Wayne County

314. Vault of Midnight – March 10, 2018 – Detroit, MI

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Comics, graphics novels, and board games: I need more of them in my life, I’m thinking, after visiting Vault of Midnight in downtown Detroit a few weeks ago.

The emporium for the aforementioned items of whimsy and imagination and magic reminded me of how much I love playing board games and how I’m always saying I’m going to host a game night at my house (but have yet to). It peddles an impressive amount of serious board games: intricate, strategic games far from the toy-store game-land of Monopoly, Mall Madness, and Operation that I grew up in.

These serious games are stickered with serious price tags; with many in the $40-to-$80 range, they are not what I’d categorize as an impulse purchase. I assume most people going into Vault of Midnight to procure these board games are doing so intentionally, either because they know exactly what they want or are confident they’ll find something they’ll want enough to buy.

All I know is, I’ve been fortunate enough to play some of these kinds of intricate, strategic games at other people’s houses, and I find them as entertaining as all get-out. Not to trash the $10 ’90s-version of Clue that I grew up with (that game was LIFE to me in the first grade!), but these serious board games are fun to play because they’ve been crafted with care, from their rules to their artwork to the elaborate planning and scheming required of many of them to win.

What I’m saying is that in my experience, these serious board games are worth the serious price tag if you know you’ll be playing them on a regular basis instead of letting them collect a thick film of dust on a shelf in a closet in your basement (cue my copy of Scrabble: Deluxe Edition enduring that very fate). And I think it’s amazing that there’s a place right here in downtown Detroit reminding us of their awesomeness, beckoning us to enjoy some unplugged fun with them for an hour or two.

Of course, the unplugged fun is not only being touted by the serious board games at Vault of Midnight but also by its wide selection of comics and graphic novels.

I’ve never been an aficionado, per say, of either comics or graphic novels, but I did read the Detroit Free Press funnies religiously for years as a kid and fostered a love for Archie comics stemming from the ’60s-era issues saved by my paternal grandparents (and still find myself pondering the latest volume of the Riverdale gang’s shenanigans every time I spy it in a grocery-store check-out line). And I’ve read and enjoyed a few great graphic novels, such as Maus and Ghost World. It’s a genre I’ve long intended to explore more but haven’t. As with the board games in my basement closet, that intention often lies dormant, collecting a thick film of dust in my mind.

I can’t speak to the specific kinds of comics and graphic novels that Vault of Midnight stocks, because I didn’t delve too deeply into them. I looked at a few comics that appeared to be small-batch varieties, possibly even handmade, which intrigued me. I’d like to return and check those out in greater detail.

Maybe it’s time for me to more seriously consider and pursue my interests in board games and graphic novels and comics. Maybe it’s time to actually set a date for game night; maybe it’s time to invite more whimsy and imagination and magic into my life. Certainly, another visit to Vault of Midnight is in order!

1226 Library St.

Detroit, MI 48226

(Locations also in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor)

www.vaultofmidnight.com

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313. Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine – March 10, 2018 – Detroit, MI

March2018Vicentes1 (2)March2018Vicentes2 (3)If you visit Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine in downtown Detroit, try the Ropa Vieja – a.k.a. the Old Clothes.

OK, I know what you’re thinking: how good can a dish be that’s named after worn-out apparel?

AMAZINGLY GOOD, it turns out. The shredded beef cooked in a red wine tomato sauce with diced bell peppers and green olives was amazingly tender and flavorful during my visit a few weeks ago.

This is a smile for your stomach! This is comfort food at its finest! I seriously believe I could eat this dish accompanied by rice, black beans, and sweet fried plantains (SO yum in themselves!) every day, and I would be happy.

Of course, I also wouldn’t mind if the mint-studded mojitos I imbibed and the tres leches cake I ordered for dessert made more frequent appearances in my life – maybe not daily, but surely weekly (I am totally a chocolate person, but tres leches cake is LIIIIIFE).

