Month: July 2019

394. Buon Appetito – February 23, 2019 – Romeo, MI

February2019BuonAppetito1 (2)February2019BuonAppetito3 (2)After dining at Cantoro Trattoria the Saturday prior, Italian was again on the docket for me the following weekend, this time at Romeo’s Buon Appetito.

I certainly did not object to the repeat in cuisine; I LOVE Italian food. And I loved Buon Appetito’s Eggplant Parmigiana, which I enjoyed as my lunch that day. It was rich, cheesy, deep-fried goodness.

(BTW, how is it that eggplant transforms into something so melt-in-your-mouth amazing when it’s simply dipped in bread crumbs and deep-fried? I’m not a huge fan of that veggie otherwise, but when it’s fried – MAN!)

The restaurant offers a wide array of traditional Italian favorites, including veal-, steak-, and seafood-centered choices and various pastas (with the ability to build your own customized pasta dish). It also serves beer and wine.

No flowery elaboration required here: Buon Appetito’s cuisine is simply delicious, and it’s definitely worth a visit!

117 W. Lafayette St.

Romeo, MI 48065

www.buonappetitoitaliancuisine.com

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393. Cantoro Trattoria – February 16, 2019 – Troy, MI

February2019Cantoro1 (2)February2019Cantoro2 (2)February2019Cantoro3 (2)I love Italian food; it’s so rich and comforting and luxurious on the palate! At least, it’s all of those things when it’s done well. And, as I discovered on a chilly evening in mid-February, Cantoro Trattoria in Troy does Italian well.

My mom and stepdad had been raving about the restaurant for months, so I was excited to finally visit it with them for dinner. I was impressed by its sleek modern interior; the prompt, friendly, and polite service that we received; and the delicious cuisine.

The Napoli Caprese salad we shared, for instance, was excellent with its luscious mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. So was my entrée, the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese with its weighty house-made noodles and hearty tomato sauce laden with pancetta and ground beef, veal, and sausage.

Cantoro’s menu is loaded with delectable-sounding offerings such as these. It offers a variety of appetizers, pizzas, pastas, and grill items such as Costoletta di Vitello (veal rib chop) and Branzino alla Griglia (Mediterranean sea bass).

Sitting there in the glitzy dining room of Cantoro Trattoria, sipping red wine and enjoying great food and company, I felt as cozy as can be despite the freezing outdoor temperature. My heart was warm, and my stomach was full – who can ask for anything else?

1695 E. Big Beaver Rd.

Troy, MI 48083

(With an additional location in Plymouth)

www.cantorotrattoria.com/troy

392. Chili Mustard Onions – February 9, 2019 – Detroit, MI

February2019ChiliMustardOnions6 (2)February2019ChiliMustardOnions2 (2)February2019ChiliMustardOnions4 (2)February2019ChiliMustardOnions5 (2)Chili Mustard Onions is in the house!!!!!

I’m not a vegan, but I don’t mind playing one sometimes – especially if it means eating at an establishment as phenomenal as this one. Chili Mustard Onions is serving up the FLAVOR!

The vegan restaurant is modeled after a Coney Island, except that its gyros, Coney dogs, nachos, and chili-cheese fries are chockful of plant-based ingredients rather than animal products. And I was totally digging it during my February visit.

Besides proffering plant-based versions of the above-mentioned dishes and others such as pitas, sandwiches, and a Big Mock burger, Chili Mustard Onions features a drink menu full of vegan beers, wines, and spirits. Non-alcoholic drinks such as iced tea, pop, and kombucha are also available. Vegan soft serve and other desserts are offered, too.

I’m a big fan of chili fries, so I knew I had to try CMO’s Chili Cheeze Fries. I also opted for the Beetball Sub, followed by a slice of chocolate cake that was modeled after a Snickers bar, with peanuts and layers of chocolate- and caramel-flavored frostings.

Those Chili Cheeze Fries, you guys – they were fantastic. In the almost six months since I have lunched at Chili Mustard Onions, I have not stopped thinking about those fries! They were so, so, so, SO good. They were frankly better than the real, meat-laden thing. The chili was more like a gravy; it didn’t have any chunks of plant-based meat in it, which I preferred, as I’m not a big fan of traditional meat substitutes such as tofu and tempeh. And the cheese sauce! Wow, did it taste like the real thing! It was creamy and savory and delicious.

The Beetball Sub was amazing, too. The meatballs were made from beets and a combination of other plant-based ingredients; I believe there was tofu in them, for instance. Again, I didn’t feel like I was eating fake meat but extreme deliciousness. I enjoyed the Beetball’s cashew-based mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and its rich, tomato-y sauce.

