Oakland County

246. Kahve Coffee – May 12, 2017 – Clawson, MI

20170512_185240 (3)I love a good independent coffee shop. There is something about being in public and yet in obscurity that I find incredibly appealing – the introvert in me loves that. A quality coffee shop offers respite from the world in the midst of a busy day, a hideaway to hole up and take care of business, a comfortable space to relax and get a caffeine fix between appointments. I love knowing there’s a solid coffee shop nearby to duck into when I need it.

After my recent visit to Kahve Coffee in downtown Clawson, I am adding it to my list of beloved independent coffee shops. I immediately dug its warm interior with colorful artwork posted on the walls, the friendly service, and my Earl Grey latte. The piece of baklava I chose from a selection of locally made baked goods was rich and flaky without being overly sweet – YUM. Baklava is one of those desserts I always forget about until I eat a piece and then am like HOW AM I EXISTING WITHOUT THIS IN MY LIFE EVERY DAY?

Another thing that makes Kahve stand out besides the fact that it serves stellar baklava is that included among its various delicious-sounding hot-beverage offerings is Turkish coffee – which I’ve never tried and would like to . . . hmmm. Perhaps I will get that during my next visit and be bouncing off the walls after drinking that strong, unfiltered brew (I’m a caffeine lightweight).

I expect to be back to Kahve and downtown Clawson soon because I’ve realized that the only other time I’ve highlighted a place in that city for this blog was all the way back when it started in 2014, with my visit to Vietnamese restaurant Da Nang (#26). And downtown Clawson is worth more than a once-every-three-years visit! There are several cool-looking restaurants down there that I can’t wait to check out.

22 S. Main St.

Clawson, MI 48017

243. Jalapeños – April 19, 2017 – Pontiac, MI

20170419_192330 (2)20170419_192753 (2)20170419_195340 (2)Any night is a good night to get Mexican food, right?

At least, that’s my point of view. Mexican food is one of my dearest loves (all of that spicy, cheesy goodness . . . mmmmm). I’m actually slated to go and get some tonight at my fave pre-100-Places-in-the-D Mexican restaurant EVER, El Charro in Fraser (an East-side classic!).

Two weeks ago to the day, I was also out eating Mexican food – but at a new-to-me restaurant, Jalapeños in Pontiac. [NEW PLACE ALERT!!!]

One no-brainer marker of a good Mexican restaurant is, in my opinion, its chips. Free and tasty chips with endless refills are a must. Check mark in Jalapeños’ favor – its chips were awesome during my visit. They were fresh and crispy and salty, and I gorging on them like a starving woman while waiting for my friend whom I was meeting. (It’s not a visit to a Mexican restaurant if you don’t nearly completely fill up on chips before your entrée arrives, right?).

Another distinction of a great Mexican restaurant: generous portion sizes. No daintiness, please; that’s not what I came for. Jalapeños delivered on their portion sizes with my tamale dinner, which contained three good-sized tamales and rice and beans. Add to that the bright, cheerful restaurant interior and the most obvious marker of a solid Mexican restaurant, the overall tastiness, and you’ve got a high score from me for Jalapeños.

806 Baldwin Ave.

Pontiac, MI 48340

241. La Dulce – April 8, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170408_180021 (2)20170408_185207 (2)20170408_18244120170408_182656 (2)Hi guys! I am popping on before a Detroit Day (~SQUEAL!~) to recount my visit a few weeks ago to La Dulce, a Spanish tapas place in Royal Oak.

The interior of the restaurant is light and airy, sophisticated, done up in blues and whites. In addition to standard table seating, there are also clusters of upholstered chairs and couches situated around low tables, so that if you are eating at one of those (as we were), you feel as if you are at an intimate dinner in someone’s living room.

I enjoyed a glass of rosé with the tapas spread my friends and I shared: a bowl of green olives, the Ibérico Ham Tosta (thinly sliced cured ham on toasted bread spread with garlic, grated tomato, and olive oil), Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes smothered in a white cheddar sauce, spicy red sauce, and more Ibérico ham), and Gildas (skewers loaded with anchovies, tuna, olives, peppers, and cornichon pickles).

OK, if my 30s mean sitting in elegant restaurants sipping wine and enjoying flavorful tapas with good friends, then I am all about this life! Who said being an adult had to be boring, anyway? If you are looking to treat yourself to a fancy, grown-up-yet-not-dull night out, La Dulce is definitely worth a visit.

