Nightlife

252. Vertical Detroit – June 8, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170608_191848 (2)20170608_203101 (3)After glorious food and drink at Wright & Co. on a beautiful summer’s night in the D last month, my friend and I decided to continue the evening on Vertical Detroit’s patio. I was excited to visit the wine bar, because it was yet another place that had been on my radar for a long time, and because I HEART wine.

What I didn’t realize was how baller-wine-territory this place would be. Vertical’s wine menu is not playing around! There are numerous glasses of wine in the $20-$45 price range. I’m used to wine costing that much in restaurants – by the bottle, not the glass.

What I’m trying to say is that many of Vertical’s offerings were too out-of-our-price-range-at-this-juncture for my friend and I to consider. But there were also a number of by-the-glass choices costing in the teens and even a few for $9 (now we’re talking!). I decided on a glass of one of the most affordable ($11) reds, the 2014 Brunelli “Apricale” Sangiovese Blend from Tuscany, and enjoyed sipping it while catching up with a good friend and soaking in the tranquil early-evening city vibes.

I love wine, but I am by no means an expert in wine – even after participating in several extensive wine tastings and trainings during my years working as a server. My mind simply doesn’t retain info on grape varietals, vineyard terroirs, and the like, and no matter how hard I try, I’ll likely never be able to pick out those flavor notes of tobacco and leather. I am sure if I could that I’d be better able to appreciate Vertical’s extensive menu of dearly-priced finds. I am sure those wines have been chosen with care and are the best-of-the-best.

I do wonder if my tastes will ever get so rich as to entice me to pay $45 for a glass of wine. Probably not, even if my wallet gets rich. I would rather put that money toward the food-aspect of the meal and drink a second-rate glass of vino. My palate doesn’t seem to care about grape pedigree, even as it (very much!) respects the craft of wine-making.

Ambiance, on the other hand . . . ambiance is definitely important to me. I dug Vertical’s interior, which was elegantly dark and cozy with its richly tiled walls and chandeliers.

Besides offering an extensive wine list, Vertical Detroit offers craft cocktails and a selection of (mostly local) draft beers. It also boasts a food menu offering a sophisticated array of appetizers, small plates, and desserts such as lamb heart tartare, pork osso bucco, and crème brûlèe.

1538 Centre St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.verticaldetroit.com

251. Wright & Co. – June 8, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170608_175218 (2)20170608_180557 (2)20170608_180748 (2)Wright & Co.! I’m in love with you!!!!!

I’d heard great things about Wright & Co. and had it on my radar for months. I finally had an excuse to visit it last month when I went downtown on a Thursday night to get tickets from the Comerica Park box office and recruited a friend to go with me.

OK, I love visiting Detroit any day of the week, but it’s especially exciting to go down there on a week night after work because work days aren’t always the most intriguing for me. The most excitement I generally have on a work night is when I decide to drink wine and eat popcorn at the house while exhorting the characters in my fave cheesy-good TV dramas to not sleep with that shady dude and ruin their relationship with So-and-So! Full-throttle thrills there.

But when I go downtown on a work night, it automatically feels special, and I’m able to at least partially ignore the fact that I have to go into the office the next day while I’m drinking an alcoholic beverage akin to the nectar-of-the-gods and eating glorious treats such as loaded potato chips.

Loaded potato chips were one of the small-plates dishes my friend and I shared at Wright & Co. They are called Fresh Potato Chips on the menu and are a true thing of glory – check out the photo of them above! Are they not magnificent, those crispy, golden house-made potato chips smothered in white cheese sauce, bacon, scallions, and a tomato relish??? As you can imagine, they were insanely good.

Most – if not all – of the items on Wright & Co.’s menu are the small-plate size; guests are encouraged to select and share several dishes. My friend and I also ordered the Butternut Squash Pasta – another out-of-control-good dish. The butternut squash and parmesan made for a decadently creamy pasta whose richness was enhanced by flavorful pork belly and Brussels sprouts. We also got the Pork Belly Sliders, which were pure perfection topped with arugula, tomato jam, and sriracha aioli. YEESSSSSS! This place IS obvi one of the special ones.

Wright & Co. isn’t in the upper-echelon of Detroit restaurant glory solely because of its food; its craft cocktails are damn good, too. Now, could I tell you what beverage I ordered there? Unfortunately, no. I captured the names of the dishes I tried at the restaurant that night, but I immediately forgot which drink I ordered. Whoops. It was the pink one shown in the photo above, and I think it had whiskey in it. All I remember is, I dug it.