And then came the Snickers cake, which was chocolatey, decadent goodness. A satisfied appetite and very full stomach came along with it.

This first visit of Blog Year Six for 100 Places in the D was most definitely a memorable one. I’m confident that Chili Mustard Onion is going to end up in my list of top-ten visits for the year. I’m also excitedly anticipating a revisit – possibly this week, as a friend has mentioned she’d like to try the restaurant, and I am totally down for the ride. Chili Cheeze Fries, here I come!

3411 Brush St.

Detroit, MI 48201

 

100 Places in the D’s Top 10 Places Visited in Blog Year 5!

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Detroit Vintage (Visit #359)

I’ve got some best-of-the-best magic for ya today!

At the end of every blogging year for 100 Places in the D, I pen a post highlighting my ten absolute-favorite new-to-me places I visited that year.

Blog Year Five ended wayyyy back on February 7, but in the spirit of better-late-than-never, here are the ten locally-owned establishments (listed in no particular order) I visited that year that I’m still swooning over.

Detroit Vintage (#359, Detroit): Stepping into this hidden gem of a coffee shop (located in the most unlikely of locations: between a liquor store and a marijuana dispensary on Eight Mile) is like stepping into another world – a vibrant, cozy, supremely pleasant one where I want to reside forever. Pure MAGIC.

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El Barzon (Visit #335)

El Barzon (#335, Detroit): Speaking of magic, can we talk about El Barzon? This WONDERFUL restaurant in an unassuming part of Southwest Detroit is serving up the fairy dust something fierce with its exceptional food, drinks, service, and ambiance – plus one of the prettiest patios on which I have ever eaten.

Detroit Riverwalk/Cullen Plaza (#367, Detroit): I had no idea how gorgeous the Detroit Riverwalk and Cullen Plaza were until I traversed them on my birthday last fall. What beauties – and both are free to visit, to boot!

Lady of the House (#308, Detroit): The meal I consumed at Lady of the House in February 2018 is STILL one of the best restaurant meals I’ve ever experienced. Those perfectly prepared chamomile-glazed donut holes! That Parisian ham with its sumptuous house-made butter! [Cue drooling Homer Simpson-style.]

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Pages Bookshop (Visit #357)

Pages Bookshop (#357, Detroit): The bookworm in me rejoiced when I finally visited this indie bookstore in Grandmont Rosedale. Sooooo much literary goodness is packed into this joint!

Loui’s (#368, Hazel Park): The pizza place that dethroned Buddy’s as my favorite purveyor of the Italian pie – which is a VERY big deal because Buddy’s is a beloved part of my family history. What can I say except that Loui’s is INCREDIBLE times infinity in terms of the saucy, cheesy goodness!

Sfumato/Castalia (#371, Detroit): The dual identity of this place alone is enough to land it on a top-ten list: it’s a perfumery by day, cocktail bar by night. Add to that the fact that its perfumes made with natural ingredients are totally beguiling olfactory bouquets, while its craft cocktails, uniquely delicious concoctions in themselves, are inspired by its fragrances and come with scent-spritzed napkins.

Ottava Via (#358, Detroit): That gorgeous patio! That Ragout Alla Bolognese with its veal- and pork-loaded sauce and house-made noodles! OBSESSED.

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Holy Moly Donut Shop’s donut ice-cream sandwich (Visit #322)

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge (#331, Detroit): Enchanting live music paired with PHENOMENAL ribs made for a night at this legendary jazz club (deemed a historic site by the state of Michigan) that can only be described as spellbinding.

Holy Moly Donut Shop (#322, Detroit): I still do a gleeful internal happy-dance every time I think about the donut ice-cream sandwich Holy Moly made for me the spring before last, which was hands-down one of the very best things I have ever eaten. That melt-in-your-mouth glazed donut bun slathered with rich chocolate ice cream and warm Nutella . . . YES, YES, YES! I recently got a sour-cream donut slathered in chocolate frosting from its West-Grand-Boulevard-based location, and let me tell you: they still got it!

100 Places in the D’s Year Five Review!

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#358, Ottava Via of Detroit, a Blog Year Five visit

You guys! I am FINALLY doing a review post for Blog Year Five of 100 Places in the D, which ran from February 8, 2018 through February 7, 2019.

To say I got behind on the blog this year is an understatement; what is more accurate to say is that I took an unplanned five-and-a-half-month break. To be honest, I was feeling pretty burnt out on blogging last year, and after going on a two-week vacation this past January, I found the prospect of delving back into it challenging, especially with all of the other to-dos I had swirling around in my brain. So I just . . . didn’t.

Days of inactivity turned into weeks turned into months – until I finally tired of feeling plagued by the bigger and bigger backlog of posts and impulsively logged on one afternoon last month to pen the piece on this past December’s Pewabic Pottery visit.

