Oakland County

279. Chomp – September 26, 2017 – Rochester, MI

October2017Chomp1 (2)This week I learned that the holiday lights start appearing on the buildings in downtown Rochester in mid-October. Mid-October! I’m not ready for that time of year yet and am trying to block out all references to it that I’m starting to see (I’m steadfastly one of those “It’s still fall!” people). Downtown Rochester did otherwise give off autumn vibes when I was down there Monday evening, with pots of mums on display and fallen leaves skittering about on a brisk wind.

The reason I was in downtown Rochester Monday was to take a re-take photo of Chomp, a restaurant I visited for lunch a few weeks ago and where I enjoyed a ridiculously good sandwich, The Nolan, an amalgamation of – get this – turkey, bacon, Brie, fig jam, arugula, and pear. It was HEAVEN. I mean, a turkey sandwich with rich Brie AND sweet fig jam AND peppery arugula AND juicy pear AND bacon – are you kidding me???? It was fantastic.

Chomp’s menu in general abounds with amazing-sounding sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas, and burgers that I need to return and sample more of. Raw juices and smoothies are also offered.

The restaurant is a casual establishment. You walk up and order at a counter, then can take a seat in the dining area, and your sandwich will be brought out to you. Our food was delivered promptly on the day I was there, despite the fact that a sizable lunch crowd had descended upon the tiny establishment.

I believe the best restaurant meals are the ones that make you think about them for days after eating them. The Nolan was certainly on my mind after my encounter with it; I mused about recreating it at home but have yet to do so. But I know that with months of cold weather and waning daylight setting in, I’ll be looking for things like that sandwich to be bright spots in my day (because inevitably it’s the little things that brighten life, isn’t it?). And if I can’t recreate that bacon-Brie-arugula-pear-and-fig-jam turkey sandwich, well, I certainly know where I can find it.

200 S Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

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278. A Bean to Go – September 23, 2017 – Lake Orion, MI

Bean1Bean3I had the BEST ICED COFFEE OF MY LIFE at A Bean to Go in downtown Lake Orion a few weeks ago. It was prepared with cold-brewed coffee, and it was wonderfully rich in flavor – not at all like the watery iced coffee you’re presented with at some java joints. And it was strong – that coffee had me revving for hours afterward! Granted, that’s not a hard thing to achieve in someone with a low caffeine threshold like me, but still. What I’m trying to say is, this stuff is the good stuff!

I had to lead with that information because it was the first thing that popped into my head when I thought of A Bean to Go as I sat down to write – that COFFEE! While the delightful cold-brew sealed the deal, I’d gathered that I’d like the Lake Orion shop from the moment I stepped into its interior with its rustic-chic, inviting vibe and plenty of work spaces. This is the perfect place to camp out and get some writing, studying, or other work done whilst infusing one’s veins with a steady stream of delectably-flavored caffeine.

No wonder A Bean to Go has such excellent coffee; it roasts its own beans at its facility in Goodrich, MI, where it also has another coffee shop location, as I found out on its website. It sells bags of its various bean blends in the Lake Orion shop and on its website.

Not only did I get to experience another Grade-A coffee shop in the Metro-Detroit area with this visit (I collect them like baseball cards!), I also was able to represent Lake Orion on 100 Places in the D. Yes, Lake Orion is a new-to-the-blog city! We’ve got back-to-back repping-new-cities posts with this one and yesterday’s on Colasanti’s!

While I’m on the topic of Lake Orion, can I comment on how cute its downtown is? It was my first time down there, and I was digging its picturesque small-town vibes. I will definitely be going back there at some time in the foreseeable future – at the very least to revisit to A Bean to Go.

16 West Flint St.

Lake Orion, MI 48362

www.abeantogo.com

277. Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe – September 17, 2017 – Highland, MI

Colasanti's1 (2)Colasanti's2Highland is represented on 100 Places in the D!

I feel particularly joyous about Highland being a new-to-the-blog city because of its distance from where I live in Macomb County (it’s an hour due west of me). I was slated to trek out there for a friend’s baby shower, and I thought, “hmm, could I kill two birds with one stone and get a 100 Places visit in, too?”

Happily, the shower venue was about a mile from Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe, a produce market-slash-butcher shop that piqued my interest.

I was curious about the two names attached to this establishment and discovered the backstory on its website. Snook’s Butcher Shoppe opened on its own in 1979; it moved inside Colasanti’s Market in 1989 at the prompting of the grocery store. Then in 2007, the owner of Snook’s purchased Colasanti’s, and the two entities officially merged. So that’s why the long name!

I am somewhat obsessed with gourmet markets (selecting high-quality produce is a joy to me – nerdy I know, but it’s an art form!), so it’s no surprise that I loved this joint. The large, well-stocked facility is a home-chef’s haven; it offers everything from rows and rows of gorgeous fresh produce; the butcher counter; a plethora of grocery items; baked goods; prepared meals; an ample wine and craft-beer area; bulk foods – AND it has an affiliation with English Gardens where it lets them sell in its parking lot.

