Metro-Detroit

305. Daddy’s Doughnuts – January 25, 2017 – Utica, MI

January2018DaddysDonuts1 (3)January2018DaddysDonuts2 (3)January2018DaddysDonuts5 (2)Utica is represented on 100 Places in the D! It’s crazy to me that it took me nearly four years to visit a place there given that I live in close proximity to it, but there you go: Utica is the 12th of the new-to-the-blog-cities visited in Blog Year Four (goal achieved!).

Blog Year Four ended on Wednesday, February 7, and Daddy’s Doughnuts in Utica was my last visit during that period. So look out for a Blog Year Four review soon, where I’ll nerd out on all of the stats related to this most recent of the completed 100 Places blogging years, as well as a top-ten post where I’ll gush over my faves of the bunch visited during this time period. There have been some gems!

Daddy’s Doughnuts might have to be in contention for that top-ten list. I’d been intrigued by it since the sign for the bakery – which is (dangerously) along my route to work – appeared in the weeks preceding its opening.  There are certainly things in this world less intriguing than fresh-baked, frosting-coated little rings o’ cakey goodness, am I right?

And Daddy’s Doughnuts has an angle on the way it presents its rings o’ cakey goodness: it tops them to order. You can either choose from the twelve signature Daddy’s Dozen frosting-and-toppings-bedecked offerings or create your own custom-topped donuts by mining ingredients such as maple glaze, marshmallow drizzle, crushed Oreos, graham cracker crumbs, and Fruity Pebbles. Either way, the Daddy’s crew will bedazzle those babies with icing and toppings right in front of you.

For nine dollars, I got a half-dozen of select Daddy’s Dozen donuts (one Minty Thin with its chocolate frosting, chocolate sprinkles, and mint drizzle; one Breakfast with its maple frosting and bacon pieces; one Chocolate Covered Pretzel with its chocolate frosting, pretzel pieces, and caramel drizzle; one Peanut Butter Jelly with its peanut butter frosting, crushed peanuts, and grape jelly drizzle; and two Blackouts with their chocolate frosting, Oreo pieces, and chocolate drizzle, because chocolate is LIFE).

Plus, in compensation for signing up for Daddy’s rewards club, I received another (free) donut – how awesome is that?

I dig this bakery not only because of its made-to-order approach, myriad of toppings options, and rewards club but also for its friendly employees, whimsical donut pillows piled onto the window-seat bench seating, and digital clock on display counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, and days until National Donut Day – which is June 1, FYI (how fun is that?).

I also adore that in addition to dealing up donuts, Daddy’s offers fresh-brewed coffee and tea from Michigan-based companies. Yay to that!

But most of all, I love Daddy’s Doughnuts for its donuts. The frosting-slathered, toppings-loaded beauties taste as good as they look, all fresh and soft and gooey and flavorful – and that’s the most crucial component of why this bakery is so awesome. If you’re in need of a pre-work pick-me-up, you know where to go!

8413 Hall Rd.

Utica, MI 48317

www.daddysdoughnuts.com

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302. Garrido’s – January 14, 2018 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

January2018Garridos1 (2)January2018Garridos2 (2)Today’s post feels especially appropriate for me given that I’ve just returned from a 10-day vacation in South America (Ecuador, specifically): the lovely Garrido’s of Grosse Pointe Woods is being represented on the blog!

The bistro’s menu packed with popular Venezuelan dishes reminds me of fare I consumed while in Ecuador. The Venezuelan Pabellón that I tried during my visit to Garrido’s was healthful deliciousness with its tender shredded beef, rice, black beans, and the kicker: tajadas (ripe plantains).

Man, were those tajadas AMAZING! How can something as simple as a plantain be so mouthwateringly packed with flavor? Caramelized, flavorful, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness constituted those tajadas. I gobbled them with relish, as I did the rest of the  Venezuelan Pabellón dish.

