Wayne County

276. Lyla’s Catering – September 16, 2017 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

Lyla's1Lyla's2Lyla's3 (2)On the jaunt from an Arts and Scraps donation run in Detroit to Saint Clair Shores, I decided lunch was in order and that this would be the perfect opportunity to visit Lyla’s Catering, a Lebanese catering and carry-out establishment I’d read about in Hour Detroit a few years ago. And with that Grosse Pointe Woods, a new-to-the-blog city, was represented!

Four of the five Grosse Pointe neighborhoods have now been repped on 100 Places in the D (Grosse Pointe Shores is left). But the most important thing about that day is that I got a scrumptious, flavorful, filling meal at Lyla’s.

I stepped into its sunny orange interior and ordered from the friendly owners the fatoush salad with grilled chicken, plus two spinach pies and two pieces of baklava. They were ready quickly, and I ate a portion of the huge fatoush salad while sitting at one of the two tables inside Lyla’s, savoring the freshness of the greens,  tomato chunks, cucumber slices, and crispy pita chips tossed in the garlic, lemon, and olive oil dressing and the slices of warm marinated chicken breast. What a perfect on-the-go meal: healthful and hearty and void of processed ingredients!

I had the rest of the salad for dinner that night, as well as one of the spinach pies and both pieces of the baklava. The triangular dough-encased mini pie with its vibrant spinach filling had this irresistible hint of nutmeg, and the baklava with its honey-drenched layers of phyllo dough was straight-up addictive.

Lyla’s has both its carry-out and catering menus on its website, so you can check out their offerings and order ahead should you decide to visit – which I highly recommend you do!

20083 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.lylascatering.com

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275. Arts and Scraps – September 16, 2017 – Detroit, MI

ArtandScraps5ArtandScraps1ArtandScraps2ArtandScraps4Arts and Scraps is a thrift store, but it’s an art-products-based thrift store, which to me makes it the coolest thrift store on the planet.

The Detroit-based shop/charitable organization geared toward encouraging childhood creativity among low-income populations had been on my mind for months – since late winter/early spring, when I cleaned out the closet in my home office and gathered up buttons, crayons, yarn, bits of fabric, safety pins, and other craft-related detritus, bagged them, and threw them in the trunk of my car with the intention of going there and making a donation. Finally I made it over there on a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-September.

As instructed on Arts and Scraps’ website, I parked near the side delivery door where donations can be dropped off, hauled my bag of offerings out of my car, and knocked. A friendly older woman answered, thanked me for my donation, and asked if I wanted to have a look around. I hadn’t planned on doing that, but I was like sure, why not? So she let me through the back area to the front of the shop.

OK, let me say, when I walked through that shop, I was like, WOW! I brimmed with excitement as I took in the fabric room with its shelves of colorful offerings and the main shop area with its bins and bins of every crafting material you could ever think of: buttons, pipe cleaners, cardboard, yarn, wallpaper sample books, spools of thread – even metal cookie tins in all shapes and sizes. And it was all there for super-cheap prices, such as a dollar for four spools of thread. A dollar!

This place was heaven to the 10-year-old craft-happy kid inside of me. It had me fantasizing about using the shop contents to craft the kind of large-scale modern art installation made from everyday materials that I adore; if inspiration hit me someday, I would know exactly where to go. Give me five baby-food jars, some embroidery thread, a wallpaper sample book, and those wine corks – stat! I’ve got creating to do!

So if you’ve got a creative project you’re looking to dive into, consider skipping those pricey national-chain craft stores and hitting Arts and Scraps for your supplies instead. You’ll save money and support a good cause – a total win-win in my (scrap)book. 🙂

If you are interested in donating supplies to Arts and Scraps, here’s the link to the page on its site that gives donation-material guidelines: www.artsandscraps.org/get-involved/individuals/save-materials-from-home. Financial donations can be made through the site, as well.

6135 Harper Ave.

Detroit, MI 48224

http://www.artsandscraps.org/

274. The Apparatus Room – September 14, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170914_18375020170914_184245How ’bout this as a testimonial for ya? The food was so good at The Apparatus Room that I forgot to take photos of its dazzling interior.

