’t recall the bakery’s name and texted her mom for it. I pondered the odds of whether this place she’d likely last visited in the ’90s still existed.

Almost instantly, my friend’s mom texted her back that the name of the bakery was Josef’s European Pastry Shop. A quick Google search confirmed that – lo and behold! – the shop still existed, was currently open, and was about a mile away from where we were at the moment. How’s that for synchronicity?

With everything aligning as it was, you know we had to visit that bakery! Once we reached the familiar-to-me section of Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods where it’s located, I realized I’d passed it regularly but had somehow never been there. New-place time!!!

According to its website, Josef’s European Pastry Shop opened in 1971, making it 47 years old as of this writing – an impressive legacy for a small business in this day and age.

Walking up to the shop, it was easy to see its appeal. Its red-brick, awning-clad exterior flanked by vibrant flower arrangements was classic and well-kept.

Inside, true to the European-bakery theme, were arranged little round tables intended for sitting and savoring treats. And, of course, there was the pièce de résistance: the large cases displaying said treats.

What goodies were nestled there! There were pastries and pies and cakes and croissants and brownies and cookies – SOOOO many cookies! There were shelves laid with loaves of bread and buns and pizzas. There were so many delectable choices that it was dizzying to decide.

Inevitably, my number was called, and decide I did. I settled on a black-and-white cookie with its half-chocolate, half-vanilla icing and a frosted chocolate brownie with walnuts.

I immediately gobbled up a chunk of that black-and-white cookie, relishing its shortbread and sweet icing. I enjoyed the chewy, walnut-studded brownie a day or so later.

When it came to my friend’s order, she was thrilled to discover that the pink-frosted mini butter cookies of her youth were still being sold by Josef’s. She ordered a boxful and said they tasted exactly as she’d remembered. How exhilarating when, decades later, we stumble upon some relic from our childhood, and it’s exactly how we recall it to be!

21150 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.josefspastryshop.com

339. La Michoacana – June 19, 2018 – Detroit, MI

June2018LaMichoacana1 (2)June2018LaMichoacana2 (2)While I was volunteering at Clark Park in Southwest Detroit several weeks ago, word went around of a reportedly excellent Mexican ice cream shop within walking distance called La Michoacana. Naturally, our group fixated on this, and by the end of our volunteer shift, we found ourselves in the small, brightly-colored shop enjoying ice cream cones and other sweet treats.

La Michoacana offers a variety of ice creams, ice cream bars, popsicles, frozen bananas, slushies, fruit-studded dessert drinks, horchata drinks, and other goodies. I had a hankering for a double-scoop cone and opted for one with chocolate ice cream and the intriguing Mango con Chile flavor.

The chocolate ice cream was classic, creamy deliciousness. While chocolate is LIIIFE to me and I almost never opt for an ice cream treat that doesn’t incorporate it somehow, I must say that the Mango con Chile was my standout favorite here. With that sweet mango fruitiness and spicy kick of the chile, it was EXCELLENT! If you are a fan of the sweet-and-spicy combo, you’ve got to try it.

Not only was the ice cream at La Michoacana as super-tasty as we’d heard it to be, the prices were affordable, too. To my recollection, my double-scoop cone cost around $2 – a steal!

A related note around cost: my impression from my visit to La Michoacana was that its only accepted payment mode was cash. But I see that its Yelp profile shows it as accepting credit cards and that one older review mentions a $10 minimum purchase for card-facilitated purchases. I’ll plan on bringing a couple bucks with me during future visits to be safe.

Now, for those of you who are willing to take my word for it that La Michoacana is a place worth visiting, gallop out into that gorgeous summer sun and grab some icy treats!

4336 W. Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

338. Clark Park – June 19, 2018 – Detroit, MI

June2018ClarkPark1 (2)June2018ClarkPark2 (2)June2018ClarkPark3 (2)I’m fortunate to work at a company that allows us to spend a certain number of hours every year on volunteer initiatives. Thusly I found myself at Clark Park in Detroit on a Tuesday in mid-June to do some clean-up work through Summer in the City, a local volunteer organization.

Spending time outside on a summer’s day instead of hunched in front of a computer in my gray, florescent-lit cubicle – UMMM, yes, please! AND spending time visiting a new place, to boot, instead of hunched in said cubicle? Double-YES to that!

Clark Park is located in Southwest Detroit, in a part of town that I enjoyed with its big, beautiful old houses, community feel (cue kids running around at a cookout luncheon at a nearby school, people chatting in the street, moms taking their kids to the park), and a bomb ice cream parlor within walking distance (which I’ll totally be covering in my next post!).