So I’m back in the blogging saddle again, refreshed by my unplanned break and working, slowly but surely, to catch 100 Places in the D up to the present-day, however long it takes me! Because despite not posting on the blog for over half a year, I was still out there making visits to awesome locally-owned, new-to-me establishments in the tri-country Metro-Detroit area (an obsession that I never see myself burning out on!).

At the end of every blogging year in 100 Places in the D’s history, I’ve done a year-in-review post, to state whether I’ve achieved the goal(s) I set for myself for the year, to declare my goal(s) for the next blogging year, and to share some stats I find fun.

I only had one goal for Blog Year Five, but it was a big one: to visit 50 new-to-me, locally-owned establishments in the city of Detroit alone. And I did it!!!!!!

I’m super proud of this accomplishment because while I LOVE going down to the city, I often feel resistance around the driving-down-there-and-parking part. Having this 50-visits-in-Detroit goal to keep me accountable helped make visits less of a daydream and more of a planned-out reality. And you know I loved trying those oodles of new-to-me places in the D!

The goal I’ve set for Blog Year Six (which is already almost halfway over!) is the same: to again visit 50 new-to-me places in the city of Detroit alone. I’ve currently got some catching up to do on this goal to be on pace with achieving it by early February of next year; I’ve only done 14 visits in the city so far when I should have done around 22. But I’m optimistic that by being majorly intentional for the rest of the year, I can do it – and I look forward to having an excuse to spend ample time in the D this summer, fall, and winter!

I’ll close out this post with some stats about the visits I made to new-to-me, locally-owned establishments during Blog Year Five – in case any readers enjoy nerding out on such numbers as much as I do. 🙂

Number of places visited in Blog Year Five: 86

Number of cities visited: 21

Breakdown by county: Macomb: 14; Oakland: 17; Wayne: 55

Breakdown by city:

Detroit: 50

Sterling Heights: 5

Ferndale: 4

Clinton Township: 3

Saint Clair Shores: 3

Grosse Pointe Woods: 2

Hamtramck: 2

Mount Clemens: 2

Troy: 2

Waterford: 2

Berkley: 1

Birmingham: 1

Bloomfield: 1

Bloomfield Hills: 1

Chesterfield: 1

Dearborn: 1

Hazel Park: 1

Rochester: 1

Rochester Hills: 1

Royal Oak: 1

West Bloomfield: 1

My next post will showcase my top-ten favorite places that I visited during Blog Year Five, so look out for that to appear soon!

391. The Rusty Nail – February 3, 2019 – Clinton Township, MI

February2019RustyNail2 (2)February2019RustyNail3 (2)The Rusty Nail! The bar has long been an institution in Clinton Township, and I was excited to visit it for the first time this February.

I was there for The Nail’s celebration of the Big Game, that NFL championship extravaganza everyone gets all gaga about. My dad had clued me in to the fact that the bar had a complimentary food spread set out for the event. Being of the in-it-for-the-snacks Big Game enthusiast camp, I decided to check it out and watch the first part of the game with him there.

The spread was impressive – and delicious! The chicken was excellent, as were the homemade baked beans and everything else I ate. I was told that many of The Rusty Nail’s regulars had contributed to the potluck, and I loved that the bar harbors a community willing to prepare dishes for the general public to enjoy.

A variety of free swag was also available that day: t-shirts, hats, and other goodies branded with the logos of various alcoholic beverage distributors. I snagged some headphones emblazoned with the name of a popular whiskey maker.

Despite being nearly full for the football-viewing celebration, the bar had a comfortable, laid-back vibe that resonated with me. Service was good, drink prices were reasonable, and I could definitely see myself returning – maybe to see one of the many bands it hosts or to witness the bar-organized dart tournaments.

35703 Groesbeck Hwy.

Clinton Twp., MI 48035

www.thenewrustynail.com

390. House of Pure Vin – February 3, 2019 – Detroit, MI

February2019HouseofPureVin1 (2)February2019HouseofPureVin2 (2)House of Pure Vin!!!! What a delight this wine shop is. It also has the distinction of being the 50th – and final – locally-owned, new-to-me place that I visited in Detroit proper during Blog Year Five (which ran from February 8, 2018 through February 7, 2019). My 50-visits-in-Detroit-in-one-year goal was achieved!!!!!

When I walked into House of Pure Vin, one of the owners welcomed me and urged me to browse the carefully curated selection of reds and whites from wineries all over the world. She later joined me mid-browse and offered me samples of a few wines that were out to taste, then showed me the room where tasting events are held and explained the shop’s wine club.

