Macomb County

599. Regale Craft Food & Drink – January 20, 2023 – Macomb, MI

Have a fun and flavorful night on the town at Regale Craft Food & Drink! The Macomb-based restaurant and bar is a classy, convivial place to grab a well-crafted drink and sample delicious dishes.

Regale’s menu consists of shareable-sized dishes representing a variety of cuisines. Lamb Empanada and House-Made Gnocchi sit alongside Kimchi Fried Rice and Wild Mushroom Croquettes. As explained in the About section of Regale’s website, the “moderately portioned dishes are perfect for sharing so that everyone can experience a variety of offerings that Chef Shawn has carefully created.”

I can attest to that! Admittedly, I didn’t share either of the dishes I ordered at Regale. But I did order two dishes that represented wholly different cuisines: the Poutine (total TGIF fare!) and the Curried Vegetables (my attempt to balance the Poutine’s decadence with healthfulness).

The Poutine came out before the Curried Vegetables, and I was so into it that I ended up crushing the entire dish. How could I not when the fries came topped with a heaping mound of tender beef brisket, creamy cheese curds, crispy fried onion, sumptuous demi-glace, and a generous drizzle of sour cream? They were so rich, so flavorful, SOOO delicious!

Because I filled up on that Poutine, I didn’t get to savor enough of The Curried Vegetables until I finished them later at home. Served with rice, this was a comfort-food dish in its own right. It was a delight to eat the steaming-hot veggies and rice complemented by the creaminess of the coconut milk, the crunch of the cashews, and the vibrance of the curry and cilantro.

Speaking of complementary: if you’re looking to get a well-balanced cocktail at Regale, you can’t go wrong with the Date Night. Consisting of a date-infused vodka complemented by ginger, thyme, and green cardamom, the well-balanced cocktail is a very easy sip. And if sweet-and-spicy is your thing, go for the Ghostarita: a lively concoction of ghost pepper-infused tequila, chili, and mango.

Regale’s craft cocktail menu is intriguing enough that I can’t see myself veering from it. But if I did, I’d have a well-curated selection of beer, wine, and spirits to choose from.

Careful curation: that’s what Regale is all about! Well-prepared, flavorful food and drink, inviting ambiance, and stellar service meld to make a place people want to be.

48810 Hayes Rd.

Macomb, MI 48044

www.regalecraftfood.com

597. The Backdoor Taco and Tequila Bar – December 21, 2022 – Rochester, MI

Cozy up to The Backdoor Taco and Tequila Bar! You’ll be privy to its selection of over 150 tequilas, plus margaritas, craft cocktails, and of course, tacos.

The bar based in downtown Rochester has a Not Tacos section on its menu, too (yes, that’s literally what it’s called). So if one of The Backdoor’s seven taco varieties isn’t speaking to you, you can order nachos, flautas, or another Not Tacos treat.

Tacos are always speaking to me. I ordered two of The Backdoor’s tasty Pork Carnitas tacos, opting for the “Street Style” preparation: tacos incorporating two corn tortillas, with diced onion and cilantro atop the filling, and served with a lime wedge. As part of the Make It a Combo! deal, I added sides of rice and beans.

Waiting for my tacos, I sipped a Blackberry Beret margarita on the rocks (Hornitos Reposado tequila and triple sec infused with muddled blackberries, agave syrup, and fresh lime juice) and soaked up the ambiance of the sleek, dimly-lit bar. The Backdoor’s small interior lends an intimate vibe, aiding in its aim to embody a speakeasy. Its nondescript storefront and location behind its sister restaurant, D’Marco’s, further enhance that vision.

Everybody wants to steal away from the real world sometimes – and if you can do that and eat tacos, even better. The next time you’re seeking solace in the form of shredded chicken or shrimp tacos, sidle up to The Backdoor’s bar!

401 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.thebackdoortacos.com

590. Host – November 1, 2022 – Utica, MI

To visit Host is to have an EXPERIENCE! An immersive, thoughtfully curated, extremely delicious one. From its phenomenal food, drink, service, and ambiance, this restaurant in downtown Utica checks ALLLL the boxes.

Host is unique. Not only is it a restaurant-slash-coworking space, it also offers rotating residencies to chefs. That means that every month or two, there’s a brand-new menu!