The spacious park not only boasts baseball diamonds, a playground area, a community garden, ample fields, and paths for strolling and biking, it also has a ice rink!

I got excited upon seeing the ice rink, which according to Clark Park’s website is “the only regulation-sized outdoor ice hockey rink in Metro Detroit.” I realized it was the rink where the Detroit Red Wings have practiced on at least one occasion and played at least one alumni game. Pretty cool – especially to me as a Wings fan. I need to get over there the next time they grace that ice!

Loads of kiddos were running around Clark Park on the day of our visit, doing activities with volunteers and generally being adorable. The park seemed an ideal setting for such a day camp-type gathering, being as large and well maintained as it was. According to Clark Park’s website, it also hosts community events such as festivals and concerts throughout the year.

Our group did some weeding while we were at Clark Park in the afternoon, beautifying a concrete-paved play area. In the morning, we had done some mega weeding at a nearby Summer in the City garden site, which was super satisfying (I mean, we cleared some MAJOR plant debris!). It was my first time volunteering at a community garden, a long-held item on my to-do list.

I’m not sure how often Summer in the City coordinates volunteer outings at Clark Park, but its website is worth checking out if its mission of enriching Detroit via Play (fostering youth enrichment), Paint (creating murals in Detroit neighborhoods), and Plant (practicing urban gardening) intrigues you: www.summerinthecity.com. And Clark Park is certainly worth checking out if you appreciate green spaces that offer a sojourn from bustling everyday life.

1130 Clark St.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.clarkparkdetroit.com

 

337. The Whisky Parlor – June 14, 2018 – Detroit, MI

June2018WhiskyParlor1 (3)June2018WhiskyParlor3 (2)

Thursday night is what The Whisky Parlor has dubbed Lazy Thursday: it showcases live jazz performances from 8 to 10 p.m. Having made it my mission to immerse myself in live music more frequently, I recruited friends to visit the downtown-Detroit-based bar one Thursday a few weeks ago, post dinner at Parc.

Located one floor above the Grand Trunk Pub, which holds a special place in my heart for having been Visit #100 for this blog, The Whisky Parlor exudes old-fashioned elegance.

I dug the dim, cozy environs with its rich red walls, cushy leather couches, hanging globes, and shelves of hard-bound books. A sepia-toned map of the world loomed from one wall and had us dreaming of far-away locales as we sipped our whisky drinks.

Those whisky drinks: they were deliciously nuanced in flavor – and strong (you get your money’s worth here!). I loved The Detroit cocktail with its Old Forester Bourbon, Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur, Campari, Dolin Rouge vermouth, bitters, black pepper, and what the menu refers to as “torched lemon” (not sure if that’s literally what it sounds like –  a lemon torched by fire being incorporated into the drink – but doesn’t it sound intriguing?). The black pepper was my favorite element of the drink; it wasn’t overpowering, but it was noticeable and provided a nice finish.

The identity of the other signature drink I ordered at The Whisky Parlor has unfortunately faded from my memory. I want to say it was The Great Dane with its Bastille whisky, lemon, Demerara sugar, and Amaro Montenegro, but I can’t be sure at this point. All I can remember is that it was citrusy, served to me sans ice, and quite potent. It was a cocktail that meant business!

While I choose to experience The Whisky Parlor’s offerings via its signature cocktails, the feature of its menu was of course the straight-up stuff: entry after entry of whiskeys, from bourbons to ryes to scotches, from American to Irish to a category labeled “Misc. International.” They ranged in price-point from accessible (Canadian Club, Jack Daniel’s) to upper-echelon ($70 per pour for the Middleton Very Rare 2016 Irish whisky). Beer, wine, hard cider, and other liquors were also on tap, as were a selection of delectable-sounding desserts.

And, of course, there was music on tap on the night of our visit. The songs played were – true to the Lazy Thursday moniker – laid-back and subdued: a man mellowly strummed acoustic guitar while a woman sang lightly. The duo’s style didn’t strike me as jazzy so much as easy-listening-esque – which was fine by me.

It was calming to sit there on a cozy couch in the half-darkness sipping a drink and taking in the soothing tunes. There is no way no one has ever taken a snooze at The Whisky Parlor, and I mean that in the best way; the place is ridiculously relaxing.

My takeaway from my time at The Whisky Parlor is that there is never not a good time of year for a lazy, low-key Thursday night – especially in summer, a season that for me is about slowing down and savoring.

608 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.whiskyparlor.com