Patios

445. Detroit Shipping Company / Coop Caribbean Fusion – November 10, 2019 – Detroit, MI

November2019DetroitShippingCo.1 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.3 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.5 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.4 (2)The Detroit Shipping Company is a container for a lot of things: art galleries, live music, event space, bars, a food hall. There’s a place that sells coffee and ice cream (-320º Coffee and Creamery), a space that holds pop-up shops, a podcast studio, and plenty of outdoor seating (ah, patio weather!), including on a rooftop deck.

The 10,000-square-foot complex located at 474 Peterboro Street gets its name from the fact that it’s been constructed from metal shipping containers, which have been painted a striking metallic blue hue.

I visited Detroit Shipping Company on a Sunday afternoon in November. I went solo, a status I admittedly regretted upon walking into the food hall on the first floor of the building.

The place had the kind of atmosphere that begged to be shared with someone: lively, convivial, celebratory. Groups of family and friends clustered at the long wooden tables in the food hall, eating, drinking, and having a ball. I wanted to be there eating, drinking, and having a ball with my friends! But I decided to make the best of my solo time on that day, reminding myself that I could always do a revisit with pals.

Detroit Shipping Company’s food hall reminded me of a mall food court – except much hipper and with much more compelling offerings. Communal tables presided in the center, and a full bar and stalls staffed by local restauranteurs ringed the perimeter. A guitarist serenaded patrons from a second-floor balcony.

When checking out the foodstuffs offered at Detroit Shipping Company prior to my visit, I was immediately intrigued by the choices. There was a taco joint (Brujo Tacos and Tapas), a place that offered Thai cuisine (Bangkok 96 Street Food), a stand serving Nepalese dumplings (Momo Cha). And there was the stall from which I decided to eat: Coop Caribbean Fusion.

I was attracted to the restaurant’s flavorful-sounding food, specifically the Motor City Chicken Sandwich and Caribbean Fries. Those become my lunch!

After ordering that sandwich and fries at the Coop counter, I was given a buzzer that lit up and vibrated when my meal was ready.

Greeted by the sight of the open-face fried chicken sandwich nestled on a bed of Texas toast and slathered in barbecue sauce, bacon, cilantro, coleslaw, and aioli and French fries loaded with queso fresco cheese, Caribbean seasonings, cilantro, and cilantro-infused aioli, I was excited to dig in.

The meal was a flavor explosion! The barbecue sauce on Coop’s Motor City Chicken Sandwich was rich and flavorful, as was the coleslaw; its crispy chicken was juicy and tasty. And with their creamy queso fresco and zesty seasonings, the Caribbean Fries were the show-stealer of the meal for me, fried to an ideal crispness and loaded as they were with those luxurious toppings. Mmm mmm and MMM!

I’d planned to end my visit to Detroit Shipping Company with some ice cream from -320º Coffee and Creamery, but I was so stuffed from that decadent lunch from Coop that I opted to forego it. A return to this receptacle for ample food, drink, creativity, and community is in order, anyway; Detroit Shipping Company is the kind of place that entreats one to visit again and again – whether solo or with friends.

474 Peterboro St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.detroitshippingcompany.com

www.coopdetroit.com

432. El Club – September 8, 2019 – Detroit, MI

September2019ElClub1 (2)September2019ElClub2 (4)September2019ElClub3 (2)September2019ElClub4 (3)El Club! The venue in Southwest Detroit is an all-ages club that hosts musical acts on a near nightly basis. It’s also where I saw Stef Chura and Ezra Furman perform on a Sunday night in September.

I’d been wanting to experience El Club since I read about it in Hour Detroit a year or two ago and was thrilled when I saw that one of my favorite contemporary musicians, Ezra Furman, was going to be performing there. I ordered tickets right away – and was even more psyched when I saw that closer to the show date, local artist Stef Chura and her band were added to the bill. I was familiar with her music and knew she would rock out!

I’m not familiar, in general, with the artists featured on El Club’s events calendar. I presume most of them are up-and-coming performers or those who appeal to more niche audiences. I’m admittedly not at all hip to the alt-music scene – though after my visit to El Club, I want to be!

The venue’s concert floor is relatively small, looking to accommodate no more than a couple hundred people – and that’s frankly part of its appeal. It’s what makes seeing a show at El Club exciting – you’re going to be right down there on the floor, in the action, a part of a live musical experience that is much more visceral, more alive, than being stuck up in the nosebleeds at some slickly produced yet lifeless stadium show.

