290. 3 Winks – November 10, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

November20173Winks2 (2)November20173Winks (2)Hi, guys! Happy Monday! I hope you had an excellent weekend exploring. I was fortunate to be able to check out a couple of new places this weekend, including 3 Winks, a gift shop in downtown Ferndale.

I was admittedly motivated to visit this shop by my massage therapist giving me a $10 promotional gift card for it. Once I walked into 3 Winks, I was glad that she had. It contained such cute stuff!

This is the kind of small shop so packed with an assortment of interesting items that it can take you several rotations around it to examine it fully, its wares including such fun gift ideas as mugs and tea towels embossed with funny sayings, fancy scented soaps, quirky greeting cards – including greeting cards paired with bath salts – jewelry, lotions, Michigan-centric wine glasses, and scarves.

After much deliberation in my several rounds around the shop, I decided on a printed scarf that I hoped would push me out of my mostly-black wardrobe comfort zone (sure, black is chic, but let’s face it, day after day of it can get boring without a little accessorizing). The scarf cost more than the gift card value, which I was happy about, because with the 3 Wink’s owner being so nice and its offerings so eclectic and fun, I wanted to support the shop by sending some actual dollars toward it.

As is no surprise given the nature of this blog, supporting small businesses is important to me. I mean, who wants all of the shopping options to be corporate-drone options? Not moi – which is why I’m going to keep 3 Winks in mind when I’m in need of a thoughtful gift item or treat for myself.

203B E. Nine Mile Rd.
Ferndale, MI 48220

www.3winksgifts.com

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289. The Fed – November 3, 2017 – Clarkston, MI

November2017Fed1 (2)November2017Fed2 (2)November2017Fed4 (2)November2017Fed7 (2)Hiya, guys! TGIF! The weekend with its beautiful chasm of open time and space beckons with its invitation to explore, and you can bet I’ll be checking out at least one new place this weekend. As I mentioned in last week’s Taqueria El Rey post, I was hoping to return to Mexicantown last weekend to try a much-lauded tamale shop, but my plans changed, and I didn’t end up making it. Wah wah. So that place is still on my list, and/or I might check out a new-to-me Detroit coffee shop, as I always appreciate a good indie java joint (killer ambiance+cappuccino is my version of rainbows+butterflies – so magical!).

Do you have a new-to-you place you are looking to try this weekend? If you’re in need of inspiration and are local, may I humbly suggest The Fed in downtown Clarkston? I met a friend there for dinner last Friday night and LOVED it. Now THERE is some killer ambiance!

Seriously, this restaurant housed in a building that was once a bank (complete with private rooms inside of former bank vaults) is STUNNING. I was immediately obsessed with its décor. Starting from the outside of the building with its stone brickwork and Spanish-tile roof: ivy clings to walls, lightbulbs are festooned about the ample patio space, heat lamps are aflame so the outdoor tables can be enjoyed into the chilly temps. No one was eating outside on the night I was there (the current temps likely being too chilly even for heating lamps), but there was a couple sitting out there presumably waiting for others or for a table, and they seemed quite comfortable.

And the interior of The Fed: well, there are so many gorgeous details to absorb that it’s almost overwhelming. It’s like you’re eating dinner in a living space straight from a chic decorating magazine, one with an eclectic collection of lighting fixtures (globe, paper-lantern, reading-lamp, minimalist-bulb), seating options (structured couches with brightly patterned pillows and furry throw rugs, rattan chairs), and general decorative awesomeness (white marble tabletops, a plethora of eye-pleasing pottery, wall hangings, tiny pots in plants – you name it) with an emphasis on neutrals, particularly white. It’s a clean, modern, luxurious-looking space, and I fell for it hard. Can every space I interact with throughout my day look like The Fed (especially my corporate-job office) – please?

Ambiance is important to me, yes – I love a pretty space – but of course, my numero-uno is the food. I was intrigued by The Fed’s menu, which our waitress explained is influenced by the kitchen’s farm-to-table focus; it changes periodically in order to embrace seasonal menu items.

