Macomb County

444. Sawmill Creek Farms – November 9, 2019 – Richmond, MI

November2019SawmillCreek1 (2)November2019SawmillCreek2 (2)Sawmill Creek Farms, I’m so happy to have been introduced to you!!!

The Richmond-based family-run farm breeds livestock and sells the resulting wares at a shop on the farm premises. A coworker brought the farm to my attention, raving about how great tasting the meat was, how reasonable the prices were, and how well treated the animals appeared to be.

Her high praises had me intrigued. Scoping out Sawmill Creek Farms’ website, I read about the husband-and-wife duo, Sarah and Nick, who run the farm and their philosophy of raising livestock humanely, livestock fed on grain and hay grown on the farm and without antibiotics or hormones added to their diet, as well as the farm’s use of an USDA-inspected processing facility to process the animals into meat and its holding of a retail food license.

Liking what I saw on that website,  I knew a visit to Sawmill Creek Farms was in order. So on a sunny Saturday in early November (just two days before that snowstorm that dumped mega inches on us!), I jaunted out to Richmond.

Perched at the edge of Memphis Ridge Road, Sawmill Creek Farms’ shop was easy to spot as I approached it. It was a welcoming sight with its neat red exterior with white shutters and trim and its cheery fall displays of hay bales, pumpkins, and potted mums.

Stepping inside the shop, I was greeted by Sarah and a visiting customer who was chatting with her. One of Sarah’s two young boys bounced about on a couch in the corner, playing and watching TV.

Sarah explained how each of the white freezers inside the shop was labelled with the different cuts of meat it held. She handed me price lists showing the current costs of the cuts of meat offered as well as a sheet explaining six available meat bundles. She mentioned that depending on the current availability, some of the products offered might not be available at that time.

I was so excited to mine those freezers! They were filled with all manner of cuts of beef, chicken, and pork, plus sausages and bologna. The cuts available ranged from chicken breasts to bacon to beef fajita meat to various types of roasts to various types of steaks to pork chops . . ..

From this dizzying array, I selected: seven pounds of ground beef; two whole chickens; a beef rump roast; and a packet of pork country ribs. I got all of this (plus a Sawmill Creek Farms reusable shopping bag, which I received for free for spending a certain amount) for around $80, which I found to be quite reasonable. My haul is shown in the photo above.

While Sarah was ringing up my order, we chatted about the farm. She confirmed that the animals are allowed to roam the Sawmill Creek Farms pastures during their lives there and are so beloved by her and her family that a few have been taken out of eligibility for processing and designated pets (which she said her husband jokingly refers to as “hay-burners”). I told her how happy I was to find a place that raised meat ethically, how I am an unabashed meat eater but that it’s important to me to buy meat for my home cooking that comes from animals that have had a good life and how such meat can be hard to find.

I really enjoyed chatting with Sarah and getting to shop at her family’s store. I have also enjoyed getting into the Sawmill Creek Farms wares! Since my visit about three weeks ago, I have roasted one of the whole chickens I purchased and cooked two of the pounds of ground hamburger meat I bought (incorporating one into chili and the other into tacos), and all of the meat has tasted most delicious. In my book, Sawmill Creek Farms is emphatically a keeper.

If you are a meat eater and live in the area, I encourage you to check this farm out! Knowing where your meat comes from is most definitely a good feeling.

76320 Memphis Ridge Rd.

Richmond, MI 48062

(Closed Sundays and Mondays)

www.sawmillcreekfarmsllc.com

431. Mike’s on the Water – September 4, 2019 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

September2019MikesontheWater1 (2)September2019MikesontheWater2 (2)September2019MikesontheWater3 (2)Post-Labor Day, I strove to hang on to that summer feeling by dining at Mike’s on the Water.

The Saint Clair Shores-based restaurant’s epic patio fronts Lake Saint Clair, offering up a picturesque view of the water and nearby marina. The patio itself is crowded with eye-catching knickknacks and features an outdoor bar area.

More epic features of Mike’s on the Water, because this place is seriously tricked out:

-An ice cream truck parked near its entrance proffering tasty frozen treats!

-A food truck on its rooftop patio (see it in the first photo above?) serving select menu items!

I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the ice cream truck or rooftop patio/food truck during my visit to Mike’s on the Water, because the ice cream truck wasn’t open and because my friend who accompanied me and I were all about the main-level patio, where Mike’s on the Water’s full food and beverage menu are available.

Browsing the variety of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, and seafood entrée items offered on Mike’s on the Water’s menu, I opted for the Classic Corned Beef Reuben with a side of tater tots. The sandwich was delicious with its ample portions of corned beef, Swiss Cheese, sauerkraut, and creamy Thousand Island dressing on grilled rye bread; the tater tots were delectably crispy, grease-saturated goodness.

Sipping a glass of red wine while eating that Reuben and tater tots, laughing and talking to my friend and enjoying the view from Mike’s on the Water’s patio . . . it doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks, Mike’s on the Water, for helping me hang on to that summer feeling just a little bit longer!

24530 E. Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.mikesonthewater.com

420. Modern Cone – August 2, 2019 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

August2019ModernCone1 (2)August2019ModernCone2 (3)Modern Cone is bringing the flavor to 100 Places in the D! The ice cream joint in Saint Clair Shores is all about decadent dessert concoctions, which I discovered during my visit there in early August.