I dug the interior of the restaurant, too. Wright & Co. has this classy-industrial vibe going on with its brick walls, copper hardware, and exposed-bulb lighting accented by rich-red booths and a painting of a stormy seafaring scene that looks like it belongs in your old-money uncle’s study. The windows of the restaurant also offer a premier view of downtown.

Wright & Co. is open for dinner at 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and for brunch on Sundays (from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Another aspect of the restaurant worth noting: we found it challenging to find. We spent about five minutes staring at GPS confused and walking around in circles because we didn’t see the restaurant. We then noticed a nondescript door in the building it was shown to be located within, 1500 Woodward Avenue. The door is not actually off Woodward but is around the corner. There is a buzzer system like in an apartment building where you can buzz the restaurant to let you in; I believe the door would be locked otherwise but am not sure because a guy inside the building saw us and opened the door for us.

Once you get inside the building, you enter an elevator and go up to Wright & Co. on the second floor. The elevator door opens, and you are there! You’ve stepped into an escape away from your everyday workaday world.

1500 Woodward Ave., Floor 2

Detroit, MI 48226

www.wrightdetroit.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

241. La Dulce – April 8, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170408_180021 (2)20170408_185207 (2)20170408_18244120170408_182656 (2)Hi guys! I am popping on before a Detroit Day (~SQUEAL!~) to recount my visit a few weeks ago to La Dulce, a Spanish tapas place in Royal Oak.

The interior of the restaurant is light and airy, sophisticated, done up in blues and whites. In addition to standard table seating, there are also clusters of upholstered chairs and couches situated around low tables, so that if you are eating at one of those (as we were), you feel as if you are at an intimate dinner in someone’s living room.

I enjoyed a glass of rosé with the tapas spread my friends and I shared: a bowl of green olives, the Ibérico Ham Tosta (thinly sliced cured ham on toasted bread spread with garlic, grated tomato, and olive oil), Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes smothered in a white cheddar sauce, spicy red sauce, and more Ibérico ham), and Gildas (skewers loaded with anchovies, tuna, olives, peppers, and cornichon pickles).

OK, if my 30s mean sitting in elegant restaurants sipping wine and enjoying flavorful tapas with good friends, then I am all about this life! Who said being an adult had to be boring, anyway? If you are looking to treat yourself to a fancy, grown-up-yet-not-dull night out, La Dulce is definitely worth a visit.

115 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.ladulce.com

238. Fillmore 13 – March 24, 2017 – Pontiac, MI

20170324_165022 (2)20170324_171159 (2)20170324_182615 (2)Hey guys! I’m so glad to be back on the blog with a post here today – finally! The last few weeks were a little cray-cray-ba-nay-nay as I helped to plan and throw a dear friend’s shower and caught up on life stuffs. I like to remind myself that a busy life is a good life but am glad things have calmed down a bit so I can get on here and share with you the awesome places I’ve visited over the last few weeks, such as the recently opened Fillmore 13 Brewery in downtown Pontiac.

So can I say that I’m kind of obsessed with downtown Pontiac right now? It’s really looking awesome! Not only is there a Slow’s To-Go down there and the excellent Exferimentation Brewing Company, there’s this great new brewery called Fillmore 13. I am loving its down-to-earth, industrial-chic vibes, welcoming demeanor, and delicious craft brews and grub.

During my Friday happy hour visit (which is obvi the best time of the week EVER to visit a bar – TGIF-style!), the friendly, attentive bartender let my friend and I try a few of the beers before we made our choices. I settled on a four-sampler paddle of the chocolate stout, apricot Belgian ale, hazelnut porter, and saison pale ale. I loved them all, especially the apricot (a refreshing, perfect-for-warm-weather brew!) and the hazelnut.

Food-wise, I got the BBQ Sidewinder Nachos, which are basically the epitome of drinking eats. They’re these crispy potato wedges cut in this curlicue-type shape and doused in beer-infused nacho cheese, sour cream, green onions, and glorious barbecued pulled pork – YESSSSSS.  That is happiness balm for the stomach and spirit right there.

What I like about Fillmore 13’s food menu is that they’ve got the typical bar fare such as those Sidewinder Nachos and chicken wings and pretzels and cheese plus more sophisticated offerings. Most bars don’t have, say, an artisan cheese platter; a charcuterie tray; a pizza topped with prosciutto, goat cheese, and arugula; or sandwiches named Turkey Brie. But Fillmore 13 does. And I love that. Because I adore a luscious, straight-up dive-bar sandwich, but I also love a pulled pork topped with green-apple coleslaw and nestled on a brioche bun. There’s enough room in the world for all the choices, right?