After exploring the menu options, including various appetizers, salads, flatbreads, fish dishes (including sushi plates), tacos, and meat-centric entrees such as filet, I decided on the Angry Pig flatbread with its braised pork, cilantro pesto, corn kernels, diced tomatoes, sliced shallots, red onion, jack cheese, and spicy mayo drizzle. My friend and I also decided to get the crispy cauliflower appetizer to share. Both were awesome! The cauliflower was breaded and deep-fried and tossed in a sweet-and-sour-type sauce; it was a glorious vegan version of sweet-and-sour chicken. The flatbread was loaded with rich Southwestern-esque flavor; the crust especially intrigued me because it tasted like it was sourdough to me, and how many places do a sourdough pizza crust?

I was happy to love the meal I had at The Fed after previously scanning its Yelp reviews and finding mixed opinions. Some raved about the food, while some found it to be overpriced and/or just not good. I can only vouch for my own experience, and I’m psyched that it was a positive one, of course, but you can continue the detective work and try out The Fed for yourself. Let me know what you think of it if you go (you can post in the comments field below)!

15 S. Main St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

288. Jefferson Street Pub – October 28, 2017 – Harrison Township, MI

Oct2017JeffersonStPub3 (3)Oct2017JeffersonStPub2 (2)Halloween, how I miss you already!

I love that spooky holiday – the dressing up, the decorations, the candy, the Halloween movie marathons (no matter how many times I watch those films, I find myself filled with a mix of terror and suspense and Really? You people haven’t learned yet that this guy never dies? Come on now!).

Despite having an extreme fondness for Halloween, I’ve admittedly been lazy about actively celebrating it the last couple of years. Case in point: I went out the Saturday prior to Halloween this year without dressing up; I couldn’t motivate myself to come up with a costume. True, I purposefully wore a dress that looked straight out of the ’70s and did my eye makeup all retro in case anyone asked me what I was, so I could riff and be like, “I’m a groovy girl from the era of lava lamps and Led Zeppelin!” But let’s face it: I was completely phoning it in, and no one thought I was dressed up like anything, so that didn’t count.

I was ruing my laziness when I got to Jefferson Street Pub in Harrison Township that night and saw it crawling with Halloween shenanigans. I resolved right then and there, OK, next year I am NOT phoning it in; next year I will welcome Halloween in costume! Because just look at all of these characters – they are a delight!

I was at Jefferson Street Pub to see my dad’s band, Rock Steady, play. My dad has been in bands pretty much my whole life; he sings and used to play guitar, and I don’t see his band play nearly enough. That would change, I’d decided, with this Halloween show. I would score good-daughter points, and the band would be dressed up like pirates – Ahoy to both!

I was so glad I went because I had a blast, not only because of the rockin’ music and bonding time with my dad but also because I dug Jefferson Street Pub pretty much immediately upon walking into it. The bar is relatively small and had a cozy, homey vibe on the night I was there, with twinkle lights festooned about and spooky decorations, of course. An area near the back of the bar acted as the band’s stage area, with room for dancing ghosts and ghouls to mingle.

The bar was full when my friend and I got there, but we were fortunate to find an abandoned table. We perched on our chairs, ordered our drinks, and watched the merry madness.

Shortly thereafter, the joint reached an elevated level of bustling when a busload of costumed revelers arrived. We learned that the Jefferson Street Pub was part of a Halloween pub-crawl circuit; a flier I saw in the bathroom gave the cost to participate as $10. Not a bad deal!

You should have seen the costumes on these people; these new arrivals were decked out. The one that enthralled me the most – in a creeped-out way – was the scary clown. You can see him in the photo above. Is he not one of the creepiest clowns EVER? He gives me the willies just looking at him still! I continuously amused myself that night by looking at him and laughing/shuddering at how creepy he was, to the point that he eventually noticed me, looked right at me, and faux-menacingly (I hope) pointed his butcher’s knife at me. Yikes!

