Snag yourself a statement find at Pivot Maker Collective! Support local artists in the process.
Pivot is an art gallery and shop in Detroit’s Cass Corridor neighborhood; it opened at the end of last year. I stumbled across it during a stroll through the neighborhood, after visits to Bon Bon Bon and Nora.
I wasn’t planning on buying anything when I stopped in; I was simply intrigued by a storefront I’d never seen before. But then I spotted this necklace. It was comprised of gleaming copper circles, linked together to form a triangle. It was gorgeous!
The artist who crafted the striking statement piece, Danny K. Dunbar, was working the shop that day. The copper circles were pennies, Danny explained. That was why Danny had dubbed the piece “changemail” – a punny name reflecting how the shiny, reworked pennies resembled chainmail.
Pivot held more of Danny’s beautiful pieces, plus work by other local artists: paintings and other wall art; candles; clothing; and more. Danny, the originator and organizer of Pivot, explained that the space would also act as a gallery, spotlighting different artists’ work. The first artist showcase happened in February, as Pivot hosted works of painter, sculptor, designer, and curator Uta Brauser.
I don’t know about you, but artist showcases are sounding like the exact antidote I need to cure my end-of-winter doldrums. That’s why I’m following Pivot’s Instagram account (pivotdetroit) so I’m up on the shop’s happenings!
A repeat visit to the Redford Theatre meant an excuse to check out Sweet Potato Sensations!
The Detroit-based bakery is located across the street from the iconic movie theater. An icon itself, it’s been in operation since 1987, crafting cakes, cookies, cheesecakes, pies, and other sweet treats.
Of course Sweet Potato Sensations sells sweet potato pie! And sweet potato cheesecake, sweet potato cookies, sweet potato cobbler, three-layer sweet potato cake – even sweet potato ice cream. It’s a cornucopia of sweet-spudded goodness!
And if sweet potatoes aren’t your thing, Sweet Potato Sensations offers baked goodies in other flavor varieties, as well. Try the decadent 3-Layer German Chocolate Cake or Cream Cheese Pound Cake.
Need something savory to wash down all that sweetness? Sweet Potato Sensations also offers meal-centric items such as the Salmon Croquette Sandwich, Black Eye Pea & Collard Green Soup, and The Chop Meal, a dish consisting of a fried turkey chop, sweet potato pancakes, and regular or sweet potato-infused grits.
The bakery’s interior is a cozy café, done in rich earth tones (or perhaps, sweet-potato tones?). Seating allows guests to enjoy Sweet Potato Sensations’ wares right then and there, and clothing and other goods by local vendors are for sale, as well.
I enjoyed my purchase from the bakery on the go, devouring a mini sweet potato pie in my friend’s car before I could even remember to take a picture of it. It was delicious, with creamy sweet potato filling and a buttery crust. I can’t wait to find another reason to be on Sweet Potato Sensations’ side of town so I can try more of its treats!
The Redford Theatre is a sweet piece of Detroit history that’s definitely worth experiencing!
The Detroit-based movie theater has a rich past. It opened in 1928, and while the Redford Theatre has had several owners and ups and downs in its 95-year history, it’s belonged to the Motor City Theatre Organ Society for decades. The nonprofit uses proceeds from event sales to maintain not only the pipe organ that’s been with the building since its inception (and that’s often played during show openings and intermissions), but also to restore and maintain the 1,610-seat theater.
The group’s efforts are evident. The Redford Theatre is a work of art. Hand-painted Japanese murals, rich reds and golds, velvet curtains, and intricate artistic detailing make this jewel box of a building a delight to behold. Viewing a film at the Redford makes me feel so fancy!
It also makes me feel like I’m in on a well-kept secret. A visit to the Redford is a magical night out on a budget! Tickets for single moving viewings are generally $5 ($6 if you add the $1 convenience fee when you purchase online), and prices at the cash-only concession stand (which sells water, pop, popcorn, candy, and other snacks) are incredibly modest. It’s a refreshing change of pace in this inflation-riddled time to spend under $10 on a night out.