Vicente’s struck me as the perfect special-occasion venue – and not only because of my table’s consensus on the food being of a high caliber of deliciousness. The dining room is sleek and contemporary, ideal for sophisticated soirees, and there is salsa dancing on Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 p.m. onwards, including free lessons for beginners. Live jazz music is played every Wednesday and Thursday, too.

Of course, I’d also argue that Vicente’s is the perfect place to dine whether it’s a special-occasion day or not a special-occasion day, because I’m a major advocate for everyday life being more magical (here’s to packing as much magic and whimsy and straight-up FUN into adulting as we can!). I know if I continue to frequent Vicente’s, savoring vibrant dishes such as the Ropa Vieja, Cuban Style Paella, and Medallones de Cerdo (pork medallions) to the rhythm of rollicking jazz tunes, I’ll get into the fun-zone of life a little more frequently.

1250 Library St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.vicentesdetroit.com

312. Anthology Coffee – March 3, 2018 – Detroit, MI

March2018Anthology2 (2)March2018Anthology3 (2)New-coffee-shop time!!!!

I’m always excited to visit an amazing, new-to-me independent coffee shop, because I LOVE independent coffee shops with singular vibes. And Anthology Coffee in Detroit is most certainly a coffee shop with a singular vibe, in the best of ways.

Plus, it has its own parking lot.

As you may know from reading previous posts on this blog, I am, yes, obsessed with establishments in Detroit that have their own parking lots, because the act of formal parallel street parking is essentially a phobia for me – I will park blocks away simply to avoid having to wedge my car within the confines of two painted lines narrowly abutting other cars at the curb of a busy street (not my idea of a good time).

So when I pulled up to Anthology Coffee, this java shop located within the Ponyride building in an industrial-looking part of town that feels isolated and deserted (but that in reality is very close to the Corktown-neighborhood drag of Michigan Avenue) and saw the ample number of parking spaces in the adjacent lot, I was like “Heck yes, Win #1 of the day!” (No victory is too small in my book – baby-stepping through life is my M.O., people.)

The exterior entrance to Anthology was a bit hard to identify on this Ponyride building (which, according to its website, rents out office and coworking spaces to various local businesses – how awesome is that?). I spied a set of unmarked doors sandwiched between two vibrant graffiti-art murals and confirmed with people departing from them that they indeed led into the shop.

Once inside, I was immediately taken with the clean, modern look of Anthology’s space: walls white here, paneling in blonde wood there; the pop of the turquoise coffee counter and the vibrant nature-themed mural painted in one corner; the concrete floors and the sunlight streaming in through the windows.

The friendly barista working behind the counter greeted me and helped me choose which of the various bean varieties I wanted in my iced coffee. When I assented that I preferred a bolder flavor over a fruity one, he suggested a variety from Myanmar.

I found a seat at one of the smaller tables, and he delivered my iced brew in its tall glass to me when it was ready (now there’s a touch I always appreciate at a coffee shop, the barista bringing the coffee to my table so I don’t have to stand at the counter and wait for it). It was delicious: bold, but very drinkable.

I appreciated not only the flavor profile of that coffee but the profile of Anthology’s overall vibe on that afternoon of my visit. It was humming with activity, with other visitors chatting and/or working and even a few kids running around, but it wasn’t overwhelming or distracting; it was pleasant. It radiated a sense of fostered community rather than a sense of being overrun by people. It felt amiable and also low-key, relaxed. The music played at an ideal volume level, enjoyable ambiance rather than a blaring distraction.

As I paid for my drink at the end of my visit, I commented to the barista on how much I’d enjoyed the coffee and the overall experience. I’d found a space I could envision as my own personal coworking space in a future where I worked for myself amongst other local entrepreneurs – where each of us, in our respective caffeine-induced flow states, teased out ideas on how we could best contribute our gifts to this wonderful city.

1401 Vermont St.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.anthologycoffee.com

310. Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño – February 25, 2017 – Detroit, MI

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PUPUSAS!!!! HOW had I gone so long in my life without consuming you, you glorious little pancake-esque tortillas loaded with savory, meaty, cheesy fillings!

