Month: August 2019

410. Woodpile BBQ Shack – May 23, 2019 – Clawson, MI

May2019WoodpileBBQShack1 (2)May2019WoodpileBBQShack2 (3)Making a visit to Woodpile BBQ Shack in Clawson just before Memorial Day this past May made me feel, in retrospect, like I was ushering in the summer. Because for me, summer isn’t summer without barbecued meat!

I love ribs. I love their tender, fatty, savory, fall-off-the bone goodness, their flavorful dry rubs and rich sauce.

All of these adjectives describe ribs done right, of course – it’s possible to get ribs wrong. Fortunately, as I discovered during my visit, Woodpile BBQ Shack does ribs right!

The barbecue joint offers all manner of smoked meats: chicken, cheddar sausage, beef brisket, pulled pork, and spare ribs grace the menu. Combo plates are available, including two-meat and three-meat options (each of which include two sides), as are sandwiches and group-centered meals such as the Feast for Four.

Woodpile BBQ Shack is not just in the smoked-meats game; they also serve ice cream – made by Treat Dreams!!! If you’ve ever tasted this local purveyor’s wares, you get what a big deal that is (I still dream about its Dark Sea Olive Oil ice cream I enjoyed on my birthday two years ago). I admittedly can’t imagine having room for dessert after gorging on barbecue, but if I did, I’d go for the Bourban Pecan Pie ice cream, which is labeled as a signature flavor crafted for Woodpile and described on the restaurant’s website menu as “sweet and salty and sticky and boozy!” [cue drooling].

During my visit to Woodpile BBQ Shack, I had the Two Meat Combo plate with pulled pork, spare ribs, and sides of the Mac & Cheese and Roadside Pit Beans. It was DELICIOUS, all of the rich, tender, fatty, savory bliss described above.

Ordering at Woodpile is done at a counter. Seating is available in a dining area that is open-air during the warm-weather months, as it was during my visit. It’s got a fun, rustic feel, all wood beams and corrugated metal, with tables incorporating wooden barrels into their design. There’s a bar out there that serves beer, wine, and liquor.

Mourning summer’s end as I write this post on the last day of August (R.I.P., Summer 2019!), I’m reminded that barbecue can – and should – be enjoyed at any time of year. Places like Woodpile Barbecue Shake make that deliciously possible.

303 S. Main St.

Clawson, MI 48017

www.woodpilebbqshack.com

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409. Cannelle – May 18, 2019 – Detroit, MI

May2019Cannelle1 (2)After an amped-up and extremely fun pedal bar jaunt with the The Michigan Pedaler (which included a visit to German biergarten Jacoby’s), I did a 180 energy-wise, opting to kill time between engagements with tranquil journaling time at Cannelle.

An outpost of the French bakery, which has its original location in Birmingham, opened in downtown Detroit earlier this year. I’d passed its elegant facade many a time prior to my visit, fantasizing about sitting inside and savoring a pastry. I finally made that dream a reality on this Saturday evening in mid-May.

Walking inside the bright, beautiful bakery with its gleaming display cases holding a plethora of pastries, I was greeted by a friendly staff member, who took my order for a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant. The latter was a no-brainer choice; chocolate croissants are kind of my heart (I mean, a chocolate center nestled between buttery, flaky pastry – how is that not a yes???).

Receiving my order, I surveyed the various seating options and decided on a counter seat facing one of the ample windows. I settled in, then bit into that chocolate croissant. And O.M.G.

This was the freshest chocolate croissant I’ve ever eaten – so fresh that the chocolate inside was warm and melty. It was rich, decadent deliciousness. Yes, yes, YES, Cannelle!

And yes again, Cannelle, to your staff! They were kind and attentive during my visit, picking up my empty dishes and even letting me borrow a pen when I realized I didn’t have one. Awesome customer service really makes an experience, and I appreciated the top-level treatment I received from the staff during this visit to Cannelle.

Besides those glorious chocolate croissants, Cannelle proffers a variety of delectable-looking baked goods, such as meringues, macarons, tarts, and eclairs. The loaves of fresh-baked bread looked especially enticing, and I certainly wouldn’t mind returning and enjoying one of Cannelle’s sandwiches nestled between pieces of it (the Le Sancisson with its sausage, tomato, Gruyere cheese, and house-made red-pepper dressing cradled inside a croissant bun looks PHENOMENAL). The salad featured on its website menu looks fresh and flavorful, too.