Take a look at Host’s schedule for the next several months. As of the writing of this post (February 2023), Chef Mark Camaj (who helped open SheWolf) has curated an enticing array of Italian dishes. German food pop-up DeutschTroit will take residence for the month of March. Then Italian returns when Chef Michael Murabito brings a Sicilian Mediterranean menu in April and May. And chef duo Breakin’ Cornbread will kick off summer at Host with a menu described as “Big Energy Comfort Food,” available from June to mid-July. There’s tastiness for DAYS!

I visited Host in early November. Chefs Davante Burnley (now Host’s Executive Chef) and Kiluanji Watkins curated a menu of extreme deliciousness. Dining with three friends who love food as much as I do meant sharing a variety of dishes. These included the Confit Duck Pontine, Smoked Plum and Burrata, and Crudites (a spread of smoked pepper hummus, confit tomato and garlic, fresh vegetables, and grilled pita). Yes, these dishes were all as amazing as they sound! With its hand-cut fries topped with shredded duck, pecorino cheese, chives, and a sumptuously rich duck demi glaze that I could drink by the gallon, the Duck Pontine in particular was to die for.

That spread could have been a complete meal in itself, but you know we had to try more! We continued by ordering individual entrées. For me, that was the Lamb Bolognese. I’m a sucker for lamb Bolognese! And chefs Davante’s and Kiluanji’s version did not disappoint. Their ground lamb arrabbiata tossed with bucatini noodles and accented with shredded pecorino and fresh basil was full of flavor.

After eating our own dinners, our group reconvened the family-style experience, sharing the Cider Mill Donuts. And you know, based on everything else you’ve previously read, that those donuts were ABSOLUTELY as good as you’re imagining. Better, even! The fresh-fried donuts were oh-so-delectably crispy on the outside, soft and cakey on the inside. Tossed in cinnamon sugar, they were served with a house-made caramel sauce. And they were LIFE. What a mic drop to an amazing meal!

Throughout this exceptional culinary journey, we were also imbibing exceptional drinks. I started with the Avocadica, an intriguing concoction of tequila and mezcal infused with lime and spicy avocado. I ended with a fantastic rendition of a classic: an Old-Fashioned.

While at Host, my friends and I were well taken care of. Our server was great, friendly and attentive, and both the bartender and Chef Davante paid us visits. The bartender gave us drink recommendations, and we enjoyed thanking Chef Davante for our exquisite meal!

Ambiance-wise, I was totally feeling Host, too. The decor incorporates both natural and modern elements. Cut-outs in the wall behind the bar are covered with verdant moss, while an arrangement of dried plants and pendant lights hanging from the ceiling highlight a long table in the center of the restaurant. The tables are bedecked with vases of fresh flowers, and an art installation comprised of what look to be large, neutral-colored dried leaves, moss, and feathers is emblazoned with the restaurant’s name in neon-light letters. It all meshes into a vibe that’s both chic and cozy. It’s an ambiance that enhances the immersive feeling you get when you visit Host. You leave the everyday world behind for one that feels intimate, special.

Speaking of ambiance: I’m thinking I need to check out Host’s coworking space. Judging from pictures on Host’s website, it’s got ambiance for days, with plush leather chairs, exposed brick, and velvety green curtains. Packages range from the Office – which, at a fee of $1,100 a month, presumably hosts a team – to the $29-a-day drop-in fee for individuals.

Not only does the restaurant offer dinner, but it boasts a brunch menu, plus what it’s dubbed a “Coffee & Pastries Pop Up” on Mondays. Check Host out for yourself, and prepare to have an experience!

7759 Auburn Rd.

Utica, MI 48317

www.hostutica.com/restaurant/

589. Westview Orchards & Winery – October 30, 2022 – Washington, MI

Westview Orchards & Winery is a cornucopia of delights!

The Washington-based you-pick farm, cider mill, and winery began in 1813. For over 200 years, it’s been owned and operated by the same family. That’s an impressive legacy!

Most of Westview’s offerings – including its you-pick produce, market, and Farm Fun playground and activities for kids – won’t open until spring or early summer. But its winery is reopening tomorrow, February 24! And as I learned in October, the Westview Winery is worth checking out.