My first encounter with pupusas was back in 2014 at El Guanaco in Troy. I was immediately taken by the Salvadorean delights: what was not to like about piping-hot grilled corn tortillas stuffed with meat and cheese? I mean, that is kind of my JAM right there.

Yet somehow I went all this time without consuming another pupusa. I’ve never returned to El Guanaco – certainly not because I don’t want to (I gaze upon it fondly whenever I drive past it) but rather because a consequence of running a blog that’s all about trying new places is that repeat visits are not especially common for me – even when I really, really love a place and intend to go back. And sadly, Salvadorean restaurants are not especially prevalent around Metro Detroit.

But as I discovered a few weeks ago, there is at least one other Salvadorean restaurant in this area:  Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño in Southwest Detroit. Continuing my quest to visit 50 new places in Detroit in Blog Year 5, I set out for the restaurant on Livernois Avenue one Sunday in late February.

Right away, the place won my heart because it had its own parking lot (a category of criteria I especially appreciate in the city), which was packed with other cars for the midday lunch rush. I entered the colorful restaurant bedecked with flags and vibrant artwork and put in a carryout order for one of the combination plates, which contained two pupusas, rice, beans, curtido (a cole slaw-esque, spicy cabbage relish), and a drink. I can’t recall exactly how much the combo cost me, but I believe it was around $8.

The order came out relatively quickly, and I excitedly made the jaunt back home, sucking down the horchata I’d ordered as my drink choice and savoring its creamy, cinnamon-laced goodness. Soon I’d also be savoring those pupusas nestled in my carryout bag!

The glorious moment arrived: I got back home and sat down to devour the pupusas in all of their fresh-grilled, meat-and-cheese-studded glory.

They were of course AMAZING. I’d gotten a ground pork pupusa and a cheese pupusa, and both were wonderfully fresh and flavorful and filling-stuffed. If I had to pick which one I liked better, I’d go with the cheese one (cheesy goodness being pretty hard to beat in its glorious simplicity), but the ground pork one was deliciously savory, too. Paired with the curtido, these bad boys were utterly KILLER. How come more food isn’t accompanied by a spicy cabbage slaw??? That needs to change.

If you have never tried a pupusa and are intrigued, can we agree that that needs to change, too? Give Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño a try – and while you’re at it, try El Guanaco, too! There’s enough love to go around for both of them.

3149 Livernois Ave.

Detroit, MI 48210

308. Lady of the House – February 16, 2018 – Detroit, MI

February2018LadyoftheHouse1 (2)February2018LadyoftheHouse3 (2)February2018LadyoftheHouse5 (3)February2018LadyoftheHouse4 (2)Great minds truly think alike – at least, they did one week in mid-February when my friend Jaclyn and I were trying to figure out which place in Detroit we should try next.

I was scrolling through Yelp when I found an intriguing prospect I’d not yet come across before, Lady of the House. I made a mental note to propose the place to Jaclyn.

A few days passed. The night before we were supposed to meet, she sent me a text: “Hey! Found this new place in Corktown!” that included a link to – where else? – Lady of the House’s website.

Of course we had to go there. The Universe had conspired to bring us to Lady of the House. And it was in Corktown, my favorite Detroit neighborhood? Oh, heck yes!

This was not a miss of a choice punted to us from the Universe, my friends. It was a resounding hit – one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. I already know Lady of the House is going to be on my Blog Year Five top-ten list!

The food was excellent, the ambiance was awesome, the service was exceptional – and most importantly, there was a chair in the ladies’ room embossed with Ryan Gosling’s face.

YES. You can enter the women’s restroom of Lady of the House and SIT ON RYAN GOSLING’S FACE! Not literally, of course, but symbolically (sitting on Ryan Gosling’s actual face without permission would be bad indeed). You can see photos of this Gosling-face-chair on Lady of the House’s Yelp profile.

Kidding aside, the actual most important aspect about Lady of the House has nothing to do with Gosling-emblazoned upholstery: it has to do, naturally, with the food. It is excellent, expertly prepared and infused with intriguing ingredient mash-ups that pair perfectly.

