Rochester

588. Downtown Tarot Company – October 9, 2022 – Rochester, MI

Downtown Tarot Company, radiating good vibes throughout downtown Rochester and beyond!

The locally-owned shop sells a sweet selection of spiritually/metaphysically-geared books, crystals, candles, oracle cards, tarot decks, and more. It offers aura photography and physic readings incorporating tools such as tarot and astrology, plus classes on topics ranging from tarot card reading to crystal grids, spell casting to astrology.

During my visit to Downtown Tarot Company in early October, I delighted over its neatly curated collection of colorful crystals. Its candles were especially compelling. Downtown Tarot Company offers its own brand of hand-poured candles. There are zodiac-themed candles; candles embodying specific intentions (such as Protection and Abundance); a line with each candle featuring a different tarot card, crystal, and scent (the Divinatio collection). Candle-obsessed creature that I am, I was in heaven!

I decided on the Cleansing candle from Downtown Tarot Company’s Altare collection. The candle is white wax poured into a tall glass jar, lavender-scented and studded with bits of dried sage and quartz crystal. It’s a beauty! I’ve been breaking it out whenever soothing vibes are in order.

A special candle from a special place, right here in Metro-Detroit! And online. Yep, you can shop Downtown Tarot Company’s wares from the comfort of your own home – though I’d recommend visiting in-person if you can. After all, there’s nothing like an in-person new-place visit!

331 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.downtowntarot.com

587. Recipes – October 9, 2022 – Rochester, MI

Recipes, a pinnacle of brunch places! The restaurant based in downtown Rochester serves hearty, flavorful fare in a setting worthy of champagne sipping.

Recipes’ menu is chockful of breakfast choices. It’s got omelets for days (including a make-your-own omelet-skillet option), a plethora of pancakes, granola, hashes, frittatas – you name it! There are seven kinds of Eggs Benedict, and egg skillets with names such as Rambler (a sophisticated mix of mushroom, chicken, broccoli, almonds, onion, and hollandaise sauce) and Straggler (a mix of mushroom, ham, Cheddar Jack cheese, tomato, onion, and potato). It’s a cornucopia of a.m. options!

More of a lunch person? Recipes has got you covered. Burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and Asian fare such as Pad Thai and Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio (vermicelli noodles with grilled pork) are included on its menu.

Perennially the person favoring the lunch side of a brunch menu, I opted for Recipes’ Crunchy Thai Salad. The mix of fresh raw veggies (cabbage, cucumber, carrot, cilantro, green onion) and healthful protein (chicken breast and peanuts) were just what I needed after a night of birthday-celebration indulgence. Fried wontons, rice sticks, and Thai peanut dressing brought additional crunch and vibrance to this wonderfully tasty mix, which was served with cheese-topped garlic bread.

Alcohol is also offered at Recipes. It serves brunch-friendly cocktails such as the Irish Coffee and Bloody Mary – and, as do other brunch spots of its ilk, champagne and multiple kinds of mimosas.

Ready to sip, savor, and celebrate a day a brunch-i-ness? Look no further than Recipes Rochester!

134 W. University Dr.

Rochester, MI 48307

(With additional locations in Farmington Hills and Troy)

www.recipesinc.com

545. Rochester Bistro – January 21, 2022 – Rochester, MI

Cozy up to the bar rail of Rochester Bistro – you won’t be disappointed! The restaurant based in downtown Rochester is serving up delicious food and drink – not to mention ambiance (à la the delightfully moody scene shown above).

During my January visit, I savored an excellently prepared filet with a red wine sauce, plus a glass of pinot noir. Red wine and red meat on a Friday night? Perfection!

Maybe red wine and red meat aren’t your thing – and that’s OK. Rochester Bistro features a full bar, plus entrée offerings such as Chicken Limon, Roasted Salmon with Artichokes, and Rigatoni Pasta with Braised Lamb Sugo and Pecorino.

227 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

538. D’Marcos Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar – December 17, 2021 – Rochester, MI

Dining at D’Marcos Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar was an absolute delight!

The Rochester-based restaurant offers a sleek, richly-furnished kind of cozy perfectly conducive to hunkering down on a cold December night. Its exterior being covered in white twinkle lights (as part of downtown Rochester’s annual holiday light show) only served to enhance the already magical ambiance.

Being out on a Friday night, wearing fancy shoes, sipping a glass of pinot noir at a corner table in a bustling restaurant . . . that in itself was magic! What a treat that was, a privilege – one that I don’t take for granted anymore since this age of COVID.

What a privilege it was to scan D’Marcos’ menu, its array of antipasti and pizzas and house-made pastas, meat-centric entrées and seafood dishes, and to choose the Veal Picatta, a bowl of piping-hot minestrone, and a side of sauce-laden noodles.

