Brunch Spots

379. Brass Rail Pizza Bar – December 9, 2018 – Detroit, MI

December2018BrassRailPizzaBar1 (2)December2018BrassRailPizzaBar2 (3)December2018BrassRailPizzaBar3 (2)Pizza for brunch? YES, please!

On a exuberantly blue-skied Sunday morning in early December, I met friends over drinks and that cheese-bedecked Italian pie at Brass Rail Pizza Bar in downtown Detroit.

The restaurant has a welcoming, decidedly sports-bar-esque vibe with its expansive interior and industrial-chic decor. On that weekend morning, it also had a Bloody Mary bar.

I’m not one for the Bloody Marys (I love tomatoes, but I just can’t get into drinking tomato juice – even when it’s laced with booze), but my friends were down and proceeded to construct some EPIC Bloody Marys, complete with onion rings and skewers laden heavy with various cured meats and cheeses. They nabbed me an onion ring battered with crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which was awesomeness!

I ordered a Spanish coffee and the small size of the Chip off the Ole Block pizza. It was delicious with its bacon, arugula, onion, and lemon zest nestled on a bed of red sauce and melted cheese and drizzled with balsamic glaze. It was also significantly larger than I’d expected, an excellent value for $11. I took over half of it home.

What an ideal spot for brunch (or lunch, or dinner) this Brass Rail Pizza Bar is! Not only is the pizza delicious and the drink selection on point (there’s a full bar, including a plethora of Michigan craft beers on draft, in addition to the weekend Bloody Mary set-up), there’s also food offerings in addition to the namesake pie: a variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and comfort-centric entrées such as Fish and Chips, Fettuccine Alfredo, and Chicken Parmesan.

Additionally, vegan cheese and gluten-free crust are options available when ordering pizza, as is a gluten-free bun for burgers and sandwiches. Yay to inclusive ingredient options!

Brass Rail Pizza Bar, you had me at Flamin’ Hot Cheetos-battered onion ring. I would love if you hosted me for brunch again soon!

18 W. Adams Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.brassraildetroit.com

378. Honest John’s – November 24, 2018 – Detroit, MI

November2018HonestJohns1 (2)November2018HonestJohns2 (3)Happy New Year’s Eve! While as of the date of this post it’s the very last day of 2018, here at 100 Places in the D, we’ll be exploring the year almost-past for at least a few more weeks (because somebody get a wee bit behind in her blogging).

Today it’s all about Honest John’s of Detroit! I visited the Midtown/Cass Corridor-based establishment after a tour of the Motown Museum back in November. Hungry and not wanting adventure-time in Detroit to end, I decided to hit Honest John’s for lunch.

The restaurant had been on my radar for a while. I’d envisioned it as a diner, as I knew it opened early (at 7 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. on Sundays) and served hearty breakfasts and other comfort-food fare. When I walked into its crowded interior that Saturday afternoon, I realized I’d been mistaken.

Honest John’s is most definitely a bar – a gloriously down-to-earth pub whose ceiling was festooned with colored twinkle lights (presumably in honor of the holiday season) and walls adorned with neon-light signage. While it opens early, it’s also open nightly until 2 a.m.

The neon-light signs spell out sayings like “Sobriety Sucks” and “Men Lie” – adages that doubtless tie in with the honesty theme of the bar’s name.

I found myself getting cold feet about eating lunch alone in that crowded bar – until I spied an open two-top table in the corner of the restaurant and reminded myself that I am indeed badass enough to dine solo. (We all are – how did fear of eating alone become a thing in our society, anyway? I mean, it is truly the least of our worries.)

My server was great: friendly, prompt, and polite. I perused the brunch menu and gave him my order of the Eastsider sandwich (essentially a Reuben, which is also on the menu; it subs out the sauerkraut for coleslaw), side of curly fries, and a hard cider from Starcut Ciders (which I’d not heard of previously but which I learned is a hard-cider brand owned by Michigan-based Short’s Brewing Company).

The sandwich and fries came out quickly, and they were BOMB! That Eastsider sandwich was so delectable with its layers of tender corned beef, melted Swiss, crunchy coleslaw, and creamy Thousand Island dressing nestled between buttery toasted rye bread . . . Mmmmmm. Writing about it is totally bringing me back to that glorious moment of consumption!

The portion sizes of both the Eastsider sandwich and the curly fries were ample, and I was easily able to save half of the sandwich and fries to take home with me.

I left Honest John’s with a happy heart and stomach, thrilled to have discovered yet another awesome restaurant/bar in the city and eagerly anticipating my return. I would say I’m excited to further explore Honest John’s food menu; it offers a wide array of breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers, and enticingly calorie-laden appetizers (hello, chili cheese fries!). But the truth is, I can’t wait to have another brush with that Eastsider Reuben – it’s perfection!

488 Selden St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.honestjohnsdetroit.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

229. The Morrie – February 5, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170205_122447-2Today is a special day for 100 Places in the D, because it’s the first day of Blog Year 4!!!

