Nightlife

325. O.W.L. – May 4, 2018 – Royal Oak, MI

May2018Owl1 (2)May2018Owl2 (3)May2018Owl3 (2)Roadside diners encapsulate a kind of romance for many people, that whole freedom-of-the-road, classic Americana vibe. While O.W.L. is located in a suburb (Royal Oak), its perch along Woodward Avenue, that distinguished Detroit thoroughfare, makes it feel like it’s part of that roadside romance.

From the ’50s-esque exterior sign with its namesake bird outlined in neon lighting to the cheeseburger-meets-avocado-toast menu, O.W.L. exudes classic diner vibes with a contemporary, hipster bent.

The restaurant’s interior is tiny, and true to diner form, the seating options are counter-centric: you can either sit along a window-fronting counter with a view of Woodward Avenue or one that faces the kitchen line.  The ordering system is counter-centric, too: you give your request to the cashier at the end of the kitchen-fronting counter, pay your tab, and your food is delivered to you.

About half of O.W.L.’s compact menu consists of breakfast items, boasting five different kinds of egg sandwiches (including Chorizo Sausage and Cheese and Habanero Bacon and Cheese varieties) and other egg-centric dishes such as egg hash, chicken fried-chicken topped with eggs, and chilaquiles (a traditional Mexican dish made in this case with tomatillo salsa, cotija cheese, jalapeños, radishes, eggs, and cilantro). Wings, burgers, sandwiches, nachos, the Tacos Del Dia (tacos of the day), and other breakfast-centric (grilled cinnamon rolls, habanero bacon) and Mexican-influenced items (Chips and Pico, Torta Ahogada) round out the menu.

Upon perusing O.W.L.’s menu, I went with those nachos – a.k.a. the Double Layer Nachos. The thick, crispy slew of homemade chips layered with poblano cheese sauce, sausage chili, shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, fresh jalapeños, pico de gallo, and cilantro were rich, greasy, delectable deliciousness. While they may not be a standard on the average diner’s menu, these babies deserve to be; they are the ultimate in comfort food!

I’m not an egg person, but if I was, the aforementioned Chicken Fried Chicken and Gravy breakfast dish topped with eggs, Texas toast, and a poblano cheese gravy sauce and accompanied by peas and cilantro potatoes would’ve been my bet. My friend who accompanied me to O.W.L. ordered it, and wow, does that dish proffer a weighty portion! The Double Layer Nachos was no slouch with its portion size (as you can see from the photo above), either, and I happily had leftovers to enjoy the next day.

Eating at O.W.L., I found myself reminiscing over the Royal Oak-bar-hopping nights of my twenties; the diner would’ve made the perfect closing-time stop during those evenings of revelry. It’s rare that I stay out late enough anymore that I’m looking to hit a restaurant after the bars are shuttered, but if I do happen to find myself in the Royal Oak area into the wee hours and am jonesing for some gratifying grub, I know where to go! O.W.L. offers its particular brand of roadside romance 24 hours a day, six days a week (it closes at 10 p.m. on Sundays).

27302 Woodward Ave.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.owlwoodward.com

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315. Irish Tavern – March 17, 2018 – Waterford, MI

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I spent St. Patrick’s Day this year out and about, including a stop at Irish Tavern in Waterford. As you would expect from its name, the bar was decked out in full St. Paddy’s day glory and packed with drink-swigging, green-bedecked revelers.

I was one of those drink-swigging, green-bedecked revelers enjoying the live music and festivities, and I had my eye on the prize: that lunchtime corned beef sandwich.

True, my numero-uno priority on St. Patrick’s Day for much of my 20s was consuming a maximum amount of adult beverages (shocking, I know), but there’s nothing I enjoy more about the holiday now than the excuse to enjoy an EPIC corned beef sandwich. And I was pleased to discover that The Reuben on Irish Tavern’s menu is a glorious rendition of a corned beef sandwich.

This sandwich, with its layers of thickly-sliced corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand-Island dressing between two pieces of buttery, crunchy rye bread, served with perfectly crispy, supremely seasoned French fries, was SO, SO, SO, SO good! And fortunately, The Reuben appears to be a staple on Irish Tavern’s menu, so it can be ordered at any time of the year and not just on Luck-o’-the-Irish-centered holidays [cue me happy dancing!].