Is there anything better than pasta done right? I think not! That side plate of pasta was so good. I relished the perfectly al dente noodles covered in rich meat sauce.

And the Veal Picatta! Its tender slices of beef and artichoke hearts sautéed in lemon, butter, and white wine were so very excellent. I could drink a quart of that lemon-butter sauce all on its own, I think!

Wine, pasta, and picatta – what a trifecta! The night could have very well ended right there at D’Marcos, but I opted to keep a good thing going by ordering dessert. Enter one of the best slices of chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten in my life! With its to-die-for layers of ganache and overall chocolatey richness, this torte was utterly delicious. It was a fitting end to a special, satisfying meal.

The food wasn’t the only thing done right at D’Marcos. The service was excellent. Our server was kind, attentive – the kind of server who seemingly aims to curate an experience, rather than simply going through the motions. The manager checked on us several times, too during the course of that busy night.

A restaurant that values delicious food, dazzling ambiance, and distinctive service – how could I not love a restaurant like that? How could I not love D’Marcos?

401 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.dmarcositalian.com

534. Lettuce – November 22, 2021 – Rochester, MI

A recent trip to downtown Rochester (for cronuts from The Home Bakery, naturally!) gave me an excuse to lunch at Lettuce.

As if I needed an excuse to try a new-to-me place! I know I didn’t need an excuse to try one of Lettuce’s intriguing salads, grain bowls, or wraps.

The fast-casual restaurant opened in downtown Rochester this summer. Its bright interior was a welcoming refuge from the blustery-cold clime from which I walked in. Lacquered sage-green metal chairs and an accent wall of faux greenery provide pops of colors in a predominantly white landscape (complete with white laminate wood tables accented with white Mason jars spouting sprays of baby’s breath).

Previewing the menu before my visit to Lettuce, I was caught in indecision. Should I get the Mediterranean quinoa bowl topped with chicken, feta, spinach, chickpeas, cucumber, Kalamata olives, onion, tomato, pita chips, and Lettuce’s house-made Tangy Tahini Sauce? What about the Barbacoa rice bowl with it shredded beef, romaine, pinto beans, queso fresco, guacamole, Mexican crema, corn salsa, and crispy jalapeño chips? Or how about the Lettoush, Lettuce’s take on the fattoush salad?

So caught up in those tantalizing choices was I that I didn’t delve much into the wraps section of Lettuce’s menu, which holds its own enticing options (including the Turkey Club accented with avocado and arugula and the Caesar Wrap with its chicken, romaine, bacon, and Parmesan tossed in Caesar dressing).

Standing inside Lettuce, frigid outside air still clinging to me, I ordered on impulse . . . the Barbacoa! Its hearty ingredients sounded perfect in that moment.

They tasted perfect, too! How delicious that Barbacoa was! The beef was tender and flavorful, as were the ample drizzles of crema and guacamole. The romaine was fresh and crispy, and I loved the crunch the jalapeño chips provided. I gobbled that Barbacoa up! Protein-packed as it was with the barbacoa beef, pinto beans, and queso fresco, it left me feeling full for hours after.

Fresh, flavorful, filling ingredients . . . those are the makings of Lettuce. And those are the makings of a place worth revisiting!

121 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

(With an additional location in Shelby Township)

www.letsfeedu.com

521. Bakehouse 46 – August 14, 2021 – Rochester, MI

Here’s Bakehouse 46, offering up a sweet serving of collaboration! And cupcakes, and donuts, and cider . . ..

Located in downtown Rochester, Bakehouse 46 marries Blake Farms (of cider mill and hard cider fame) and Cupcake Station (whose eponymous treats have been delighting Metro Detroiters since 2006) with a sleek style that’s all its own. If you’re familiar with these beloved local businesses, you already know this is one EPIC mash-up!

I visited Bakehouse 46 during a jaunt in mid-August that had me bustling around downtown Rochester: to Catching Fireflies, The Home Bakery, and the farmer’s market. All that shopping worked up a hunger in me. Enter the Bakehouse Club: a delightfully soft Everything bagel sandwiching layers of bacon, ham, turkey, arugula, tomato, cheese, and scallion cream cheese.

WOW, was that sandwich delicious! What a melding of flavors: rich cheeses, smoky meats, juicy tomato, and zesty seasonings. And arugula! Bakehouse 46, you had me at the Everything-bagel sandwich – but add fresh, peppery arugula to the mix, and my taste buds are kvelling!