115 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.ladulce.com

239. Rebel Café – March 26, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170326_110900 (2)20170326_121723 (2)20170326_113306 (2)Sunday brunch has become a regular thing for me and two of my best friends, and Royal Oak is a routinely agreed-upon meeting spot. I thought we were running out of new places to try – until I stumbled upon Rebel Café!

All of my friends have been incredibly accommodating of my desire to visit locally-owned, new-to-me places for this blog. It’s at the point where many of them will automatically ask when we’re planning to hang out, “Where have you not been yet?” For this I love them more than they could possibly know. After three-plus years, I was afraid this obsession of mine with the novel would be getting tiring for them. But they have wholeheartedly embraced it, and I’m loving it. So cheers to my lovely pals! I’m glad to know they were getting sick of the same ol’, same ol’ corporate chains, too.

Sorry – little tangential love-fest there. But speaking of love, I can pretty much say I heart Rebel Cafe’s Asian salad. It is DELICIOUS – and I appreciate that they are not shy with the proportions on this one. This bad boy is loaded with shredded cabbage, carrot, jicama, crispy wontons, edamame, onion, and cucumbers and tossed in a sweet sesame dressing – and there’s the option to add chicken to it, too (yes, please!).

I had assumed that the Rebel Café was solely a breakfast and lunch joint – maybe because it features the kind of eats you would typically consume at those times: a slew of early-morning items such as pancakes and breakfast burritos, plus popular noontime items like sandwiches and salads. But it’s open in the evenings, too – until 3 a.m. (Coney Island competition!) on Fridays and Saturdays and until 9 p.m. every other day  of the week.

This is one of those casual joints where you order at the counter. The food was tasty and the place was clean and pleasant during my visit, so it’s getting my vote for a quick and affordable meal option whether morning, noon, or night.

410 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.rebel-cafe.com

238. Fillmore 13 – March 24, 2017 – Pontiac, MI

20170324_165022 (2)20170324_171159 (2)20170324_182615 (2)Hey guys! I’m so glad to be back on the blog with a post here today – finally! The last few weeks were a little cray-cray-ba-nay-nay as I helped to plan and throw a dear friend’s shower and caught up on life stuffs. I like to remind myself that a busy life is a good life but am glad things have calmed down a bit so I can get on here and share with you the awesome places I’ve visited over the last few weeks, such as the recently opened Fillmore 13 Brewery in downtown Pontiac.

So can I say that I’m kind of obsessed with downtown Pontiac right now? It’s really looking awesome! Not only is there a Slow’s To-Go down there and the excellent Exferimentation Brewing Company, there’s this great new brewery called Fillmore 13. I am loving its down-to-earth, industrial-chic vibes, welcoming demeanor, and delicious craft brews and grub.

During my Friday happy hour visit (which is obvi the best time of the week EVER to visit a bar – TGIF-style!), the friendly, attentive bartender let my friend and I try a few of the beers before we made our choices. I settled on a four-sampler paddle of the chocolate stout, apricot Belgian ale, hazelnut porter, and saison pale ale. I loved them all, especially the apricot (a refreshing, perfect-for-warm-weather brew!) and the hazelnut.

Food-wise, I got the BBQ Sidewinder Nachos, which are basically the epitome of drinking eats. They’re these crispy potato wedges cut in this curlicue-type shape and doused in beer-infused nacho cheese, sour cream, green onions, and glorious barbecued pulled pork – YESSSSSS.  That is happiness balm for the stomach and spirit right there.

What I like about Fillmore 13’s food menu is that they’ve got the typical bar fare such as those Sidewinder Nachos and chicken wings and pretzels and cheese plus more sophisticated offerings. Most bars don’t have, say, an artisan cheese platter; a charcuterie tray; a pizza topped with prosciutto, goat cheese, and arugula; or sandwiches named Turkey Brie. But Fillmore 13 does. And I love that. Because I adore a luscious, straight-up dive-bar sandwich, but I also love a pulled pork topped with green-apple coleslaw and nestled on a brioche bun. There’s enough room in the world for all the choices, right?

7 N. Saginaw St.

Pontiac, MI 48342

www.fillmore13brewery.com

237. Tonia’s Victorian Rose – March 21, 2017 – Rochester, MI

20170321_125022 (2)20170321_113006 (2)20170321_115355 (2)Happy Friday, guys! I hope you’re looking ahead to a weekend open to much fun and exploring. I’ve got some good plans on the docket for the next few days, including visiting a brand-spanking-new local brewery tonight (counting down the minutes until happy hour as I type!), so look out for more new posts soon.