I felt so good about eating this healthful dinner that I figured there was room for dessert, so I capped off the meal with Garrido’s Deep-Fried Cheesecake with Berry Party. The New York-style cheesecake wrapped in fried dough and served with a berry compote was yes, as glorious as it sounds.

What’s on Garrido’s menu besides the Venezuelan Pabellón and the bomb fried cheesecake? There are various appetizers, including fried plaintain chips with pico de gallo and guasacaca (a Venezuelan avocado sauce similar to guacamole) and Venezuelan Tequeños (cheese wrapped in dough and deep-fried). There are arepas (corn-flatbread sandwiches) stuffed to the gills with goodies such as shrimp, black beans, and avocado-bacon-and-cheese-slathered burgers. There are a variety of seafood dishes, including paella, pastas, and a stew loaded with scallops, shrimp, squid, and octopus.

Other traditional Latin fare plus entrée salads and a more eclectic assortment of dishes (spaghetti with lamb meatballs; ahi tuna steak; beef stroganoff) round out the food menu, which is capped by desserts including that fried cheesecake, plus a molten chocolate cake and churros.

While the bistro doesn’t serve booze, it has an in-depth non-alcoholic drink menu – one loaded with various teas, smoothies, and coffee drinks. I NEED to go back and try its extreme hot-chocolate concoction: check out the drink section on Garrido’s menu to see what I mean! This sucker is STACKED (literally) with more than just the typical steamed chocolate milk; it’s a veritable tower of goodies.

It’s obvious that I’m not the only one in the area who is feeling Garrido’s, as the intimate little place quickly became packed during the Sunday evening that I visited it. With good food and a cozy, inviting vibe, it’s an obvious choice if you’re looking to dine within the Grosse Pointes.

19605 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.garridosbistro.com

300! The Corner – December 27, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

December2017Corner3 (2)December2017Corner1 (2)Visit Number 300 is coming to 100 Places in the D today! Ya-hoo!

It was a goal of mine to achieve Visit Number 300 before the end of Blog Year 4 (which ends on February 7), so I was psyched to hit it with plenty of time before my deadline. Interestingly enough, the place I visited, recently opened Ferndale bar The Corner, inhabits the site of a previously featured establishment, Local Kitchen and Bar (#35). (RIP, Local Kitchen and Bar!)

For my fellow Metro-Detroiters reading this: remember how frickin’ frigid it was around here for that week and a half after Christmas – those highs in the teens and the single-digit lows? It was cold! Going outside to retrieve my garbage can from the curb felt like a major accomplishment, so leaving my house at nightfall to drive to Ferndale really felt like I was crushing it. #Goals, for real!

I mean, to park and pay for parking at the little kiosk and have to take off my gloves to punch in the numbers and then to wait at the curb for the “Walk” sign to flash on so I could scurry across the street to the restaurant – that took less than five minutes, but even in that short time span and with being all bundled up, that was cussing-aloud cold! How can your skin start to ache in such a short amount of time?

In all seriousness, me having to spend five minutes outside and take my gloves off for a minute to pay for parking for the car that I own – these are truly privileged problems. I cannot imagine being homeless and not having somewhere to go to during such incredibly cold times; it is unfathomable, and my heart goes out to anyone living that experience. Good guys like COTS and other local homeless shelters welcoming those with nowhere else to go: you guys are true superheroes! Consider donating to COTS Detroit, guys; they are doing the good work.

Back to me and my silly little life: I rolled up to The Corner and its packed, low-lit interior and its . . . WALL OF GAMES.

Can I say how much I love that this bar has a big ol’ wall full of board games? Shelves crammed ceiling-to-floor with board games available for the playing equal a BIG plus-mark in my book. Playing board games is one of those things I love to do but don’t do nearly enough. (Note to self for 2018: resolve to play more board games. Perhaps start a reoccurring game night and have its introductory meeting at The Corner?).

If you decide to do a game night at The Corner, you’ve got to post in the comments and let me know! And while you’re at it, if you’re looking to eat and do some drinking of the adult beverages, may I recommend the Asian Ribeye and Ramen salad and the Yahtzee drink?

