Oakland County

254. Shish Palace – June 28, 2017 – Rochester Hills, MI

20170628_121657(1)20170628_124149 (2)It’s hard for me to conceive of the concept of bad Mediterranean food, because being insanely delectable is kind of its thing. But why gamble on deliciousness when you can get a sure thing at Shish Palace in Rochester Hills?

I got lunch there back in June: the lemon-oregano Shish Tawook, all rich, savory, citrusy goodness, plus a cup of crushed lentil soup. YUMMM. Our server was attentive and funny, and she kept the free bread and garlic sauce coming (the BEST part about eating in a Mediterranean restaurant EVER!).

165 S. Livernois Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48307

(Locations also in Taylor and Allen Park)

www.shishpalacerestaurant.com

 

 

250. KouZina – June 2, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170602_135821 (2)20170602_132001(1)I’m especially excited about today’s post because I especially LOVED this place. OMG, KouZina!

How had I NOT been to KouZina before? I became aware of it on Yelp but realized upon visiting it that I’d passed it on Main St. in downtown Royal Oak jillions of times. It’s set slightly apart from the strip where most of the Main Street businesses are clustered, just north of 11 Mile Road and across from the Emagine movie theater.

KouZina is what some might liken to a Greek Chipotle: a fast-casual establishment that allows you to create your own signature bowl with the meat, rice, and topping options you choose. I had the KouZina Large Signature Bowl, which contained all three meats that are offered (gyro-style lamb, chicken, and pork), rice (I chose brown), and my chosen toppings: fresh spinach, cubed beets, cucumbers, banana peppers, chickpeas, red onion, feta, and a spicy feta sauce. OH YEAH. It was delicious with a capital “D” and in 12-foot letters! That spicy feta sauce . . . MMMM. So, so good – and even better enjoyed outdoors on KouZina’s open-air patio.

Besides giving patrons the option to create their own signature bowls, KouZina offers gyros (of course!) and classic Greek salad, soup, and side-dish options such as Greek salad, lentil soup, Spinach pie, pita chips, from-scratch Greek yogurt (yum!), and this insanely amazing-sounding dessert called a Bougatsa, which is described on the menu as “Warm custard wrapped in phyllo dough, topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon” (!!!). I badly wanted to try one, but I was so full after the meat-rice-and-veggie-bowl that I knew I would have to save that for another visit – because I will DEFINITELY be back to KouZina.

121 N. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.gokouzina.com

248. Sylvan Glen Lake Park – May 23, 2017 – Troy, MI

20170523_13092620170523_123429After ordering delicious vegetarian Indian carryout from Neehee’s in Troy back in late May, my colleagues and I decided to enjoy our lunches on the grounds of Sylvan Glen Lake Park.

I’d passed this little park off of Rochester Road between Long Lake and Square Lake roads dozens of times over the years and had always intended to check it out. While it’s small, I found its vibrant green grounds nestled up to a lovely little lake a beautiful and tranquil place of respite. We ate lunch at a picnic table right in front of the lake, taking in the sunshine, pleasant temperatures, and views of people fishing and otherwise enjoying the grounds.

Now I know where to go when I need a momentary retreat from hectic suburban living.

5501 Rochester Rd.

Troy, MI 48085

247. Neehee’s – May 23, 2017 – Troy, MI

20170523_115311 (2)20170523_121542 (2)20170523_123712Hi, guys! It’s so great to be back to the blog after being gone for over a month and a half. I didn’t mean to be, but once again, life got a hold of me (in a good way)! Mostly I was busy preparing for and taking an 11-day vacay to Europe (with two days in London and the rest of the time in Switzerland).

I’ll admit, after luxuriating in the beauty of the Swiss Alps (truly breathtaking!), I was reluctant to come home – unusual for me, as I’m generally a home-sweet-home kind of person. But now, after being back for two weeks, I’m settling into my regular routines and feeling content and pleased to be here. After all, I love my D and realistically couldn’t stand being away from it for too long! 🙂

What else have I been up to for the last month and a half? Well, even though I wasn’t posting here, I was busy visiting new places; I hit 13 counting today’s visit! So now that I’m back in the swing of everyday life and not gallivanting about the Old World, I’ll be going H.A.M. on the posting and hopefully inspiring you to do some good ol’ summer exploring (because we all know that summers in the D are THE BEST!!!).

One place to add to your must-visit-this-season list if you’re a fan of Indian food? The Troy location of Neehee’s, an Indian vegetarian street food fast-casual restaurant whose flagship store is in Canton. I’d been wanting to make the (for me) voyage-with-a-capital-V out to that Canton location since learning about it in Hour Detroit. But now there was a Neehee’s practically in my backyard! After discovering this, I recruited some coworkers to hit up the bright-yellow building on Rochester Road for some lunchtime Indian deliciousness.

One of the first things you’ll likely notice when you walk into Neehee’s is the extensive overhead display of menus above the counter where you order. There are a LOT of choices. The Chaat section features snack-sized portions, and there are sandwiches and meal-sized portions as well, including what the restaurant’s website refers to as “Indo Chinese fusion” dishes in addition to South Indian fare.

After at least 10 minutes of super-serious deliberation (because making the right lunch choice IS serious business, right?), I decided on the C3, the Bhel Puri, from the Chaat section of the menu, described there as “Crispy rice puffs mixed with chutneys, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cilantro and spices.” It was fresh and flavorful and healthy tasting (in a good way). It also came in a much larger portion size than I expected. I was told by the friendly counter person helping us make our choices that it would be small and would not likely fill me up, but as you can see from the photo above of my selections (that’s it on the left in the nearest photo pictured), it was pretty large-and-in-charge for a snack. It could have easily been a meal for me.

But I’m glad I didn’t stop with the Bhel Puri and that I also ordered the A4, Gobi Manchurian, from the Indo-Chinese side of the menu, because WOW! That stuff was GOOOOOD! The breaded, crispy cauliflower tossed in a spicy sauce with diced veggies mixed in was addictive. It’s hard to believe that cauliflower can taste that decadent! But once you taste it, you’ll become a believer.

And believe me when I say to you, fellow omnivores, that you won’t be missing meat when you dine on Neehee’s creative, flavorful dishes! THIS is where I would be going on the regular if I decided to cut the carnivore act from my diet.

4924 Rochester Rd.

Troy, MI 48085

www.neehees.com

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