That testimonial is from, yes, yours truly, and that’s exactly what happened when I visited The Apparatus Room on a weeknight in mid-September. I was digging the Spring Vegetable Fritter in all of its deep-fried, dunked-in-spiced-crema glory and the Crispy Confit Chicken Sandwich with its irresistible spicy mayo so hard that I completely blanked on taking photos of anything but them. But I want you to see the dining room of The Apparatus Room with your own eyes, because it is spectacular with its white marble bar, old-school-elegant booths upholstered in earth tones, and multitude of bare lightbulbs hanging on strings around the bar area like glittering stars. So click the below link to the Apparatus Room’s website when you’re done reading and check it out!

The Apparatus Room is relatively new to the Detroit restaurant scene; it opened in May – which is also when the hotel it’s inside, The Detroit Foundation Hotel, opened to the public. Wow, is that place STUNNING! It’s no surprise it’s that gorgeous given the ambiance of its premier restaurant, and I’m actively looking for an excuse to stay there someday. The Apparatus Room got its name because the hotel is housed inside a former fire station, and the dining-room area is said to be where the fire engines and related equipment were housed. Sounds like yet another success story of a shuttered building in Detroit being repurposed and brought back into glory – love it!

If you visit The Apparatus Room sans reservation and can’t get a table in the dining area (which was what happened to my friend and I when we got there), I highly recommend sitting at the bar, where you’ll get attentive service, an abbreviated – yet tantalizing – food menu (~cue me geeking out over that Spring Vegetable Fritter and Crispy Confit Chicken Sandwich~)  and an excellent vantage point of the whole scene. We were later offered a table in the dining area after sitting at the bar, but we liked it up there so much that we decided not to move.

250 W Larned St.

Detroit, Michigan 48226

(Inside the Detroit Foundation Hotel)

www.detroitfoundationhotel.com/apparatus-room

273. The Keep – September 14, 2017 – Detroit, MI

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When I descended the stairs to this broodingly dark basement bar with intimate clustered seating, a faux fireplace, and the overall vibe of some old dude’s study, I immediately entered major-like-mode with The Keep. While the subterranean bar on Cadillac Square in downtown Detroit likes to keep a low profile (pun intended!), it’s garnered a loyal following, as reflected by several Yelp reviews in which the posters echoed the sentiment of worrying that their overwhelmingly positive testimonials would make the place too popular. Don’t worry, guys, your secret is safe with us!

If anyone wants to make a modern-day version of Cheers set in a basement bar in Detroit, he/she would be wise to slot The Keep as the first location-scouting stop. Not only is that dimly lit little underground retreat enchantingly cozy and inviting, but the bartenders – at least the one who was on staff when I was there – are super friendly, too. The female bartender helped my friend and I deliberate among the intriguing choices on The Keep’s craft cocktail menu, causing me to settle on the Bearded Lady, a delightful whiskey concoction with notes of orange, vanilla, and spices. That Bearded Lady will help you kick off your weekday happy-hour session right!

Only two other patrons were in The Keep at the same time as my friend and me: a guy and gal around our ages. We chatted with them at the bar as we stood and waited for our drinks, remarking on the oft-arduous rush-hour commute from Detroit to the ‘burbs (which I’m familiar with from my days working in Dearborn) and his recent move to the area. Probably it was talking with them and the bartender that made me think of the Cheers reference. Who doesn’t love discovering a place where the people may not know your name, but they’re willing to learn it?

Worth noting: The Keep’s entrance is off of Congress Street rather than Cadillac Square (as you may have noticed from reading the sign in the above photo of the unusable door). Look for a nondescript entryway leading to those basement stairs and below-ground glory.

140 Cadillac Sq.

Detroit, MI 48226

271. Narrow Way Café and Shop – September 4, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170904_11142320170904_111959I’m so excited to write about today’s featured place because I absolutely LOVED it. Narrow Way Café and Shop is an excellent addition to the Detroit coffee scene!

