Macomb County

399. Trizest Restaurant – March 15, 2019 – Sterling Heights, MI

March2019Trizest1 (2)March2019Trizest2 (2)Every time I think of Trizest Restaurant, I crave its Gong Bao chicken, which is some of the best I’ve had.

Tender chicken, flavorful veggies, and a delightfully spicy, tasty sauce characterize the Sterling Heights-based Chinese restaurant’s iteration of this classic dish, which is also known as Kung Pao chicken.

I didn’t need to peruse Trizest’s menu during my visit, because Gong Bao chicken is my Chinese go-to; I adore it. But I did notice that its menu is loaded with a plethora of appetizers and entrees, including a vegetarian section featuring plant-based “chicken.”

I dined at Trizest back in March. It was packed when I arrived around 7:30 that Friday night. I soon learned why: its food is fantastic! My visit was five months ago, and I still long for that Gong Bao chicken on the regular. Memorableness is a mark of a good visit, for sure!

Another aspect of dining at Trizest that struck me as memorable was its lighting. It was BRIGHT – like, grocery-store-in-the-middle-of-the-night bright. You are not likely to fall asleep whilst dining at Trizest. And hey – that’s a good thing, because you wouldn’t want to miss a moment of noshing on its delectable cuisine!

33170 Dequindre Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48310

(Closed Mondays)

www.trizest.com

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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

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

385. The Engine House – January 25, 2019 – Mount Clemens, MI

January2019EngineHouse1 (2)January2019EngineHouse2 (2)My first blog-worthy visit of 2019 didn’t come until the end of January, because I was off exploring a completely new-to-me part of the world (Thailand!) for nearly half the month. Surviving my first post-vacay work week amidst frigid temps and jet-lagged-induced brain fog was cause enough for a TGIF celebration at The Engine House in Mt. Clemens.

The bar and grill has a cozy, welcoming feel and a menu that proffers various salads, sandwiches, appetizers, pastas, pizzas, meat-centric entrée dishes, and a build-your-own-burger option. Daily lunch and drink specials are also available.

Because I never feel more American than when I return from international travel and inexplicably crave a bacon cheeseburger, I chose the build-your-own-burger option and loaded mine up with that sweet, sweet pork-and-dairy-laden goodness. It was delicious, rich and meaty and flavorful and characteristically American in its large-and-in-charge-ness. I enjoyed some crispy French fries, as well.

I learned from the friend who I dined with at The Engine House that night that any time a train goes by, everyone of drinking age in the bar receives a free shot. Sadly, no locomotives lumbered past The Engine House during our dinner, but I love the whimsicality of that gesture and hope to experience it during a return visit.

309 Cass Ave.

Mt. Clemens, MI 48043

www.theenginehouse.net

362. Shawarma Stop – September 25, 2018 – Sterling Heights, MI

September2018ShawarmaStop1 (3)September2018ShawarmaStop3 (3)Shawarma Stop = a WIN! I’ve got all good feels about this Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant in Sterling Heights.

During my visit Tuesday night, the restaurant’s dining area was clean and welcoming, the staff on duty were warm and polite, and the food was delivered quickly and downright DELICIOUS.

I admittedly glanced over Shawarma Stop’s menu that night more than perused it, because I knew what I wanted for my dinner: a chicken shawarma pita wrap and a small fattoush salad. I’m stuck on those two when it comes to Mediterranean food (as I am crushed lentil soup, and lemon-oregano chicken, and hummus, and of course garlic sauce . . .), especially the fattoush salad. Man, is that a good salad!

But some fattoush salads are better than others – and Shawarma Stop’s is one of the best I’ve had. The lettuce, cucumber, and tomato in it were fresh, the dressing was perfectly zesty, and most critically: the pita chip pieces were fried extra crispy so they stayed crunchy when tossed in the dressing, which made my heart VERY happy (soggy pita chips make for a sad fattoush-eating experience, indeed). AND the small version of the salad was much bigger than I expected; it’s an amply-sized side salad! That made my heart even more happy.