The show I attended at El Club was billed as starting at 7 – but that ended up being when the doors opened for the night, which my friend and I discovered when we arrived at the club about 45 minutes early, the sole early birds in sight (LOL). Our early arrival did make parking simple; there’s a lot across the street from El Club where parking is free, so we parked there.

Killing time was easy, as beautiful Clark Park is only a few minutes’ walk away, and we sat on a hill there and watched people being led through square dances by a bluegrass band. It was a surprisingly moving experience, people of all ages and races coming together to joyfully perform these old-timey dance moves.

Back at El Club once the doors opened, I got a beer from the bar (which is a full bar serving beer, wine, and liquor), and my friend and I hung out on El Club’s picturesque patio with its garlands of lights and mural swirling with vibrant colors.

We were waiting not just for the show to start, but for the pizza to appear, because El Club serves slices of the pie. I was under the impression that El Club makes the pizza, but on that night, it arrived via outside delivery. Regardless, it was fresh and delicious.

Sometime after 8, we heard an explosion of music – the show was starting! Stef Chura and her band had boarded the stage; they played for about a half hour to 45 minutes, and they killed it!

Stef Chura’s voice mesmerized me; its got this alt-’90s vibe that I really dig, and I legit found myself thinking “I wanna be a cool rock star like her!” (Maybe in my next lifetime.)

After about a 20-minute break, Ezra Furman and his band hit the stage and also rocked out HARD. It was exciting to see a guy whose music I’ve admired for so long playing that music right in front of me. I actually found myself exclaiming a few times, “He looks the same as in his pictures!” (LOL – bless me with my obvious, fan-girling statement!)

As Ezra thanked us in the crowd for coming out on a Sunday night to support the arts, I felt a proclamation welling up inside of me: “I am going to CHANGE my life: I’m going to see live music more; I’m going to visit El Club all of the time!” I had drank the El Club Kool-Aid – and it felt good.

Flashing forward nearly a month: I haven’t been back to El Club since that night; I’ve let daily life with all of its routines and obligations pull me back into its orbit. But I’m still excited by the memory of my visit there and scan its newsletter every week, seeking the act that will make another magic moment out of my everyday life.

4114 W. Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.elclubdetroit.com

431. Mike’s on the Water – September 4, 2019 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

September2019MikesontheWater1 (2)September2019MikesontheWater2 (2)September2019MikesontheWater3 (2)Post-Labor Day, I strove to hang on to that summer feeling by dining at Mike’s on the Water.

The Saint Clair Shores-based restaurant’s epic patio fronts Lake Saint Clair, offering up a picturesque view of the water and nearby marina. The patio itself is crowded with eye-catching knickknacks and features an outdoor bar area.

More epic features of Mike’s on the Water, because this place is seriously tricked out:

-An ice cream truck parked near its entrance proffering tasty frozen treats!

-A food truck on its rooftop patio (see it in the first photo above?) serving select menu items!

I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the ice cream truck or rooftop patio/food truck during my visit to Mike’s on the Water, because the ice cream truck wasn’t open and because my friend who accompanied me and I were all about the main-level patio, where Mike’s on the Water’s full food and beverage menu are available.

Browsing the variety of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, and seafood entrée items offered on Mike’s on the Water’s menu, I opted for the Classic Corned Beef Reuben with a side of tater tots. The sandwich was delicious with its ample portions of corned beef, Swiss Cheese, sauerkraut, and creamy Thousand Island dressing on grilled rye bread; the tater tots were delectably crispy, grease-saturated goodness.

Sipping a glass of red wine while eating that Reuben and tater tots, laughing and talking to my friend and enjoying the view from Mike’s on the Water’s patio . . . it doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks, Mike’s on the Water, for helping me hang on to that summer feeling just a little bit longer!

24530 E. Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.mikesonthewater.com

426. La Pecora Nera – August 22, 2019 – Detroit, MI

August2019LaPecoraNera1 (3)August2019LaPecoraNera2 (2)Ravenous hunger brought me to La Pecora Nera on a Thursday afternoon in August. With its hefty, hearty sandwiches, the downtown-Detroit-based deli is an ideal place to satisfy such hunger.

After over-caffeinating myself at Madcap Coffee (SO worth it, BTW), I hit that phase of the coffee-drinking experience where my temporarily-distracted appetite suddenly whooshed into awareness, craving ALL the things.

After scanning La Pecora Nera’s menu, that craving narrowed down to a hankering for its Reuben Italiano sub, which I enjoyed on the deli’s pretty, street-facing covered patio. It was delicious, packed full of flavor with its corned beef, cabbage slaw, pickles, mozzarella, and house-made Thousand Island dressing. I devoured it – and it, in turn, devoured my hunger.