Other pluses about this place: despite the busyness of the day of my visit, the various servers I interacted with were prompt, polite, and friendly. The bathrooms were clean, not a hot mess as they often are at bars on occasions of this caliber (though it was still relatively early in the day).  And I see that Irish Tavern’s menu is loaded with enticing food choices besides The Reuben, including a variety of other sandwiches; salads; appetizers; burgers; and Irish favorites such as Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness Braised Corned Beef, and several dishes centered around boxty (traditional potato pancakes). Numerous local craft brews are available, and the whimsically titled Staycation section of the menu touts daily food and drink specials.

So the verdict is in: Irish Tavern is worth a visit, and not just on Luck-o’-the-Irish-centered holidays. Certainly I can come up with an excuse to consume an epic corned beef sandwich, regardless of the day of the year!

4703 Elizabeth Lake Rd.

Waterford, MI 48327

www.itwaterford.com

313. Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine – March 10, 2018 – Detroit, MI

March2018Vicentes1 (2)March2018Vicentes2 (3)If you visit Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine in downtown Detroit, try the Ropa Vieja – a.k.a. the Old Clothes.

OK, I know what you’re thinking: how good can a dish be that’s named after worn-out apparel?

AMAZINGLY GOOD, it turns out. The shredded beef cooked in a red wine tomato sauce with diced bell peppers and green olives was amazingly tender and flavorful during my visit a few weeks ago.

This is a smile for your stomach! This is comfort food at its finest! I seriously believe I could eat this dish accompanied by rice, black beans, and sweet fried plantains (SO yum in themselves!) every day, and I would be happy.

Of course, I also wouldn’t mind if the mint-studded mojitos I imbibed and the tres leches cake I ordered for dessert made more frequent appearances in my life – maybe not daily, but surely weekly (I am totally a chocolate person, but tres leches cake is LIIIIIFE).

Vicente’s struck me as the perfect special-occasion venue – and not only because of my table’s consensus on the food being of a high caliber of deliciousness. The dining room is sleek and contemporary, ideal for sophisticated soirees, and there is salsa dancing on Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 p.m. onwards, including free lessons for beginners. Live jazz music is played every Wednesday and Thursday, too.

Of course, I’d also argue that Vicente’s is the perfect place to dine whether it’s a special-occasion day or not a special-occasion day, because I’m a major advocate for everyday life being more magical (here’s to packing as much magic and whimsy and straight-up FUN into adulting as we can!). I know if I continue to frequent Vicente’s, savoring vibrant dishes such as the Ropa Vieja, Cuban Style Paella, and Medallones de Cerdo (pork medallions) to the rhythm of rollicking jazz tunes, I’ll get into the fun-zone of life a little more frequently.

1250 Library St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.vicentesdetroit.com

308. Lady of the House – February 16, 2018 – Detroit, MI

February2018LadyoftheHouse1 (2)February2018LadyoftheHouse3 (2)February2018LadyoftheHouse5 (3)February2018LadyoftheHouse4 (2)Great minds truly think alike – at least, they did one week in mid-February when my friend Jaclyn and I were trying to figure out which place in Detroit we should try next.

I was scrolling through Yelp when I found an intriguing prospect I’d not yet come across before, Lady of the House. I made a mental note to propose the place to Jaclyn.

A few days passed. The night before we were supposed to meet, she sent me a text: “Hey! Found this new place in Corktown!” that included a link to – where else? – Lady of the House’s website.

Of course we had to go there. The Universe had conspired to bring us to Lady of the House. And it was in Corktown, my favorite Detroit neighborhood? Oh, heck yes!

This was not a miss of a choice punted to us from the Universe, my friends. It was a resounding hit – one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. I already know Lady of the House is going to be on my Blog Year Five top-ten list!

The food was excellent, the ambiance was awesome, the service was exceptional – and most importantly, there was a chair in the ladies’ room embossed with Ryan Gosling’s face.