The origins of the films screened by the Redford Theatre span the decades of its lifetime. There are black-and-white films from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s; films from more modern times; and everything in between.
As of the writing of this post, there’s a Three Stooges festival scheduled for the weekend of April 21-22 and a March 10 showing of The Notebook. There’s a Silent Movie weekend in mid-April featuring films from 1928 (to commemorate the Redford’s 95-year anniversary) and those made by modern-day kids (via the International Youth Silent Film Festival Detroit Regional showcase). There’s a showing of 1959 award darling Ben-Hur and the 1988 darling of my childhood, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (I loved that movie as a kid!).
And there are special events that (understandably) fetch higher prices than those $5 movie nights. Examples include the Candlelight Concert series, which has the Redford’s stage awash with hundreds of lit candles, and meet-and-greet movie showings with VIP guests. The latter category includes a sold-out March 11 event featuring William Shatner, who will be here to give a talk and take photos with moviegoers after a showing of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The theater’s eclectic collection of offerings is reflected in what I viewed during my two visits to it. The first time I visited the Redford Theatre, in early November, I saw the 1979 concert documentary Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The second time, a month later, I went for the annual Holiday Mystery Movie, which turned out to be the silly-cute 1945 rom-com, Christmas in Connecticut.
I will definitely be making the Redford’s Holiday Mystery Movie an annual tradition! Not only was it fun to be exposed to a classic Christmas movie I’d never heard of, I also enjoyed seeing the already-gorgeous Redford gussied up with holiday trimmings. The stage in front of the movie screen boasted both a tinsel-drenched tree sparkling with colorful lights and a model train set careening through a miniature Christmas village.
Whatever time of year you’re seeking magic, you’ll find it when you step into the Redford Theatre! Check out its upcoming shows on its website, and embrace this beautiful piece of Detroit’s past.
Nain Rouge Brewery, serving up sinfully good beer!
I discovered the Detroit-based brewery during birthday celebrations for moi last month. Friends ordered its beer during dinner at Smith & Co., and we noticed the brewery was right across the way. So we popped over for a round of drinks after, before continuing on to Willis Show Bar.
It turns out that Smith & Co. is the only restaurant to serve Nain Rouge’s wares. The brewery also works with Eastern Michigan University’s brewing school, according to its website, aiming to “help promote diversity in the beer industry.”
What an awesome partnership! Obviously, Nain Rouge Brewery’s character is nothing like its namesake’s, that legendary creature who is said to cause mayhem in the D. Nain Rouge the brewery was, in my experience, a welcoming place devoid of drama – a chill space to enjoy pre-show drinks. But the “red dwarf,” as its name translates, has left its imprint on the brewery – in the form of its devilishly delicious beer.
Nain Rouge’s current tap list boast a range of choices, from an amber lager to a coffee stout to a honey- and hibiscus-infused wheat beer. There are three kinds of IPAs, a kölsch, a pilsner – even an Oktoberfest selection. I went for the Wisehead Chocolate Vanilla Porter, and it was right up my alley: rich, tasty, smooth.
Maybe that’s how Nain Rouge the imp is able to sneak in and cause a ruckus: by being as smooth as Nain Rouge the brewery’s beers. Maybe Nain Rouge Brewery has more in common with its namesake than I initially thought!
A Saturday night spent with friends in Detroit: is there anything better? That’s especially the case when you’re dining on Smith & Co.’s Nain Rouge Mac & Cheese!
The Midtown/Cass Corridor-based restaurant and bar serves up hearty fare in a convivial environment. The interior ambiance can be described as upscale industrial: concrete floors, exposed beams, and destressed elements mixed with leather banquettes, gloss, and mod lighting.
Delving into the menu’s array of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and entrées, I saw several choices that enticed me – the Korean Fried Chicken sandwich being one. I even toyed with the idea of getting a salad, intrigued by the Fried Green Tomato with its medley of kale, kamut, beans, radishes, red onion, snap peas, feta, croutons, mint, the titular tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.