La Pecora Nera’s menu features much more than that Reuben Italiano. It also offers a variety of other subs, such as the Italian Meatball with its crispy fried onions and  homemade marinara and the P.L.T., a luxe B.L.T. with pancetta replacing bacon and herb-and-garlic aioli dethroning garden-variety mayo; entrée salads; morning-centric items (breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, hash browns, muffins – available in the a.m. only); coffee and espresso drinks; and gelato (because satisfying one’s sweet tooth is never sweeter than after you’ve enjoyed a whole lot of savory!).

1514 Washington Blvd.

Detroit, MI 48226

(Closed Sundays)

www.lapecoraneradetroit.com

414. Cøllect – June 29, 2019 – Detroit, MI

June2019Collect1 (2)June2019Collect2 (2)During the last weekend in June, I went on a blast of a superhero-themed bike bar crawl (nothing like cycling with a posse of Power Rangers!). Cøllect was our first stop on that jaunt.

We started on our bikes at Cullen Plaza, riding the Dequindre Cut to the Eastern Market area and the bar, which resides above its sister restaurant, Gather.

Cøllect’s focus is craft beers, many of which are locally made. It’s got 14 beers on tap, plus bottled and canned varieties. It also offers cider, mead, kombucha, and red and white wines for those who aren’t into the ales and lagers, according to its website – and if those options still don’t suffice, you can bring cocktails from Gather up to Cøllect (nice!). Gather’s food menu is also available to order at Cøllect.

During my group’s visit, we ordered drinks at the bar and took them up to Cøllect’s rooftop patio, which offers picturesque views of the city. The beer I enjoyed there was delicious, a chocolatey stout, though I can’t recall its name or who made it. I do recall that the bartender on duty at Cøllect was cool about answering my questions and offering samples.

Other rad aspects of Cøllect: it serves free popcorn (LOVE!). And while food isn’t allowed on the rooftop patio, if you do want to munch on that free popcorn or Gather’s grub, the good news is that Cøllect’s main interior is a beautiful space, bright and airy with its white walls, blonde plank floors, and smatterings of potted plants and vases of flowers. Not bad digs from which to savor one of those well-curated brews!

1454 Gratiot Ave., 2nd Fl.

Detroit, MI 48207

(Closed Mondays)

www.gatherdetroit.com/cllect

351. La Dolce Vita – July 28, 2018 – Detroit, MI

July2018LaDolceVita1 (2)July2018LaDolceVita2 (2)Fellow patio lovers, rejoice, because today we’re talking about La Dolce Vita in Detroit and its supreme example of terrace living!

Touting itself as “Detroit’s best-kept secret,” the Italian restaurant on Woodward Avenue north of McNichols with a nondescript brown-brick exterior that’s all blink-and-you-might-miss it (and I did initially) is indeed hiding a Secret Garden-esque oasis around back.

Beyond its rear parking lot and valet-only parking ($5) beckons this gorgeous gated patio with its gurgling fountain, stately trees, walls thick with ivy, and vibrant flowers. It’s lovely. Sitting on La Dolce Vita’s patio made me feel like I was on vacation in Europe rather than off a gritty stretch of Woodward.

Partly because of this exceptional ambiance and partly because of the prices, I’d categorize La Dolce Vita as an upscale establishment. While costs aren’t shockingly high, they are more robust than those of the typical area Italian restaurant (side soups and salads are à la carte, for instance).

The restaurant also appeared to attract a particular category of clientele: older folks with money. I marveled as wave after wave of chicly dressed sixty-plus-year-olds crossed its threshold. They weren’t the only ones frequenting the restaurant; there were younger people, more casually dressed people, families – but they appeared to be the prime demographic on this Saturday night.

Overall, the place was kicking; the patio was full the whole time my friend and I were there (we were lucky to get the lone open table outside upon our arrival), and the interior of the restaurant filled over the course of our visit.

And you don’t have to be of a certain age or financial status to enjoy La Dolce Vita, my friend and I found. We basked in the glory of dining alfresco on a warm summer’s night, sipping wine and enjoying rich, flavorful fare. I deemed delicious both the minestrone soup with its chunky vegetables and the veal saltimbocca (Medaglioni D Vitello Saltimbocca on the menu) with its fresh sage, prosciutto, and rich wine butter sauce.