Today is all about my recent lunch visit to Tonia’s Victorian Rose, a tea room located in downtown Rochester.

OK, so I know the term “tea room” is probably not the most ear-perking one for many of ya, but let me assure you, Tonia’s Victorian Rose is straight-up delightful. A coworker treated me and another gal to lunch there Tuesday, and once I stepped into its soothing lilac-walled, sunshine-kissed, vintage-tunes-infused, grandly-grandmotherly interior, I didn’t want to leave. I was like, “Can we go get our laptops and hunker down with pots of tea and work here the rest of the afternoon?” Seriously – because pretty much this joint is the antithesis of my corporate day-job office. It has good vibes, is what I’m saying.

As you’d expect, the menu of Tonia’s Victorian Rose showcases a multitude of teas, including intriguing flavors such as Acai Pomegranate Blueberry Green Tea and Lavender Earl Grey as well as various decaffeinated options. I enjoyed a pot of decaf Earl Grey.

And the food there was great! I appreciated the selection offered, which surprised me for a tea room menu. I expected the few typical choices: chicken salad, mini sandwiches of the cucumber and egg-salad varieties, the requisite scones. And yes, there are chicken salad and scones on the menu, and you can get trays of those OG mini tea-party sandwiches if you make a reservation ahead of time. But there are also: sandwich varieties that you might not expect, such as the Italian Chicken and the Grilled Veggie Focaccia; crepes of both the sweet and savory varieties; two kinds of quiches; pot pie; and several soup and salad choices.

I ordered the Extreme Victorian Rose Salad, a mash-up of two of the salads on the menu, the Cashew Chicken and the Victorian Rose. To be honest, I was confused about what I was ordering; I somehow missed that the Cashew Chicken Salad was a chicken salad of the aforementioned chicken-mixed-up-with-mayonnaise variety. I’m generally not a fan of chicken salad, so I was bummed by my misstep. But I ate it, and let me tell you: it was excellent! I loved the raspberry vinaigrette on the leafy part of the salad, the cashews mixed into the chicken-salad part, and the juicy mandarin oranges. The dish also came with a cranberry-orange scone accompanied by this awesome whipped butter with orange zest mixed in.

And then, there was dessert! Yes, the menu of Tonia’s Victorian Rose also offers various desserts, such as the rose-flavored ice cream topped with a dried (and edible) rosebud we enjoyed as a palate cleanser and conclusion to this tasty and tranquil meal.

118 W 3rd St.

Rochester, MI 48307

(Open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)

www.toniasvictorianrose.com

232. Otus Supply – February 18, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

20170218_173945-220170218_180659-220170218_192810-220170218_182632-220170218_1851121Otus Supply! From its F’IN PHENOMENAL food to its mesmerizing hipster ambience, the recently opened Ferndale restaurant has me enamored with it. Can you tell by the number of photos I’ve included?

OK, part of my photog enthusiasm here was due to having recently gotten a new phone with a better camera. I’m not someone who puts a lot of stock in cellphones; sometimes I wish they were never invented on account of how they’re glued into all of our hands 24/7. But you know what? Having a pristine, speedy-moving, bug-free Galaxy S7 instead of my previous phone with its so-so camera, lethargic GPS system, and lemon battery that took twice-a-day charging is GLORIOUS. And emojis – I have a full span of emojis on my cell for the first time ever! This is life-changing!

Shamefully only half-kidding around my enthusiasm here. If we can’t go back to the days when no one except Zack Morris and our rich uncles had cell phones, I guess I’ll jump onto the pro-smart-phone bandwagon if it means I get to text people little pictures of burritos and kitties with heart eyes. I’ll simply refuse to be glued to mine and will continue to keep it on vibrate and ignore it much of the time, much to my mother’s chagrin (sorry, Mom!).

But I digress. Back to Otus Supply and how awesome it is! A friend and I decided to meet there after realizing that Ferndale is the perfect halfway point between our respective far-flung East- and West-side homes. I was surprised to see that the restaurant isn’t right in the thick of the 9 Mile-and-Woodward epicenter of downtown Ferndale but a bit east of it, just past the Go Comedy! Improv Theater (which I somehow haven’t visited yet after years of wanting to – new-place alert!) on 9 Mile. It has its own (tiny) parking lot, which is quite a distinction given the focus on metered public parking in the area.