If you are in the market for some fresh produce, some fancy hummus, some singular salsa, some fall-focused flowers, or if you are like me and simply like to visit these kinds of places to decompress and get inspiration, then you’ve got to check out this grocery store with the mouthful of a name! Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe, you are AWESOME.

468 S Milford Rd.

Highland, MI 48357

www.colasantis.com

269. Frank & Me – August 26, 2017 – Clarkston, MI

20170826_15171420170826_15170220170826_151514After eating some of the best pulled-pork enchiladas of my life at the Clarkston Union one Saturday afternoon back in August, my friend and I wandered into Frank & Me, an adorable boutique store on Main Street in downtown Clarkston. Its two stories are packed with stylish clothing and accessory finds, as well as fun gift-worthy items like wine-scented candles and mugs and linens with funny sayings on them such as “Caution: free range children” and “Mom, you’re so cool they named jeans after you” (love that one).

I believe I stumbled into Frank & Me during one of my previous Clarkston visits but for some reason decided not to cover it for the blog then (maybe because I moved in and out of it too quickly to get photos – it’s happened before in window-shopping scenarios). I feel justified throwing it on here as a new place because I know that previous visit didn’t pre-date the origins of the blog, and it’s too cute not to include!

20 S Main St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

268. Steelhouse Tavern – August 16, 2017 – Troy, MI

20170816_19182620170816_19175120170816_183754I tried my first Monte Cristo waffle via brunch at Red Crown this July, but it wasn’t until my visit to Steelhouse Tavern in Troy last month that I had my first legit sandwich-version Monte Cristo.

I know the Monte Cristo sandwich is said to have evolved from the Croque Monsieur, the traditional French ham-and-cheese sandwich, but man, is this one of the most American things I have ever eaten! A sandwich loaded with two kinds of meat (turkey and ham), two kinds of cheese (Swiss and American), and raspberry jelly; dunked in tempura batter; deep-fried to a delectable crispiness; dusted with powdered sugar (because why not?); and served with tater tots, those venerable nuggets of potato goodness? That is ‘Merica with a Capital “M,” my friends!

I know I’m a ‘Merican at heart because despite finding much of what goes on in this country these days completely bonkers, and despite how into healthy, whole-foods-based eating I am, I still relish the chance to go out and ingest my entire day’s saturated-fat intake in one sitting via a glorious grease-bomb such as Steelhouse Tavern’s Monte Cristo sandwich. Because meat-and-cheese-and-sweet-and-deep-fried is a combo that refuses to be ignored!

I experienced this glorious first brush with Steelhouse’s Monte Cristo while sitting out on its patio enjoying happy hour. From 4 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, you get access to a happy-hour menu with food and drink deals such as $5 appetizers and half-off select cocktails if you sit on the patio or in the bar area. The Monte Cristo wasn’t a happy-hour deal, but I did get to savor a Steelhouse Vesper cocktail and some Smoked Pork Nachos at the discounted rates.

I loved Steelhouse’s covered patio. Sure, it faces the strip-mall parking lot, but the patio itself is beautiful, with dark wicker chairs, sleek high-top bar stools, cool accent lighting, flat-screen TVs, and a fire pit. The sophisticated-tavern vibe carries on to the interior of the restaurant, which is glossy yet welcoming. There’s a big round bar near the entrance that was packed with patrons on the night I was there.

If you’re looking to visit Steelhouse Tavern but are interested in healthier fare than the Monte Cristo, its menu includes more sensible choices such as the Steelhouse Sirloin Steak, Cedar Plank Salmon, and Seared Ahi Tuna Salad in addition to the traditional bar fare (burgers, wings, nachos, and sandwiches). Because let’s face it: while meat-and-cheese-and-sweet-and-deep-fried is a combo that refuses to be ignored, it’s not one that’s practical to ingest on a daily basis.

1129 E. Long Lake Rd.

Troy, MI

www.steelhousetroy.com

266. Michigan Beer Growler Co. – August 12, 2017 – Beverly Hills, MI

20170812_150804 (2)20170812_14585020170812_135214My time in the city of Beverly Hills on a Saturday this past August continued after lunch at the Beverly Hills Grill with a visit to Michigan Beer Growler Co.

This tiny establishment located in a strip mall is – DRUM ROLL – a “growler filling station”! It’s got 26 craft beers on tap (plus a couple of hard ciders and craft sodas thrown in for good measure). You can bring in your own growler or buy 32-ounce and 64-ounce bottles at the station and carry away your fave brews to enjoy on the go (well, not literally on the go – you know what I mean).