Seriously, this coffee shop in the Avenue of Fashion neighborhood of Detroit (Seven Mile and Livernois area) is PHENOMENAL. It can be challenging to find a coffee shop that has it all: great service AND excellent coffee AND delicious snacks AND great ambience AND ample seating options. Narrow Way Café and Shop checks all the boxes – especially the one important box I didn’t yet mention, the I-Want-to-Stay-Here-all-Day-and-Escape-from-the-World-Because-this-World-is-Lovely box.

Good vibes: those are the words that come to mind when I recall Narrow Way’s interior. It is light-filled and pleasant and cozy and there-can-be-no-anxiety-here tranquil. Instrumental jazz music is playing in the background. The walls are painted blue-green and white, and the expanse behind the dark wood counter is white-tiled. The tables are white; the chairs are white with a black criss-cross design; the lighting is hanging gold globe fixtures. There’s a map of the world on one wall and a purple fluorescent Narrow Way logo glowing on the wall behind the counter. I loved it.

The baristas were lovely to me, very polite and friendly and calling me “Miss Jackie,” which I found completely charming. This is not some corporate mega-chain where they scrawl your name on a cup and then holler it out incorrectly when your order is done. “Miss Jackie, would you like your pastry warmed up?” Heck yes, I would! And you’re going to deliver it to me in my seat? Best customer service EVER.

That pastry by the way: it was a spinach, feta, and brioche one, and it was absolutely phenomenal. The savory spinach, salty feta, and buttery brioche . . . OH YEAH. Narrow Way’s baked goods are from Avalon, so of course it was gonna be amazing. I mean, come on.

Plus, the mocha-almond frozen coffee I got was addictively delicious. I was bouncing-off-the-walls euphoric after consuming that frozen, flavorful, caffeine-saturated goodness. Narrow Way serves Zingerman’s coffee, so it’s official: they’ve got good taste over there – and they’re repping other local establishments, to boot (which you know I heart).

My one regret about visiting Narrow Way was that I did not stay long. I’d driven there with the intention of hanging out for a while with my journal, but then I was paranoid about where I’d parked (in the lot of the nearby grocery store, Mike’s Fresh Market), because there were warning signs about non-patrons being towed. Would they really have noticed and towed my car? Probably not, but I was with a friend once in Denver where they did notice and tow her car when we left it in a market parking lot, so I’m always leery of the possibility. Anyway, I should have parked on the neighborhood street behind Narrow Way instead – or Lord forbid, in one of the parallel parking spots in front of the shop (my phobia – yes, phobia – of parking in a parallel parking spot prevented me). Next time, I’ll ensure I find a legit parking spot so I can bask in Narrow Way’s good vibes longer.

19331 Livernois Ave.

Detroit, MI 48221

www.thenarrowwaycafe.com

261. The Hudson Café – July 16, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170716_11431320170716_120209One of my favorite versions of Heaven is taking in a ballgame at Comerica Park during a perfect-weather day (my other versions are: 1) shopping in a gourmet Italian produce market and 2) browsing in a multi-leveled independent bookshop. Yes, I am kind of a nerd). And when I venture downtown for a day game, I like to make a day of it – to have a meal and/or drinks beforehand. So in anticipation of my mom and I going down to the D back in July for what seems to be becoming our annual mother-daughter ballgame, I of course was like, “Can we go somewhere for brunch beforehand – preferably somewhere that is new to both of us?” Because yeah, trying new places is my pinnacle obsession these days (and happily, one that my loved ones indulge).

My mom suggested The Hudson Café, a breakfast/lunch restaurant that she’d heard good things about. She’d attempted to eat there during Memorial Day weekend, but her and my stepdad decided not to endure the long wait for a table at the time they were there, so they went to the Woodward location of Avalon International Breads instead (excellent alternate choice – LOVE those guys!).

Armed with this knowledge of how busy the joint could be, we settled in for a long wait at The Hudson Café – and got a table after about an hour, which wasn’t all that bad because we could jaunt up and down Woodward in the interim (and shop at lovely nearby Avalon, procuring a loaf of its insanely delish Farnsworth Family Farm sourdough and some Gus and Grey Floozie peach bourbon jam – oh yeahhh. Can’t help fan-girling over that place!).