Beverages offered at Cannelle include espresso- and coffee-based drinks, sparkling water, and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

My visit confirmed what I’d already expected: Cannelle is indeed the perfect place to steal away and savor a treat and some time all to yourself.

45 W. Grand River Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

(Closed Mondays)

www.cannelledetroit.com

408. Jacoby’s – May 18, 2019 – Detroit, MI

May2019Jacobys1 (3)Jacoby’s, my brush with you was much too quick! A revisit to this Detroit-based German biergarten – one of the oldest bars in the city – is DEFINITELY in order.

After several years of wanting to visit Jacoby’s, I suddenly found myself there on a Saturday afternoon in mid-May during a whirlwind jaunt of bachelorette party revelry (Jacoby’s was one of two stops on a super-fun pedal bar excursion with The Michigan Pedaler; the other was Old Shillelagh).

According to Jacoby’s website, it’s been serving up brews since 1904! While the bar has changed ownership throughout the years, it maintains its heritage, offering a variety of German beers and German food specialties, such as wiener schnitzel (described on the menu as a breaded pork chop accompanied by potato cakes and red cabbage), spaetzle noodles, and knockwurst.

For those who prefer more traditionally American bar fare, Jacoby’s has that, too; its menu is loaded with such munch-worthy appetizers as fried pickles, chicken wings, and jalapeño poppers, and it also offers soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers, some of which sport German flair (the Famous Corned Beef Reuben with its made-in-house sauerkraut is calling my name!). A selection of locally-made craft beers and ciders are also served at Jacoby’s.

I don’t know when I’ll be back to Jacoby’s, but I hope it’s soon. I look forward to trying its German cuisine and soaking up its grand antique-saloon vibes (its interior, with its warm wood and golden ceiling tiles, definitely feels like a portal to an older era). We’ll be reunited after our chance encounter, Jacoby’s – I’ll make sure of it!

624 Brush St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.jacobysbar.com

407. Che Cosa – May 11, 2019 – Clinton Township, MI

May2019CheCosa1 (2)May2019CheCosa2 (2)May2019CheCosa3 (2)Che Cosa!!! I got excited when I realized the next post on the docket for 100 Places in the D was this one for the Clinton Township-based coffee house, because I totally dig this place.

On a busy Saturday in mid-May, I was between engagements and looking to kill time at a coffee shop, and I’d long been curious about Che Cosa, which happily fit logistically into the scheme of my day. So I stopped in to see what it was all about.

The interior of Che Cosa is cozy, with furnishings (such as the plush leather couch shown above) that make you feel as if you’re hanging out in someone’s home. Then you see the tall metal shelf loaded with large jars of roasted beans, and it’s abundantly clear that you are in a shop that is serious about its coffee.

After waiting on a rush of customers ahead of me, the woman working the counter that morning explained that shelf of beans to me. She said the owner of Che Cosa roasts the many varieties of coffee beans on display and adds flavoring to some.  Beans with luxurious-sounding flavorings, such as Banana Nut Bread and Cinnamon Danish, are available for purchase via a cup of fresh-brewed coffee or bagged for at-home brewing.

Foods such as soup, ice cream, and biscotti are available for purchase at Che Cosa, too. But I was all about the liquid caffeinated goodness that day.

I was tempted to order a cup of coffee made with the flavored beans (Southern Pecan Pie, you were calling my name!), but in the end I went with my old-faithful coffee-shop order: a cappuccino. And I was glad I ordered that cappuccino, because it was the best one I could remember drinking!

The word that kept coming to mind as I sipped Che Cosa’s cappuccino was “balanced.” Its flavors were perfectly balanced: the espresso didn’t taste burnt, nor watered down by too much milk, and there was an ideal amount of foam. That Che Cosa cappuccino was perfect.