I’d never heard the term “growler filling station” before perusing Michigan Beer Growler Co.’s website, but the concept of one has captured my imagination. I’m nowhere near a beer aficionado, but I like the idea of a place that gives beer lovers an excuse to discover, geek out over, and collect in one place their fave craft brews so they can share them with other beer lovers. It just seems fun. (Hmm, maybe it reminds me at a metaphorical level of how I’m discovering, geeking out over, and collecting local establishments on this blog?)  I also love that most of the beers featured here are from Michigan-based breweries. Brews from New Holland, Right Brain, Batch, Arbor, and Odd Side graced the chalkboard line-up during my visit.

While Michigan Beer Growler Co. brands itself as a growler filling station and peddler of beer- and/or Michigan-related products (such as t-shirts, pretzels, popcorn, and water bottles) rather than a bar, you can order flights and pints of the selections on draft to enjoy in-house. There is seating at the counter, at a few interior tables, and on a tiny patio abutting the parking lot. We sat on that little terrace, and I enjoyed a pint of the New Holland Lost Dune blueberry ale (I’ll never tire of berry-infused beer), while my friend sampled multiple beers via a flight (I have no memory now of which ones she got, but they were probably all IPAs because they are her jam).

Worth noting: Michigan Beer Growler Co. is open seven days a week, but the hours are limited on Mondays (it’s open from 3-8 p.m.) and Sundays (12-6 p.m.). The rest of the week, it opens at 11 and closes at either 8 or 9 p.m. depending on the day.

31221 Southfield Rd.

Beverly Hills, MI 48025

www.michiganbeergrowlerco.com

265. Beverly Hills Grill – August 12, 2017 – Beverly Hills, MI

20170812_13440020170812_133916Beverly Hills is represented on 100 Places in the D! It’s another new-to-the-blog city!

I remember when I learned that a city named Beverly Hills existed in the Detroit area. I was 22, a life-long Michigan resident, and I had no idea that there was a town named after a Hollywood enclave a mere half hour from downtown until I encountered it en route to a staffing agency where I was filling out paperwork for a job. That’s the exciting thing for me about the Detroit area: it’s bigger than I ever realized as a kid (I can leave my house and drive for an hour and still be in the Tri-Country area?), and there are still so many cities within this territory that I have no familiarity with. Metro-Detroiters who live in what for me is a far-flung locale (like Livonia – I have no clue what it’s like!) are equally as clueless of where I call home in Southern Macomb County.  It’s fascinating to me. I love exploring and uncovering for myself the cities I previously had no idea about.

It’s no surprise, then, that I was psyched to finally spend some quality time with the once-unknown-to-me city of Beverly Hills when my friend Jaclyn agreed to meet me there on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon last month. Our first stop: the Beverly Hills Grill.

For years I’d listened to one friend rave over that elegant establishment that is part of the Roberts Restaurant Group (proprietors of such area staples as Town Tavern and Roadside B&G), so I was thrilled to finally eat there. I ordered the Pulled Chicken salad and devoured every bit of its wholesome, flavorful goodness. The menu describes it best: “Port Soaked Cranberries / Wild Rice / Almonds / Crispy Won Tons / Maple & English Mustard Vinaigrette” – a.k.a. PURE YUMNESS that certainly lived up to all of the hype.

I had been torn about what to order, because multiple tantalizing choices piqued my interest. I was this close to getting the Kobe Meatloaf with its cabernet wine sauce, portobello mushrooms, shallots, and veggies. And because the weekend menu features brunch options, there were a host of breakfast choices available as well, such as the Bananas Foster French Toast, Breakfast Toastada and Corned Beef Hash – and of course, ample boozy brunch drinks.

Because of the Beverly Hills Grill, I am no longer unfamiliar with the town that shares its namesake. I can move on to another of the Metro-Detroit cities that are uncharted territory for me (Livonia, I’m coming for you!).

31471 Southfield Rd.

Beverly Hills, MI 48025

www.beverlyhillsgrill.com

263. Penny Black – August 9, 2017 – Rochester, MI

20170809_18022620170809_191028I’d been wanting to sit on the patio of Penny Black since I’d first spotted it last summer. Every time I walked past it for those next few months that I was regularly in downtown Rochester, the flower-bedecked, string-light-emblazoned terrace was crammed with happy-looking people engaged in lively chatter and appearing to have the best of fun. Granted, I passed it while en route to a short-lived second-job I lamented having picked up, so the scene looked even more convivial/the epitome of freedom to me during those occasions when I was questioning for the umpteenth time, “Why did I decide to take on another job again?

When I finally sat down for the first time on that Penny Black patio during a gorgeous evening in August this summer, I was long overdue. And I got to taste that sweet, sweet freedom once and for all!