The interior décor is a conglomeration I’ll call boho-rustic-industrial-chic: lots of wood, exposed copper duct-work, Persian rugs, brocade-print wallpaper, mysterious artwork. The sum of these design details is a pleasantly otherworldly vibe that I highly endorse. I’m all about a little escapism here and there.

The menu is a mix of small plates and a few entrée-sized items. My friend and I shared the Ourgherita – Otus Supply’s rendition of the Margherita pizza – and the sourdough-encrusted fried chicken, which were excellent. We also couldn’t resist ordering dessert and devoured the ice-cream-topped apple crumble served in a mason jar and the S’mores Thingy, essentially a gloriously deconstructed S’more with chocolate-and-salted-caramel-flavored macaroons, chocolate mousse, graham cracker pieces, and toasted meringue standing in for the marshmallows. Damn, were they both good!

And Hang Up Your Hang Ups, the rum- and sweet vermouth-based cocktail incorporating tamarind, pink peppercorn, coconut, and black garlic shavings, proved to be aptly named, as its alcohol-packed-prowess certainly helped me to forget my troubles for a while. A mix of signature cocktails, a wide-ranging selection of craft beers, and a few wine-by-the-glass options round out the drink menu.

Ferndale, you’ve got another beauty in this one! Welcome to the fold, Otus Supply, and I’m sure we’ll become reacquainted real soon.

345 E. 9 Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.otussupply.com

229. The Morrie – February 5, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170205_122447-2Today is a special day for 100 Places in the D, because it’s the first day of Blog Year 4!!!

I honestly can’t believe I’ve been posting on this blog for THREE years. I started 100 Places in the D in February 2014 with the daunting goal of visiting 100 new-to-me and locally-owned restaurants, bars, shops, parks, etc. within the Tri-County Metro-Detroit area over the span of a year, and somehow, I achieved and exceeded that goal with 102 visits.

My goal going forward was not to aim for 100 new visits each additional year, but to maintain the blog simply because I enjoy the hell out of it – it’s an excuse to make sure I continue to explore the area, get out of my comfort zone, and discover new-to-me local establishments. Thank you for following my journey, and if you’re intrigued by the prospect of starting your own version of the 100 Places Challenge whether you live in the D or elsewhere, I encourage you: please do it! Making exploring a priority has so brightened my life and expanded my horizons, and I hope it does the same for you if you’re inspired to follow in suit.

The Morrie restaurant in downtown Royal Oak has the distinction of being the last place I visited within Year Three of the blog. I didn’t achieve all of my goals set for Year Three (as always, I wish I had went further afield from my East Side environs more frequently than I did – there’s always Year Four for that), but I’m pretty pleased with what I did accomplish and mostly, with the fact that I’ve kept this all going. I’ll share a Year Three review soon.

Mostly, I have this rich and lively area to thank for the longevity of 100 Places in the D. D and Metro-D, I heart you! You never cease in unveiling intriguing new places for me to visit. 🙂

Take downtown Royal Oak, for one. It’s a fount of new establishments lately. What the heck is going on down there with the crazy turnover these last few years? Every time I go down to Main Street, I discover that a few more places have closed and new ones are slated to take their places. I hope for the sake of the businesses involved that it stabilizes down there. But one upside is that there are always new places for me to try despite the fact that I’ve been regularly visiting downtown Royal Oak since my teenage years.

The Morrie is one such recently opened establishment. It’s down near Bigalora, and according to a Detroit Free Press article I found online, it was formerly the Franklin Wine Store, which I kind of remember but never visited. I discovered The Morrie on Yelp when searching for a new brunch spot.

The rock-n-roll-themed restaurant/bar is a sleekly modern, beautiful space. There’s a wall plastered in classic vinyl and record sleeves. The Morrie’s big pull is that it hosts live music a few times a week: on Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes Thursdays, according to its website. A small stage juts out from the far end of the restaurant, intimately close to guest seating – an awesome vantage point from which to experience live music.

Live music wasn’t in the cards on my visit, because I was there for Sunday brunch. So were a lot of other people – specifically dudes, which my friend noticed, commenting, “Have you ever seen this many men at brunch?” There were two large tables of young guys near us. Apparently The Morrie is bro-brunch approved! We joked about getting her husband on board.

The restaurant’s brunch menu has such an eclectic mix of items that it’s easy to see how it would appeal to everybody in some way. There are classic breakfast items (French toast, pancakes, chicken-and-waffles) and iconic brunch items with a unique spin (three different varieties of Eggs Benedict, including one with pork belly and a five-space hollandaise and another incorporating potato skins). There’s a Croissant ‘Wich and bagels-and-lox, and there are items encased in bowls: the Smoked Salmon Bowl, Southwest Bowl, the Veggie Bowl. There’s a jazzed-up order of avocado toast sprinkled with pepitas, sunflower seeds, and chipotle-and-lime-infused salt, and there’s a sandwich called Chick Norris.