YES. You can enter the women’s restroom of Lady of the House and SIT ON RYAN GOSLING’S FACE! Not literally, of course, but symbolically (sitting on Ryan Gosling’s actual face without permission would be bad indeed). You can see photos of this Gosling-face-chair on Lady of the House’s Yelp profile.

Kidding aside, the actual most important aspect about Lady of the House has nothing to do with Gosling-emblazoned upholstery: it has to do, naturally, with the food. It is excellent, expertly prepared and infused with intriguing ingredient mash-ups that pair perfectly.

For our dinner, we chose from the menu of shared plates (which appears to change regularly) the Farm Greens, Cracked Potato, Cauliflower, and Parisian Ham.

The Farm Greens are, as you’d expect, a salad. But they are not any old salad: they are a delectable combination of fresh greens, apples, shaved cheese, pistachios, and creamy tarragon dressing. I know these ingredients all sound pretty ordinary, but let me tell you, under the care of Lady of the House’s kitchen crew, these components combined together to make a damn near magical salad. These greens were GOOD.

The Cracked Potato with tobiko*, basil butter, and capers and the Cauliflower dish accented with fennel, parmesan, and olives were sumptuous vegetable dishes. I think more people would heart vegetables if they were eating ones as carefully and flavorfully prepared as these were.

(*OK, wow, by just now Googling tobiko, which I was previously clueless about, I learned that it’s “flying fish roe” – a.k.a. the eggs of a fish called a flying fish. So I ate fish eggs for the first time and didn’t know it! I achieved a milestone in my culinary journey that I was totally oblivious of at the time.)

The pièce de résistance, however, was the Parisian Ham.

Our server explained to us when we ordered it that it simply came accompanied by butter – not just any old butter, but a butter made with Dijon mustard and fermented honey. She said that bread was not served with the honey and butter because it was thought to get in the way; the intention was to spread the butter directly onto the ham.

It sounds weird. But it was EPIC.

This thinly-sliced ham cured in house was SO GOOD: tender, flavorful, full-out deliciousness. The butter was wonderfully addictive, infused with the rich flavors of the Dijon mustard and the fermented honey.

(Who even thinks to ferment honey? A culinary wizard does – that’s who.)

I could eat that Parisian Ham doused in butter every day of my life. It’s probably better that I don’t from a cholesterol perspective. But from a pleasure perspective, it would be an obvious win if I did.

You know what else resided in the win category at Lady of the House? The dessert menu. We only tried one item from the dessert menu, but it was very much a victory of a choice: the Potato Donuts.

I know a confectionary delight crafted from a potato doesn’t sound so delightful. But let me tell you, it was. These potato donut holes were perfectly fried on the outside and decadently soft on the inside. The chamomile-infused glaze they rested in and the dried yogurt flakes and sugared, crispy stalks of thyme that garnished them were – again, weird-sounding but epically amazing accompaniments.

The drinks were just as good. I had two of the craft cocktails: the Vanquish and the Winter Fashion. The Vanquish with its scotch, Montenegro and Cardamaro liquers, and lemon and blood orange juices was my favorite. I also had a sip of the Lady Gin + Tonic, which with its pickle brine and black pepper was surprisingly refreshing and wonderful.

You know what else was refreshing and wonderful at Lady of the House? The service. Everyone we encountered while there: the host who brought us to our table, our server, the servers and/or food runners who brought out our dishes was friendly, polite, and downright wonderful. Friendly, respectful service can be in scarcity at trendy, elevated restaurants  – or at any old unelevated restaurant, for that manner.

That was not the case at Lady of the House. All of the dishes that were brought out to us were explained to us in detail. Everyone was pleasant and accessible and not at all snotty. I so appreciated it, as I’d experienced a string of not-so-warm dining experiences over the previous few months, and it was starting to make me feel sad. Thank you, Lady of the House, for helping to buoy my belief in the inherent goodness of humanity! You are AWESOME!