But the Nain Rouge Mac & Cheese won out – and I’m SO glad it did! The noodles were doused in creamy beer cheese and tossed with barbecue sauce-infused pulled beef, chunks of bacon, and fried onion. It was rich, flavorful, indulgent – the exact qualities you want a birthday dinner to have.
The drink I imbibed at Smith & Co. embodied those same traits. A luxurious mix of Kahlua, vodka, coffee, and dalgona topped with coffee foam, the Espresso Martini Chamber Seven was so nice, I ordered it twice! The current selection of specialty cocktails includes the Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned and a seasonal sangria. Beer from nearby Nain Rouge Brewery is on draft, and for those who don’t drink, a Zero-Proof section features two mocktails and drinks from the likes of local leisure soda vendor, Casamara Club.
Celebrating my birthday with friends at Smith & Co. was wonderful – namely because of those friends’ company. But the delicious food and drink amplified the experience. Thanks, Smith & Co., for helping make this special day even more special!
Get swept away by story at Detroit Public Theatre!
Season Eight of the local theater company kicked off in a brand-new home: the renovated Third Avenue Garage building in Detroit’s Midtown/Cass Corridor neighborhood. Prior to this, Detroit Public Theatre held its plays at venues around town – most recently at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
The theater is a beauty of a building! The airy lobby is an elegant example of the industrial aesthetic, with neat concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and a wood-plank ceiling. A bar along one side serves beer, wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic libations.
I was there to see Mud Row. Written by lauded playwright and native Detroiter Dominique Morisseau (who is also Detroit Public Theatre’s Executive Artistic Producer), the play explores themes of racism, civil rights, gentrification, and (oft-complex) family dynamics. The intimate theater was an ideal space for this emotionally raw, moving production. Seated a couple of rows from the actors, I definitely felt in on the action.
Mud Row wrapped on October 30. Detroit Public Theatre’s next production, Noura, a tale about an Iraqi immigrant family grappling with their past during the holiday season, debuts November 15. To learn more about Noura and Detroit Public Theatre’s other Season Eight productions – and to buy tickets! – click here.
One unnaturally hot Sunday in mid-September, I fulfilled my dream to visit this ice cream shop operating out of the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit. Milk & Froth brings delicious dairy and non-dairy goodness in the form of intriguing ice cream flavors such as Malt Cherry Chocolate, Matcha Pistachio, and Chocolate Hazelnut.
I opted for one of Milk & Froth’s house-made waffle cones topped with scoops of Salted Caramel and Sea Salt Butter Cake. It was SOOOO good! The ice cream was richly flavorful and luxuriously creamy. And the waffle cone? It wasn’t mere window-dressing for the ice cream, but delectably fresh and crunchy.
I went for two of Milk & Froth’s dairy ice creams, but I was tempted by a couple of the vegan varieties. My friend raved about the Roasted Strawberry made with coconut cream, roasted strawberries, and strawberry compote.
This visit to Milk & Froth was the topper to an amazing day spent spent wandering Detroit, which included visits to Founders, Astoria Pastry Shop, and the world’s largest rubber duck on display outside Huntington Place (or Cobo Hall, as it’s still known in our hearts!). EVERYONE was out that day: at the auto show, the Lions game, the Tigers game, the restaurants, the casinos. It was my favorite view of Detroit: brimming with all kinds of people enjoying all the city has to offer. Milk & Froth is one such offering, and it’s one you shouldn’t sleep on! Grab a cone or pint from the shop – or seek out pints at the stores showcased on its website.
Delicious Baobab Fare! The restaurant on Woodward Avenue in Detroit serves up flavorful East African fare in an artfully designed, welcoming setting.
Baobab Fare is owned by husband-and-wife duo Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba, who originally hail from Burundi. According to Baobab Fare’s website, their intention is for the restaurant to “serve as a safe space for other immigrants and Detroiters alike, knowing that it is a meeting place where all are welcomed and embraced. Baobab will help to fill a gap as it relates to African fare and culture in the city.”
