Dining on River’s Edge Brewing Company’s patio was a deliciously relaxing way to end a busy day.
The locally-owned brewery in downtown Milford showcases a selection of house-made beers. These include its PSAle (an IPA described on its menu as “Pineapple. Citrus. Hoppy.”) and a stout named Fritter Frank, whose flavor profile includes autumn-esque elements (coffee, donuts, cider, and cinnamon). Several hard ciders from Northville Winery & Brewing Company are also offered.
I enjoyed one of those ciders during my time at River’s Edge: the Blue River. A smooth, not-too-sweet mix of blueberry and apple, it went down easy. It was summer in a glass!
I also had an excellent Greek salad at River’s Edge. It was a fresh and flavorful medley of mixed greens, seasoned chicken, pickled red onion, yellow pepper rings, olives, tomato, cucumber, feta, and a zesty house-made vinaigrette. The brewery’s food offerings include hearty sausages, wraps, and sandwiches – the perfect accompaniments to ice-cold brews. Pop-up menus offered by outside entities such as Barlow’s Gourmet BBQ and Burger Burger are regular occurrences, as well.
Here’s Bakehouse 46, offering up a sweet serving of collaboration! And cupcakes, and donuts, and cider . . ..
Located in downtown Rochester, Bakehouse 46 marries Blake Farms (of cider mill and hard cider fame) and Cupcake Station (whose eponymous treats have been delighting Metro Detroiters since 2006) with a sleek style that’s all its own. If you’re familiar with these beloved local businesses, you already know this is one EPIC mash-up!
I visited Bakehouse 46 during a jaunt in mid-August that had me bustling around downtown Rochester: to Catching Fireflies, The Home Bakery, and the farmer’s market. All that shopping worked up a hunger in me. Enter the Bakehouse Club: a delightfully soft Everything bagel sandwiching layers of bacon, ham, turkey, arugula, tomato, cheese, and scallion cream cheese.
WOW, was that sandwich delicious! What a melding of flavors: rich cheeses, smoky meats, juicy tomato, and zesty seasonings. And arugula! Bakehouse 46, you had me at the Everything-bagel sandwich – but add fresh, peppery arugula to the mix, and my taste buds are kvelling!
Bakehouse 46’s menu showcases several breakfast- and lunch-oriented bagel sandwiches. It also sells bagels sans the sandwich filling, plus coffee and the previously mentioned cupcakes, donuts, and cider. Check the shop’s online menu for its enticing – and numerous! – cupcake offerings, which include Snickers, Chai Latte, and Bump-a-licious (Bakehouse 46’s riff on Bumpy cake).
As someone whose grew up on Blake’s donuts (donuts so fresh as to make you cry tears of joy when you bite into them!) – I know Bakehouse 46’s are bound to be special. Blake’s cider (the best of the best!) is served there, too. There are also caramel apples made from Blake’s apples, and Blake’s jams and maple syrups. Other baked goods such as cheesecake bars, cookies, and brownies are sold at the shop, as well.
Let’s talk about the shop itself. Bakehouse 46’s interior is an ultra-modern, ultra-gorgeous amalgamation of glistening white tile, slate-blue walls, wood floors and furnishings, and buttery leather furniture. Potted plants, accent pillows, and a red Oriental rug provide pops of color. It’s a feast for the eyes – the perfect counterpart to the culinary feasting facilitated by Bakehouse 46’s menu. Here’s to harmonious collaboration!
The Home Bakery: purveyor of sweet treats for over 90 years!
The bakery based in downtown Rochester has been in business since 1930, according to its website. It mixes up all manner of baked goods, including beautifully imaginative cakes (check out the Zombiecorn and PB&J cakes on its website!).
Have a craving for a cupcake, cookie, cannoli, or eclair? The Home Bakery has you covered. How about a donut, danish, muffin, or pie? The Home Bakery makes those, too! It also bakes up one of the most wonderfully decadent desserts I’ve ever eaten: the cronut.
The Home Bakery’s cronut is a hefty iteration of the donut-croissant hybrid that had so many going gaga at its 2013 debut. This cronut’s layers of flaky croissant are formed into a square shape, dusted with vanilla-infused sugar, and thickly coated with vanilla bean glaze.
When I bit into that cronut, my taste buds exclaimed with joy! The juxtaposition of the deep-fried, sugar-kissed, vanilla-glazed exterior and the flaky-soft interior was SOOO good.
And that wasn’t all! Hiding inside The Home Bakery’s cronut was the pièce de résistance: a creamy filling the bakery’s website describes as “vanilla bean pastry cream.” I describe it as “WOW!”
All of these elements melded together to form one supremely rich, SUPREMELY DELICIOUS dessert.
At $4.50 apiece, The Home Bakery’s cronuts are not cheap. But they are worth every penny. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks that, as they routinely sell out (as I learned the first time I attempted to buy them). Calling ahead of your visit and ordering over the phone is an option – one you likely won’t regret!
I was enticed inside Catching Fireflies not by its namesake bug, but by bubbles!
