Clarkston

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

269. Frank & Me – August 26, 2017 – Clarkston, MI

20170826_15171420170826_15170220170826_151514After eating some of the best pulled-pork enchiladas of my life at the Clarkston Union one Saturday afternoon back in August, my friend and I wandered into Frank & Me, an adorable boutique store on Main Street in downtown Clarkston. Its two stories are packed with stylish clothing and accessory finds, as well as fun gift-worthy items like wine-scented candles and mugs and linens with funny sayings on them such as “Caution: free range children” and “Mom, you’re so cool they named jeans after you” (love that one).

I believe I stumbled into Frank & Me during one of my previous Clarkston visits but for some reason decided not to cover it for the blog then (maybe because I moved in and out of it too quickly to get photos – it’s happened before in window-shopping scenarios). I feel justified throwing it on here as a new place because I know that previous visit didn’t pre-date the origins of the blog, and it’s too cute not to include!

20 S Main St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

215. Parker’s Hilltop Brewery – December 17, 2016 – Clarkston, MI

20161217_205118Hello, all! HAPPY 2017!!!!

The new year is here, bursting with potential. Novel experiences and explorations await!

I cannot wait to hit the city this January. I’ll be down in the D at least a couple of times in the next few weeks, seeing Beautiful: A Carole King Musical at the Fisher Theatre next weekend and watching my beloved Red Wings play during my possibly last visit to The Joe a few weeks after that. But before all of that transpires, I have loads of December visits to recount. Expect posts on some awesome shops in Plymouth and an Italian restaurant in Auburn Hills that served the best eggplant parmesan I’ve ever had. But today, it’s all about Parker’s Hilltop Brewery in Clarkston.

OK, I’ve gotta admit, I’m a little short on opinions around this brewery, since I didn’t eat any of its food or drink any of its craft beers during my visit (red wine was calling me!). But my beer-aficionado friend has been here several times and enjoys Parker’s Hilltop’s brews. A variety are offered, many with fun names such as Mr. Hockey Irish Red and Cowabunga Dude! Double IPA. All I can really confidently state is that I enjoyed the industrial ambiance and locally-inspired artwork on the walls, including portraits of lauded Detroit musicians (Jack White, Aretha Franklin, Eminem). And ambiance is a good chunk of what makes for a great bar experience, right?

If any of you visit or have visited Parker’s Hilltop Brewery, feel free to post your feedback on it in the comments field below to elaborate on this vague post. I’d be curious to see what you thought of it!

6110 Dixie Hwy.

Clarkston, MI 48346

www.hilltopbrew.com

214. Honcho – December 17, 2016 – Clarkston, MI

20161217_18410320161217_20344020161217_194606-3Hello, all! I hope you are enjoying the holiday season! I am breathing a sigh of relief now that Christmas is over and enjoying the last dregs of 2016 before the new year is here. I hope you are finding free time in your schedule to relax, set New Year’s intentions, and get out there and do some exploring.

I am a sucker for new years and new beginnings. It’s become a joke among me and two of my best friends how, in approaching the start of every new year, I always exclaim, “It’s going to be the BEST year EVER!” It’s the same with every summer; it’s not the start of the warm-weather season if I haven’t proclaimed that it will surely be the BEST summer EVER. What can I say, I’m an eternal optimist!

Every year is great in its own way – but it also inevitably presents its own set of challenges. Knowing this, there is still something about a fresh start that lights me up – and makes me excited to face January despite it being plunked right in the middle of a seemingly never-ending Metro-Detroit winter.

In this coldest and gloomiest time of year, I find it most critical to my well-being to make time for trying new places. So when weather allows, I am out and about! The Saturday night before last, I donned an ugly holiday sweater and made the trek out to Clarkston for dinner and drinks with a good friend.

The first stop: Honcho. It’s the latest establishment to join those under the Union Joints umbrella, the family of locally-owned restaurants that includes the Clarkston Union, Union Woodshop, and Vinsetta Garage.

The sign above the door of the restaurant bills it as “Latin Street Food and Coffee,” and there is indeed an area of the interior partitioned off for the purpose of serving coffee and donuts. You can also order the house-made donuts for dessert if you are eating in the dining area and man! are they good. They are freshly fried, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. You can order a batch of donuts – I believe they come in an order of 10 – with sides of chocolate and caramel dipping sauces to share. They are definitely worth the extra calories!

Then there’s the Latin Street food part of Honcho. Honcho’s interpretation of Latin food is unlike any I’d previously experienced. The menu featured during my visit had heavy Asian and Indian influences.

Take the Hot Chicken Burrito that I ordered, pictured above. The refried black beans had a distinctly Asian flavor to them; if I’m remembering correctly, I believe they were flavored with miso. Fish sauce was another component of the dish, and the burrito also contained: pickles. Yes, pickles!

The meal was very good, and I love trying unique, inventive fare, but I’ll admit, I found myself wishing there were some more traditional Latin dishes included on the menu, too. Because when I think of Latin food, I think of Mexican food, and I LOVE excellent Mexican food. If you are seeking authentic Mexican food, you are better off going down a ways to Pontiac and one of my latest obsessions, El Patrón.

But just because Honcho’s take on burritos and street tacos isn’t the one many of us know and love doesn’t mean its fare should be discounted. It’s pretty darn good food. I was reminded of that when I ate the leftover half of my enormous chicken burrito the next day. I was like, “Damn, I already forgot how good this was!” If you can suspend your expectations about what Latin food should be and simply appreciate the dishes with no preconceptions clouding your experience, you will likely enjoy dining at Honcho.

Other stuff I loved about the place: it’s done up in a hipster-Western theme, with black-and-white wallpaper studded with cactuses and agave plants in the area near the bar, which made me happy simply because it presented a polar opposite of the heavily snow-strewn landscape outside the window. Also, the Bad Hombre drink is wholly worth the $12 investment if you are into a cocktail that is a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, and not short on tequila.

3 E. Church St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

www.eathoncho.com

 

57. Clarkston Union – September 6, 2014 – Clarkston, MI

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On the way home from RenFest today, I hit up downtown Clarkston again, this time visiting the Union. This place is known for its macaroni and cheese, but its Union Pot Pie was what I found especially amazing. 

There’s a great beer selection here and a cute patio. Even more notable is the fact that the restaurant is housed in an old church from the 1840s and still contains pews for seating! Pretty awesome.

54 S. Main St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

http://www.clarkstonunion.com

52. Union General – August 28, 2014 – Clarkston, MI

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What a delightful little store! It’s owned by the same people who own the Union Woodshop and the Clarkston Union (which I also hope to visit). There are lots of cute little trinkets and delicious cupcakes and frozen custard here. I bought a PB&J cupcake with peanut-butter buttercream frosting and a jelly center and a devil’s food cupcake with white-chocolate buttercream frosting – and wow, the icing on both was amazing. I also got some Anne Taintor crazy cat-lady napkins, because if being a cat lady is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

50 S. Main St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

http://www.uniongeneralstore.com