Ice cream is not one of my usual culinary obsessions (cake and tacos and even salads are more likely to fill my food fantasies), but MAN! did I crave it this summer. Hilariously, it came to mind most after filling meals such as the one I enjoyed at The Charlevoix just prior to visiting Modern Cone. I guess on these occasions I wanted to keep the gastronomical fun going!

My friend who dined with me at The Charlevoix that night was on the same wavelength as me, suggesting ice cream just as I’d been dreaming about it. Thus, I was introduced to the glory of Modern Cone.

This is not your typical purveyor of frosty treats, my friends: Modern Cone is bringing opulence to ice cream! It offers signature sundaes (called Stackers, presumably because of their characteristic way of stacking alternating layers of ice cream and other ingredients) laden with sauces and toppings ranging from chocolate chips to cereal bits to mini marshmallows; cookie ice cream sandwiches; and the option to build your own Stacker creation.

All manner of ice cream varieties are sold at Modern Cone, from Blueberry Muffin Top to Carolina Peach to what might as well be declared the official state flavor: Michigan Pot Hole (described on the menu on Modern Cone’s website as “Thick, black-tar fudge in chocolate ice cream with chunks of chocolate asphalt”).

Customized ice cream cakes (with the ability to choose which ice cream is layered inside) are also offered by Modern Cone, as are “Nachos,” which allow patrons to choose which two types of ice cream, three toppings, and two sauces get piled onto “chips” made from waffle cone pieces (AMAZING!!!).

After browsing the ice creams in Modern Cone’s shop and perusing its colorful chalkboard menu, my choice was obvious to me: I HAD to go with the PB Overload Stacker sundae with its peanut-butter chips, pretzel bits, Reese’s peanut butter-cup pieces, and Nutella and peanut butter sauces paired with chocolate-peanut butter ice cream (because the chocolate-and-peanut-butter combo is pretty much my spirit animal).

The PB Overload Stacker did not disappoint. Its rich ice cream and ample layers of sauces and toppings melded together into a sundae of supreme deliciousness. PB Overload = dessert PERFECTION!

I’ve fondly recalled this visit to Modern Cone on numerous occasions over the month-and-a-half that has elapsed since, periodically pestering my friend over the prospect of a return trip. The visit personifies summer for me – but how lucky we are to be able to savor Modern Cone’s goodness regardless of the time of year!

28616 Harper Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48081

www.moderncone.com

418. Fattoush Lebanese Grill – July 19, 2019 – Clinton Township, MI

July2019Fattoush1 (3)July2019Fattoush2 (3)July2019Fattoush3 (2)Two reasons to get excited about Fattoush Lebanese Grill of Clinton Township: 1) its FANTASTIC Mediterranean cuisine and 2) DEEP-FRIED OREOS!!!

I don’t think Lebanese restaurant when I think purveyor of deep-fried Oreos, but Fattoush has got ’em, and let me tell you, they are an EXQUISITE with their fried, cakey outer coating, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate-and-cream center, ample drizzles of chocolate, caramel, and strawberry sauces, and whipped cream, strawberry, and powdered-sugar garnishes.

I didn’t know about the deep-fried Oreos before visiting Fattoush – or need them to bring me in the door (though I’m certainly thrilled to have encountered them). Mediterranean food is my JAM! I love discovering another Mediterranean restaurant in the Metro-D to add to my mental rolodex. So when a friend suggested meeting for dinner at Fattoush on a Friday night in mid-July, I was game.

One reason my friend knew about and liked Fattoush was because it has a noteworthy vegan menu. The restaurant has meatless takes on traditional Lebanese dishes (chicken and beef shawarma wraps made with Beyond meat) and other popular fare (a burger, nachos, and quesadilla made with animal-free protein). She enjoyed the vegan chicken shawarma wrap with its hefty pieces of plant-based chicken, juicy pickles, and zesty garlic sauce.

The main portion of Fattoush’s menu is extensive, showcasing classic Lebanese favorites such as grape leaves, hummus, and kibbee, tabouli salad and crushed lentil soup, kabobs and ghallaba. The dessert section boasts decadent fare in addition to those deep-friend Oreos: fried cheesecake, baklava, and a molten chocolate cake, for instance. Fresh juice and fruit smoothies are also served.

I’m fairly obsessed with fattoush salads at this stage in my life (they’ve got everything you need: zing and crunch and deep-fried pita!), so it was a no-brainer for me to order a large one with grilled chicken as my entrée during this visit. And Fattoush’s iteration of its namesake dish was excellent with its ample portion of tender, perfectly-seasoned grilled chicken, crispy pita pieces, zesty dressing, and fresh mix of romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and red onion. (Man, I’m so dearly craving that salad now!)

As a former server, there’s no way I could end this post on Fattoush without giving a shout-out to the wonderful waitress who took care of me and my friend there. She was prompt and friendly and incredibly welcoming.

This visit to Fattoush Lebanese Grill confirmed for me that the restaurant is not only for Mediterranean-food enthusiasts, it’s for food enthusiasts in general. With its ample vegan options, top-notch Lebanese cuisine, and ultra-luxe desserts (Deep-Fried Oreos 4L!!!), Fattoush offers something for everyone.

41170 Hayes Rd.

Clinton Twp., MI 48038

www.fattoushgrill.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

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

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