I was at Westview one chilly October morning to run in a Halloween-themed 5K race. It was the kind of race that gave out shirts that said, “Witch way to the wine?” So you might expect the course to be a cruise. But this course was not beginner-level. It wound up- and downhill along fields of grapevines and orchards. And this trail was crowded – with mostly walkers, so much so that I ended up running along the rocky, grassy side of the trail to bypass them (a move I would not recommend). But the views along the trail were gorgeous! And the race reminded me that there’s nothing quite like that exhausted yet exhilarated feeling I get when I, as a non-runner, successfully slow-jog my way through three miles. Unless it’s swilling a glass of red wine at 9:45 in the morning after completing said slow-jog.

Wine had initially sounded unappealing after all that exertion. But once I got to sipping, it tasted pretty darn good! That’s to the credit of Westview’s winemakers. I got to sample more of their wares at the onsite wine bar. A friend had earned five free bottles of Westview’s wine by assembling a team of 20 runners! A generous soul, she opened some of them to share with the group. While I can’t remember the names of the wines I tried that day, I do remember that they were delicious!

The winery’s wares include a variety of both sweet and dry wines, plus hard ciders made from the orchard’s apples. The dry wines include a Gewürztraminer named Wine der Woman and a semi-sweet merlot blended with cranberries aptly named Cranberry Crush.

Participating in the race also earned me one of Westview’s delectably fresh donuts. Is there anything better than cider mill donuts?

While we’ll have to wait for those delectably fresh donuts to come back into season, we can daydream about them in Westview’s wine bar. Located on the second floor of a barn, it’s cute and cozy, sparkling with twinkle lights, the tables bedecked with pumpkins and sunflowers on the day of my visit. And this March, we can attend two classes at Westview: one on spring-wreath-making, the other, charcuterie-board-assembling. Even in the off-season, there’s plenty to do at Westview!

65075 Van Dyke Rd.

Washington, MI 48095

www.westvieworchards.com

570. Coffee Break Cafe – July 26, 2022 – Eastpointe, MI

Coffee Break Cafe has a devoted following! And it’s easy to see why. The coffee house tucked into a strip mall in Eastpointe serves delicious drinks.

During my visit to Coffee Break Cafe, not one but two customers raved to me about how great the place was. One loved it for studying; the other, as his regular supplier of coffee beans (which he said he’s taken with him all over the world). Both loved the owner, who is a friendly, welcoming guy.

Speaking of those beans: Coffee Break Cafe roasts its own. It offers varieties from all over the world – places such as Kenya, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala. The shop offers a plethora of coffee- and tea-based drinks. There’s an array of lattes, in enticing flavors such as Cherry Fudge, Cheesecake, and Tiramisu, and flavored cappuccinos, too. Baked goods and bottled drinks (pop, juice, sparkling water) are also available.

During my visit, I enjoyed a cold brew iced coffee and a Chai Tea Latte. The Chai Tea Latte was especially good: rich, foam-capped, warmly spiced deliciousness.

Next time you need a break from the world, make Coffee Break Cafe your place of respite!

19156 E. 10 Mile Rd.

Eastpointe, MI 48021

www.coffeebreakcafe.business.site

568. Max & Ollie’s – July 14, 2022 – Mount Clemens, MI

Max & Ollie’s offers a sweet selection of old and new! The shop in downtown Mount Clemens has a thoughtfully curated collection of vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories, glassware, china, and other home goods. And it’s got brand-new items, too: candles by Mitten Candle Co., for one. Not only are these handmade soy candles crafted made by a friend of mine, they smell downright fabulous (the Firewood scent alone – SO good!).

And Max & Ollie’s is fabulous, too! Not only for stocking my friend’s candles and giving beautiful pre-owned goods a second life, but also for having an owner who is warm and welcoming. This is definitely a small business worth championing!

65 Macomb Pl.

Mt. Clemens, MI 48043

563. Brown Iron Brewhouse – May 26, 2022 – Washington, MI

Washington is represented on the blog – with a visit to Brown Iron Brewhouse!

I visited the local brewery in May, yearning to sit on its pretty patio. A rainy day – alas! – made that impossible. But I did get to experience Brown Iron’s convivial beer hall interior. There I feasted on its beefy bacon cheeseburger (the Brown Iron Burger) and sipped one of its raspberry saisons.

Brown Iron features a wide selection of beers and hard ciders on tap – both its own and those of other breweries. The Washington location’s tap list is currently 69 items strong! Wine and cocktails are also available.