Scary Clown was the runner-up in the crowd-voted costume contest that was held for that busload of bargoers; the winner was a goofy-looking, semi-pro-esque basketball player who brought his own ball to dribble in the bar (you can also see him in the photo above). His costume was fun and deserved the win, but it wasn’t as captivating, in my opinion, as that grotesque clown!

Being at Jefferson Street Pub reiterated for me that a) while going out at night and drinking has lost much of the luster I prescribed to it in my youth, it can still be a riot (when practiced responsibly, of course); b) dressing in costume when going out during Halloween weekend is CRITICAL! because if I don’t, I’ll regret it and c) I am never seeing the movie It. Also, d) seeing my dad’s band or other bands play is FUN! I love soaking up the good vibes that live music emanates. And lastly but not leastly, e) Jefferson Street Pub is a keeper! It’s down-to-earth, lively atmosphere and affordable prices hooked me. I’ll be looking for it to be involved in that Halloween pub crawl next year so I can board the school bus with the other partygoers!

36611 Jefferson Ave.

Harrison Twp., MI 48045

287. Burgrz – October 19, 2017 – Rochester Hills, MI

Oct2017Burgerz1 (2)Oct2017Burgerz4 (2)Oct2017Burgerz2 (4)I had totally dismissed Burgrz. I’d seen it around, in downtown Royal Oak and in Rochester Hills, and I was like, OK, this totally has to be a corporate nationwide chain. I mean, Burgrz with a “z”? I totally judged that “z,” man.

Then one of my coworkers recommended we go to lunch there because it was one of his fave area restaurants. Its burgers and waffle fries were awesome, in his opinion. And I was like, OK, I’m down. I went on the Burgrz website and learned that it is indeed a locally-owned establishment, with the now sole location in Rochester Hills (the Royal Oak one has closed); knowing that certainly piqued my interest. New-place time!

I stepped inside the fast-casual restaurant to discover a clean, modern vibe, with brick, wood, and chrome décor accents, red booths, and black-and-white cityscape photography displayed on the walls.

Scoping out the colorful chalkboard menus above the counter, I decided on the California burger with its bacon, tomato, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, avocado, and lettuce. I nixed the lettuce and subbed spicy mayo for the regular mayo, and my coworker and I ordered to share a large side of the Sweet & Salty Combo, a platter of both regular and sweet potato waffle fries.

Our food was delivered to our booth quickly. The California burger was WOW. It was juicy and flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth delicious on its own, and with that creamy avocado, spicy mayonnaise, meaty tomato, and rich cheddar cheese and bacon, it was next-level. Truly, truly, truly an awesome burger.

The Sweet & Salty waffle fries were great, too: perfectly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and accompanied by a spicy ketchup, which has to be up there in the list of best inventions ever. I mean, how did I ever eat fries without spicy ketchup? It added a nice zing to the fries, especially the sweet potato fries.

So yes, Burgrz may be a casual establishment that looks like a generic chain with that “z” in its name, but the verdict is in: it cooks up a DAMN GOOD burger – the kind of burger you think about for days afterword (that’s always the mark of a good meal to me: will I dream about it for days after eating it?). And it’s clean, and the staff is attentive, and the ambiance is nice, and those waffle fries with the spicy ketchup! It’s a local gem that should not be dismissed.

3204 Walton Blvd.

Rochester Hills, MI 48309

www.burgrz.com

286. Taqueria El Rey – October 14, 2017 – Detroit, MI

TaqueriaElReyOct2017-2 (3)TaqueriaElReyOct2017-3 (2)TaqueriaElReyOct2017-4 (3)TaqueriaElReyOct2017-1 (2)Hi, all! I am super excited to share today’s place with you because it is an absolute gem and I’m OBSESSED with it after eating there a few weeks ago: Taqueria El Rey in Detroit. From this Mexican restaurant, I ordered literally THE BEST tacos of my life – and very possibly the greatest meal of my life to date. They were THAT good.