While I visited La Dolce Vita at dinner, I’d love to return for its Sunday brunch, which according to its website features bottomless servings of mimosas and Bloody Marys, a band playing patioside, and a wear-pajamas theme (!) the second Sunday of each month. That patio plus patrons in nightshirts and fuzzy slippers guzzling bottomless mimosas? Now THAT I gotta see!

17546 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48203

www.ldvrestaurant.net

344. For the Love of Sugar – July 15, 2018 – Detroit, MI

July2018FortheLoveofSugar1 (3)July2018FortheLoveofSugar2 (3)July2018FortheLoveofSugar4 (2)A new Detroit visit graces 100 Places in the D!!!

After enduring a 2.5-week stretch between visits to new places and nearly a month-long hiatus from Detroit, I was dying to get down to the D. So I fit in a jaunt to downtown-based bakery For the Love of Sugar, because how could I not make time for an afternoon caffeine-and-sugar-fueled sojourn?

I stepped inside the chic bakery off Woodward Avenue with its crystal chandeliers and turquoise-and-white color scheme on a mission to snag some of its macarons, which I’d heard were excellent. I was pleased to discover an assortment were available and chose four: one each of the Nutella, Birthday Cake, Lavender and Honey, and Ashta varieties. I also got an iced coffee.

Sitting at an umbrella-covered table on For the Love of Sugar’s street-facing patio, I sipped my coffee and tried two of the macarons.

The blue Birthday Cake variety with its colored sprinkles was yummy; the Nutella one blew me away. WOW, was that chocolatey-rich, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness! I could’ve eaten a platterful of those Nutella macarons.

I enjoyed the other two macarons later and appreciated the sweetness of the honey and the distinct yet not overpowering floral notes in the Lavender and Honey. The Ashta with its pistachios, orange, and ricotta filling was also quite good.

While For the Love of Sugar is known for its signature cakes and macarons, it’s also worth visiting for its coffee – because let me tell you, the iced coffee I had there was FANTASTIC!

What deliciously nuanced flavor this coffee had! I liked it so much that I asked one of the staff members who supplied it, and she said it was developed especially for the bakery by a coffee company based in Plymouth. The identity of that place unbeknownst to me, I’ll simply have to frequent For the Love of Sugar for my caffeine (and sugar) fix!

100 Erskine St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.fortheloveofsugar.com

330. Founders Brewing Company – May 19, 2018 – Detroit, MI

May2018Founders1 (2)May2018Founders2 (2)May2018Founders3 (2)May 19, 2018 heralded in what were for me two historic events: the wedding of Great Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (~SWOON~) and my first visit to Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Company’s Detroit taproom (NEW-PLACE TIME = ~DOUBLE SWOON!!!!~).

The historic nature of that second event is certainly debatable. But awesome ambiance, supremely delicious brews and food, and its own parking lot (a gem of a quality for a city-based establishment) made my visit to the Cass Corridor-area taproom as memorable for me as that royal wedding in my other favorite city in the world (Detroit will ALWAYS be my Number 1, but London definitely has a piece of my heart!).

That aforementioned ambiance: it’s perfect as we launch into summer. Founders’ large, airy taproom has an outdoor patio, plus garage doors that roll up and allow those inside to take part in the open-air concept. Industrial design touches such as exposed ductwork, utilitarian lighting, and counter fronts covered in sheet metal give the place an unpretentious, laid-back vibe.

Beer aficionados will love Founders’ extensive menu of its craft brews. I’m definitely no beer expert, but all of the IPAs and porters and stouts and such with their varying flavor profiles and alcohol-by-volume percentage points (currently ranging from 4.4 to a whopping 14.2) sounded pretty darn good to me. I settled on a pint of the Apricot Wheat, which I found to be a robust version of a fruit-infused beer that was not overly sweet.

I dug Founders’ food menu, too. It was packed with a variety of ridiculously-delish-sounding sandwiches, snacks, and entrée salads. I ordered the ‘Nam Nom Nom sandwich, described on the menu as “bourbon barrel-smoked pulled pork, pickles, carrots, red onions, sriracha, and cilantro-lime aioli on a telera roll.”

This sandwich with a tongue-twister of a name was HUGE – which meant I got full off of half of it and got to take the remaining half home to enjoy later.

And this was a more than leftover-worthy sandwich; it was supremely delicious with its tender shredded pork, crusty bread, crunchy pickles, and spicy sriracha. This was bar food at its best: rich, flavorful, filling goodness to soak up those brawny craft brews.