The salad was absolutely delicious, the perfect combo of healthful and flavorful with its chunks of tender ribeye steak on a bed of chopped cabbage plus greens, ramen noodles, avocado, tomatoes, peanuts, and cilantro, all tossed in a Thai chile dressing.

And the Yahtzee! That sour gin drink with the moniker of that O.G. game was delightful – as was its price tag of $6. Signature cocktails are generally crazy-expensive these days; it’s getting hard to find one under $10. But The Corner’s are all currently between six and eight dollars – cha-ching!

One thing worth mentioning about my visit: I make it a point to highlight the positive in my recountings on the blog, because 100 Places in the D is all about bragging up the Metro-D and the wonderful locally-owned establishments within it! But sometimes less-than-positive aspects of my visits stand out enough that I feel I would be remiss not to mention them to you guys. And in terms of The Corner: during our time there, my friend Amy and I sat at the bar, and the service was . . . not great.

Despite three bartenders being on duty and at least two of them consistently being behind the bar at the same time, and despite us sitting smack-dab in the middle of the bar rail, it was challenging to get their attention, and they checked on us infrequently. It was a drag. Given the thumbs-ups elicited by the food, the drink, the attractive ambiance, and that enticing wall o’ games, I’d still recommend checking out The Corner – especially since it might’ve simply been an off night or a service situation that is now remedied. Maybe just don’t sit at the bar if you can help it!

Also worth noting: on the second level of The Corner is Detroit Axe, where you can throw axes at targets and participate in axe-throwing tournaments! I didn’t go up there during my visit, but I must say I’m intrigued – though I’m not sure how long I would last in an environment where axes are whizzing through the air (they are sharp and stuff).

Lastly, it’d be helpful to point out that The Corner/Detroit Axe is closed on Tuesdays, and it opens at 5 p.m. on all other days. There – now you’re all ready for your visit!

344 W. Nine Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48020

www.thecornerferndale.com

299. Spa in the Woods – December 24, 2017 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

December2017SpaWoods2 (2)Oh my goodness – happy 2018, guys! I took another one of my unexpected hiatuses from the blog – one of those black holes of writing inertia cropped up unexpectedly around the holidays for me, and I pretty much forced myself to get on and write this post to avoid extending the thing any longer. It’s crazy how quickly time flies and how a few days of putting off posting can turn into a month!

But hey, as much as we can all beat ourselves up about our lapses, the most important part to focus on is the fact that we started again, am I right? That’s the tack I’m choosing to take here. And I’m very excited to have a bunch of adventures built up over the last month to recount to you – including Visit Number 300!!!! [Cue multi-hued confetti!] But today, it’s all about my becoming acquainted with the very lovely Spa in the Woods in Grosse Pointe Woods – on Christmas Eve, of all days.

One of my dearest friends got me a gift certificate to Spa in the Woods for my birthday in October after I’d revealed to her that the last time I’d gotten a professional pedicure was when President Obama was still in the thick of his second term (Yeah . . . it had been a minute).

I originally scheduled the pedicure on the first Saturday in December, then cancelled the morning of when I realized that I’d neglected to plan my day around the fact that I would be unable to wear proper shoes for several hours after my visit (pairing my parka with flip flops in my planned subsequent jaunts about town wasn’t an especially appealing prospect). So I postponed the appointment until Christmas Eve – because even though it was a Sunday and Spa in the Woods is generally closed on Sundays, it was open on Christmas Eve for the employees who wanted to work. I figured that a relaxing a.m. pedicure would be perfect before the (potentially ungrounding) interactions with family members later that evening.

And it was! It was such a delight to sit there in the cozy, quiet salon (only one other appointment showed up while I was there) chit-chatting with Maria, the lovely purple-haired nail technician, while she whipped my feet and toenails into a civilized state.