I’ve visited and reported on some incredible Mexican restaurants for 100 Places in the D; El Patrón in Pontiac, Las Tortugas Taqueria in Shelby Township, and Taqueria Alma in Center Line immediately spring to mind as establishments whose wares still haunt my gastronomical dreams (in the best way possible). I have to say, though, that the carnitas tacos I had from Taqueria El Rey edged even the offerings from those fantastic establishments in the “Mind is BLOWN!” (or rather, “Taste buds are BLOWN”!) realm for me. They were ridiculously, life-affirmingly, all-is-right-with-the-world-level delicious.

Let me set the scene here before I elaborate on how insane these godly carnitas tacos were. Taqueria El Rey is on Vernor Highway in the Mexicantown neighborhood of Detroit. It’s a cash-only establishment (one that, take my word for it, is def worth withdrawing cash for) with a small dining area, a front counter with stools, and a grill near the front door where the magic is happening in real time.

The vibe inside was welcoming; I immediately felt a sense of easefulness. I felt like I had stepped into another realm far from home, one where cell phones didn’t exist and people ignored their to-do lists to relaxedly eat their lunches at counters while forming bonds with the benevolent strangers next to them.

I don’t know what exactly moved me to feel this way. Maybe it was the carefree ambiance afforded by the Latin music playing. Maybe it was that there were indeed people sitting at the front counter eating their lunches in a relaxed manner. Maybe it was the friendly young woman who took my order and told me her name was also Jackie and preceded to ask how I spelled the full version of my name (a common question when fellow Jackies meet; I am the “Jacqueline” brand of Jackie; she was Jacquelyn, if I’m remembering correctly). Whatever it was, the place emitted enough good feels in the short amount of time I waited for my carry-out order that I was like, hmm, maybe I should’ve just ordered the food for here. I’m digging this place. But when my order came, I decided, nah, I’ll wait until I get home. The practical side of me overrode the spontaneous side.

But when I got to my car and opened the carry-out box to peek in at my order of two carnitas tacos, all steaming pork and corn tortillas loaded with diced onions and cilantro and accompanied by lime wedges, radish chunks, salsa, and an intriguing green sauce, the spontaneous side roared back all like Are we insane??? We need to eat these ASAP, while they are fresh. So I did, right there in my car in the gravel parking lot abutting Taqueria El Rey. And my world was turned upside down, because they were the BEST.TACOS.EVER.

These tacos were so fresh and flavorful on their own, and then with the additions of the lime juice and the radishes and the hot salsa and the green sauce, which turned out to be an insanely good creamy jalapeño sauce, the ante was upped times a million. And all this for only $3.18 – $3.18!

I am in love with these tacos, hardcore. Like, introduce-them-to-the-family hardcore-in-love. In fact, as I exited Taqueria El Rey’s parking lot after gorging on both of them, I was like, when can I take my dad and brother here? They would love this place!

I can’t wait to make my next trip to Taqueria El Rey to eat these magical carnitas tacos drizzled in lime juice and salsa and dunked in that spicy jalapeño sauce again. I am actually hoping to make another trip down to Mexicantown this Saturday. Although here is the dilemma: my addiction to trying new places is calling me to check out another Mexicantown establishment; I’m pondering one that specializes in tamales. But hey, those two Taqueria El Rey tacos were only $3.18; certainly I could afford to visit both when those tacos cost less than the price of a latte, right?

4730 W. Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.taqueria-elrey.com

285. Breakfast Club – October 8, 2017 – Farmington Hills, MI

BreakfastClubOct2017-4 (2)BreakfastClubOct2017-3 (2)BreakfastClubOct2017-2 (3)Farmington Hills is represented on the blog! Yes, Farmington Hills is a new-to-the-blog city on 100 Places in the D!

My knowledge of Farmington Hills is limited to the time I spent there working my first job out of college, a six-month paid internship at a publishing company. I don’t have much memory of the city and its ethos from that time; I didn’t venture out for lunch much or for after-work happy hours ever. So I was excited to have an excuse to become reacquainted with it a few weeks ago when it turned out to be a logical halfway meeting point for me and friends from Mt. Pleasant who’d been in Ann Arbor for a wedding. We decided on the aptly named restaurant, Breakfast Club, for our Sunday a.m. meet-up.