Ah, Detroit in the summer, with all of the possibility it brings – it thrills me as much as the grandest of weddings! Given all of its amazingly positive attributes, Founders Brewing Company can certainly be deemed a quality addition to the city’s restaurant/brewery scene, regardless of the time of year it’s visited. But man, does it promise to do summer well with that open-air seating and selection of fair-weather-suited brews!

456 Charlotte St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.foundersbrewing.com/brewery/detroit

263. Penny Black – August 9, 2017 – Rochester, MI

20170809_18022620170809_191028I’d been wanting to sit on the patio of Penny Black since I’d first spotted it last summer. Every time I walked past it for those next few months that I was regularly in downtown Rochester, the flower-bedecked, string-light-emblazoned terrace was crammed with happy-looking people engaged in lively chatter and appearing to have the best of fun. Granted, I passed it while en route to a short-lived second-job I lamented having picked up, so the scene looked even more convivial/the epitome of freedom to me during those occasions when I was questioning for the umpteenth time, “Why did I decide to take on another job again?

When I finally sat down for the first time on that Penny Black patio during a gorgeous evening in August this summer, I was long overdue. And I got to taste that sweet, sweet freedom once and for all!

I met my mother at Penny Black on a Wednesday night with ample time to enjoy the happy-hour food and drink specials. We took advantage and ordered a couple of discounted signature cocktails (fruity little numbers whose names escape me now) as well as the Vegetable Egg Rolls and Eggplant Napoleon (breaded and fried eggplant discs smothered in mozzerella cheese and served on a bed of tomato dipping sauce – delicious). Not on the happy-hour menu but equally enticing with its slathering of barbecue sauce and loads of chicken, bacon, red onion, and cheese was the BBQ Chicken Flatbread.

Penny Black’s food menu is not all apps and flatbreads; it also boasts a wide selection of entree salads, sandwiches, burgers, and signature dishes such as the Southwest Glazed Tuna Skewers and Barbacoa Beef Enchilada. Plus, currently on the dessert menu just in time for fall is a YATES DONUT BREAD PUDDING crafted from the cider mill’s donuts and topped with an apple creme anglaise. Ok, yes, please! I’ll take that with a side of freedom out on the patio while we’ve still got this exceptionally warm weather.

124 W 4th St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.pbrochester.com

256. Red Crown – July 2, 2017 – Grosse Pointe Park, MI

20170702_114710 (2)20170702_130215 (2)20170702_121700 (3)Hi guys! I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend and were able to enjoy the lovely weather and get some fantastic exploring in. I got a Detroit fix with a visit to a recently-opened coffee shop that is just LOVELY – more on that when I eventually catch up on this backlog of posts!

I was reminded of all of the places I’ve visited in the last two months and have yet to write about when recently scrolling through my phone photo gallery; a lot of awesome establishments are waiting to be profiled, and I hate that I’m so behind because I can’t wait to share all of the goodness with you. But it is what it is; I’m sure all of you can relate to that feeling of being behind on life stuffs and not wanting to let it get to you. One step at a time, right? And today’s step is to chronicle an AWESEOME restaurant called Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, where I went for brunch during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Yes, Grosse Pointe Park is represented on the blog – it’s a first for that city! And what an excellent representation of Grosse Pointe Park – Red Crown is fabulous. I love it’s ambiance, for one – it’s modern and stylish and fun and totally embracing the building’s legacy as the Standard Oil Red Crown Service Station built in the 1930s, with elements of the garage-y façade being maintained. And that patio! What a lovely patio, with its open air and cheery red umbrellas – and when I was there, a performer singing and playing piano and stirring up chill, brunch-y vibes.

And the Monte Cristo waffle I ordered – glorious! I admit when it came to the table, I was like, “Huh? This isn’t what I ordered,” because I expected it to be the stereotypical beefy brick of a Monte Cristo sandwich, except with waffles instead of bread. It was not; as you can see from the photo above, the dish looks like typical waffles, until you look closely at those waffles and see the layers of cheese and meat pressed onto one side of them. But despite the unassuming size, the flavor of this waffle mash-up was mighty, and the accompanying raspberry jelly and mustard sauce complemented it nicely.

I would love to come back to Red Crown for dinner. It leans toward Southern and barbecued offerings, which I totally dig. I want to order up an appetizer of fried green tomatoes, share a Southern Sampler for Two (described as “smoked Carolina pulled pork, RC brisket, Saint Louis style ribs, and baby back ribs” – yummm), and gorge myself with mac and cheese on that gorgeous patio in the last dregs of warm weather.

15301 Kercheval Ave.

Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230

www.redcrowngp.com