1426 Bagley St.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.ladyofthehousedetroit.com

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

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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

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

294. Stache International – November 17, 2017 – Detroit, MI

November2017Stache1 (2)November2017Stache2 (3)November2017Stache3 (2)November2017Stache4 (3)Hi guys! I’m glad to be back on the blog sharing with you another glorious place in the D after a week off – just in time for the weekend and any exploring you may be set on doing! 🙂

I hope you all had an excellent Thanksgiving if you celebrate that holiday. I was fortunate to enjoy a four-day weekend around it, and while I didn’t end up exploring any new-to-me Detroit-area places during that timeframe, I did get up to Mt. Pleasant to visit a friend (and my old stomping grounds from my college days at CMU – Fire Up Chips!) and did a revisit of M-Brew (where I guzzled cranberry-infused hard cider and played the heck out of the Ghostbusters pinball machine in celebration of a pal’s birthday). It was delightful.

You know what else was delightful? My recent visit to Stache International! After hitting up the recently opened Eastern Market Brewing Company two weekends ago, my night out in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Detroit continued with a visit to the sandwich joint, which I discovered is not your average deli (in the best way EVER).

Stache is more bar than sandwich shop. For one, it has a full bar – plus a dimly lit, eclectically hipster-trendy-slash-mysterious vibe. There are glossy black carousel horses flanking the bar, a plethora of eye-grabbing prints on the wall, and on the night I was there, two TVs playing a black-and-white movie that appeared to be Frankenstein and episodes of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, respectively.

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse! OK, I know ol’ Pee-Wee, or rather, Paul Reubens who played him, has a tarnished past – and legitimately so – but man! did I love that show when I was a kid! I hadn’t seen it in years, and I felt a fond wave of nostalgia when I saw it playing above the Stache International bar – nostalgia that the younger friends I was with who were babies when Pee-Wee’s Playhouse ended couldn’t relate to. Man, is that show trippy to watch when you’re an adult! It fits in well with Stache’s surreal aesthetic.

While I very much enjoyed the ambiance and the blast-from-the-past TV viewing, I was ultimately at Stache for the food. I found that while its menu is small, it contains many intriguing sandwich and appetizer choices. After deliberating and taking the server’s suggestions into account, I decided on the Turkey Mondulo, which is described on Stache’s website as “House smoked pulled turkey breast marinated in chipotle & negra modelo & honey-cilantro red cabbage slaw & rosemary garlic aioli on grilled sourdough,” and added avocado per the add-on option. I also couldn’t help but spring for the Firecracker Bites, which are essentially a spring roll-mozzarella stick hybrid: spring roll wrappers loaded with cheese and local jam connoisseur Gus & Grey’s Sweet Jesus jalapeño jam and deep-fried. YES, PLEASE!

The Firecracker Bites came out first. I had gotten the order of four (there is also an order of 12) and shared them with my three companions. They were INSANELY good. I mean, deep-fried spring rolls loaded with mozzarella, asiago, and delectably sweet-and-spicy Gus & Grey jam and dunked in Cajun ranch sauce – how can you go wrong? As I’ve mentioned several times before on this blog, I’m obsessed with Gus & Grey jams, and I certainly don’t find cheesy, deep-fried items unalluring, either.

Fun fact: our server told us that the husband of the woman who owns Gus & Grey is one of the owners of Stache International – so there’s the tie-in!

And then it was on to the Turkey Mondulo, which was PHENOMENAL! I was admittedly surprised to like it so much, as I wasn’t sure how appealing a turkey sandwich with cabbage on it would be and had relied more on our server’s enthusiastic recommendation of it than my reaction to the menu description when choosing it. But it was SOOOO good. The sourdough bread was irresistibly buttered and toasted to perfection, while the turkey breast and honey-cilantro cabbage slaw were pleasingly flavorful. I swore there was cheese on the sandwich, but I’m not seeing it in the menu description, so perhaps it was the garlic aioli whose delectable creaminess I adored in addition to the creaminess of the avocado? At any rate, the sandwich was amazing. The house-made potato chips that came with it were pretty darn good, too – crispy and well-seasoned.

My night out in the Eastern Market neighborhood concluded with a revisit to Detroit City Distillery, where the good vibes garnered from Eastern Market Brewing Company and Stache amplified as DJs spinned tunes while buoyantly happy dancers let loose. It was an awesome finish to an awesome night, but I was especially happy to have had the foresight to take half of my Stache International sandwich with me so I could enjoy it again later. The place is truly worth a revisit – and not just via leftovers.