Once I exited the expressway and rolled into Farmington Hills, I remembered, right, it’s not too different from where I live: the respectable-suburbia category of turf. Breakfast Club is located in a strip mall on 10 Mile Road. It’s open for lunch and breakfast daily; its extensive menu includes dishes from both mealtimes.

The most intriguing choice on Breakfast Club’s menu for me has to be the Oven Baked French Toast, which you’ll see a picture of if you pull up the menu on the restaurant’s website. It’s a brick of a thing that more resembles a gargantuan serving of bread pudding than French toast; it’s topped with luscious-looking berries, coffee cake crumbles, and raspberry sauce. WOW.

I’ve become leery of ordering sweet, carb-centric items such as French toast, pancakes, and waffles at restaurants for fear of the energy crash that inevitably occurs a few hours later, but I would love to go back to Breakfast Club and split a salad and then the Oven Baked French Toast for dessert; I think that would be a happy compromise.

What did I end up ordering at Breakfast Club if not the Oven Baked French Toast? Well, because I’m more of a lunch person than a breakfast person, I zeroed in on the sandwiches on the menu and decided on the Pot Roast hoagie with its thinly sliced beef, sauteed onions, gooey provolone, and just the right amount of horseradish sauce, accompanied by a side of mixed fruit. The sandwich was big enough that I was able to save half of it to take away, which I was happy about, because it was super delicious and reheated well in the oven so I could recreate the whole comfort-food-indulgence experience in the comfort of my own home.

Speaking of home-sweet-home, the ambiance of Breakfast Club was sophisticated-cozy; the warm-hued walls, floral accents, paintings and wall hangings, and floral tablecloths evoked the feeling of dining in a loved one’s home.  A chalkboard with the specials of the day also hung on one wall, which my friends ordered from: one had the Benedict Con Queso, and the other had the Cactus Chili Bowl. Both dishes looked amazing, constituted big ol’ portions, and were reportedly quite tasty, too; they had me wishing I could rethink my attitude around eggs (which alas, I’m not a fan of, limiting me from trying many breakfast dishes on restaurant menus).

In addition to ample amounts of egg-centric dishes – including omelets and benedicts plus egg-studded combos and breakfast bowls – Breakfast Club’s breakfast portion of the menu includes various pancake, waffle, and French toast choices, while the lunch portion has the sandwich section I mentioned earlier, plus entree salads, soups, and soup-salad-sandwich combo options.

For me, the most charming aspect of this bustling brunch spot actually involved the part of the meal that is generally the most uncharming: the check presentation. Because on the day we were there, we were each given a chocolate-covered strawberry to go along with our bill. What a delightful way to soften the financial blow to patrons’ pocketbooks! I have no idea whether Breakfast Club does this all day every day or if it’s a gesture limited to Sundays or just-because times, but I thought it was an ingenious above-and-beyond customer-service move, the perfect gesture to distinguish itself from the other area breakfast/lunch joints.

38467 W. 10 Mile Rd.

Farmington Hills, MI 48335

www.breakfastclubfarmingtonhills.com

284. Bommarito Bakery – October 7, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

BommaritosOct2017-2 (2)BommaritosOct2017-1 (2)I’d never visited Bommarito Bakery in Saint Clair Shores until a few weeks ago; however, I did have a memorable run-in with one of its cassata cakes a few years ago.

A friend of mine had a party at which she presented the cake; I tried some, and my mind was BLOWN. It was the best cassata cake I’d ever had – which is saying a lot, because cassata cake is one of those things I’m particular about – i.e., something I’d previously specifically entrusted Vito’s Bakery in Clinton Township to make for me, because Vito’s cassata cake was THE cassata cake. It was its cannoli filling, with those chunks of chocolate and the perfect amount of cinnamon, that sealed the deal . . . my family and I have long seen Vito’s as the winner in the cannoli-filling department. But here was Bommarito Bakery totally dethroning Vito’s in my mind. What was happening????