I opted for the Signature Spa in the Woods Pedicure, which is the fancy spa-level pedicure (as opposed to the more standard Express Pedicure that is also offered): in addition to being the recipient of the requisite heel-scraping and nail clipping, I had an awesome-smelling coffee exfoliating scrub rubbed on my legs and feet, followed by a luxe lotion and hot towels. The nails on my toesies were painted immaculately in a berry hue, and I was relaxed and ready to go for the holiday shenanigans with the fam.

I can’t emphasize enough what a treat it was to get this pedicure. I have always loved salon pedicures and used to get them more frequently; this was a reminder to treat myself to them more. Granted, at $55 before tip, the Signature Spa in the Woods Pedicure may have to be more of an annual occurrence for me than a regular splurge within the parameters of my current budget. But if you feel moved to treat yourself to a spa experience, I would highly recommend trying out this place; my aforementioned friend has treated herself on her last couple of birthdays to its spa packages and has loved the included massage, facial, sauna steam shower, and nail treatment.

21023 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.spainthewoodsmi.com

298. El Camino – December 20, 2017 – Keego Harbor, MI

December2017ElCamino1 (2)December2017ElCamino3 (4)December2017ElCamino4 (3)Keego Harbor is represented on 100 Places in the D! The new-to-the-blog city is home to El Camino, a Mexican joint that opened earlier this year. And you know I was psyched to check it out because I ADORE Mexican food to the jillionth degree (the cheese, the spice, the vibrancy of flavor – ¡sí, sí, and sí!).

Walking into the restaurant for lunch on Wednesday, I was immediately taken with its whimsically eclectic decor. Where else do you see wicker lighting fixtures, red accent walls, gilded mirrors, mini cacti, and avocado chairs (yes, avocado chairs: lime-green seats studded with an image of a halved avocado) all comingling? I was even more thrilled, of course, to discover the deliciousness of the food and drink.

The Not Cho Mojito is a refreshing riff on a mojito: it’s less sweet, infused with tequila rather than rum, and steeped with cilantro instead of mint. That little guy goes down easy, as does the chips and salsa sampler, which was AMAZING. The fresh tortilla chips are thick, crispy, grease-saturated little triangles of heaven – especially when dipped into the pico de gallo, salsa verde, and charred tomato-pineapple salsa. I especially enjoyed the salsa verde with its zesty lime flavor – a pleasant surprise for me, as I’m generally not a big fan of the green sauce.

And the tacos: they were glorious flavor bombs, tender meat sprinkled with Cotija cheese and nestled in pillowy corn tortillas. I ordered the Carne Asada with grilled steak and the Al Pastor with shredded, slow-roasted pork and grilled pineapple. I appreciated how liberally filled they were and how fresh and flavorful they tasted. They were an apt reminder that Mexican food is LIFE – not that I needed a reminder of that, of course, but I’ll take it!

2807 Orchard Lake Rd.

Keego Harbor, MI 48320

www.elcamino.cool

296. Downtown Café – December 8, 2017 – Rochester, MI

December2017DowntownCafe2 (2)December2017DowntownCafe1 (2)I’m a sucker for ambiance. When seeking out new places to visit, I find myself particularly attracted to elegant-contemporary, hipster-industrial, and down-to-earth-dive-y places. I like glossy, exciting, striking, mysterious, exuberantly welcoming environments.

Cozy-unpretentious isn’t an ambiance I generally gravitate toward, because let’s face it: cozy-unpretentious is not that exciting of a vibe. But my visit to Downtown Café on Main Street in downtown Rochester last Friday reminded me that cozy-unpretentious places can be awesome – especially when they serve up drool-worthy meals.

Perhaps my experience with this breakfast/lunch joint can serve as a reminder for me to not judge a book by its cover. Because now that I really ponder it, why shouldn’t cozy-unpretentious be considered a desirable vibe? My beloved late Gram could be described as both cozy and unpretentious, and she’s the best person I’ve ever known.