Not only was the coffee at Che Cosa delicious, but I really enjoyed how welcoming it felt to be there. For most of the time that I hung out there, I chatted with the woman working the counter and a gentleman who was a Che Cosa regular. He told me about his life, and I told him about mine, and the barista chimed in about her life, and it was just a really, really nice experience to connect with some kindly strangers during an outing when I’d simply been looking to kill some time and check out a new place. Cozy, community-fostering, and brewing up a damn good cappuccino: that’s Che Cosa for ya!

Worth noting: Che Cosa’s hours of operation appear to vary, so it’s worth calling before a visit to make sure it’s open.

24394 Crocker Blvd.

Clinton Twp., MI 48036

Phone: (586) 477-1200

406. Pinky’s Rooftop – May 4, 2019 – Royal Oak, MI

May2019Pinkys2 (2)Mannequin heads topped with cotton-candy beehives and drinks crackling with dry ice: these were items available for order at Royal Oak-based restaurant Pinky’s Rooftop during my visit on a Saturday night in early May.

The trendy restaurant with its Instagram-worthy pink-hued dining room and rooftop patio is at the site of the former Red Fox English Pub (which happened to be Visit Number 48 for 100 Places in the D – check out this vintage post on it!). Worth noting: to enter Pinky’s, you must go in through its ground-floor sister restaurant, Diamonds Steak & Seafood, which is at the same address. Pinky’s is above it.

Pinky’s had recently opened at the time of my visit, and to be honest, it showed: food took quite a while to come out. But our server was wonderful, earnest and friendly, and it was fun to soak in the sassy ambiance and watch those cotton-candy beehive desserts sail out into the dining room. (BTW, if you look closely at the lower-right-hand corner of the above photo, you can spot one of the black mannequin heads with its pink hairdo: it’s against the wall, nearly blending into the mural.)

Pinky’s menu boasts a plethora of elaborate cocktails, including the Pink Circus with its cotton-candy topper; the Frosé, All Day frozen rosé drink; the Pinky’s Ice Pops (a glass of prosecco or brut rosé with the boozy popsicle of your choice plunked into it); and the afore-referenced cocktail, the Dancing Raspberries with its billowing plumes of dry-ice clouds. It also offers a wine list and selection of craft beers and spirits.

The food menu proffers a variety of small plates, including the items I indulged in during my visit: the Lime Chip Trio with its pots of mango salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole and surprisingly seasoned chips (reminiscent of barbeque potato chips) and the Short Rib Wonton Tacos with their petite, deep-fried shells and toppings of pickled chilies, avocado, and radish.

A brunch menu is available at Pinky’s on Saturdays and Sundays and includes such intriguing-sounding dishes as Eggs in Purgatory and Cake Batter Red Velvet Waffles (Wow!).

100 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.pinkysroyaloak.com

405. Briggs Detroit – April 27, 2019 – Detroit, MI

April2019Briggs1 (2)Briggs Detroit was the next stop on the Chug-A-Lug five-mile run/bar crawl in which I participated in late April, after jaunts to Nancy Whiskey, The Old Miami, and Bookies Bar & Grille.

I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of the interior of Briggs, because I dug it. To be honest, while having my phone tucked into the band of my yoga pants during the bouts of running, sweat from my body seeped in through the phone case, rendering the buttons mostly useless (gross, I know!). So my photo-taking during this extravaganza was generally limited.

I took the above-shown photo of the exterior of Briggs this morning – as in the morning of the day I’m writing this post in late August! But Briggs’ interior is cool; it has antique-pub-meets-sports-bar vibes, with old-fashioned tin ceiling tiles and a wood-topped bar comingling with flat-screen TVs and a large digital scoreboard.

On its menu, Briggs offers a selection of craft draft beers as well as a variety of tasty-sounding appetizers and entrees, including burgers, sliders, a loaded burrito bowl, and an intriguing-sounding sandwich called a Taco Melt.

I enjoyed my sojourn at Briggs before the final stop on the Chug-A-Lug junket, McShane’s, another 100 Places in the D alumni member. Briggs struck me as a solid spot to hang.

The overall experience of the Chug-A-Lug run was amazing! It was free to participate in (with the additional option to purchase a fun event t-shirt for a small free) and was a fun community-fostering event where I met some cool people. If you’re interested in learning more about the Chug-A-Lug and keeping tabs on when registration opens for the next iteration of it, check out this page on the organizer’s website: www.detroitchampions.com/chug.

