Museum District

403. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History – April 6, 2019 – Detroit, MI

April2019CharlesWright1 (4)April was a scant time of new-place visits for me, but I did kick off the month with an impactful cultural experience, a visit to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

I’d long been wanting to visit the museum and was excited to finally make it happen one Saturday afternoon. A friend joined me for the experience.

The Charles H. Wright Museum building is impressive in its beauty, especially the glass ceiling dome at the center of it. Entering it, we were greeted by friendly museum staff members, who explained the admission options. We opted for general admission rather than admittance to the special exhibits and spent several hours touring the museum.

The general exhibits are an impressive collection of historical artifacts, fact boards, and experiential displays. We started at the beginning, learning about cultural practices of ancient African nations, then worked our way through exhibits around the slave trade and slavery in America; the Civil War and the Reconstruction era; the Civil Rights movement; and the history of African-Americans in Detroit.

The exhibits were a sobering experience to take in. The walk through a reproduction of the hold of a slave ship, with depictions of males, females, and children chained and packed together so tightly, as audio of moaning and wailing played over a loudspeaker was especially emotional for me, almost overwhelming. I cannot fathom what it would be like to be in such an experience, taken from your home against your will and chained up in these tight quarters, lying in your and everyone else’s waste, subjected to extreme cruelty. . ..

It was pretty hard for me to not lose faith in humanity going through this slave ship reproduction and many other exhibits, such as one where a slave trader is rattling off stats about people for sale as if they were cattle. Again, the fact that such a barbaric practice as the buying, selling, and controlling of people was at one time an accepted institution in this country is mind-boggling to me.

It was a moment of emotional respite for me to get to the part of the museum that depicted neighborhoods of Detroit that were historically African-American, such as Black Bottom. It included an expansive representation of the cityscape from that time, with depictions of businesses that you could walk right into such as a drug store with a soda fountain and a barbershop with a mannequin barber cutting hair, which I found super fun. I did not find fun the fact that Black Bottom was demolished to make room for the Chrysler Freeway and other development projects.

The Charles H. Wright Museum does an excellent job of reminding one of these sordid aspects of American history. It’s also a beautiful testament to the strength and resilience of African-Americans in the face of horrific brutality, racism, and oppression. Locals and visitors to the Metro-Detroit area alike could benefit from paying a visit to this informative and impactful institution.

315 E. Warren Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

194. Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails – October 6, 2016 – Detroit, MI

20161006_12041520161006_12245620161006_12443120161006_132759Hello, all! Happy weekend!

This week has been particularly exciting for me, because my birthday was Thursday, and I LOVE birthdays. I’ll be going out with friends tonight in Detroit, and I was down there Thursday with my mom for my actual birthday. I took the day off work – as I do every year, as I’m a firm believer that no one should spend his or her birthday slaving for The Man. My mom almost always takes my birthday off work, too, which is awesome of her, and we spend the day together.

After thinking for weeks that I wanted to devote my birthday to exploring downtown Wyandotte (I’ve heard good things about it, and I plan to visit it sometime soon for the blog), I was like, no, it has to be Detroit. It just does.

As you may know from reading this blog, I love going to the city. It’s a magical place for me. Detroit is my spirit animal!

I didn’t have to deliberate for long over my lunch spot. Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails has been on my list of places to visit for the last several years, ever since I read Hour Detroit‘s high praise of it and spied its vibrant green walls within its pages.

The restaurant is located in the Museum District, in the grand Park Shelton building at the corner of Kirby and Woodward streets; its entrance faces the Detroit Historical Museum.

I’m totally burying the lead here, but I had quite possibly the best restaurant meal of my life at Chartreuse. I know I am always raving on the blog about how great the places I visit are – we have a lot of awesome restaurants in the area! But I’m telling you, Chartreuse is exceptional.

My mom and I started with the Michigan Apple and Jicama appetizer, a unique blend of apples, jicama, celery leaves, smoked cashews, bacon, oregonzola (a cheese very similar to gorgonzola), and house-made fermented hot sauce. Then we shared the spare ribs and smoked corned beef sandwich.

The spare ribs were the best I’ve ever had. Man, were they good! I can’t even describe how fall-off-the-bone tender and flavorful they were. They were marinated in a “togarashi, soy mirin glaze” and paired with – believe it or not – a raw potato and seaweed salad. As our server explained to us, this side sounds like it would be nasty – raw potato??? – but it is crazy-good. The flavors were lively; the potatoes didn’t taste raw at all because they were shaved so thinly and marinated in this rich sauce.

The Smoked Corned Beef sandwich was a revelation. Relative to the ones I’ve had before it, this is not even the same species of corned beef sandwich. Slices of toasted, butter-soaked rye bread held thick cuts of corned beef, purple cabbage, pungent beer mustard, and melted white cheddar.

Then our server surprised us with a complimentary dessert – a creamy, custardy pudding with flecks of vanilla bean, a lime glaze, shortbread cookie pieces, and fresh blueberries. An excellent end to an excellent meal.

It was beyond a meal; it was an experience! That’s the mark of exceptional restaurants; they are experience purveyors as much as they are food purveyors. Because not only was Chartreuse Kitchen’s food some of the absolute best of my life, but the other details comprising the visit were captivating, as well.

The service was friendly, personal, and on-point. The ambiance was fabulous. This was a place that had me thinking, “Should I go back to serving again? I would have so much fun working here!” From the lime-green walls to the hanging dried flowers to the living wall of succulents, the decor is striking and inviting. And from our perch at the bar, we got a front-seat view of the adjacent kitchen line, where we got to watch the chef and his crew meticulously assemble appetizer platters for a private vodka tasting.

Thursday afternoon alcohol tastings? I LOVE this city!

15 E. Kirby St., Ste. D

Detroit, MI 48202