Wayne County

231. Central Kitchen and Bar – February 13, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170213_122414-2I deeply respect any establishment that makes me crave a turkey burger, so I know that Central Kitchen and Bar and I are pals after my recent visit.

I’m generally not a huge fan of ground bird. I find it to be a pales-in-comparison substitute for its beef counterpart with all of its savory, fatty, red-meat goodness. But the turkey burger on Central Kitchen and Bar’s lunch menu invoked me. Blackened and festooned with avocado and sweet peppers and muenster cheese on a brioche bun, it tasted as irresistible as its menu description made it out to be. A side of fries with garlic aioli further cemented the friendship between me and this tiny-yet-chic restaurant located off the lobby of the First National Building, the grand skyscraper that looms above Campus Martius in the heart of downtown.

This turkey burger wasn’t the only intriguing item on the menu. From the Roasted Baby Carrots salad with arugula, pepitas, feta labneh, and a fig sherry dressing to the Vegetarian Tacos with blackened roasted cauliflower, avocado, and crema, the other entrees items sounded equally as compelling.

660 Woodward Ave., #4A

Detroit, MI 48226

www.centraldetroit.com

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225. Katoi – January 18, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170118_17380620170118_17390120170118_173909The first half of January, I didn’t do any exploring – I was too busy recovering from the busy holiday season and acclimating to 2017, I guess! I’d been dying to get down to Detroit for weeks and weeks, and I was there to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Fisher Theatre the week after New Year’s – but alas, no exploring of new places occurred then (the neighborhood around Fisher Theatre is sorely lacking in restaurants and bars –  local restaurateurs, scope it out!). So I was psyched to have an excuse to go downtown again on the 18th – not only because I was going to the Red Wings/Bruins game thanks to a generous friend who gifted me a ticket for Christmas, but also because I knew we’d be trying at least one new place (yay to friends who are open to exploring!).

I was especially enthused when my friend said she was down for dining at Katoi. The Thai restaurant, which opened last year, had been on my radar thanks to a coworker who is supplying the restaurant with her free-range, organic pork. She’d praised the creativity and skill of the head chef and commented on the unique space that housed the restaurant.

Apparently, I wasn’t paying enough attention when she spoke about the building, because I didn’t realize that Katoi is housed in what appears to be a former auto shop. It’s also on a stretch of Michigan Avenue in Corktown that’s less lively than the strip that houses Sugar House and Slow’s and Astro Coffee and Gold Cash Gold about a third of a mile down. Perhaps the desolation I felt was summoned by the GPS navigating us off of Michigan Ave. to the trash-strewn alley behind the restaurant, telling us that we had arrived . . . yeah, NO, GPS.

At any rate, the outside of Katoi is nondescript and deceptive, belying the awesomeness that is inside. Stepping across the threshold of this former industrial building, I stepped into – what else? – a trendy, intimate dining space, all exposed brick, frosted glass, and colorful lighting. Like so many other buildings in Detroit, this one has been reborn into something completely different from what it once was. I never tire of discovering the various incarnations of this city. The repurposing, the creativity – it’s so exciting!

The menu presented so many intriguing options that it was hard to select only a few. Most dishes were more like small plates than full-blown entrees, so my friend and I ended up sharing four: the Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts with a cashew cream sauce, the nuanced Thrice Cooked Sweet Potatoes, the spicy Drunken Pastrami Noodles, and the meaty Crispy Spareribs coated with a caramel fish sauce crust. All were delicious, but the vegetable dishes were our hands-down faves; they were so flavorful! My friend and I were like, “We need someone to cook us vegetables this delicious every day!”

We also had some KILLER cocktails whose names I neglected to take note of. Mine was pink, grapefruit-infused, flavorful, and strong.

When we left Katoi around 6:45 to head to the Joe, the tiny waiting area was packed, and the lot, alleyway, and street outside the restaurant were littered with cars parked every-which-way. Not a bad draw for a Wednesday night in the middle of winter!

2520 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.katoidetroit.com

 

224. Espresso Elevado – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

espressoelevado1espressoelevado2Coffee shops are some of my favorite places to hang out – especially independent ones. The well-known corporate chain shops just don’t exude the same character that the small, locally-owned ones do (while I do admittedly have a fondness for Tim Hortons –  their peppermint tea is stellar! – the ambiance is, well . . . that of an interior of a Tim Hortons). My friend who recently met me in downtown Plymouth loves coffee shops, as well, so we thought enjoying a hot beverage at Espresso Elevado before hitting the road would be a fitting way to cap off our visit.

The interior of this coffee shop is tiny; there are only a few tables to sit at, plus a pair of plush armchairs. But it’s cute and cozy and makes a mean cappuccino.

Espresso Elevado offers a variety of specialty coffee drinks and yummy-looking baked goods (including gluten-free ones). In studying its website, the emphasis on coffee brewing as a craft is apparent, as is the value given to fostering a workplace where all are recognized for their respective roles and talents (there are profiles on everyone from the founder to the creative director to the baristas). I like that about it. The place may be small, but it’s got big heart!