The shop based in downtown Rochester bills itself as “a whimsical gift gallery.” That value of whimsy was on full display when I stumbled upon its storefront one Saturday in August. Streams of bubbles danced in the air.
I followed the bubble trail to an open mailbox planted near Catching Fireflies’ entrance. A machine housed inside the mailbox spewed batch after batch of the soapy orbs – and kindled my curiosity about the shop. How could I not visit this whimsical gift gallery with a bubble machine and turquoise exterior?
I succumbed to spontaneity, entering the shop – and a treasure trove of goodies. It was filled with neatly curated collections of greeting cards, candles, soaps, socks, books, toys, knick knacks, magnets, and more. Beautiful items, quirky items, hand-crafted items – they were all there. It was everything a great gift shop should be: a wonderland of delights!
As would any gift shop of its ilk, Catching Fireflies made me want to buy gifts – for myself. I purchased a “Michigan Things” magnet that features such local institutions as party stores and “using your hand as a map.” I also snagged a copy of the Sister Pie cookbook, which I’d coveted for years! Visiting Catching Fireflies gave me an excuse to buy it. After all, I had to show my support for the whimsical gift gallery and its bubble machine – bubbles certainly don’t grow on trees!
203 E. University Dr.
Rochester, MI 48307
(With additional locations in Ann Arbor and Berkley)
I’m primed for a revisit of The Proving Grounds Coffee & Ice Cream! Fickle fate cut short my original visit to The Royal Oak location of this family-owned coffee brand.
Actually, fate wasn’t so much to blame for my premature departure as technology. I couldn’t get my work computer to connect to The Proving Grounds’ guest wifi (the laptop’s security protocols didn’t seem to like the way it was configured). Alas! I had to abandon The Proving Grounds’ inviting, rustic-chic interior for home (where the interior is less chic but the wifi connection is generally reliable).
At least I had the parting gift of the iced lavender latte I ordered before I left – which was definitely not a consolation prize. The rich espresso laced with creamy milk and subtle floral sweetness was delicious!
When I return to The Proving Grounds, I’d love to try another of its lattes. The coffee shop offers that iconic combination of espresso and steamed milk in a variety of flavors, including Beetroot, Caramel Maple, and Activated Charcoal (that last one has my mind going all, “???! I must try it!”). Other compelling items on The Proving Grounds’ coffee menu include the Cafe Miel (espresso infused with steamed milk, honey, and cinnamon) and the Nitro Cold Brew Coffee. These drinks are made from The Proving Grounds’ roasted-in-house beans.
Also made in-house is fresh, flavorful-sounding food. The Proving Grounds’ menu includes breakfast fare, salads, and sandwiches such as the Pere Marquette (turkey breast layered with radishes, roasted red pepper, a vegan garlic-and-roasted-red-pepper mayo, and McClure’s Sweet and Spicy pickles) and the James Cracked Cheese (a grilled cheese made with gruyere, cream cheese, and sourdough bread). Pastries are offered from Fenton’s Crust Bakery. And, as The Proving Grounds’ name suggests, there is ice cream! It’s from locally-owned, artisan ice cream makers Brown Dog Creamery, so you know it has to be good.
As you can see, there’s a lot for me to return to at this delightful indie coffee shop. May fate – and the technology gods – smile upon my next visit to The Proving Grounds!
Visiting Too Ra Loo was a highlight of my week-long staycation in early August. The restaurant/bar based in downtown Rochester provided integral staycation elements: delicious food and drink and a pretty patio (the optimal environment from which to enjoy summer sunshine and conversation with a good friend!).
Based on its name, I’d assumed Too Ra Loo was an Irish bar. But according to its website, it’s actually inspired by “Italian influences and inventive fare.”
Both Italian influence and inventive spirit are evidenced in Too Ra Loo’s pizza offerings. The extensive list of pies include the Belgian with its brussels sprouts, bacon, parmesan, and balsamic glaze and the Lafayette topped with the makings of a Detroit coney dog (chili, mustard, hot dog, and red onion, naturally!).
Too Ra Loo’s menu offers a wide-ranging variety of dishes besides those pizzas. The Small Plates section offers both traditional bar apps (nachos, quesadilla) and more refined ones (mussels in a “red curry coconut broth,” a whitefish pâté). There are entrée salads, burgers and sandwiches, and comfort-food fare such as the Steak and Potatoes and Spaghetti with Meatballs.
I surprised myself by choosing from that menu the Ancient Grains, a salad featuring a mix of greens and kale topped with lentils, chickpeas, pepitas, shredded carrots, zucchini, and cabbage, quinoa, and other grains and tossed in a citrus vinaigrette. I generally wouldn’t choose a healthful salad from a menu that includes such decadent fare as a Reuben sandwich or Cheeseburger pizza! But that Ancient Grains salad called to me in that moment. And I’m so glad it did, because it was FANTASTIC! All those fresh, hearty, healthful ingredients melded together to form supreme deliciousness. Despite its generous proportions, I gobbled that Ancient Grains salad in its entirety, savoring every flavorful, nourishing bite.
