Oakland County

587. Recipes – October 9, 2022 – Rochester, MI

Recipes, a pinnacle of brunch places! The restaurant based in downtown Rochester serves hearty, flavorful fare in a setting worthy of champagne sipping.

Recipes’ menu is chockful of breakfast choices. It’s got omelets for days (including a make-your-own omelet-skillet option), a plethora of pancakes, granola, hashes, frittatas – you name it! There are seven kinds of Eggs Benedict, and egg skillets with names such as Rambler (a sophisticated mix of mushroom, chicken, broccoli, almonds, onion, and hollandaise sauce) and Straggler (a mix of mushroom, ham, Cheddar Jack cheese, tomato, onion, and potato). It’s a cornucopia of a.m. options!

More of a lunch person? Recipes has got you covered. Burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and Asian fare such as Pad Thai and Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio (vermicelli noodles with grilled pork) are included on its menu.

Perennially the person favoring the lunch side of a brunch menu, I opted for Recipes’ Crunchy Thai Salad. The mix of fresh raw veggies (cabbage, cucumber, carrot, cilantro, green onion) and healthful protein (chicken breast and peanuts) were just what I needed after a night of birthday-celebration indulgence. Fried wontons, rice sticks, and Thai peanut dressing brought additional crunch and vibrance to this wonderfully tasty mix, which was served with cheese-topped garlic bread.

Alcohol is also offered at Recipes. It serves brunch-friendly cocktails such as the Irish Coffee and Bloody Mary – and, as do other brunch spots of its ilk, champagne and multiple kinds of mimosas.

Ready to sip, savor, and celebrate a day a brunch-i-ness? Look no further than Recipes Rochester!

134 W. University Dr.

Rochester, MI 48307

(With additional locations in Farmington Hills and Troy)

www.recipesinc.com

584. Sylvan Table – October 6, 2022 – Sylvan Lake, MI

Visiting Sylvan Table was a special experience! And not only because I visited it on a special day: my birthday. No, I would’ve gotten the warm-and-fuzzies from visiting this Sylvan Lake-based restaurant any day of the year.

There aren’t many restaurants like Sylvan Table. How many restaurants reside in a 300-year-old barn that was shipped from Metro Detroit to Maine? Or have both a wood-fired pizza oven AND grill? Or an on-site, three-acre farm including fruit trees and a beehive?

The restaurant’s singularity, its rustic beauty, and its dedication to locally-sourced ingredients and sustainability made it an obvious choice for my birthday dinner. And I was not disappointed by my visit. From the moment I walked onto Sylvan Table’s grounds and saw the gardens, greenhouses, and the barn, I was charmed.

Walking inside, I continued to be delighted by the two-story barn’s pretty, wood-plank interior bedecked with warm lighting, potted plants, and a welcoming fire in the glass-ceilinged solarium.

I dined on the restaurant’s second floor with my mom, who was celebrating my special day with me. Our friendly, attentive server gave us excellent service and patiently answered our questions about the menu.

Libation-wise, I was compelled to order the Peter Cocktail. Mezcal infused with orange bitters, a cinnamon syrup, and carrot and lime juices AND served in a pink peppercorn-rimmed glass? Yes, please! I loved the drink’s rich flavors and the fact that it wasn’t too sweet. Other current cocktail offerings include the Apple Butter Manhattan (with house-made apple butter) and the Hey, Gourdgeous! with maple-barrel-finished bourbon, pumpkin shrub, and fall-forward spices. Sylvan Table’s full bar includes a weighty wine list, plus multiple Michigan-made beers and hard ciders. Mocktails and non-alcoholic beer options are also available.

Food-wise, we started by sharing a Prosciutto Flatbread, which was delicious with its rich, salty prosciutto and Parmesan complemented by peppery arugula, garlic, lemon, and olive oil. The delectably chewy, wood-fired dough was my favorite part.

My dinner, the Deckle Steak, was EXCEPTIONAL. This was one of the most richly flavored steaks I’ve ever had! The tender, juicy steak would have been amazing on its own, but it was enhanced by a vibrant chimichurri sauce. Roasted carrot and fingerling potatoes rounded out this wonderful meal.

Other intriguing entrée choices at the time of my visit were the Harvest Fettuccine with various veggies, herbs, lemon, and Parmesan and the Chicken Under a Brick: chicken seasoned with rosemary and lemon salt and cooked in the wood-fired oven.

Mom-made birthday cake was waiting for me, so I didn’t have dessert at Sylvan Table. But if I did, I most definitely would have gotten the Peach Upside-Down Cake with spruce tip gelato if it was still on the menu – or the Carrot Cake currently on offer.