For our dinner, we chose from the menu of shared plates (which appears to change regularly) the Farm Greens, Cracked Potato, Cauliflower, and Parisian Ham.

The Farm Greens are, as you’d expect, a salad. But they are not any old salad: they are a delectable combination of fresh greens, apples, shaved cheese, pistachios, and creamy tarragon dressing. I know these ingredients all sound pretty ordinary, but let me tell you, under the care of Lady of the House’s kitchen crew, these components combined together to make a damn near magical salad. These greens were GOOD.

The Cracked Potato with tobiko*, basil butter, and capers and the Cauliflower dish accented with fennel, parmesan, and olives were sumptuous vegetable dishes. I think more people would heart vegetables if they were eating ones as carefully and flavorfully prepared as these were.

(*OK, wow, by just now Googling tobiko, which I was previously clueless about, I learned that it’s “flying fish roe” – a.k.a. the eggs of a fish called a flying fish. So I ate fish eggs for the first time and didn’t know it! I achieved a milestone in my culinary journey that I was totally oblivious of at the time.)

The pièce de résistance, however, was the Parisian Ham.

Our server explained to us when we ordered it that it simply came accompanied by butter – not just any old butter, but a butter made with Dijon mustard and fermented honey. She said that bread was not served with the honey and butter because it was thought to get in the way; the intention was to spread the butter directly onto the ham.

It sounds weird. But it was EPIC.

This thinly-sliced ham cured in house was SO GOOD: tender, flavorful, full-out deliciousness. The butter was wonderfully addictive, infused with the rich flavors of the Dijon mustard and the fermented honey.

(Who even thinks to ferment honey? A culinary wizard does – that’s who.)

I could eat that Parisian Ham doused in butter every day of my life. It’s probably better that I don’t from a cholesterol perspective. But from a pleasure perspective, it would be an obvious win if I did.

You know what else resided in the win category at Lady of the House? The dessert menu. We only tried one item from the dessert menu, but it was very much a victory of a choice: the Potato Donuts.

I know a confectionary delight crafted from a potato doesn’t sound so delightful. But let me tell you, it was. These potato donut holes were perfectly fried on the outside and decadently soft on the inside. The chamomile-infused glaze they rested in and the dried yogurt flakes and sugared, crispy stalks of thyme that garnished them were – again, weird-sounding but epically amazing accompaniments.

The drinks were just as good. I had two of the craft cocktails: the Vanquish and the Winter Fashion. The Vanquish with its scotch, Montenegro and Cardamaro liquers, and lemon and blood orange juices was my favorite. I also had a sip of the Lady Gin + Tonic, which with its pickle brine and black pepper was surprisingly refreshing and wonderful.

You know what else was refreshing and wonderful at Lady of the House? The service. Everyone we encountered while there: the host who brought us to our table, our server, the servers and/or food runners who brought out our dishes was friendly, polite, and downright wonderful. Friendly, respectful service can be in scarcity at trendy, elevated restaurants  – or at any old unelevated restaurant, for that manner.

That was not the case at Lady of the House. All of the dishes that were brought out to us were explained to us in detail. Everyone was pleasant and accessible and not at all snotty. I so appreciated it, as I’d experienced a string of not-so-warm dining experiences over the previous few months, and it was starting to make me feel sad. Thank you, Lady of the House, for helping to buoy my belief in the inherent goodness of humanity! You are AWESOME!

1426 Bagley St.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.ladyofthehousedetroit.com

304. 8° Plato Beer Company – January 15, 2018 – Detroit, MI

January2018Plato1 (3)January2018Plato3 (2)8º Plato Beer Company is in the house today!

I’d long been curious about this beer store in the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit, and after lunch at Red Dunn a few weeks ago, my ale-aficionado friend and I stumbled across it and decided to give it a go.

All I can say is Holy Hops! there is a lot of beer here. I mean, obvi, it is a beer store – and it’s a good one, its shelves being stocked with popular local craft ales and ciders and more obscure (at least from my novice perspective) brews from around the globe. Beer-related merchandise such as t-shirts and snacks are offered, as well. A multitude of brews are on tap, too, so it can act as your growler filling station, and there’s a bar counter so you can sit and enjoy a pint in-house.