7 N. Saginaw St.

Pontiac, MI 48342

www.fillmore13brewery.com

236. Nancy Whiskey – March 12, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170312_114523 (2)20170312_114645 (2)20170312_120512 (3)Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all!!!

If you are looking to cut out of work early and indulge in some crazy St. Paddy’s Day non-adulting shenanigans, Nancy Whiskey is the place for you. Cuz you know this Corktown Irish bar is going crazy right about now with half-gone celebrants decked out in green knee socks and tophats and shamrock-themed face paint.

I’m not planning to go out and revel with the revelers today, but I am feeling mighty nostalgic right now for my early-to-mid-20s, when taking off work to start drinking green beer at 9 a.m. was a given. ~Sigh.~ Those were the days!

If I’m being honest with myself, though, I’ll admit I got my fill of the St. Paddy’s Day party vibes last Sunday after running in the Corktown 5K associated with the parade held annually in that historically Irish part of town.

If you’ve never been to the Corktown St. Patrick’s Day parade – held annually on the Sunday prior to the holiday – it’s definitely something you should consider experiencing at least once. It’s quite a spectacle! Just aim for a year when it’s not 40 degrees and downpouring (2016) or with temps in the teens and a bitter wind chill (this year). Crossing my fingers for a balmy 50-degrees-and-sunny experience next year!

But I digress – back to Nancy Whiskey! It’s one of the D’s oldest bars. According to its website, it’s been around since 1902! And the corned beef it served up on parade day was excellent. I’d heard good things about it from a former coworker and Corktown-parade diehard who was obsessed with getting a corned-beef sandwich from Nancy Whiskey every year, and man, it lived up to her hype. I only got one corned-beef slider, but it was loaded with an ample amount of tender, thinly-sliced meat – Mmmmmm. It was a much-needed beacon of comfort as I tried to ignore the fact that I was walking around in frigid temps in sweat-dampened race clothes (the unglamorous side of running in the Corktown 5K).

2644 Harrison St.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.nancywhiskeydetroit.com

233. Eagles Bar and Grill – February 20, 2017 – Chesterfield, MI

20170220_193247-220170220_180638-2Chesterfield represented on the blog! It’s another new-to-the-blog city, via a recent visit to Eagles Bar and Grill.

I love a solid sports bar, and The Eagles checks off all of my requirements on that front. Extensive menu of affordable drinks and grub? Comfortable ambiance? Ample TVs? Check, check, and check. They’ve even got select draft beer 22-ounce pours for only $2 every day. Score!

I wasn’t familiar with the area around the bar and was surprised to see that it was located within a retail area called the Waterside Marketplace. If you’re not familiar with this neck of the woods either, hang with your GPS, and you’ll be through the winding labyrinth of big-box stores and strip malls and on to burgers and brews before you know it!

50640 Waterside Dr.

Chesterfield, MI 48051

www.eaglesbargrill.com

232. Otus Supply – February 18, 2017 – Ferndale, MI

20170218_173945-220170218_180659-220170218_192810-220170218_182632-220170218_1851121Otus Supply! From its F’IN PHENOMENAL food to its mesmerizing hipster ambience, the recently opened Ferndale restaurant has me enamored with it. Can you tell by the number of photos I’ve included?

OK, part of my photog enthusiasm here was due to having recently gotten a new phone with a better camera. I’m not someone who puts a lot of stock in cellphones; sometimes I wish they were never invented on account of how they’re glued into all of our hands 24/7. But you know what? Having a pristine, speedy-moving, bug-free Galaxy S7 instead of my previous phone with its so-so camera, lethargic GPS system, and lemon battery that took twice-a-day charging is GLORIOUS. And emojis – I have a full span of emojis on my cell for the first time ever! This is life-changing!

Shamefully only half-kidding around my enthusiasm here. If we can’t go back to the days when no one except Zack Morris and our rich uncles had cell phones, I guess I’ll jump onto the pro-smart-phone bandwagon if it means I get to text people little pictures of burritos and kitties with heart eyes. I’ll simply refuse to be glued to mine and will continue to keep it on vibrate and ignore it much of the time, much to my mother’s chagrin (sorry, Mom!).

But I digress. Back to Otus Supply and how awesome it is! A friend and I decided to meet there after realizing that Ferndale is the perfect halfway point between our respective far-flung East- and West-side homes. I was surprised to see that the restaurant isn’t right in the thick of the 9 Mile-and-Woodward epicenter of downtown Ferndale but a bit east of it, just past the Go Comedy! Improv Theater (which I somehow haven’t visited yet after years of wanting to – new-place alert!) on 9 Mile. It has its own (tiny) parking lot, which is quite a distinction given the focus on metered public parking in the area.

