Restaurants/Bars

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

586. Nain Rouge Brewery – October 8, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Nain Rouge Brewery, serving up sinfully good beer!

I discovered the Detroit-based brewery during birthday celebrations for moi last month. Friends ordered its beer during dinner at Smith & Co., and we noticed the brewery was right across the way. So we popped over for a round of drinks after, before continuing on to Willis Show Bar.

It turns out that Smith & Co. is the only restaurant to serve Nain Rouge’s wares. The brewery also works with Eastern Michigan University’s brewing school, according to its website, aiming to “help promote diversity in the beer industry.”

What an awesome partnership! Obviously, Nain Rouge Brewery’s character is nothing like its namesake’s, that legendary creature who is said to cause mayhem in the D. Nain Rouge the brewery was, in my experience, a welcoming place devoid of drama – a chill space to enjoy pre-show drinks. But the “red dwarf,” as its name translates, has left its imprint on the brewery – in the form of its devilishly delicious beer.

Nain Rouge’s current tap list boast a range of choices, from an amber lager to a coffee stout to a honey- and hibiscus-infused wheat beer. There are three kinds of IPAs, a kölsch, a pilsner – even an Oktoberfest selection. I went for the Wisehead Chocolate Vanilla Porter, and it was right up my alley: rich, tasty, smooth.

Maybe that’s how Nain Rouge the imp is able to sneak in and cause a ruckus: by being as smooth as Nain Rouge the brewery’s beers. Maybe Nain Rouge Brewery has more in common with its namesake than I initially thought!

666 Selden St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.nainrougebrewery.com

585. Smith & Co. – October 8, 2022 – Detroit, MI

A Saturday night spent with friends in Detroit: is there anything better? That’s especially the case when you’re dining on Smith & Co.’s Nain Rouge Mac & Cheese!

The Midtown/Cass Corridor-based restaurant and bar serves up hearty fare in a convivial environment. The interior ambiance can be described as upscale industrial: concrete floors, exposed beams, and destressed elements mixed with leather banquettes, gloss, and mod lighting.

Delving into the menu’s array of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and entrées, I saw several choices that enticed me – the Korean Fried Chicken sandwich being one. I even toyed with the idea of getting a salad, intrigued by the Fried Green Tomato with its medley of kale, kamut, beans, radishes, red onion, snap peas, feta, croutons, mint, the titular tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.

But the Nain Rouge Mac & Cheese won out – and I’m SO glad it did! The noodles were doused in creamy beer cheese and tossed with barbecue sauce-infused pulled beef, chunks of bacon, and fried onion. It was rich, flavorful, indulgent – the exact qualities you want a birthday dinner to have.

The drink I imbibed at Smith & Co. embodied those same traits. A luxurious mix of Kahlua, vodka, coffee, and dalgona topped with coffee foam, the Espresso Martini Chamber Seven was so nice, I ordered it twice! The current selection of specialty cocktails includes the Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned and a seasonal sangria. Beer from nearby Nain Rouge Brewery is on draft, and for those who don’t drink, a Zero-Proof section features two mocktails and drinks from the likes of local leisure soda vendor, Casamara Club.

Celebrating my birthday with friends at Smith & Co. was wonderful – namely because of those friends’ company. But the delicious food and drink amplified the experience. Thanks, Smith & Co., for helping make this special day even more special!

644 Selden St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.smithandcodetroit.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

580. Baobab Fare – September 14, 2022 – Detroit, MI

Delicious Baobab Fare! The restaurant on Woodward Avenue in Detroit serves up flavorful East African fare in an artfully designed, welcoming setting.

Baobab Fare is owned by husband-and-wife duo Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba, who originally hail from Burundi. According to Baobab Fare’s website, their intention is for the restaurant to “serve as a safe space for other immigrants and Detroiters alike, knowing that it is a meeting place where all are welcomed and embraced. Baobab will help to fill a gap as it relates to African fare and culture in the city.”

That’s a mission I can get behind – especially when it’s being so deliciously done! The meal I had last month at Baobab Fare, the Mhogo, was SO tasty. It’s a dish Baobab Fare only serves on Wednesdays. It consists of chicken that’s been pan-fried, shredded, and infused with a mustard-onion sauce, yuca root, and the choice of either yellow beans or peanut-stewed spinach (I opted for the latter). I ordered a side of plantains to accompany it (because plantains are EVERYTHING to me), and an African tea with oat milk.

I cannot stress how wonderful this meal was! The chicken and spinach were rich and flavorful; the yuca, buttery, starchy, comfort-food goodness. The spinach especially had me exclaiming. How could something as innately banal as spinach be transformed into such tastebud-thrilling fare??? I don’t know the answer to that question – but Baobab Fare does. The accoutrements to the meal – the spiced African black tea and plantains – were just as delicious.

Sitting in Baobab Fare’s beautiful dining room, chatting with a good friend whilst savoring this marvelous meal – on a workday Wednesday, no less – was such a treat. Here’s to new-place visits that elevate the everyday – especially when they’re visits to restaurants with purpose, heart, and a talented kitchen staff! Baobab Fare checks all the boxes there.