I look forward to returning to Sylvan Table to see what inventive dishes its kitchen cooks up next using beautifully fresh ingredients from local farms and its own. This was my first 100 Places visit to Sylvan Lake, but I suspect it won’t be my last!

1819 Inverness St.

Sylvan Lake, MI 48320

www.sylvantable.com

582. Mai Tiki Bar – September 30, 2022 – Ferndale, MI

Mai Tiki Bar is a sweet escape!

Tucked away behind an unmarked door inside TigerLily sushi bar (formerly Antihero), the Ferndale-based speakeasy tiki bar is a whimsical kaleidoscope of colors and flavors: the perfect contrast to the muted winter landscape soon to befall Metro Detroit.

Mai offers an array of tropically inspired drinks served in the way characteristic of tiki bars: in visually arresting ceramic tiki mugs bedecked with fun garnishes such as mint leaves, pineapple wedges, and orchid blooms – or half a flaming lime (that’s the garnish for The Zombie!). The bulk of Mai’s specialty cocktails incorporate rum and fruit juices – another trait characteristic of tiki bars. But the drinks are much more nuanced than the ones you’d find at a stereotypical tiki bar (those kinds that cater to tourists in popular vacation spots). Mai’s incorporate interesting ingredients such as orgeat syrup, cinnamon, and pomegranate.

Take one of the drinks I ordered, The Jungle Bird. Its blackstrap rum, Campari, and demerara syrup melded with pineapple and lime juices to make a drink that was one part sweet, one part bitter – and one hundred percent delicious! I especially enjoyed the molasses flavor brought by the blackstrap rum.

But humans can’t live on wonderfully nuanced liquid libations alone. When you’re in need of nourishment after downing a Mai Tai or two, look to Mai’s food menu. The assortment of plates offer something for everyone, from veg lovers to meat-focused folks to seafood fanatics intrigued by the Mai Tiki Shrimp, Aku Roll, and three kinds of fish tacos (salmon, hamachi, and tuna).

I went the veg and meat route, ordering Mai’s Chicken Karage and Shishito Peppers. A flavorful yuzu chili aioli accompanied the tender Chicken Karage. And wonder accompanied the Shishito Peppers! The cooked peppers were topped with bonito flakes, which were moving – writhing all over the peppers.

Apparently, this is a common occurance. Bonito flakes are shaved dried fish; when sprinkled on hot foods, the heat causes them to rehydrate, and they start wiggling as a result. But it was my first time experiencing this phenomenon, and it was hard to shake the feeling that they were alive. Order those Shishito Peppers and play a party trick on your friends!

Party trick or not, visiting Mai Tiki Bar is a shindig in itself. Vibrant ambiance and compelling food and drink make it a escape worth taking.

231 W. 9 Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.maitikibar.com

575. Mugs Coffee & Grub – August 24, 2022 – White Lake, MI

Mugs Coffee & Grub makes a great coworking space! The White Lake-based coffee shop is clean and bright; the staff is pleasant; and it serves a mean cold brew.

I discovered all this during a visit in late August, when a friend and I spent the day working our fully-remote jobs together. Mid-morning, we took a break from her house and popped into Mugs for some sweet caffeine sipping and community mingling. I didn’t realize it then, but this was my first new-place visit in White Lake. Yes, White Lake is now represented on 100 Places in the D! [Cue the confetti!]

Mugs offers coffee- and tea-based drinks, smoothies, and milkshakes with names such as Oreoh! and Salted Caramel Pretzel. A photo on its website depicts the White Chocolate Strawberry milkshake with its drool-worthy layers of strawberry, mountain of whipped cream, and profusion of white chocolate chips.

Looking for food-based fuel to complement those shots of espresso you ordered? Mugs’ menu includes locally-made baked goods; breakfast items such as avocado toast and fruit-and-yogurt parfait; soups; and customized sandwiches that include your choice of bread, meat, cheese, and veggies (and the option of vegan turkey and cheddar for our plant-based friends).

With so much to love about this locally-owned coffee shop, Mugs is most definitely worth a visit!

330 Town Center Blvd., Unit D 102

White Lake, MI 48386

www.mugscoffeegrub.com

573. Bowlero – August 10, 2022 – Royal Oak, MI

Bowlero is a place to be! What a delightful time warp this bowling alley/bar is.