1416 E. Fisher Service Dr.

Detroit, MI 48207

www.stacheinternational.com

293. Eastern Market Brewing Company – November 17, 2017 – Detroit, MI

November2017EMBC2 (2)November2017EMBC3 (2)Last Friday night was especially fun because (as I mentioned in my last post) I spent it downtown! Friends and I enjoyed a night out in Eastern Market, which I quickly realized is more loaded with restaurants and bars than I’d thought it to be. Our first stop? The recently opened Eastern Market Brewing Company.

Right away I loved the ambiance of this craft brewery established inside of a former meat-packing facility, from the exposed bricks and bare-lightbulb lighting to succulents in vintage cans studding the long pinewood tables to the hooks left as remnants from the building’s past festooned all over the walls. Wooden plant boxes crammed with lively greenery hang from one wall; a large mural of the brewery’s logo, a frolicking elephant wielding an EMBC banner with its trunk, emblazons another.

The menu contained an expansive selection of 15 brews on the night of my visit, from which I ordered four to populate a sampler flight: the Maize Cream Ale (a light-bodied beer infused with corn), Coffee Stout, Pumpkin Hefe, and Nitro Pumpkin (which led me to learn that nitro beers incorporate actual nitrogen – interesting!). All of the beers were good, but I especially enjoyed the Pumpkin Hefe – a.k.a a Hefeweizen (wheat beer) with a pronounced pumpkin flavor, subtle sweetness, and an irresistible hint of nutmeg. What a perfect brew to sip whilst huddled away from the chilly fall night in a cozy, convivial environs!

Worth noting: Eastern Market Brewing Company doesn’t have a kitchen-backed food menu, but snacks are available for purchase (I’m not positive what kind, but it did look like bags of popcorn were on display), and you can bring in outside food, as well.

2515 Riopelle St.

Detroit, MI 48207

www.easternmarket.beer

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

274. The Apparatus Room – September 14, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170914_18375020170914_184245How ’bout this as a testimonial for ya? The food was so good at The Apparatus Room that I forgot to take photos of its dazzling interior.

That testimonial is from, yes, yours truly, and that’s exactly what happened when I visited The Apparatus Room on a weeknight in mid-September. I was digging the Spring Vegetable Fritter in all of its deep-fried, dunked-in-spiced-crema glory and the Crispy Confit Chicken Sandwich with its irresistible spicy mayo so hard that I completely blanked on taking photos of anything but them. But I want you to see the dining room of The Apparatus Room with your own eyes, because it is spectacular with its white marble bar, old-school-elegant booths upholstered in earth tones, and multitude of bare lightbulbs hanging on strings around the bar area like glittering stars. So click the below link to the Apparatus Room’s website when you’re done reading and check it out!

The Apparatus Room is relatively new to the Detroit restaurant scene; it opened in May – which is also when the hotel it’s inside, The Detroit Foundation Hotel, opened to the public. Wow, is that place STUNNING! It’s no surprise it’s that gorgeous given the ambiance of its premier restaurant, and I’m actively looking for an excuse to stay there someday. The Apparatus Room got its name because the hotel is housed inside a former fire station, and the dining-room area is said to be where the fire engines and related equipment were housed. Sounds like yet another success story of a shuttered building in Detroit being repurposed and brought back into glory – love it!

If you visit The Apparatus Room sans reservation and can’t get a table in the dining area (which was what happened to my friend and I when we got there), I highly recommend sitting at the bar, where you’ll get attentive service, an abbreviated – yet tantalizing – food menu (~cue me geeking out over that Spring Vegetable Fritter and Crispy Confit Chicken Sandwich~)  and an excellent vantage point of the whole scene. We were later offered a table in the dining area after sitting at the bar, but we liked it up there so much that we decided not to move.

250 W Larned St.

Detroit, Michigan 48226

(Inside the Detroit Foundation Hotel)

www.detroitfoundationhotel.com/apparatus-room