519 E. Jefferson Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.briggsdetroit.com

404. Bookies Bar & Grille – April 27, 2019 – Detroit, MI

April2019Bookies1 (2)At the end of April, I participated in an organized run that was not your typical race. Instead of sprinting toward a finish line, we were running to and from bars in Detroit!

This run, the sixth annual iteration of the Chug-A-Lug, is what brought me to Bookies Bar & Grille on a Saturday afternoon.

Bookies was the third stop on our five-mile run, which started at Nancy Whiskey in Corktown and continued on to 100 Places in the D favorite The Old Miami.

Surprisingly, after the first leg of running, which was about 1.5 miles in length and pretty rough for me (I’m not a runner), the second leg from The Old Miami to Bookies (which was about a mile) felt like a breeze. My muscles were loosened, and my body was warmed up by exercise (and likely adult-beverage imbibing).

Walking into Bookies, I appreciated the main bar area and its mash-up of sports-bar/fancy parlor aesthetics, with flat-screen TVs and team flags coexisting with gilded chandeliers and a high ceiling.

After ordering drinks from the bar, the friend accompanying me on the Chug-A-Lug adventure and I went up to the bar’s rooftop patio, where we spent the rest of the roughly 45 minutes allotted to this stop. The patio gave picturesque views of the city and was a great hang-out spot in the 50-something-degree weather – which felt downright balmy to us Michiganders emerging from the throes of lingering wintery weather.

While I didn’t eat at Bookies, I see that its food menu is loaded with tasty-sounding appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. The Buffalo Chicken Tots appetizer (described as “half pound of tots topped with Monterey cheddar cheese, buffalo chicken, ranch, and chives”) sounds especially intriguing, as does the Tavern burger with its fried onion strings, cheese, bacon, barbeque sauce, and pretzel bun [cue the drooling!].

2208 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.bookiesbar.com

403. Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History – April 6, 2019 – Detroit, MI

April2019CharlesWright1 (4)April was a scant time of new-place visits for me, but I did kick off the month with an impactful cultural experience, a visit to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit.

I’d long been wanting to visit the museum and was excited to finally make it happen one Saturday afternoon. A friend joined me for the experience.

The Charles H. Wright Museum building itself is impressive in its beauty, especially the glass ceiling dome at the center of it. Entering it, we were greeted by friendly museum staff members, who explained the admission options. We opted for general admission rather than admittance to the special exhibits and spent several hours touring through the museum.

The general exhibits are an impressive collection of historical artifacts, fact boards, and experiential displays. We started at the beginning, learning about cultural practices of ancient African nations, then worked our way through exhibits around the slave trade and slavery in America; the Civil War and the Reconstruction era; the Civil Rights movement; and the history of African Americans in Detroit.

The exhibits were a sombering experience to take in. The walk through a reproduction of the hold of a slave ship, with depictions of males, females, and children chained and packed together so tightly, as audio of moaning and wailing played over a loudspeaker was especially emotional for me, almost overwhelming. I cannot fathom what it would be like to be in such an experience, taken from your home against your will and chained up in these tight quarters, lying in your and everyone else’s waste, subjected to extreme cruelty. . ..

It was pretty hard for me to not lose faith in humanity going through this slave ship reproduction and many other exhibits, such as one where a slave trader is rattling off stats about people for sale as if they were cattle. Again, the fact that such a barbaric practice as the buying, selling, and controlling of people was at one time an accepted institution in this country is mind-boggling to me.

It was a moment of emotional respite for me to get to the part of the museum that depicted neighborhoods of Detroit that were historically African-American, such as Black Bottom. It included an expansive representation of the cityscape from that time, with depictions of businesses that you could walk right into such as a drug store with a soda fountain and a barbershop with a mannequin barber cutting hair, which I found super fun. I did not find fun the fact that Black Bottom was demolished to make room for the Chrysler Freeway and other development projects.

The Charles H. Wright Museum does an excellent job of reminding one of these sordid aspects of American history. It’s also a beautiful testiment to the strength and resilience of African-Americans in the face of horrific brutality, rascism, and oppression. Locals and visitors to the Metro-Detroit area alike could benefit from paying a visit to this informative and impactful institution.