Once triumphantly seated inside The Hudson Café after our lengthy wait, I enjoyed the bustling atmosphere and brightly colored murals of breakfast foods interspersed with Detroit landmarks. My mom ordered the banana pancakes, and I decided on the Chicken Pesto sandwich.

Let me say one thing about The Hudson Café: its portions are GENEROUS! The banana pancakes were huge – like, bigger-than-your-face huge. The Chicken Pesto sandwich, with its hefty grilled chicken breast, slabs of tomato, and smotherings of mozzarella, spinach, and pesto on weighty ciabatta bread, did not come to play. It and the double-serving of sweet potato fries that accompanied it meant gastronomical business! Hungry tummies are turning into happy, full (possibly overstuffed-and-in-need-of-a-nap) tummies after a visit here!

Besides offering the usual breakfast-centric fare (a generous variety of pancakes, waffles, French toast, sweet/savory crepes, omelettes, Eggs Benedict dishes, and other egg-centric fare), The Hudson Café’s menu boasts numerous entrée-salad and sandwich choices such as the Chicken Pesto.

1241 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.hudson-cafe.com

256. Red Crown – July 2, 2017 – Grosse Pointe Park, MI

20170702_114710 (2)20170702_130215 (2)20170702_121700 (3)Hi guys! I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend and were able to enjoy the lovely weather and get some fantastic exploring in. I got a Detroit fix with a visit to a recently-opened coffee shop that is just LOVELY – more on that when I eventually catch up on this backlog of posts!

I was reminded of all of the places I’ve visited in the last two months and have yet to write about when recently scrolling through my phone photo gallery; a lot of awesome establishments are waiting to be profiled, and I hate that I’m so behind because I can’t wait to share all of the goodness with you. But it is what it is; I’m sure all of you can relate to that feeling of being behind on life stuffs and not wanting to let it get to you. One step at a time, right? And today’s step is to chronicle an AWESEOME restaurant called Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, where I went for brunch during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Yes, Grosse Pointe Park is represented on the blog – it’s a first for that city! And what an excellent representation of Grosse Pointe Park – Red Crown is fabulous. I love it’s ambiance, for one – it’s modern and stylish and fun and totally embracing the building’s legacy as the Standard Oil Red Crown Service Station built in the 1930s, with elements of the garage-y façade being maintained. And that patio! What a lovely patio, with its open air and cheery red umbrellas – and when I was there, a performer singing and playing piano and stirring up chill, brunch-y vibes.

And the Monte Cristo waffle I ordered – glorious! I admit when it came to the table, I was like, “Huh? This isn’t what I ordered,” because I expected it to be the stereotypical beefy brick of a Monte Cristo sandwich, except with waffles instead of bread. It was not; as you can see from the photo above, the dish looks like typical waffles, until you look closely at those waffles and see the layers of cheese and meat pressed onto one side of them. But despite the unassuming size, the flavor of this waffle mash-up was mighty, and the accompanying raspberry jelly and mustard sauce complemented it nicely.

I would love to come back to Red Crown for dinner. It leans toward Southern and barbecued offerings, which I totally dig. I want to order up an appetizer of fried green tomatoes, share a Southern Sampler for Two (described as “smoked Carolina pulled pork, RC brisket, Saint Louis style ribs, and baby back ribs” – yummm), and gorge myself with mac and cheese on that gorgeous patio in the last dregs of warm weather.

15301 Kercheval Ave.

Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230

www.redcrowngp.com

252. Vertical Detroit – June 8, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170608_191848 (2)20170608_203101 (3)After glorious food and drink at Wright & Co. on a beautiful summer’s night in the D last month, my friend and I decided to continue the evening on Vertical Detroit’s patio. I was excited to visit the wine bar, because it was yet another place that had been on my radar for a long time, and because I HEART wine.

What I didn’t realize was how baller-wine-territory this place would be. Vertical’s wine menu is not playing around! There are numerous glasses of wine in the $20-$45 price range. I’m used to wine costing that much in restaurants – by the bottle, not the glass.