That’s a mission I can get behind – especially when it’s being so deliciously done! The meal I had last month at Baobab Fare, the Mhogo, was SO tasty. It’s a dish Baobab Fare only serves on Wednesdays. It consists of chicken that’s been pan-fried, shredded, and infused with a mustard-onion sauce, yuca root, and the choice of either yellow beans or peanut-stewed spinach (I opted for the latter). I ordered a side of plantains to accompany it (because plantains are EVERYTHING to me), and an African tea with oat milk.
I cannot stress how wonderful this meal was! The chicken and spinach were rich and flavorful; the yuca, buttery, starchy, comfort-food goodness. The spinach especially had me exclaiming. How could something as innately banal as spinach be transformed into such tastebud-thrilling fare??? I don’t know the answer to that question – but Baobab Fare does. The accoutrements to the meal – the spiced African black tea and plantains – were just as delicious.
Sitting in Baobab Fare’s beautiful dining room, chatting with a good friend whilst savoring this marvelous meal – on a workday Wednesday, no less – was such a treat. Here’s to new-place visits that elevate the everyday – especially when they’re visits to restaurants with purpose, heart, and a talented kitchen staff! Baobab Fare checks all the boxes there.
Experience beautiful, thought-provoking art at Norwest Gallery of Art!
The gallery based in the Rosedale Park neighborhood of Detroit features work by contemporary artists, many of them African and African-American. The exhibit on display the day of my visit was Pray for Us, a gorgeous collection of photos and video highlighting mothers and their connection to and influence on spirituality. Curated by Detroit-based artist Bre’Ann White, the exhibit included a reproduction of the living room of her mother, Edna, who recently died from cancer. What a poignant display of love and remembrance that was.
Norwest Gallery of Art is also the steward of Womxnhouse Detroit, an artists-residency program that supports BIPOC artists who identify as women or non-binary. The program’s artists display their work in an annual exhibit installed at Norwest owner Asia Hamilton’s childhood home. The second-annual Womxnhouse Detroit exhibit is on display through October 23; learn more about it and purchase tickets here. If it’s anything like last year’s exhibit, it’s sure to be a powerful experience. Do yourself a favor and go.
And do yourself a favor and visit Norwest Gallery of Art! The exhibit on display there as of the writing of this post, a collection by Jamar Lockhart titled In Living Color, appears to be full of beautiful, thought-provoking art, indeed.
What a fantastic experience dining at Oak & Reel was! From the food to the service to the ambiance, this Detroit-based Italian restaurant is serving up top-tier excellence.
I’d become familiar with Oak & Reel from Hour Detroit‘s coverage of it. The magazine crowned Oak & Reel 2022 Restaurant of the Year. Detroiters must’ve took notice, because the restaurant was packed when my friend and I arrived at 7:30 on a Monday night. Fortunately, we were able to snag two open seats at the bar.
Oak & Reel’s interior is a pretty, airy space, a pleasing mixture of industrial and contemporary elements. I loved the profusion of potted plants and striking hexagon tiles that covered one section of ceiling.
Service at the restaurant was excellent. The bartender who waited on us was a delight, friendly and attentive. He praised my drink choice, the Serpenti, an utterly delicious mixture of tequila reposado, passionfruit, lime, and calabrian chile. I love a spicy cocktail!
From the octopus Bolognese to the butter-poached halibut to the Raw portion featuring oysters, tuna, and other ocean delicacies, seafood is featured heavily on Oak & Reel’s menu. But there are plenty of options for non-seafood-lovers, too (take it from me, who is one of them!). One is the Caramelle, a pasta dish featuring ribbon-like strips of ravioli filled with short rib meat and topped with blistered yellow and red grape tomatoes, bread crumbs, and marjoram. This was my order, and it was exceptional! The house-made pasta was perfectly tender, and I savored the rich filling, crunchy bread crumbs, and vibrance of the blistered tomatoes and herbs.
After a meal that perfect, I didn’t need dessert – but I strongly considered it. How could I not, when Oak & Reel was offering tempting choices such as the Triple Chocolate Tarte with orange and cacao nibs and the Bomboloni, donuts with rosemary sugar and lemon anglaise?
Just like those desserts, the experience of dining at Oak & Reel was an extra-special treat – one that I definitely yearn to savor again!