After Bommarito and its bomb cassata cake shook up my world and earned my respect, I knew I had to visit the bakery so I could cover it for the blog. Earlier this month, I finally did and learned that Bommarito is much more than a bakery; it’s also a pizzeria, grocery, and wine store.

The evening I was there was a busy one, as it was the night of the annual Michigan vs. Michigan State football game; people were loading up on grub for their viewing parties. I myself was there to pick up a pizza I’d ordered. While waiting in line to pay, I was able to scope out the shop in greater detail.

Not only is this place a purveyor of freshly baked breads, cookies, cream puffs, cannolis, donuts, cakes, pies, and the like, it also offers sub sandwiches and gelato – in addition to the aforementioned pizza. Then there’s the extensive wine selection and the rows of dry and refrigerated groceries. Bommarito Bakery really has all of its bases covered! Not only can you stop there and pick up some tasty baked goods for your next office potluck, while you’re at it, you can grab some subs for dinner, some wine to accompany it, that milk you ran out of, the bread for the kid’s sandwiches, that mind-blowing cassata cake. . . it’s truly a one-stop-shop kind of bakery!

21830 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.bommaritobakery.com

283. Treat Dreams – October 6, 2017 – Detroit, MI

TreatOct2017-1 (2)TreatOct2017-2 (2)During a recent afternoon trip to Detroit to celebrate my birthday with my mom (the mother/daughter b-day thing is kind of an annual tradition), I FINALLY visited Treat Dreams. The local ice cream slingers with shops in the Midtown/Cass Corridor area of Detroit and Ferndale are much renowned for their scrumptious, ever-changing, oft-unique ice cream flavors, so I was excited to try some of their wares.

After studying the chalkboard touting the day’s selections, including such intriguing varieties as lemon basil, pumpkin truffle, and amaretto, we decided to share the Dark Sea Olive Oil, a chocolate concoction (there was really no way it was not gonna be something chocolate for us two; we are both in agreement with chocolate being LIFE). At the last minute, I decided it had to be in a waffle bowl, because what is a better container for ice cream than a fresh-baked waffle bowl? It’s practically a bona-fide fact that it’s numero uno in the ice-cream container department – at least in my mind it is.

The Dark Sea Olive Oil ended up being an amazing choice. It was rich and creamy – likely due in large part to the olive oil – with an irresistible chocolateyness and a perfect hint of sea salt. Perfection!

Another thing I love about Treat Dreams besides its ice cream being hands-down delicious is that it also offers coffee drinks – including COFFEE DRINKS THAT CONTAIN ICE CREAM. Best.idea.EVER. There is an espresso-laced shake, as well as the Affogato al Caffé, which is a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of ice cream. The ladies working the counter told us it’s a real popular one with med students who are studying for finals (no surprise there!). I’m sure we can all think of our own excuses to need one of those in our lives, stat!

4160 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.treatdreams.com

282. Cake Ambition – October 6, 2017 – Detroit, MI

CakeAmbitionOct2017-2 (2)CakeAmbitionOct2017-1 (2)After enjoying lunch at Selden Standard and making a couple of purchases at the lovely independent bookshop Source Booksellers (which I visited for the first time on my birthday last year), my recent birthday celebration downtown with my mom continued in search of sweets. Spurred on by a recommendation of one of the Source clerks who raved about its cheesecake, we went in search of what she called the “cheesecake lady” shop next to Blossoms florist.

After locating the florist, we realized the actual name of the cheesecake shop was Cake Ambition and that it sold much more than cheesecake. The vibrantly colored space (no way you can walk into this place and not smile!) also sold a selection of cupcakes and other baked goods such as coffee cake and spinach pies; old-fashioned candies such as salt-water taffy and striped candy sticks; and packaged goodies produced by other local vendors such as the fabulous Gus & Grey, which you may remember me mentioning in previous blog posts such as this one. Its jams are FANTASTIC, with unique flavor offerings such as the blueberry-lavender Spellbound, which Cake Ambition had in stock and which I decided to purchase.