We decided to cozy up to that bar rail to kill an hour tucked away from the swirling snowscape outside the window and reality in general. (Spending time downtown characteristically has this whimsical effect on me, where I feel like I’m escaping oft-mundane everyday life when I hang out there. It is pretty magical there compared with cookie-cutter-chain-establishment-littered suburbia.).

While we were sitting there, the friendly bartender offered us samples of two sour beers that had recently come in, the names of which totally slip my mind. I do remember that the draft pint I enjoyed was Cheboygan Brewing Co.’s Blood Orange Honey, one of the many Michigan craft brews on draft.

I’m all about lauding the Mitten-made products, so I’m happy that 8º Plato Beer Company is yet another local outlet helping to hype them up. And bonus: the store has another location, on Nine Mile Road in Ferndale.

3409 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

http://8degreesplato.com

303. Red Dunn Kitchen – January 15, 2018 – Detroit, MI

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Happy Friday, and Happy Snow Day to those of my friends in the Metro-Detroit area! The white stuff is currently coming down hard over here, and I’m safely ensconced at home with no intention to burrow out until the a.m. You know I love me some exploring – but I’m wholly content in this case to put that on pause until the blizzard’s roaring ceases and the roadways’ surfaces are cleared.

Brave souls, if you live around here and are itching to get out of the house despite the snow and before your cabin fever consumes you, may I suggest a downtown adventure? The last time I ventured to Detroit, on snowy Martin Luther King Day, I had a most delightful lunch at Red Dunn Kitchen in Corktown.

The restaurant is connected to the Trumball and Porter Hotel, a recently renovated, chic-and-modern boutique accommodation. I didn’t scope out its interior during my visit, but in photos on its website, the hotel looks AWESOME – very fresh and fun.

And, I discovered, the restaurant it’s adjacent to is top-notch! The Red Dunn Kitchen is certainly worth a visit and gives me another reason to declare Corktown as my favorite of the Detroit neighborhoods (I can SO see myself living there someday – especially if the parking situation stays as relatively easeful as it is. Easeful parking is one way to my heart, for sure.).

I hardcore dug the restaurant’s clean, contemporary décor and prevalence of blues and whites. It was amazing to indulge in the whole lady-who-lunches thing there, sipping a Spanish coffee while I gazed out at the snow drifting across the hotel courtyard and felt grateful to be inside, cozy and warm.

Red Dunn’s lunch menu consists of an eclectic collection of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. Jonesing for some “Green Eggs and Ham”? They’re a starter on Red Dunn’s menu, in the form of deviled eggs topped with chives, bacon, and paprika.

Is a Cuban sammie more your thing? Red Dunn’s got it. How about corned beef, blackened shrimp, or Red Wine Braised Short Rib sandwiches? Check, check, and check: Red Dunn’s got ya covered on the cured cow, spicy seafood, and boozy rib-meat fronts.

After much deliberation around all of this gastronomical goodness, I got the Two Crispy Pork Belly Tacos with their caramelized shredded pork, carrot, daikon radishes, greens, cashews, and kimchi mayo. I paired the flavorful Asian-fusion tacos with a side version of the Simple Salad – which with its fresh, unboring greens, tomato, cucumber, scallions, and zesty Green Goddess dressing was a total pleasure to eat; I wasn’t pining for the French fries I’d passed up (Win!).

The Red Dunn dinner menu features more refined, supper-esque fare: Marinated-Grilled Strip Steak, Fried Chicken Roulade, and House-Made Cuttlefish Ink Fettuccini, for instance. The breakfast menu offers fancy versions of a.m. favorites, such as Almond-Ricotta Pancakes (YUM!) and Smoked Salmon Benedict.

While Red Dunn Kitchen would be a total slam-dunk to visit at any time of the year, now that I think about it, it’s the PERFECT place to hang out during a snowstorm, what with it being connected to a gorgeous boutique hotel and all. There’s respite right there should you not want to engage in the familiar wintertime post-meal rituals of shoveling out your car and skidding about the icy roads.

