Detroit Day

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

Advertisements

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

January2018rRedDunn2 (2)January2018RedDunn1 (2)January2018RedDunn5 (2)January2018ReddDunn6 (3)

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

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

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

245. Mudgie’s Deli – April 29, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170429_152143 (2)20170429_152307 (2)20170429_155110 (3)Hi, guys! I am sitting and writing these words in a never-before-visited and very awesome coffee shop – so look out for the post on that soon. But right now I’m here to talk about my visit to Mudgie’s Deli in Detroit two weekends ago.

After having a round of beers at Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill and receiving free tickets to that afternoon’s Tigers game from kindly strangers, my friend Jaclyn and I enjoyed five innings at Comerica Park before the frigid temperatures forced us out in search of the warm indoors. It was time for sandwiches at the deli I’d been dying to visit since the Corktown 5K (I had hoped to coax my friends into having lunch there after the race).

OK, this is just another reason for me to declare Corktown as my favorite neighborhood in Detroit. Not only is it easily navigable, has ample free parking, and is home to Slow’s, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Le Petit Zinc, Mercury Burger and Bar, and a jillion other beloved-by-me local establishments, it’s also home to Mudgie’s Deli and its extensive menu of intriguing sandwich choices.

Seriously, this restaurant’s menu is LOADED. There are so many sandwich choices that they are grouped by category; you’ve got a Poultry, Fish, Vegetarian & Vegan, Beef, Multi-Meat, and Salami section to choose from.

Nearly every sandwich description had me drooling. Here are a few to give you an idea of how boss these sandwiches are:

-The Brooklyn: “Beef brisket, Neuske’s nitrate free cherrywood smoked bacon, beer cheese[!], and caramelized maple onions on a kaiser roll.”

-The Hippie Dippie Sh*t Man (best sandwich name EVER): “Avocado, baby spinach, local sunflower sprouts, walnuts, dried cranberries, diced apples, shredded carrots and cucumber with raspberry vinaigrette rolled in whole wheat flat bread.”

-The Madill: “Roasted turkey breast, Neuske’s nitrate free cherrywood smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, romaine lettuce, garlic mayo and melted pepper Jack cheese on an 8″ hoagie bun served warm.”

That last one, The Madill, is the one I ordered after much deliberation (reading that it contained bacon AND avocado AND garlic mayo hooked me!). And man, did it turn out to be delicious! It was also huge; two people could easily share it. I thought I was going to take half home, but it was so good that I ended up polishing off all of it.

Mudgie’s is not just a deli with delicious sandwiches: it has a full bar! I had the most delicious Spanish coffee (perfect at warding the chill of the blustery day from my bones) with my Madill. It also has a little wine-shop area where you first walk in with bottles for sale. AND it offers Sunday brunch, featuring popular breakfast dishes such as Eggs Benedict, French toast, and biscuits and gravy plus a select variety of its delectable sandwiches. Worth noting: hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays; Mudgie’s is open 11 to 9 Mondays through Wednesdays and 11 to 11 (with the bar open until 12) the rest of the week.

So the verdict from this gal is that Mudgie’s is most definitely awesome. I need to go back and try more sandwiches – especially after being entranced by the slideshow of tantalizing sandwich photos on its website in the midst of writing this post!

1413 Brooklyn St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.mudgiesdeli.com

244. Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill – April 29, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170429_120602 (2)20170429_124856 (2)Last Saturday was a Detroit Day for me – yayyyy!

“Detroit Day” is what my friend Jaclyn and I call it when we go and spend a couple of hours in the city, generally to lunch and day-drink at restaurants and bars we’ve never been to. It’s one of my favorite things to do EVER (no surprise there, considering this blog!).

We knew we wanted to eat lunch at Mudgie’s (a coveted visit for months for me) on this Detroit Day but decided to get a drink before that. Scrolling through Yelp and seeing which bars were open by the noon hour, we found Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill. It turned out to be our best spontaneous find since Two James Spirits – not only because we were approached by kindly strangers there who gifted us lower-level Tigers tickets for that afternoon’s game (YES!), but also because it’s a generally awesome bar.

Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill, you have settled within my heart as one of my Beloved Detroit Bars (right there with The Old Miami and Tom’s Tavern)! I love your down-to-earth, friendly vibes. I enjoy that you are within sight’s distance of my beloved Red Wings’ now-former home, Joe Louis Arena (obviously I’m learning about your value as a JLA pre-game pit-stop wayyy too late). I appreciate that you offer free shuttles to Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings games, and that from what I understand, you have a deal worked out with the adjacent parking lot to offer free parking on game days. And I love that you, akin to many businesses in the city, are housed in a building with a rich history – a building that, in its over 175 years of existence, has been everything from a stop on the Underground Railroad to a Prohibition-era speakeasy with a secret underground casino thought to have affiliations with the notorious Purple Gang, according to your owner.

Yes, the building Tommy’s is housed in has a wild backstory! The eponymous owner, Tommy, took the time to show us a display in the back room of the bar explaining the history. Wayne State actually did an archaeological dig project involving the building back in 2013 to investigate its history. Pretty cool!

Why else to love Tommy’s? It has an extensive happy hour period (from 4 to 8 p.m.) Mondays through Fridays (excluding game days and big event days), with three-dollar wine and well drinks and one dollar off domestic draft and bottled beers.

624 3rd St.
Detroit, MI 48226

www.tommysdetroit.com

173. The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company – April 17, 2016 – Detroit, MI

After picking up some gorgeous baked goods at Avalon International Breads, my solo mini Detroit Day in Midtown a few weekends ago continued with a visit to The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, a short walk from the bakery. This, my friends, is not some standard coffee shop – it’s a coffee shop/bar! Yes, in addition to serving locally roasted, meticulously crafted coffee concoctions, The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company offers booze – craft beer, wine, and cocktails – and is open late most nights (Monday through Thursday until 11; Friday and Saturday until midnight; and Sunday until 8). So whether you are looking to amp up or mellow out, GLCRC’s got ya!

The shop’s interior is quintessentially modern Detroit – lots of brick, wood, and metal – and has ample seating, boasting both a bar rail and plenty of tables. And let me tell you, this joint serves up some excellent coffee. I had the lavender latte, and it was everything you want in a coffee: rich, smooth, and flavorful. What a difference high-caliber coffee beans make!

Prior to visiting GLCRC, I’d seen some complaints on Yelp about the sizes of the coffee drinks it ofers. Some people felt they hadn’t gotten enough bang for their buck. And yes, my lavender latte came in a glass that was smaller than the small coffee I’d get at a corporate-chain house. But this was A-OK with me, because the coffee was so delicious; it cost a fair price to me considering the quality. Also, my caffeine tolerance is about nil. This was the perfect size for me; I got a little buzz, but I wasn’t vibrating-in-my-body-insane feeling (as I was when I made the mistake of getting a large Starbucks iced coffee last summer and literally felt like I was on drugs). Cheers to that!

3965 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

(with additional locations in Bloomfield Hills and inside Cobo Hall)

www.greatlakescoffee.com

162. Two James Spirits – January 24, 2016 – Detroit, MI

20160124_13531420160124_13083620160124_130909

In my next lifetime, I am going to come back as one of those pretty, tattooed female bartenders you see everywhere around Detroit, and I am going to tend bar at an establishment just like Two James. A bright, beautiful bar, the perfect mix of gritty (set in an obviously former industrial building) and elegant (featuring vivid floral-themed artwork and metallic orb light fixtures with delicate cutout design work floating around the bar). Small and intimate. And crafting with care a deliciously stiff drink. Damn, was the drink I had there amazing! It was a White Russian, and I think it had a name other than White Russian on the menu – but of course, I can’t recall that name (I need to start taking notes in my travels – this is critical info!).

While I was prompted by the menu description to order this, I’ve heretofore never been much of a White Russian girl – and it’s probably because, I am realizing now, I never had one that was made properly! Two James’ is perfection – due in large part, I am sure, to the fact that it contains its own distilled vodka. The distillery also produces various whiskies, two kinds of gin, a bourbon, a mezcal, and absinthe. So yes! It is the perfect establishment for some chill Sunday afternoon spirits-imbibing.

The day I visited Two James and also Mercury Burger and Bar, January 24, also happened to be the one-year anniversary of me hitting the landmark of 100 local places visited since starting this blog (with my visit to Grand Trunk Pub in Detroit on January 24, 2015)! That I had planned this visit to Detroit on this day was a happy accident – but one that I was pleased to discover.

2445 Michigan Ave.
Detroit, MI 48216

www.twojames.com