315 E. Warren Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.thewright.org

402. Grandma Bob’s – March 28, 2019 – Detroit, MI

March2019GrandmaBobs2 (3)March2019GrandmaBobs1 (3)Grandma Bob’s is serving up some delicious pizza in the D!

This I discovered on a Thursday night in late March, after happy-hour drinks with a friend at beloved 100 Places in the D alumni member Two James Spirits. Starving after our adult-beverage imbibing, we continued the revelry at the then newly-opened Corktown-based pizzeria.

Is there any food that tastes better after you’ve had a few drinks than pizza? Of course, pizza tastes just as amazing stone-cold-sober as it does when you’re tipsy, but you know what I mean. We had worked up an appetite and were excited to taste-test Grandma Bob’s wares.

Walking into Grandma Bob’s, I admired its fun, funky vibe. Bare lightbulbs hung amidst a tangle of cording from the ceiling. The walls were dark, and the prominent artwork they showcased was a striking ceramic-tile mural of a piece of pizza. A bar along one wall provided seat options, as did long communal tables.

At the time of our visit, the pizzeria had some intriguing choices on its menu, including a Coney pizza loaded with all of the fixings of the iconic hot dog (the chili, the mustard, the onions, the hot dog itself – you name it!) and the Pear + Fig pie with its slices of pear, dried figs, honey, walnuts, blue cheese, and basil.

Usually I love to try a pizza loaded with intriguing topping options. Why wasn’t I going for Grandma Bob’s Taco pie with its roasted corn, jalapeños, onion, chorizo, radish, crushed corn chips, cilantro, and lime? For whatever reason, I was in a no-frills mood, and the classic Cheese pizza with its mozzarella, red sauce, and shredded basil was calling my name, so I heeded the call.

My friend went simple, too, opting for the Pepperoni pizza. We ordered at the counter at the front of Grandma Bob’s, procuring a round of drinks, as well; I enjoyed one of the bar’s tasty craft cocktails – though 4.5 months later, I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called or what it contained (here’s to taking real notes going forward instead of mental notes – and to catching up on the blog so I’m posting in real time!).

Our food came out promptly, and THESE PIZZAS, you guys. They were paragons of fresh, cheesy goodness!

Grandma Bob’s cheese pizza was a reminder of what cheese pizza should taste like: so richly flavorful, making my taste buds go “WOW!!!” Who needs all of the extra toppings when you’ve got cheese pizza like that to eat? It was seriously phenomenal.

My friend felt the same way about the pizza she ordered, that it was more flavorfully nuanced than your typical pepperoni pie. It had honey drizzled over it, giving it a subtle sweetness that she enjoyed.

I ate every slice of the twelve-inch round I ordered but one, opting to take it home so I could savor it later. I left Grandma Bob’s feeling full and satisfied, excited to have discovered yet another awesome locally-owned establishment in Detroit (the city is positively brimming with ’em!).

2135 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.grandmabobs.com

401. Candle Wick Shoppe – March 19, 2019 – Ferndale, MI

March2019CandleWickShoppe1 (2)March2019CandleWickShoppe3 (2)March2019CandleWickShoppe2 (2)After cozy journaling time at Civitas Coffee House in Hazel Park on a Tuesday afternoon in mid-March, I continued on to downtown Ferndale, where I visited a place I’d long been curious about: Candle Wick Shoppe.

The store sells all kinds of high-vibing products: candles, crystals, essential oils, incense, books, jewelry, and other goodies. According to its website, reiki sessions are also offered through the shop.

While at Candle Wick Shoppe, I enjoyed interacting with the friendly sales clerk, who helped me pick out my purchases. I went with a smoothly polished and satisfyingly hefty rose quartz stone, a rainbow-luminescent stone called opalite, and a tall blue candle dedicated to the third-eye chakra.

I love crystals for their different meanings and their beauty, and I’m obsessed with candles (I burn them daily), so I was happy to add to my collection of both – as happy as I was to soak up the calming, positive energy radiated by Candle Wick Shoppe.

175 W. 9 Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.candlewickshoppe.com