1331 Trumbull St., Suite 100

Detroit, MI 48216

(Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, starting at 7 a.m. daily)

www.reddunnkitchen.com

302. Garrido’s – January 14, 2018 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

January2018Garridos1 (2)January2018Garridos2 (2)Today’s post feels especially appropriate for me given that I’ve just returned from a 10-day vacation in South America (Ecuador, specifically): the lovely Garrido’s of Grosse Pointe Woods is being represented on the blog!

The bistro’s menu packed with popular Venezuelan dishes reminds me of fare I consumed while in Ecuador. The Venezuelan Pabellón that I tried during my visit to Garrido’s was healthful deliciousness with its tender shredded beef, rice, black beans, and the kicker: tajadas (ripe plantains).

Man, were those tajadas AMAZING! How can something as simple as a plantain be so mouthwateringly packed with flavor? Caramelized, flavorful, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness constituted those tajadas. I gobbled them with relish, as I did the rest of the  Venezuelan Pabellón dish.

I felt so good about eating this healthful dinner that I figured there was room for dessert, so I capped off the meal with Garrido’s Deep-Fried Cheesecake with Berry Party. The New York-style cheesecake wrapped in fried dough and served with a berry compote was yes, as glorious as it sounds.

What’s on Garrido’s menu besides the Venezuelan Pabellón and the bomb fried cheesecake? There are various appetizers, including fried plaintain chips with pico de gallo and guasacaca (a Venezuelan avocado sauce similar to guacamole) and Venezuelan Tequeños (cheese wrapped in dough and deep-fried). There are arepas (corn-flatbread sandwiches) stuffed to the gills with goodies such as shrimp, black beans, and avocado-bacon-and-cheese-slathered burgers. There are a variety of seafood dishes, including paella, pastas, and a stew loaded with scallops, shrimp, squid, and octopus.

Other traditional Latin fare plus entrée salads and a more eclectic assortment of dishes (spaghetti with lamb meatballs; ahi tuna steak; beef stroganoff) round out the food menu, which is capped by desserts including that fried cheesecake, plus a molten chocolate cake and churros.

While the bistro doesn’t serve booze, it has an in-depth non-alcoholic drink menu – one loaded with various teas, smoothies, and coffee drinks. I NEED to go back and try its extreme hot-chocolate concoction: check out the drink section on Garrido’s menu to see what I mean! This sucker is STACKED (literally) with more than just the typical steamed chocolate milk; it’s a veritable tower of goodies.

It’s obvious that I’m not the only one in the area who is feeling Garrido’s, as the intimate little place quickly became packed during the Sunday evening that I visited it. With good food and a cozy, inviting vibe, it’s an obvious choice if you’re looking to dine within the Grosse Pointes.

19605 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.garridosbistro.com

301. Little Caesars Arena – January 5, 2018 – Detroit, MI

20180131_14555120180105_202630.jpgHi, all! I’m expecially excited about today’s post because it highlights my first-ever visit to the beautiful, brand-spanking new Little Caesars Arena, home to the Detroit Pistons and my beloved Red Wings.

I am a die-hard Wings fan, through better or worse. As you’ll know if you follow them, too, right now we’re in more of a for-worse season than a for-better one. No matter – I’m IN this thing! And while I’ve watched the Wings seemingly invent new ways to lose many a time this season, I was fortunate enough that my first time seeing them play live at LCA was a thrilling 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers.

The first photo you see above of Little Caesars Arena, the exterior shot, is one I actually took in mid-October, when I ate at the Sports & Social restaurant connected to the area (you can visit it without having tickets for an event at the arena, though fun fact: you still have to go through a metal detector as you would if you were going directly into the arena).

I had hoped to cover that visit for the the blog, but after doing some research online, I learned that Sports & Social appears to be a national chain, with another location in a Georgia-based venue. Since I only cover locally-owned, non-national chain restaurants here in the Metro-Detroit area on 100 Places in the D, Sports & Social didn’t end up fitting the blog criteria. But it was awesome to be so up close to the arena then, anyway.