6568 Woodward Ave., Ste. 100

Detroit, MI 48202

www.baobabfare.com

574. Oak & Reel – August 22, 2022 – Detroit, MI

What a fantastic experience dining at Oak & Reel was! From the food to the service to the ambiance, this Detroit-based Italian restaurant is serving up top-tier excellence.

I’d become familiar with Oak & Reel from Hour Detroit‘s coverage of it. The magazine crowned Oak & Reel 2022 Restaurant of the Year. Detroiters must’ve took notice, because the restaurant was packed when my friend and I arrived at 7:30 on a Monday night. Fortunately, we were able to snag two open seats at the bar.

Oak & Reel’s interior is a pretty, airy space, a pleasing mixture of industrial and contemporary elements. I loved the profusion of potted plants and striking hexagon tiles that covered one section of ceiling.

Service at the restaurant was excellent. The bartender who waited on us was a delight, friendly and attentive. He praised my drink choice, the Serpenti, an utterly delicious mixture of tequila reposado, passionfruit, lime, and calabrian chile. I love a spicy cocktail!

From the octopus Bolognese to the butter-poached halibut to the Raw portion featuring oysters, tuna, and other ocean delicacies, seafood is featured heavily on Oak & Reel’s menu. But there are plenty of options for non-seafood-lovers, too (take it from me, who is one of them!). One is the Caramelle, a pasta dish featuring ribbon-like strips of ravioli filled with short rib meat and topped with blistered yellow and red grape tomatoes, bread crumbs, and marjoram. This was my order, and it was exceptional! The house-made pasta was perfectly tender, and I savored the rich filling, crunchy bread crumbs, and vibrance of the blistered tomatoes and herbs.

After a meal that perfect, I didn’t need dessert – but I strongly considered it. How could I not, when Oak & Reel was offering tempting choices such as the Triple Chocolate Tarte with orange and cacao nibs and the Bomboloni, donuts with rosemary sugar and lemon anglaise?

Just like those desserts, the experience of dining at Oak & Reel was an extra-special treat – one that I definitely yearn to savor again!

2921 E. Grand Blvd.

Detroit, MI 48202

www.oakandreel.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

571. The Royal Eagle – July 26, 2022 – Harper Woods, MI

100 Places in the D is all about unprecedented experiences – and my visit to The Royal Eagle was certainly that!

This was my first time visiting a place in Harper Woods for the blog. Harper Woods is represented on 100 Places in the D! But more than that, this was an experience of stepping into another world. The Royal Eagle is a restaurant located on the grounds of a Russian Orthodox Catholic monastery located in a residential neighborhood.

St. Sabbas Monastery originated in 1999. The religious organization bought multiple adjoining properties in the neighborhood and converted them into the monastery.

It’s a singular experience to walk off a quiet, well-kept residential street through the gates of a monastery, which is also well-kept and quiet – and absolutely stunning! – but which you don’t expect to find in a suburban neighborhood. Lush gardens, a profusion of vibrant colors, fill the grounds of St. Sabbas, and the church and other buildings inhabit the Russian Orthodox style, with distinctive spires, use of color, and beautiful detailing. The outdoor seating area, where teas are held, struck me as especially beautiful with its umbrella-bedecked patio seating, mini clock tower, and gazebo lit by strings of light in the midst of the garden oasis.

And there in the midst of that garden oasis was The Royal Eagle. The volunteer-run restaurant hosts dinners, high teas, and monthly cooking classes; proceeds benefit the monastery. The current cooking class series is called Cooking with Grace and is taught by Chef Petr Balcarovsky. The theme of the session I attended in July was French Medieval Courts.

I didn’t take photos inside The Royal Eagle because cell phone use was discouraged, but you can see photos of it on Yelp. It’s cozy, dimly-lit, old-fashioned, outfitted with rich wooden furnishings, jewel tones, and the ornate detailing characteristic of the monastery.

The Cooking with Grace class was more a cooking demonstration. Chef Petr showed us how to prepare a multi-course meal, periodically pulling participants up to assist with chopping, stirring, emulsifying. A generous appetizer spread was served during the demonstration, and at its conclusion, we got to eat the foods we learned to prepare. We had a vegetable potage (soup), which was exquisitely delicious despite consisting of simple ingredients such as carrots, onion, and celeriac juice. Next was cornish hen with poivre jaunet, or yellow pepper sauce. The sauce was a piquant concoction of red wine vinegar, toasted breadcrumbs, crushed black peppercorns, ginger, saffron, and cloves. For dessert, there was Fontainebleau, a decadent dessert consisting of heavy cream, faisselle cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract whipped to perfection and served with powdered sugar-dusted berries and mint. Yum, yum, and YUM!

I had such a lovely time learning and eating, chatting and imbibing at this cooking class. I came alone but sat at a table with three other ladies, two of whom were friends and brought bottles of wine that they graciously shared. (The Royal Eagle doesn’t serve alcohol but encourages cooking class participants to bring their own bottles of wine. A list of recommended wine pairings was emailed prior to our class.)

It was, all around, a wonderful Tuesday evening. I highly recommend a visit to The Royal Eagle if you’re looking to infuse wonder into your everyday, as well!

18745 Old Homestead Dr.

Harper Woods, MI 48225

www.theroyaleagle.net