The chicken shawarma with its tender grilled chicken, tangy pickles, juicy tomatoes, and wonderfully bold garlic sauce was tasty, too. It was also large enough that I was able to take half of it home to enjoy as leftovers.

Now that I’ve examined Shawarma Stop’s menu more closely, I feel I MUST go back and try the build-your-own-pita-or-bowl option where you get to choose from a variety of choices the protein, sauce, and four toppings you’d like in your meal. I love the build-your-own concept, and I’m already envisioning a beef shawarma bowl with hummus, white rice, feta, onion, and banana peppers . . . Mmmm.

Other options on Shawarma Stop’s menu include an assortment of salads, appetizers, sides, and pitas, plus grill items such as shish kabob, lamb chops, and a whole deboned chicken. Combination platters designed to serve two, four, seven, or 12 people are also available.

Whether you’re looking to grab carryout or have a quick and pleasant dine-in experience, Shawarma Stop is so worth the trip. I’m already craving another of its fattoush salads and pondering a revisit!

13903 19 Mile Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48313

www.shawarmastoponline.com

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

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

333. Alie’s Lebanese Grill – June 3, 2018 – Sterling Heights, MI

June2018Alies1 (2)June2018Alies6 (2)June2018Alies5 (2)

You know those heady first days after you discover your latest crush? Well, I’ve been in that giddy state of adoration ever since visiting Alie’s Lebanese Grill of Sterling Heights and discovering how fabulous it is.

Alie’s Lebanese Grill, I like you just as you are! (Cue throwback-reference to Bridget Jones’s Diary, that O.G. of rom-coms with its signature line that Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy bestows upon the titular character. ~SWOON~) Your attractive ambiance, top-notch cuisine, and superior service made you easy to fall for!

A tangential tidbit about Alie’s: it used to be called Ollie’s and was affiliated with two other restaurant locations of the same name, one in Dearborn and one in Dearborn Heights (I visited the Dearborn Ollie’s location for this blog in 2015). A few years ago, the Sterling Heights restaurant broke away from the Dearborn and Dearborn Heights locations to become its own entity and was renamed Alie’s.

It’s an impressive entity. Glossy and well-kept, with an ivy-covered exterior, ornate chandeliers, and beautiful stonework, Alie’s is an aesthetically pleasing setting.

Its menu is extensive, loaded with fresh juices, appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches, and a plethora of entrees both of the meat-centric and vegetarian varieties – plus a Family Feast Combos section where groups can choose from various smorgasbord selections of classic Lebanese dishes.

Perusing this well-curated menu, I zeroed in on my Mediterranean staple, Chicken Lemon Oregano, which I can never seem to pass up because I love it so. The entrée came with the option of a side soup or salad. I ordered the Fattoush Salad, which turned out to be an excellent choice.

This salad had me raving; it was the best Fattoush Salad I’ve ever had. Its ingredients were so obviously fresh: the romaine lettuce and cucumbers were crisp, the tomatoes well-ripened, the pita chips perfectly crunchy, the dressing zesty.

This side salad was so filling, it could have easily been my meal – especially considering that it was accompanied by complimentary fresh-baked pita rounds and garlic sauce (which quite possibly constitute the premier carb-and-dip combo in this galaxy – YUMMM times infinity to that garlic-loaded sauce!).

But more deliciousness was to come: that Chicken Lemon Oregano dish, a tender, juicy, char-broiled chicken breast accompanied by a rich, garlicky, oregano-infused lemon sauce and an ample platter of rice. It was wonderfully flavorful. And it was filling; the chicken breast was huge and easily yielded leftovers.

It was a satisfying meal, delivered at a high level of service. Pleasant and courteous, the gentleman who was our server was a delight to deal with. Coupling this sterling service with the beauty of the building and the quality of the cuisine make the overall dining experience at Alie’s Lebanese Grill an enchanting one.

So, Alie’s, when can I see you next? Hopefully I can rendezvous with you again very soon, for another round of that delectable Fattoush salad and Chicken Lemon Oregano – and of course, mounds and mounds of pita rounds and garlic sauce!

33355 Van Dyke Ave.

Sterling Heights, MI 48312

www.alieslebanesegrill.com