I met my mother at Penny Black on a Wednesday night with ample time to enjoy the happy-hour food and drink specials. We took advantage and ordered a couple of discounted signature cocktails (fruity little numbers whose names escape me now) as well as the Vegetable Egg Rolls and Eggplant Napoleon (breaded and fried eggplant discs smothered in mozzerella cheese and served on a bed of tomato dipping sauce – delicious). Not on the happy-hour menu but equally enticing with its slathering of barbecue sauce and loads of chicken, bacon, red onion, and cheese was the BBQ Chicken Flatbread.

Penny Black’s food menu is not all apps and flatbreads; it also boasts a wide selection of entree salads, sandwiches, burgers, and signature dishes such as the Southwest Glazed Tuna Skewers and Barbacoa Beef Enchilada. Plus, currently on the dessert menu just in time for fall is a YATES DONUT BREAD PUDDING crafted from the cider mill’s donuts and topped with an apple creme anglaise. Ok, yes, please! I’ll take that with a side of freedom out on the patio while we’ve still got this exceptionally warm weather.

124 W 4th St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.pbrochester.com

258. Axle Brewing Company – July 7, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

20170707_203746 (2)Hi guys – TGIF! I’m really excited about the place I’m highlighting today, Axle Brewing Company. I LOVED this brewery when I visited it back in early July and NEED to go back – it’s a revisit-category establishment, for sure!

Axle Brewing opened in early June and is located in Ferndale north of Eight Mile; it’s close to the Detroit border and the Avenue of Fashion neighborhood (an area I visited for the first time last weekend and am excited to explore more of). The brewery is a beautiful facility, sleek and modern looking, with white-tiled walls, a brick-paver patio with a fire pit, and plenty of communal seating. The wait for a table was long when we got there on a Friday evening; we put our name in but ended up getting seats at the bar because it was first-come, first-serve there. We weren’t called for a table until we were halfway through our food, but we didn’t care at all because sitting at the bar was fun, and the food at Axle was IN-F’IN-SANE!

Truly, the eats were phenomenal, like engaging-a-food-orgy-your-mouth-phenomenal. The lamb burger I got with an onion marmalade, arugula, cheese, and a pesto mayo was juicy and tender and flavorful and about 100 more delightful adjectives. The Twice-Fried Frites with spicy dipping aioli were beyond addictive. The Dill Pickle Cheese Curds dunked in the accompanying ale-infused barbecue sauce . . . seriously! This is NEXT-LEVEL food here!

Probably there is nothing better to my Type-A, go-go-go personality than turning off my brain for a while and enjoying the company of loved ones and libations while I consume the most delicious, flavorful, saturated-fat-laden food ever, so eating this meal at Axle Brewing with friends while sipping on the well-crafted Noble Ghost Grindgeist blonde beer with its fruity undertones was complete heaven.

Worth noting: Axle Brewing is closed on Mondays; it opens at 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and at 11 on Saturdays and Sundays (and there’s a brunch menu!).

567 Livernois St.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.axlebrewing.com

257. Urbanrest Brewing Company – July 7, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

20170707_190418 (2)20170707_190413 (3)Nestled in a residential-ish area about a half-mile north of downtown Ferndale is Urbanrest Brewing Company, a brewery that opened a few months ago. I visited it only about a week after it opened to sip some TGIF- themed brews with a few friends.

Housed in what looks to be a former industrial building, the interior of Urbanrest emanates those chill, industrial-chic vibes that so many recently-opened Detroit-area restaurants have got going on (Phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes-brandishing-reclaimed-wood-and-exposed-ductwork is kind of our thing around here. I dig it.). It’s welcoming and homey, with flowers in glass-bottle vases on the tables, a cluster of comfy chairs here, a pool table there. And board games! Board games and beer are pretty much a match made in heaven, in my opinion.

During my visit, I tried a sampler of the pale ale, porter, and saison that were on the menu at the time; all of them were delicious. I’m obviously sorely lacking on details as to how they tasted (this visit being two months ago and my knowledge of beer being rudimentary). But I can confidently share that the place garnered my beer connoisseur friend’s seal of approval – and she knows her stuffs.

I need to go back to Urbanrest and try some of its kombucha. I’m no kombucha expert, either (I’ve drank it once in my life), but the Jasmine Jun Kombucha, described on the menu on Urbanrest’s website as “Jasmine green tea fermented with local wildflower honey,” sounds phenomenal. And at only .5% alcohol by volume, it’s a great choice if you’re looking to keep it sober-ish, because you’d have to drink like a dozen of those to match the alcohol content in one of Urbanrest’s beers (helpful tidbit to know, right?).

Urbanrest doesn’t have a full food menu, but it offers some charcuterie boards, and its website says that food trucks regularly come through, and who doesn’t love the whimsy of ordering from a food truck?

Worth noting: the Urbanrest taproom is only open Thursdays through Sundays (check its website for hours).

2615 Wolcott Ave.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.urbanrest.com