I also savored a pint of hard cider chosen from Too Ra Loo’s extensive beer menu. Many of the craft beers and ciders featured are Michigan made. And while I did said savoring outside, on Too Ra Loo’s patio, I’d love to return for a drink and a meal inside.
I’d characterize Too Ra Loo’s attractive dining room as upscale-industrial: lots of gleaming dark wood, brick, and exposed duct work. A wrap-around bar dominates the center, and plenty of TVs are featured throughout, primed to broadcast the games du jour. It’s a totally inviting space to cozy up with good food and friends – staycation or otherwise!
What a fantastic fattoush Fresheats Kabob Grill and Juice Bar makes!
In my quest to become a connoisseur of the fattoush salad (can that please be a thing???), I’ve eaten many a delicious one. But the fattoush I ordered from this Rochester Hills-based, fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant lives on in my memory because of the beef kafta I opted to add. It was perfectly cooked: chargrilled on the outside and pink, juicy, and tender on the inside. It was well-seasoned, flavorful, and oh-so-GOOD!
The salad itself was a tasty menagerie of romaine, red cabbage, parsley, tomato, cucumber, and fried pita chips. Everything in it was indeed as the restaurant’s moniker suggests: fresh!
In addition to the fattoush and other salads, Fresheats’ menu includes pita wraps; extensive raw juice and smoothie options; and a build-your-own-bowl meal, where you can choose from a variety of bases, proteins, toppings, and sauces. There’s also a Build Your Own Platter dish you can craft from a selection of Fresheats’ proteins and sides.
Saigon Market introduced me to the delights of rice vermicelli noodles and pickled ginger!
A January visit to the family-owned, Madison Heights-based grocery store brought both of these delicious (and now staple) items into my life. What a treat it was to stroll Saigon Market’s aisles and browse for such goodies! The shop’s interior is relatively small, but it’s mightily packed with Vietnamese grocery goods, meat, seafood, and produce. There’s even a carryout counter from which you can order freshly prepared báhn mì and other savory and sweet Vietnamese treats.
I was supposed to visit Vietnam last year; COVID squashed that plan, as it squashed so many others. But the beauty of living here in Metro-Detroit is the plethora of establishments that bring Vietnam to us. Thank you, Saigon Market, for being one of those wonderful establishments!
168 Asian Mart’s website bills it as the “largest Asian market in the Midwest.” That’s a weighty claim – but totally believable given the dearth of goods available at this Madison Heights-based grocery store!
What a treat to explore such an expansive store during intense pandemic times that weren’t exactly brimming with novel experiences for me (at least not with ones I preferred to encounter). I picked up fresh produce; admired 168 Asian Mart’s extensive meat, seafood, bakery, and frozen food sections; and navigated shelf upon shelf of soups, spices, condiments, candies, noodles, and other dry grocery goods. My purchases included a container of red curry paste, a delightfully spicy chili oil, and a five-pound bag of (still unopened) glutinous rice. Here’s to cracking that bag open and making the mango sticky rice recipe that was the inspiration for buying it!
In addition to being a purveyor of grocery goods from across Asia, 168 Asian Mart has a food court. You can choose from a variety of fresh-prepared dishes and even have the kitchen cook up items purchased from the meat and seafood counter. I love that level of service!
Sitting in the sun at a picnic table, sipping a cider, enjoying the presence of friends – that’s an experience I don’t take for granted during this pandemic! That dream of an experience came to life a couple of weekends ago thanks to a fortuitous collision of fate: that of unseasonably warm weather and a visit to HomeGrown Brewing Company.
How can an establishment that has a mural of smiling, beer-swigging trees flanking the phrases, “Grow together not apart” and “Now go . . . drink beer & say nice stuff” be anything but delightful? I certainly had a delightful time at this Oxford-based brewery, which serves a line of house-made beers (including an amber ale, IPA, and Belgian whitbier) augmented by rotating taps of what its website refers to as “an ever-changing list of seasonal and experimental brews,” plus signature cocktails, wine, and cider.
That cider I sipped at HomeGrown in my very own dream-come-to-life moment? It’s called Wildflower and is made by Fourth Coast Ciderworks in Lake Orion. Kudos to HomeGrown for curating such a wonderful cider! It has this honeyed semi-sweetness that I just loved.
While I didn’t eat at HomeGrown, I’ve deduced via the food menu on its website that it’s serving up some pretty decadent dishes. There are salads such as the Burrata Caprese and the Roasted Cauliflower rocking fried shallots and feta cheese crème; hearty burgers and sandwiches; unaverage appetizers (see the wings with a brown-ale-infused buffalo sauce and a gorgonzola crème spread!); and entrees with the power to, via their menu descriptions alone, make my mouth water (here’s looking at you, HGBC Mac & Cheese, with your melding of beer cheese and white cheddar mornay sauce!). And HomeGrown’s dedication to using culinary ingredients obtained from Michigan farms and vendors certainly speaks to me and 100 Places in the D’s mission.
It’s looking like a revisit to HomeGrown Brewing is in order: for me to pair one of its craft brews with one of its dishes to create a dream of a dining experience – an experience I hope will again become a mainstay of my life one day.