Fast-forward a few months later to a frigid night in early January: I’m inside LCA for my first game! Man, was it fun. The arena is so beautiful, such an upgrade from Joe Louis Arena (though I will forever love that ol’ place!).

I honestly didn’t explore the concourse much because where my friends and I sat in the Labatt Blue Club area, we had our own concessions and bathrooms, which was really convenient. We also got a $10 concessions voucher with our ticket, which was nice.

The Labatt Blue Club area is in the upper bowl, behind one of the goals; you can either sit in your assigned in-arena seat or find a seat along some ice-facing countertops in the club area. I took in the game from my assigned seat and cheered my heart out to a Red Wing victory!

I’m looking forward to checking out Pistons games and concerts at Little Caesars Arena – and of course, more Wings games. I’ve got to explore the concourse more when I’m back. It’s so exciting to have this fantastic new arena downtown right along Woodward Ave.!

2645 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.olympiaentertainment.com/venue/little-caesars-arena-2

299. Spa in the Woods – December 24, 2017 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

December2017SpaWoods2 (2)Oh my goodness – happy 2018, guys! I took another one of my unexpected hiatuses from the blog – one of those black holes of writing inertia cropped up unexpectedly around the holidays for me, and I pretty much forced myself to get on and write this post to avoid extending the thing any longer. It’s crazy how quickly time flies and how a few days of putting off posting can turn into a month!

But hey, as much as we can all beat ourselves up about our lapses, the most important part to focus on is the fact that we started again, am I right? That’s the tack I’m choosing to take here. And I’m very excited to have a bunch of adventures built up over the last month to recount to you – including Visit Number 300!!!! [Cue multi-hued confetti!] But today, it’s all about my becoming acquainted with the very lovely Spa in the Woods in Grosse Pointe Woods – on Christmas Eve, of all days.

One of my dearest friends got me a gift certificate to Spa in the Woods for my birthday in October after I’d revealed to her that the last time I’d gotten a professional pedicure was when President Obama was still in the thick of his second term (Yeah . . . it had been a minute).

I originally scheduled the pedicure on the first Saturday in December, then cancelled the morning of when I realized that I’d neglected to plan my day around the fact that I would be unable to wear proper shoes for several hours after my visit (pairing my parka with flip flops in my planned subsequent jaunts about town wasn’t an especially appealing prospect). So I postponed the appointment until Christmas Eve – because even though it was a Sunday and Spa in the Woods is generally closed on Sundays, it was open on Christmas Eve for the employees who wanted to work. I figured that a relaxing a.m. pedicure would be perfect before the (potentially ungrounding) interactions with family members later that evening.

And it was! It was such a delight to sit there in the cozy, quiet salon (only one other appointment showed up while I was there) chit-chatting with Maria, the lovely purple-haired nail technician, while she whipped my feet and toenails into a civilized state.

I opted for the Signature Spa in the Woods Pedicure, which is the fancy spa-level pedicure (as opposed to the more standard Express Pedicure that is also offered): in addition to being the recipient of the requisite heel-scraping and nail clipping, I had an awesome-smelling coffee exfoliating scrub rubbed on my legs and feet, followed by a luxe lotion and hot towels. The nails on my toesies were painted immaculately in a berry hue, and I was relaxed and ready to go for the holiday shenanigans with the fam.

I can’t emphasize enough what a treat it was to get this pedicure. I have always loved salon pedicures and used to get them more frequently; this was a reminder to treat myself to them more. Granted, at $55 before tip, the Signature Spa in the Woods Pedicure may have to be more of an annual occurrence for me than a regular splurge within the parameters of my current budget. But if you feel moved to treat yourself to a spa experience, I would highly recommend trying out this place; my aforementioned friend has treated herself on her last couple of birthdays to its spa packages and has loved the included massage, facial, sauna steam shower, and nail treatment.

21023 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.spainthewoodsmi.com