As someone who goes to brunch quite regularly but is not really a brunch person (conventional breakfast foods don’t especially thrill me), I so appreciate the vibrance, creativity, and extensive nature of this menu. I ended up getting the Asian Ramen salad, a filling bowl of shredded cabbage and carrots, thinly sliced red bell peppers, radishes, bean sprouts, orange segments, and crispy breaded chicken in a peanut curry dressing. I also ordered a side of beautifully fresh fruit and a whipped cream-topped Spanish coffee, the latter because the waitress suggested it and because Spanish coffees are one of those drinks that I love and always forget about.

Royal Oak has loved and forgotten many a restaurant, but I can’t see The Morrie succumbing to turnover anytime soon. It’s obvious a lot of care has been put into curating the interior design, the menu, and the bands (you can see a list of the scheduled live acts on The Morrie’s website under the “Music” section).

511 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.themorrie.com

227. Rockin’ Cupcakes – January 27, 2017 – Rochester Hills, MI

20170127_133037-220170127_133721-2Ummm . . . I feel like the cupcakes in the photo above speak for themselves. Are they glorious or what??? That is SIX different varieties of chocolate cupcake you are seeing, including one with a caramel center; one with peanut butter buttercream, chocolate coating, and crushed pretzels; and another, as the menu describes it, with “Red wine infused chocolate cake, filled with red wine chocolate ganache, and topped with wine infused buttercream” – YOW! (That one was AWESOME.)

I had a Groupon for Rockin’ Cupcakes, the place where I got these exquisite dollops of perfection, and the Friday before last, on my brother’s birthday, I thought, here is an excuse to use this bad boy. On my lunch break, I headed out to Rochester Hills and the bakery’s tiny, colorful storefront, tucked within a sprawling plaza next to Papa Joe’s market.

I already knew its cupcakes were going to be awesome because I’d tried them before. For my birthday last October, a coworker brought me some of Rockin’ Cupcakes’ wares. Because I didn’t set foot in the place to get those baked goods, I didn’t count it then for my blog (my rule is that I have to physically visit a new-to-me place in order for it to be valid). But the moist and decadent cupcakes I had then convinced me I needed to go.

It was so fun to step away from work and into this cheery shop to muse over which mouthwatering varieties with the classic rock-themed names (Paint it Black, Yellow Submarine, The Rolling Stone) I was going to pick for my half-dozen. The pleasant young woman working the counter took the time to describe the cupcakes, helping me to decide. In the end, I purchased the chocolate assortment, because chocolate is LIIIIIFE. Luckily, my brother and other family members I shared them with are pretty keen on it, too.

Everyone exclaimed over how rich and moist the cupcakes were. That buttercream frosting – killer!

Worth noting: Rockin’ Cupcakes is open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., but according to its website, if it runs out of cupcakes before the formal closing time, it will close early. So it wouldn’t hurt to call the shop before you visit to make sure it’s open.

6906 N. Rochester Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48306

www.rockincupcakesrochester.com

216. Alfoccino – December 21, 2016 – Auburn Hills, MI

20161221_12440920161221_120730-2Before our holiday break at work, one of my very kind coworkers took me and another coworker out for lunch. When she suggested Italian restaurant Alfoccino in Auburn Hills, I was ecstatic. A new place to visit! The neighborhood around my workplace is scattered with all kinds of corporate-chain restaurants, so I didn’t expect to go to a locally-owned establishment that I’d never been to – let alone a high-caliber Italian restaurant.

I am an Italian restaurant snob. I am of Italian heritage on my mother’s side – only about a quarter of my make-up, but I embrace that quarter wholeheartedly. So I am always excited to be eating quality Italian food. And I am here to attest that Alfoccino is legit! Its eggplant parmesan was the best I’ve ever had. Seriously, it was mastery. I mean, even if you don’t like eggplant in everyday life, try not to like it when it is coated in breadcrumbs, fried until crispy, smothered in rich m0zzarella cheese and tomato sauce, topped with caramelized onions, and served with a side of spaghetti. Heaven!

2225 N. Opdyke Rd.

Auburn Hills, MI 48326

(Additional location in Farmington Hills)

www.alfoccino.com