The locally-owned, Royal Oak-based Bowlero has been around since 1957. But its age isn’t the sole reason for its cool vintage looks; Bowlero was renovated in 2019. It’s intentionally retro, in a ’70s-heavy way, incorporating groovy design motifs, lots of orange, and throwback programming playing on the TVs (Grease the night I was there). The women’s room alone is a selfie-lover’s dream with its flashy pink-and-orange wallpaper, mirrors with cartoonishly-shaped frames holding cans of Aqua Net, and a Ms. Pac Man arcade game.

The area of Bowlero that has a decidedly more contemporary feel is the lounge. Retro elements are incorporated into the decor of the long, narrow room, but it has a more hipster than hippie feel. The bar serves up wine, beer and hard cider (including multiple Michigan brews), and specialty cocktails featuring Michigan-made spirits (Two James, Valentine, Detroit City Distillery, Petoskey’s Gypsy Vodka). One such cocktail is Bowlero’s take on a White Russian, The Bowlero Orange Russian: a blend of Gypsy Vodka, Tia Maria, Cointreau, and vegan creamer.

Besides offering 16 lanes of bowling and seasonal bowling leagues, Bowlero regularly features no-cover live music (every Friday and Saturday), themed nights (Punk Nite and 80s Video Night being two examples), karaoke, and other events. Check this calendar for the current line-up, then boogie on over to Bowlero!

4209 Coolidge Hwy.

Royal Oak, MI 48073

www.bowlerodetroit.com

572. Berkley Coffee – August 5, 2022 – Oak Park, MI

Berkley Coffee has charm for days! From the drinks to the service to the ambiance, the good vibes are on overdrive at this Oak Park-based coffee shop, performance venue, and non-alcoholic bar.

Yes, Berkley Coffee isn’t based in Berkley, but Oak Park. But who cares? It’s Berkley adjacent – and its coffee is delicious. Berkley Coffee roasts it own beans and offers multiple varieties with origins ranging from Ethiopia to India, Nicaragua to Brazil.

The shop has multiple identities by design. By day, it’s the coffee shop, which is how I experienced it. I spent a couple of hours working at Berkley Coffee one morning, at a table bordering the performance stage. I loved the ambiance – both the lively energy (the place was bustling with customers that Friday morning) and the interior aesthetic. Berkley Coffee’s main room has a contemporary feel, with industrial details and neutral hues accented by pops of color (potted plants; stained glass in a pretty pattern of turquoise, white, and gold). Shelves housing nonalcoholic beers, wines, shrubs, syrups, and other drinks and drink ingredients dominate one corner. A room dubbed the East Room offers additional seating, books, children’s toys, a piano, and a plethora of board games.

I learned that Berkley Coffee takes a unique approach to ordering coffee. Cylindrical containers holding individual portions of beans are stacked on shelves facing the customer. When you place your order, you pick one of the vials and hand it to the barista, and they grind the beans and make your drink.

Staff members kindly ushered clueless me through the process, recommending bean varieties based on my preferences. I had two drinks that morning: a cappuccino with Brazilian beans and oat milk and a Japanese iced coffee with Ethiopian beans. Both were fantastic! (The Japanese-style iced coffee was something I’d never heard of but turned out to be a drink I regularly enjoy at home: fresh-brewed hot coffee poured over ice.)

By night, the main room of Berkley Coffee is the performance space. The shop regularly hosts bands and other performers. Amps, mics, PA equipment, guitars and other instruments are available for performers. The bar whips up cocktails that range from non-alcoholic versions of classics such as the Manhattan and Mai Tai to signature drinks with intriguing flavor components such as pine syrup, sesame oil, and blood orange cordial. According to Berkley Coffee’s website, it’s dedicated to offering a space where guests can socialize and enjoy live entertainment while also being sober.

With so much good to experience at Berkley Coffee, days’ and days’ worth of revisits are warranted!

14661 W. 11 Mile Rd., Ste. 500

Oak Park, MI 48237

www.berkleycoffee.com

567. La Roche – July 2, 2022 – Royal Oak, MI

Stepping into La Roche means entering a sweet treasure trove of goodies! The shop based in downtown Royal Oak proffers plenty of items that make ideal gifts: candles, jewelry, figurines, fancy soaps, incense, apparel, and more. The “more” includes Michigan-centric items and an impressive selection of air plants.

509 S. Washington Ave.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

565. Alex’s Family Dining – June 18, 2022 – Rochester Hills, MI

Alex’s Family Dining impressed me! The Rochester Hills-based restaurant has upscale-diner vibes (see above for a photo of its stylish, earth-toned interior) and a plentiful menu.

Half of that menu is populated by breakfast items – omelets, waffles, pancakes, and plenty of combo plates. But the lunch and dinner portion boasts ample options, too: salads and sandwiches, pitas and wraps, plates ranging from Shrimp Stir Fry to Shish Kabob, Chicken Parmesan to Baby Back Barbecue Ribs.