House of Pure Vin’s monthly wine club is offered in two tiers. The Beaujolais membership is $35 a month and allows subscribers the choice of two bottles of wine per month, plus the ability to attend store-run tastings and events exclusive to club members. Additionally, a patron of this membership tier is afforded the ability to schedule two private wine tastings a year for himself/herself and up to nine guests. It also affords a 10 percent discount in-store. The Grand Cru wine club membership is $75 a month and allows the choice of two bottles of exclusive-tier wines (wines not offered in-shop) per month; four annual private tastings for the subscriber and up to nine other guests; invites to store-held events exclusive to club members; and a 20 percent discount in-store. Monthly wine selections can be picked up in-store by club members or shipped to their homes for an additional fee of $10 per month.

I appreciated the owner of House of Pure Vin who I met during my visit for taking the time to give me a personal tour of the store, explaining the wine club membership and tastings, and giving me free samples. At the end of our interaction, I was very tempted to join the Beaujolais-level wine club! I find it quite reasonable in value, and it’s a someday-goal that I hope to achieve in the near future, belonging to a wine club, as I LOVE wine and wouldn’t mind stepping up my sophistication around it and veering away from those budget-bottle grocery store varieties!

I did conclude my visit at House of Pure Vin that day by purchasing a bottle of one of the wines I sampled, a lovely white-wine blend (called Oriana) by Washington-based winery Brian Carter Cellars. It’s still sitting in my improvised wine cellar (a basement closet), awaiting a special occasion. That special occasion may simply turn out to be a beautiful summer’s evening sometime very soon. 🙂

1433 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.houseofpurevin.com

389. Bird Bee – February 3, 2019 – Detroit, MI

February2019BirdBee2 (2)My barrage of visits to cap off my visit-50-places-in-Detroit initiative for Blog Year 5 of 100 Places in the D continued on February 3 with a stop at Bird Bee, a clothing store for women and those who enjoy wearing clothing traditionally identified as female.

The shop was loaded with beautiful and stylish jeans, blouses, sweaters, dresses, and other apparel and accessories, as well as gift-worthy items such as candles and cocktail accessories. While I didn’t make a purchase, I enjoyed browsing its wares and chatting with the friendly sales clerk about a recent café opening that the city was abuzz about, that of Cannelle by Matt Knio (which – spoiler! – will end up on this blog once I catch up to mid-May).

1228 Griswold St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.shopbirdbee.com

388. The Farmer’s Hand – February 3, 2019 – Detroit, MI

February2019Farmer'sHand2 (2)February2019Farmer'sHand3 (2)After lunch at Folk and shopping at Mama Coo’s Boutique on a sunny Sunday in early February, I stepped into The Farmer’s Hand, the Corktown grocer adjacent to the restaurant and vintage clothing store.

The tiny shop showcases a thoughtful curation of locally-produced fruits, veggies, cheeses, and other grocery goods, such as Mindo Chocolates (produced in Dexter) and my perennial obsession, Gus and Grey jams (one of Detroit’s finest exports, in my opinion!). Baked goods, salads, sandwiches, and other ready-made items are also available for purchase, as are coffee and tea. A window-facing counter allows patrons to eat, drink, and relax in-shop before heading out to face the rest of their day, foodie fuel in hand.

1701 Trumbull Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.thefarmershand.com

387. Mama Coo’s Boutique – February 3, 2019 – Detroit, MI

February2019MamaCoo's2 (2)Mama Coo’s! I visited this cute shop back in early February and have lately been pondering a return jaunt. Considering that five months have elapsed since my first visit (!), I’m due!

The Corktown-based store is one of those thoughtfully-curated spaces around which you can rotate multiple times and find new items catching your eye with each revolution. It sells jewelry, magnets, candles, crystals, buttons, handmade greeting cards, vintage clothing, and other striking goodies.

Multiple items intrigued me, and I went for all four of them: a packet of soothing-scented incense sticks; a polished nugget of rose quartz; a magnet emblazoned with “The Patriarchy Isn’t Going to Smash Itself” and drawings of female historical figures and superheroes; and the best candle I have ever smelled, a concoction that included scents of peppermint and lavender – and was it eucalyptus? I burned it up long ago and don’t remember what it was called or who produced it, but it was AMAZING, the kind of candle you take a big whiff of before you head out the door for the day to give you a boost – and now I’m legit penning into my planner a return visit to Mama Coo’s at the remembrance of it!

The employee working the counter at Mama Coo’s that day was so friendly and lovely, too, chatting with me about the history of the shop and the building it is housed within (which she said the owner’s grandparents had lived in at one point years ago).

In short: Mama Coo’s Boutique is a gem, one worth a first visit, a return visit, and many more beyond that!

1701 Trumbull Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www. mamacoosboutique.com