And the food! A feature of Brown Iron’s food menu is its barbecued meats. It has a smoker – and that’s reflected in menu offerings such as Slow Smoked BBQ Pork, Texas Beef Brisket, and St. Louis Spareribs. Sandwiches, salads, and pub-friendly appetizers (here’s looking at you, Crispy Cheese Curds and Beer Hall Nachos!) are also available.

57695 Van Dyke Ave.

Washington, MI 48094

(With an additional location in Royal Oak)

www.browniron.com

560. Clementine’s Pastries – May 6, 2022 – Mount Clemens, MI

Clementine’s Pastries, a beacon of sweet deliciousness, right in downtown Mount Clemens!

I first stepped into the adorable bakery on a rainy Friday morning, after a repeat visit to Black Cat Coffee (conveniently located next door). The interior was a cheerful sight to behold coming in from the rain. It reminded of a French café, with its mauve accent walls and little tables bedecked with vases of flowers.

I knew I couldn’t miss out on Clementine’s macarons! Every month, the bakery features select macaron varieties. During my visit in May, Snickers and cookie dough were two of the featured flavors, so I snatched one of each variety up. I also purchased a blueberry cream-cheese croissant, based on the recommendation of the staff member helping me.

All of these treats were SO good! I savored the blueberry croissant’s luscious cream cheese filling. And the macarons! They were delightful iterations of this classic confection, with their perfectly crisp-yet-pillowy meringue cookies sandwiching rich and creamy ganache. YUM and YUM!

Clementine’s offers so much more than cookies and croissants. Other featured goods include bundt cakes, cupcakes, cannolis, tarts, bear claws, cheesecakes, muffins, and even house-made dog bones. Vegan and gluten-free options are available. The next time you’re craving a sweet treat, look no further than this local gem!

57 Macomb Pl.

Mt. Clemens, MI 48043

www.clementinespastries.com

557. The Wine Garden – April 22, 2022 – Sterling Heights, MI

The Wine Garden is an oasis of alcoholic options!

This Sterling Heights-based shop boasts row upon row of wine bottles, a plethora of varieties and price points. It also showcases a hefty selection of beers and spirits. It’s the place to pick up your favorite craft beer – and discover a few new favorites. Or buy that hard-to-find wine you fell in love with on vacation.

That latter scenario? That was mine at The Wine Garden. I’d visited Chile about a month prior and become enchanted with one of its popular wine varietals, Carménère. The red wine is ubiquitous in Chile but tough to find in the United States. But The Wine Garden had two different types of Carménère!

I’d also gone to The Wine Garden seeking a craft beer as a gift for an IPA-loving friend. I came out with Pigeon Hill Brewing Company of Muskegon’s Philosoraptor IPA – a brew she’d never tried and said was delicious. The Wine Garden for the double win!

Check this place out the next time you’re looking for an interesting liqueur or a bottle of wine that’ll impress guests. The Wine Garden’s friendly owner and staff are happy to help you score your own winning finds!

13927 19 Mile Rd.

Sterling Heights, MI 48313

www.winegardensterlingheights.com

556. Cake Mitten Bake Shop – April 22, 2022 – Clinton Township, MI

You don’t need an excuse to visit Cake Mitten Bake Shop!

I felt like I needed an excuse to visit the Clinton Township-based bakery back in April – and a friend’s birthday celebration was the perfect one. I got her – and myself – some cupcakes. The two I chose for myself, a chocolate bumpy cake and a carrot cake, were delicious! The cupcakes were moist, and the cream cheese frosting on the carrot cake was especially decadent. I could eat a vat of that cream cheese frosting!

Special occasions such as a birthday are an excellent reason to visit Cake Mitten. Check its website and Yelp page for photos of its work. Cake Mitten’s bakers are TALENTED! The intricately decorated cookies and cakes are works of art. Favorites of mine include the wedding cakes festooned with fresh flowers, cookies decorated like mini pizzas (and cut into mini pizza slices!), and a cake shaped like a giant cheeseburger.

Besides cupcakes and custom cakes and cookies, Cake Mitten offers cake pops, cake jars, chocolate-covered strawberries, and pretzels dipped in chocolate and caramel. Look to this bakery to celebrate your next special occasion – or your next everyday Tuesday. Because life is hard, but places such as Cake Mitten remind us that every day is an occasion to celebrate – especially when chocolate and cream-cheese frosting are involved!

40750 Garfield Rd.

Clinton Twp., MI 48038

www.cakemitten.com