What I’m trying to say is that many of Vertical’s offerings were too out-of-our-price-range-at-this-juncture for my friend and I to consider. But there were also a number of by-the-glass choices costing in the teens and even a few for $9 (now we’re talking!). I decided on a glass of one of the most affordable ($11) reds, the 2014 Brunelli “Apricale” Sangiovese Blend from Tuscany, and enjoyed sipping it while catching up with a good friend and soaking in the tranquil early-evening city vibes.

I love wine, but I am by no means an expert in wine – even after participating in several extensive wine tastings and trainings during my years working as a server. My mind simply doesn’t retain info on grape varietals, vineyard terroirs, and the like, and no matter how hard I try, I’ll likely never be able to pick out those flavor notes of tobacco and leather. I am sure if I could that I’d be better able to appreciate Vertical’s extensive menu of dearly-priced finds. I am sure those wines have been chosen with care and are the best-of-the-best.

I do wonder if my tastes will ever get so rich as to entice me to pay $45 for a glass of wine. Probably not, even if my wallet gets rich. I would rather put that money toward the food-aspect of the meal and drink a second-rate glass of vino. My palate doesn’t seem to care about grape pedigree, even as it (very much!) respects the craft of wine-making.

Ambiance, on the other hand . . . ambiance is definitely important to me. I dug Vertical’s interior, which was elegantly dark and cozy with its richly tiled walls and chandeliers.

Besides offering an extensive wine list, Vertical Detroit offers craft cocktails and a selection of (mostly local) draft beers. It also boasts a food menu offering a sophisticated array of appetizers, small plates, and desserts such as lamb heart tartare, pork osso bucco, and crème brûlèe.

1538 Centre St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.verticaldetroit.com

251. Wright & Co. – June 8, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170608_175218 (2)20170608_180557 (2)20170608_180748 (2)Wright & Co.! I’m in love with you!!!!!

I’d heard great things about Wright & Co. and had it on my radar for months. I finally had an excuse to visit it last month when I went downtown on a Thursday night to get tickets from the Comerica Park box office and recruited a friend to go with me.

OK, I love visiting Detroit any day of the week, but it’s especially exciting to go down there on a week night after work because work days aren’t always the most intriguing for me. The most excitement I generally have on a work night is when I decide to drink wine and eat popcorn at the house while exhorting the characters in my fave cheesy-good TV dramas to not sleep with that shady dude and ruin their relationship with So-and-So! Full-throttle thrills there.

But when I go downtown on a work night, it automatically feels special, and I’m able to at least partially ignore the fact that I have to go into the office the next day while I’m drinking an alcoholic beverage akin to the nectar-of-the-gods and eating glorious treats such as loaded potato chips.

Loaded potato chips were one of the small-plates dishes my friend and I shared at Wright & Co. They are called Fresh Potato Chips on the menu and are a true thing of glory – check out the photo of them above! Are they not magnificent, those crispy, golden house-made potato chips smothered in white cheese sauce, bacon, scallions, and a tomato relish??? As you can imagine, they were insanely good.

Most – if not all – of the items on Wright & Co.’s menu are the small-plate size; guests are encouraged to select and share several dishes. My friend and I also ordered the Butternut Squash Pasta – another out-of-control-good dish. The butternut squash and parmesan made for a decadently creamy pasta whose richness was enhanced by flavorful pork belly and Brussels sprouts. We also got the Pork Belly Sliders, which were pure perfection topped with arugula, tomato jam, and sriracha aioli. YEESSSSSS! This place IS obvi one of the special ones.

Wright & Co. isn’t in the upper-echelon of Detroit restaurant glory solely because of its food; its craft cocktails are damn good, too. Now, could I tell you what beverage I ordered there? Unfortunately, no. I captured the names of the dishes I tried at the restaurant that night, but I immediately forgot which drink I ordered. Whoops. It was the pink one shown in the photo above, and I think it had whiskey in it. All I remember is, I dug it.