I honestly can’t believe I’ve been posting on this blog for THREE years. I started 100 Places in the D in February 2014 with the daunting goal of visiting 100 new-to-me and locally-owned restaurants, bars, shops, parks, etc. within the Tri-County Metro-Detroit area over the span of a year, and somehow, I achieved and exceeded that goal with 102 visits.

My goal going forward was not to aim for 100 new visits each additional year, but to maintain the blog simply because I enjoy the hell out of it – it’s an excuse to make sure I continue to explore the area, get out of my comfort zone, and discover new-to-me local establishments. Thank you for following my journey, and if you’re intrigued by the prospect of starting your own version of the 100 Places Challenge whether you live in the D or elsewhere, I encourage you: please do it! Making exploring a priority has so brightened my life and expanded my horizons, and I hope it does the same for you if you’re inspired to follow in suit.

The Morrie restaurant in downtown Royal Oak has the distinction of being the last place I visited within Year Three of the blog. I didn’t achieve all of my goals set for Year Three (as always, I wish I had went further afield from my East Side environs more frequently than I did – there’s always Year Four for that), but I’m pretty pleased with what I did accomplish and mostly, with the fact that I’ve kept this all going. I’ll share a Year Three review soon.

Mostly, I have this rich and lively area to thank for the longevity of 100 Places in the D. D and Metro-D, I heart you! You never cease in unveiling intriguing new places for me to visit. 🙂

Take downtown Royal Oak, for one. It’s a fount of new establishments lately. What the heck is going on down there with the crazy turnover these last few years? Every time I go down to Main Street, I discover that a few more places have closed and new ones are slated to take their places. I hope for the sake of the businesses involved that it stabilizes down there. But one upside is that there are always new places for me to try despite the fact that I’ve been regularly visiting downtown Royal Oak since my teenage years.

The Morrie is one such recently opened establishment. It’s down near Bigalora, and according to a Detroit Free Press article I found online, it was formerly the Franklin Wine Store, which I kind of remember but never visited. I discovered The Morrie on Yelp when searching for a new brunch spot.

The rock-n-roll-themed restaurant/bar is a sleekly modern, beautiful space. There’s a wall plastered in classic vinyl and record sleeves. The Morrie’s big pull is that it hosts live music a few times a week: on Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes Thursdays, according to its website. A small stage juts out from the far end of the restaurant, intimately close to guest seating – an awesome vantage point from which to experience live music.

Live music wasn’t in the cards on my visit, because I was there for Sunday brunch. So were a lot of other people – specifically dudes, which my friend noticed, commenting, “Have you ever seen this many men at brunch?” There were two large tables of young guys near us. Apparently The Morrie is bro-brunch approved! We joked about getting her husband on board.

The restaurant’s brunch menu has such an eclectic mix of items that it’s easy to see how it would appeal to everybody in some way. There are classic breakfast items (French toast, pancakes, chicken-and-waffles) and iconic brunch items with a unique spin (three different varieties of Eggs Benedict, including one with pork belly and a five-space hollandaise and another incorporating potato skins). There’s a Croissant ‘Wich and bagels-and-lox, and there are items encased in bowls: the Smoked Salmon Bowl, Southwest Bowl, the Veggie Bowl. There’s a jazzed-up order of avocado toast sprinkled with pepitas, sunflower seeds, and chipotle-and-lime-infused salt, and there’s a sandwich called Chick Norris.

As someone who goes to brunch quite regularly but is not really a brunch person (conventional breakfast foods don’t especially thrill me), I so appreciate the vibrance, creativity, and extensive nature of this menu. I ended up getting the Asian Ramen salad, a filling bowl of shredded cabbage and carrots, thinly sliced red bell peppers, radishes, bean sprouts, orange segments, and crispy breaded chicken in a peanut curry dressing. I also ordered a side of beautifully fresh fruit and a whipped cream-topped Spanish coffee, the latter because the waitress suggested it and because Spanish coffees are one of those drinks that I love and always forget about.

Royal Oak has loved and forgotten many a restaurant, but I can’t see The Morrie succumbing to turnover anytime soon. It’s obvious a lot of care has been put into curating the interior design, the menu, and the bands (you can see a list of the scheduled live acts on The Morrie’s website under the “Music” section).

511 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.themorrie.com

205. Café Muse – October 30, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

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Hello, everybody! Happy Friday! This post is going to be short and sweet today, so we can all get out there and start exploring. 🙂

Last Sunday I was back in Royal Oak for the fourth time in two and a half weeks, for brunch with the gals at Café Muse on Washington Street. I’ve been hearing good things about this joint for years, and its Short Rib and Grilled Three Cheese Sandwich did not disappoint. The pretty, peaceful ambience of this small restaurant makes it the perfect place for a lowkey breakfast date (available daily starting at 7:30 a.m.). It also offers lunch seven days a week, starting at 11 a.m. (I ordered off of the lunch menu), as well as dinner Tuesday through Saturday nights.

418 S. Washington Ave.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.cafemuseroyaloak.com

186. Rochester Brunch House – August 26, 2016 – Rochester, MI

20160826_12130720160826_12122220160826_12372220160826_123737Hello, all! Happy Tuesday!