I wanted to purchase the jam not only because I love Gus & Grey but also because I wanted to support the super-cheery shop and its friendly owner. My mom and I had decided not to purchase any cheesecake from Cake Ambition because there was only one slice currently being offered, and we decided amongst ourselves that we would move on to the other dessert place we’d had in mind instead, which I’ll cover in my next post (hint: it involves ice cream!).

Even though I didn’t sample any of Cake Ambition’s baked goods, I’m happy it was brought to my attention, because now I know not only where to go if I need a shot of childhood-level cheer and nostalgia (I just love the vibe of that colorful shop!), but also where I can order a baller custom cake. The gallery on Cake Ambition’s site shows cakes sculpted into realistic-looking models of athletic shoes, a pirate ship, and the Mad Hatter hat of Alice in Wonderland-fame, to name a few of the works of art displayed there. I am fascinated by the level of artistry obviously required to craft such desserts; these guys are definitely talented!

4154 3rd St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.cakeambition.com

281. Selden Standard – October 6, 2017 – Detroit, MI

SeldenOct2017-3 (2)SeldenOct2017-4 (2)SeldenOct2017-1 (2)October 6 was a very special day for me, because it was my birthday! And I LOVE my birthday. I find birthdays to be the ultimate excuse for myself to turn off that go-go-go, disciplined part of me that generally won’t quit and just chilling, doing what I want, and celebrating the fact that I got to spend another year on the planet.

I DO NOT work on my birthday. I haven’t since 2010. Generally my mom will take the day off with me, and we’ll spend the day together. That’s what we did this year – and the best part is, we made it a Detroit Day!!!!

Yes, we did one of my favorite things on the planet: spend the afternoon downtown, starting with a birthday lunch at a restaurant I’d been curious about for years, Selden Standard.

In case you haven’t heard of this much-lauded restaurant, Selden Standard is in the Cass Corridor neighborhood. It’s a modern-looking establishment with a bright and clean ambiance: lots of gray and white, bricks and concrete, wood-planked ceilings and wooden countertops.

It was busy on the Friday we were there; we were offered seats at the bar and the chef’s counter near the wood-fired oven and bustling kitchen crew. We chose seats at the latter and had an open view of the kitchen beyond it, which looked very clean and professional. I always appreciate a restaurant that’s not afraid to give a window into its kitchen to guests!

Selden Standard is big on shareable plates, we learned from our server. My mom and I had different things that we wanted to try, so we each got two of our own dishes. I had the Heirloom Tomato Salad and the Chicken Sugo pasta, which were both phenomenal. The flavorful heirloom tomatoes in that first dish were paired with an irresistibly creamy ricotta, crispy fried bread, and my favorite touch, mint – which I wouldn’t have expected to go so perfectly with the tomatoes and cheese, but it so did. The Chicken Sugo with campanelle noodles, tomato, ricotta, and fennel was wonderfully rich in flavor, with this lovely smokiness to it. My mom enjoyed her potato soup (which was the soup of the day) and the Grilled Shrimp with eggplant, peppers, and pickles.

It was a special birthday meal, one that I felt privileged to be out enjoying in a city I love on a weekday when I normally otherwise would have been working. Sometimes, I remind myself during times like these, you really do need to say “F’ it!” to all of the obligations and to-dos and take time out specifically to have fun so you can remember how fun life can really be – and if you can’t do that on your b-day, when can you?

Worth mentioning: Selden Standard has pretty specific hours; it’s closed for a few hours between lunch and dinner (or brunch and dinner on the weekends). Lunch currently runs from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; brunch is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; dinner is from 5 to 10 p.m. every day. The bar area has slightly extended evening hours; it’s open from 4:30 to 11 p.m. every day.

3921 Second Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.seldenstandard.com