The interior décor is a conglomeration I’ll call boho-rustic-industrial-chic: lots of wood, exposed copper duct-work, Persian rugs, brocade-print wallpaper, mysterious artwork. The sum of these design details is a pleasantly otherworldly vibe that I highly endorse. I’m all about a little escapism here and there.

The menu is a mix of small plates and a few entrée-sized items. My friend and I shared the Ourgherita – Otus Supply’s rendition of the Margherita pizza – and the sourdough-encrusted fried chicken, which were excellent. We also couldn’t resist ordering dessert and devoured the ice-cream-topped apple crumble served in a mason jar and the S’mores Thingy, essentially a gloriously deconstructed S’more with chocolate-and-salted-caramel-flavored macaroons, chocolate mousse, graham cracker pieces, and toasted meringue standing in for the marshmallows. Damn, were they both good!

And Hang Up Your Hang Ups, the rum- and sweet vermouth-based cocktail incorporating tamarind, pink peppercorn, coconut, and black garlic shavings, proved to be aptly named, as its alcohol-packed-prowess certainly helped me to forget my troubles for a while. A mix of signature cocktails, a wide-ranging selection of craft beers, and a few wine-by-the-glass options round out the drink menu.

Ferndale, you’ve got another beauty in this one! Welcome to the fold, Otus Supply, and I’m sure we’ll become reacquainted real soon.

345 E. 9 Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

www.otussupply.com

231. Central Kitchen and Bar – February 13, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170213_122414-2I deeply respect any establishment that makes me crave a turkey burger, so I know that Central Kitchen and Bar and I are pals after my recent visit.

I’m generally not a huge fan of ground bird. I find it to be a pales-in-comparison substitute for its beef counterpart with all of its savory, fatty, red-meat goodness. But the turkey burger on Central Kitchen and Bar’s lunch menu invoked me. Blackened and festooned with avocado and sweet peppers and muenster cheese on a brioche bun, it tasted as irresistible as its menu description made it out to be. A side of fries with garlic aioli further cemented the friendship between me and this tiny-yet-chic restaurant located off the lobby of the First National Building, the grand skyscraper that looms above Campus Martius in the heart of downtown.

This turkey burger wasn’t the only intriguing item on the menu. From the Roasted Baby Carrots salad with arugula, pepitas, feta labneh, and a fig sherry dressing to the Vegetarian Tacos with blackened roasted cauliflower, avocado, and crema, the other entrees items sounded equally as compelling.

660 Woodward Ave., #4A

Detroit, MI 48226

www.centraldetroit.com

230. Thee Office Pub & Cookery – February 11, 2017 – Romeo, MI

20170211_133111-220170211_120617-2OK, Thee Office Pub & Cookery = favorite name ever! Is that not an intriguing moniker? When my friend who lives in Almont and I were trying to think of a halfway spot between our homes to meet for lunch the Saturday before last, she proposed downtown Romeo and some restaurant options there; this one got my vote on name alone.

I’m gathering that this unique name comes from the fact that Thee Office Pub & Cookery is comprised of two rooms with distinct personalities: the restaurant side (the Cookery), which looks like a traditional dining area, and the pub side, which is everything I love in a bar: dimly lit and rustic, with wood paneling and eye-catching memorabilia (a fish made out of beer bottle caps, for instance) scattered all over the walls; reasonable prices; and friendly, attentive service.

I ordered the Cuban sandwich, which was excellent! The last Cuban sandwich I had (at a restaurant not in the Metro-Detroit area – we know better!) was crappy, so I was relieved to have its memory erased from my mind by this delicious one.

So Thee Office Pub & Cookery = amazing-ness! And downtown Romeo – I’m loving it, too! I’d actually never been down there prior to this, which is kind of shocking to me, considering I only live about a half hour from it. It’s a really cute small town with an old-fashioned vibe. On the Saturday we visited, there was an ice sculpture event going on, with many of the local businesses featuring outside their doors a Valentine’s Day-themed ice sculpture also incorporating some aspect of their trade (the dentist had one of a smile with hearts etched around it, while the toy store had an ice castle with hearts carved into it). And there was a horse-drawn carriage giving rides. Definitely planning to come back and soak in more of the town.

128 S. Main St.

Romeo, MI 48065

www.theeofficepub.com