606 S. Main St.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.espressoelevado.com

223. Bohemian Home – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

bohemianhome1bohemianhome2bohemianhome3Bohemian Home is yet another cute shop that I visited while in downtown Plymouth last December. Its wares included: a number of Michigan-themed items, artisan candles, and the fun coin purses shown above.

Seriously, Plymouth, you are on point! If you haven’t visited its downtown, you need to. Its plethora of arty shops and restaurants and Gilmore Girls-eque town square will charm you.

427 Forest Ave.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.bohoplymouth.com

222. Sideways – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

sideways1sideways2sideways3sideways4-2Sideways is one of the shops that sticks out for me on my recent visit to downtown Plymouth, because it touts such unique items. I would characterize it as half home goods, half quirky-awesome gift items. There are elegant flatware, glassware, and fancy packaged foods inside the expansive storefront, but there are also coffee mugs and canvas bags with silly sayings on them (see above). There is Poo~Pourri! and goofy notepads. There are fancy coffees and teas and candles and loads of other stuff you’ll get lost in looking at.

505 Forest Ave.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.sidewaysgifts.com

221. Birch Wood – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

birchwood1Guys, I’m so behind on this blog! I’ve been posting more regularly on my food blog, A Cookable Feast, which is happy, but it’s taken away from my blogging time here. So it’s time to go hard, for real-for real! I want to catch up and tell you about some of the things I’ve been doing in January – and Year 3 of the blog closes on February 7, a mere two weeks from today! So expect me to be on here more in the next few weeks. I haven’t been exploring nearly enough places this month, and I am happy to have the motivation to get out there more – especially since we’ve been so fortunate to have warmer weather (for January) here in the D.

Birch Wood is another one of the cute shops I visited in downtown Plymouth at the end of December. It offers stylish women’s clothing – and it also touts itself as a home décor and furniture shop on its website. I don’t recall seeing home décor and furniture in the shop on my visit there – but honestly, it’s been a while, and it was probably so artfully woven in among the clothing displays that I didn’t notice it. I do remember a variety of essential oils and a diffuser being on display – that could count as home goods, right?

525 Forest Ave.

Plymouth, MI 48170

 

 

219. Earth Lore – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth MI

earthlore3-2earthlore1earthlore2-2Another store I visited during my recent visit to downtown Plymouth was Earth Lore, a spiritual/new-age store similar to recently highlighted Crystal Treasures in Pontiac, but bigger.

I couldn’t pass up the temptation to add more tumbled stones to my collection. Regardless of whether those crystals really have magic in them, they are beautiful! They bring out a child-like admiration in me that I’m all about honoring. (I find that unless I’m intentional about cultivating wonder, the daily grind of adulting won’t ignite sparks of it in me nearly enough – hence, this blog and the deliberate explorations!)

Besides selling pretty polished stones, Earth Lore offers all of the things you would expect a new-age bookstore to sell: metaphysical books, candles, essential oils, herbs, incense. Go in there for the smell of the incense alone. You know when you go into a store selling incense and the aroma of patchouli clings to you for a few minutes after leaving? I love that!

895 Wing St.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.earthlore.com

218. Opendohr – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

20161227_14130920161227_141225Hi guys! Happy Tuesday! I’ve been lax about recounting my visit to downtown Plymouth the last week of December, so it’s time to catch up. Here’s another shop I visited: Opendohr. The store offers – as its front door proclaims – a mix of vintage, antique, and new finds. The eclectic items displayed there appear to be carefully chosen and are incredibly fun to take in – check out the gorgeous tower bejeweled with a variety of colorful plastic items shown in the photo above.

470 Forest Ave.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.opndohr.com

217. Bella Mia – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

20161227_14094020161227_140852Last week, during the holiday break, I met a friend for lunch and shopping in downtown Plymouth. We had an excellent afternoon. I was reminded of how much I love that city and how worth it the approximately 45-mile jaunt from my neck of the woods is to get out there!

After lunch at the repeat-visit-worthy Compari’s on the Park and a visit to the aptly named TranquiliTea for batches of organic peppermint tea and a papaya-laced black and green tea blend, my friend and I hit a variety of very cute shops. Admittedly, I think I probably visited some of these during my last visit to Plymouth in January 2015, but I wasn’t disciplined enough to snap photos of most of the shops I went in then. So they are getting covered now. I figure hey, if the initial visit was during the lifetime of this blog, then it’s fair game to post on here. These shops have obviously been curated with care; they deserve to be highlighted!

Take Bella Mia, for instance. It’s a purveyor of stylish women’s clothing and accessories. I loved the boho styles it touted and these really cute knit hats with poms-poms they had. I need to come back once I recover from the holiday expenditures and can more seriously shop!

448 Forest Ave.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.bellamiaonline.com