It’s not too soon to dream of the holiday weekend, is it? If you live in the U.S. and are anything like me, you’re counting down the work days until the sweet, sweet patio-ing, barbecue-ing, bathing-suiting shenanigans. I am not going out of town for the Labor Day holiday, but I don’t mind. I just need a glass of wine, good company, and some golden rays! From what I can see of the weekend forecast so far here in Metro-Detroit, the weather looks like it’s going to comply with that last wish.

Speaking of sunshine, do you know which area establishment has some pretty excellent outdoor seating? The Rochester Brunch House! Last Friday, some coworkers and I lunched there. Located on Walnut Street (one street over from Main Street) in downtown Rochester, the lunch/brunch joint is nestled inside a large, Victorian-esque building that appears to have originally been someone’s home – typical of many of that area’s businesses.

Because the outside of RBH looks so quaintly old-fashioned, I expected its interior to be more granny’s parlor than contemporary. But it is surprisingly, gorgeously modern, all white walls, crystal chandeliers, and vibrant greenery both faux (wooden crates bestooned with fake lichen as artwork) and real (fresh, single-rose centerpieces on each table).

As I believe I’ve explained on this blog before, while I go to brunch with friends quite regularly, I’m admittedly not a big breakfast-foods person – mostly because I find eggs icky. And they are featured prominently in like 90% of restaurant breakfast menu items! Because the Rochester Brunch House has an extensive lunch menu – featuring a multitude of salads, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers – this made me a happy camper indeed! I ordered the Spicy Chicken pita wrap with hearty chicken, grilled jalapeños, creamy tzatziki sauce, and Swiss cheese.

Of course, most people are attracted to RBH for its brunch menu, which is also extensive – and, eggs aside, looks pretty damn phenomenal. I need to go back to try the Monte Cristo French toast; several people around us in the restaurant that day got it. We also spotted a few enticing platters of pancakes, all festooned in thick icing. And my tablemates’ Sammy Benny (Eggs Benedict with salmon), amped-up biscuits and gravy (including fried chicken and scrambled eggs), and chicken and waffles (pictured above) made for pretty displays, as well – and satisfied bellies!

301 Walnut Blvd.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.rochesterbrunchhouse.com

180. Bobcat Bonnie’s – July 17, 2016 – Detroit, MI

20160717_12465520160717_14091520160717_133437Hi, all! It’s that time again – THE WEEKEND!!!!! Woo-hoo! It’s looking pretty gorgeous out there so far here in the Metro-D – albeit meltingly hot and muggy (I’ll take that any day over freezing). So if you head out and about this weekend, be sure to hydrate! Fortunately, if you’re in the mood to pound some fluids (which sounds horribly dirty – sorry), Bobcat Bonnie’s in Corktown, which I visited last Sunday for brunch with friends, is a fabulous choice. Check out that Bloody Mary/mimosa bar in the photo above. You’ll be able to stay hydrated at an affordable price. And while you are drinking, you’ve gotta keep that stomach full, right? I had the biscuits and gravy and a side of fruit during my visit – because I had to temper all of that deliciously rich saturated sausage fat with some plant-based nutrients. One friend had an open-faced sandwich with goat cheese, candy-bright heirloom tomatoes, and basil, a perfect choice to capitalize on the freshness of midsummer produce.

I totally dug not only the food and watermelon whiskey drink I had at Bobcat Bonnie’s, but it’s overall aura. It’s another one of those gorgeous old brick buildings down in the D where you sit and soak in the character and speculate: what was this originally built to be? Was it always a pub?  Or a bank, perhaps? What kind of people originally congregated here? What kind of crazy shit has gone down here? It’s fascinating to me, the concept of the history of these buildings: the thought of what they were and how they died and reincarnated into these vibrant new things. I love the current manifestation of this one, its inviting industrial/fun-basement vibe, the fact that it has a couple of arcade games in the back.

Bobcat Bonnie’s serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers lunch and dinner menus as well (it’s open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday).

1800 Michigan Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.bobcatbonnies.com

118. Dino’s Lounge – May 3, 2015 – Ferndale, MI

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I gotta admit, Dino’s Lounge never looked like much to me from the outside of it. But as you can see in the above photo, it’s really nice inside! I ended up there the Sunday before last when one of my good friends encouraged me to come with her to its awesome brunch – and when I saw there was a waffle with pieces of bacon in it on the menu, I was sold. I am such a sucker for bacon (I actually went to One-Eyed Betty’s the night before and had their delightful Betty bacon cheeseburger and their maple-bacon donut, so it was pretty much a bacon-themed weekend for me.)! And of course, there’s the mimosas. Dino’s used to have bottomless mimosas and recently got rid of them (what amateur puked all over the table and ruined it for all of us?), but they now instead offer three mimosas for $15, which is still a good deal considering the generous pour our waitress was giving.

22740 Woodward Ave.

Ferndale, MI 48220

http://www.dinoslounge.com/