I dug the interior of the restaurant, too. Wright & Co. has this classy-industrial vibe going on with its brick walls, copper hardware, and exposed-bulb lighting accented by rich-red booths and a painting of a stormy seafaring scene that looks like it belongs in your old-money uncle’s study. The windows of the restaurant also offer a premier view of downtown.

Wright & Co. is open for dinner at 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and for brunch on Sundays (from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Another aspect of the restaurant worth noting: we found it challenging to find. We spent about five minutes staring at GPS confused and walking around in circles because we didn’t see the restaurant. We then noticed a nondescript door in the building it was shown to be located within, 1500 Woodward Avenue. The door is not actually off Woodward but is around the corner. There is a buzzer system like in an apartment building where you can buzz the restaurant to let you in; I believe the door would be locked otherwise but am not sure because a guy inside the building saw us and opened the door for us.

Once you get inside the building, you enter an elevator and go up to Wright & Co. on the second floor. The elevator door opens, and you are there! You’ve stepped into an escape away from your everyday workaday world.

1500 Woodward Ave., Floor 2

Detroit, MI 48226

www.wrightdetroit.com

245. Mudgie’s Deli – April 29, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170429_152143 (2)20170429_152307 (2)20170429_155110 (3)Hi, guys! I am sitting and writing these words in a never-before-visited and very awesome coffee shop – so look out for the post on that soon. But right now I’m here to talk about my visit to Mudgie’s Deli in Detroit two weekends ago.

After having a round of beers at Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill and receiving free tickets to that afternoon’s Tigers game from kindly strangers, my friend Jaclyn and I enjoyed five innings at Comerica Park before the frigid temperatures forced us out in search of the warm indoors. It was time for sandwiches at the deli I’d been dying to visit since the Corktown 5K (I had hoped to coax my friends into having lunch there after the race).

OK, this is just another reason for me to declare Corktown as my favorite neighborhood in Detroit. Not only is it easily navigable, has ample free parking, and is home to Slow’s, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Le Petit Zinc, Mercury Burger and Bar, and a jillion other beloved-by-me local establishments, it’s also home to Mudgie’s Deli and its extensive menu of intriguing sandwich choices.

Seriously, this restaurant’s menu is LOADED. There are so many sandwich choices that they are grouped by category; you’ve got a Poultry, Fish, Vegetarian & Vegan, Beef, Multi-Meat, and Salami section to choose from.

Nearly every sandwich description had me drooling. Here are a few to give you an idea of how boss these sandwiches are:

-The Brooklyn: “Beef brisket, Neuske’s nitrate free cherrywood smoked bacon, beer cheese[!], and caramelized maple onions on a kaiser roll.”

-The Hippie Dippie Sh*t Man (best sandwich name EVER): “Avocado, baby spinach, local sunflower sprouts, walnuts, dried cranberries, diced apples, shredded carrots and cucumber with raspberry vinaigrette rolled in whole wheat flat bread.”

-The Madill: “Roasted turkey breast, Neuske’s nitrate free cherrywood smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, romaine lettuce, garlic mayo and melted pepper Jack cheese on an 8″ hoagie bun served warm.”

That last one, The Madill, is the one I ordered after much deliberation (reading that it contained bacon AND avocado AND garlic mayo hooked me!). And man, did it turn out to be delicious! It was also huge; two people could easily share it. I thought I was going to take half home, but it was so good that I ended up polishing off all of it.

Mudgie’s is not just a deli with delicious sandwiches: it has a full bar! I had the most delicious Spanish coffee (perfect at warding the chill of the blustery day from my bones) with my Madill. It also has a little wine-shop area where you first walk in with bottles for sale. AND it offers Sunday brunch, featuring popular breakfast dishes such as Eggs Benedict, French toast, and biscuits and gravy plus a select variety of its delectable sandwiches. Worth noting: hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays; Mudgie’s is open 11 to 9 Mondays through Wednesdays and 11 to 11 (with the bar open until 12) the rest of the week.

So the verdict from this gal is that Mudgie’s is most definitely awesome. I need to go back and try more sandwiches – especially after being entranced by the slideshow of tantalizing sandwich photos on its website in the midst of writing this post!

1413 Brooklyn St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.mudgiesdeli.com