And yes, the small dining interior of the Downtown Café may not contain such dramatic decorative elements as exposed brickwork, crystal chandeliers, and tables crafted from repurposed wood. But it’s pleasant and comfortable, an easy place to sit and catch up with friends (no bumping music to shout over here!).

And its Turkey Reuben! It is utterly delicious with its buttery grilled rye bread, thick-piled turkey breast, gooey Swiss cheese, and savory coleslaw and Russian Dressing. I demolished mine and the coin-shaped seasoned French fries that came with it. Love, love, love this sandwich.

The sandwich section of the Downtown Café’s menu is obviously representative of the lunch side of the menu, as are the salad and appetizer sections. Entrée salads offered include the Bruschetta Salad, Sun-Dried Cherry Salad, and the classic local favorite that originated with the bygone Hudson department store, the Maurice Salad (which always makes me nostalgic for childhood and lunches at Hudson’s with my mom and/or grandmother).

Breakfast items constitute the rest of Downtown Café’s menu, including such tantalizing choices as the Asparagus, Spinach, Portabella Mushroom and Swiss Cheese Omelet; Almond Crusted French Toast; and homemade quiche.

After my experience at the Downtown Café, I’m thinking I should add cozy-unpretentious to my list of preferred ambiances. It’s a reminder for me that a restaurant doesn’t have to look flashy or gritty or glamorous to serve up amazing food.

Plus, I noticed in its Yelp profile that the Downtown Café offers seating on a gorgeous outdoor patio during the warm-weather months – a fact that was not evident to me during my dead-of-winter visit. And I’m ALWAYS a sucker for alfresco ambiance!

Worth noting: the Downtown Café is truly a breakfast/lunch joint, as reflected by its hours of operation (7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays).

606 N. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.downtowncaferochester.com

295. Chazzano Coffee Roasters – December 6, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

December2017Chazzano1 (2)December2017Chazzano2 (2)Hi, guys – happy Friday! If you’re looking to start the weekend with a little caffeine-fueled enthusiasm, may I suggest Chazzano Coffee Roasters in Ferndale?

As with many places I’ve covered on this blog, Chazzano had been on my radar for years. I’d passed the coffee shop many a time, dreaming of stopping in and savoring a cappuccino. Tuesday I finally made that dream a reality. I was dying to check out a new place after a 2.5-week lull, and I was going to be in Ferndale anyway, so why not tack on the visit?

The reason for me being in Ferndale on that day? A massage. And you know, downing a caffeinated beverage is how I routinely prepare for a relaxing rubdown. Just kidding – consuming a strong coffee drink in the late afternoon pre-massage = probably not the wisest choice I’ve made all week. But sometimes you’ve got to throw caution to the wind in the name of exploration, right?

And regardless of the soundness of my decision relative to what followed after, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Chazzano. The tiny coffee shop is the perfect place to hang out, savor a coffee drink, and get some work done. Both classic rock and funky hip-hop played during my time there, which I was totally jamming to as I TCB’ed (Took Care of Business!) on my computer. More importantly, the coffee was on point! My cappuccino was richly flavored, capped by a weighty foam, and totally delicious.

It wasn’t a surprise that the coffee was good given that Chazzano roasts its own beans and is purported to take care in curating and crafting its coffee. A selection of single-origin brews are available from locations such as Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Brazil; various loose leaf teas and even organic vegan hot chocolate are available.

I left Chazzano feeling pleasantly buzzed but not overly amped by the caffeine; by the end of my massage, the jitters had entered the equation. When I told her about my pre-appointment foray, my massage therapist commented on how massages have a circulatory affect and that mine had probably accelerated the affects of the cappuccino in me. Perhaps this was actually a blessing, chasing the coffee out of my system sooner than it would’ve exited if I hadn’t gotten a massage.

At any rate, I was happy to have treated myself to that Chazzano visit, because it infused my Tuesday with a little specialness – and I’ll take more specialness in my everyday life whenever I can get it.

1737 East 9 Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.chazzanocoffee.com

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

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