But it was Alex’s servers who impressed me most. There were only a couple of them there at the time of my visit, but they worked together to man the dining room – which filled up shortly after I arrived to meet friends for breakfast one Saturday morning – like a well-oiled machine. They weaved around the room with graceful efficiency, focused yet nonurgent. As a former server who still appreciates the craft, I felt like I was watching a dining room ballet.

And what did I order for that breakfast ballet meal at Alex’s? A Roasted Turkey Wrap, naturally! That might not speak breakfast – but I’d been up for hours already, and it sounded good. And Alex’s Roasted Turkey Wrap WAS good. With its thick-sliced turkey breast, Swiss cheese, zesty coleslaw, and Thousand Island dressing, it was filling and flavorful. Plus, it came with chips. Who doesn’t love chips?

3178 S. Rochester Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48307

(With an additional location in Berkley)

www.alexsfamilyrestaurant.com

564. Bloomer Park – June 4, 2022 – Rochester Hills, MI

Bloomer Park, a sweet sojourn in the midst of suburbia!

The Rochester Hills-based park, established in 1924, boasts 200 acres of natural beauty and multiple amenities: volleyball nets; a sledding hill; playground and picnic areas; and trails designated for running, hiking, and mountain biking. Restroom facilities are in abundance – though only open seasonally.

Those trails: they’re the reason I was at Bloomer Park! They made up the route of the Bark & Brew 5K, an event benefitting Leader Dogs for the Blind (which culminated with afternoon festivities – and a free beer! – at Griffin Claw Brewing’s Rochester Hills location). Running 3.2 miles on those undulating, root-peppered trails was no joke! But doing it for a good cause, while soaking up Bloomer Park’s beauty? That was very much worth it.

Interested in purchasing a park pass for Bloomer? Check out the website shown below. (Passes are required for vehicle entry but not for pedestrians or cyclists.)

345 John R. Rd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48307

www.rochesterhills.org/departments/parks_and_natural_resources/trailsandparks/bloomeryatesparks.php

562. Frame – May 25, 2022 – Hazel Park, MI

Frame, making an everyday night an absolute experience!

What a special place this Hazel Park-based business is. Frame is not simply a restaurant or bar – though its FRAMEbar does function as one. No, Frame is a crafter of experiences – experiences like the cocktail-making class I took this May.

The class, titled, “Vintage Spirits & Forgotten 19th-Century Cocktails,” was part of a series called Frame Summer School. Workshops are a large part of what Frame does. It offers classes on food and cocktail making, on subjects ranging from cake decorating to beer-making to Ethiopian cooking.

If you prefer to be served an experience rather than trying your hand at crafting it yourself, Frame’s got you, too! Another of Frame’s primary offerings is its Frame Dinners. Locally-based chefs and those from farther afield come to Frame to cook multi-course, reservation-only themed dinners. I’ve not yet attended one of these meals, but judging by the descriptions on Frame’s website, they are special. I want to experience them all: the Traditional Mexican Dinner Party by Eddie Vargas, the Liberian Dinner Party by Ameneh Marhaba (both local chefs).

While tickets must be purchased in advance for the Frame Dinners experiences, walk-in meals are possible at Frame via its FRAMEbar concept. FRAMEbar hosts chefs – such as current chef-in-residence Shinya Hirakawa of Obi Sushi – for month-long residencies.

I would love to revisit Frame, to attend one of its Frame Dinners or sample fare by a chef in residency or take another class. That workshop I attended, on vintage spirits and forgotten cocktails? It was an absolute blast! It was taught by Paul Seif, a Pittsburgh-based bartender. We made three cocktails with ties to the Detroit area: The Last Word, The 12th Mile Limit, and The Cohaset Punch. All were delightfully boozy and utterly delicious, but my favorite was The Cohaset Punch. With its 12 ingredients (including two kinds of rum, spiced brandy, blackstrap molasses, and bourbon-soaked peaches), the drink is more aspirational than everyday for me. But I want to make it part of my everyday. It’s flavor-packed, booze-forward, and the ideal amount of sweet-but-not-too-sweet.

Paul was a great instructor: approachable, funny, and willing to answer the questions lobbed at him by our full class. He shared stories about each cocktail’s origin and his particular takes on them. As we mixed our drinks, I chatted with the woman next to me, a Frame workshop regular who raved about the place. Now here I am, a fellow raving fan of Frame and its ultra-special experiences!

23839 John R. Rd.

Hazel Park, MI 48030

www.framehazelpark.com