Bakehouse 46’s menu showcases several breakfast- and lunch-oriented bagel sandwiches. It also sells bagels sans the sandwich filling, plus coffee and the previously mentioned cupcakes, donuts, and cider. Check the shop’s online menu for its enticing – and numerous! – cupcake offerings, which include Snickers, Chai Latte, and Bump-a-licious (Bakehouse 46’s riff on Bumpy cake).

As someone whose grew up on Blake’s donuts (donuts so fresh as to make you cry tears of joy when you bite into them!) – I know Bakehouse 46’s are bound to be special. Blake’s cider (the best of the best!) is served there, too. There are also caramel apples made from Blake’s apples, and Blake’s jams and maple syrups. Other baked goods such as cheesecake bars, cookies, and brownies are sold at the shop, as well.

Let’s talk about the shop itself. Bakehouse 46’s interior is an ultra-modern, ultra-gorgeous amalgamation of glistening white tile, slate-blue walls, wood floors and furnishings, and buttery leather furniture. Potted plants, accent pillows, and a red Oriental rug provide pops of color. It’s a feast for the eyes – the perfect counterpart to the culinary feasting facilitated by Bakehouse 46’s menu. Here’s to harmonious collaboration!

205 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

(With an additional location in Birmingham)

www.bakehouse46.com

520. The Home Bakery – August 14, 2021 – Rochester, MI

The Home Bakery: purveyor of sweet treats for over 90 years!

The bakery based in downtown Rochester has been in business since 1930, according to its website. It mixes up all manner of baked goods, including beautifully imaginative cakes (check out the Zombiecorn and PB&J cakes on its website!).

Have a craving for a cupcake, cookie, cannoli, or eclair? The Home Bakery has you covered. How about a donut, danish, muffin, or pie? The Home Bakery makes those, too! It also bakes up one of the most wonderfully decadent desserts I’ve ever eaten: the cronut.

The Home Bakery’s cronut is a hefty iteration of the donut-croissant hybrid that had so many going gaga at its 2013 debut. This cronut’s layers of flaky croissant are formed into a square shape, dusted with vanilla-infused sugar, and thickly coated with vanilla bean glaze.

When I bit into that cronut, my taste buds exclaimed with joy! The juxtaposition of the deep-fried, sugar-kissed, vanilla-glazed exterior and the flaky-soft interior was SOOO good.

And that wasn’t all! Hiding inside The Home Bakery’s cronut was the pièce de résistance: a creamy filling the bakery’s website describes as “vanilla bean pastry cream.” I describe it as “WOW!”

All of these elements melded together to form one supremely rich, SUPREMELY DELICIOUS dessert.

At $4.50 apiece, The Home Bakery’s cronuts are not cheap. But they are worth every penny. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks that, as they routinely sell out (as I learned the first time I attempted to buy them). Calling ahead of your visit and ordering over the phone is an option – one you likely won’t regret!

300 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.thehomebakery.com

519. Catching Fireflies – August 14, 2021 – Rochester, MI

I was enticed inside Catching Fireflies not by its namesake bug, but by bubbles!

The shop based in downtown Rochester bills itself as “a whimsical gift gallery.” That value of whimsy was on full display when I stumbled upon its storefront one Saturday in August. Streams of bubbles danced in the air.

I followed the bubble trail to an open mailbox planted near Catching Fireflies’ entrance. A machine housed inside the mailbox spewed batch after batch of the soapy orbs – and kindled my curiosity about the shop. How could I not visit this whimsical gift gallery with a bubble machine and turquoise exterior?

I succumbed to spontaneity, entering the shop – and a treasure trove of goodies. It was filled with neatly curated collections of greeting cards, candles, soaps, socks, books, toys, knick knacks, magnets, and more. Beautiful items, quirky items, hand-crafted items – they were all there. It was everything a great gift shop should be: a wonderland of delights!

As would any gift shop of its ilk, Catching Fireflies made me want to buy gifts – for myself. I purchased a “Michigan Things” magnet that features such local institutions as party stores and “using your hand as a map.” I also snagged a copy of the Sister Pie cookbook, which I’d coveted for years! Visiting Catching Fireflies gave me an excuse to buy it. After all, I had to show my support for the whimsical gift gallery and its bubble machine – bubbles certainly don’t grow on trees!

203 E. University Dr.

Rochester, MI 48307

(With additional locations in Ann Arbor and Berkley)

www.catchingfireflies.com

516. Too Ra Loo – August 3, 2021 – Rochester, MI

Visiting Too Ra Loo was a highlight of my week-long staycation in early August. The restaurant/bar based in downtown Rochester provided integral staycation elements: delicious food and drink and a pretty patio (the optimal environment from which to enjoy summer sunshine and conversation with a good friend!).

Based on its name, I’d assumed Too Ra Loo was an Irish bar. But according to its website, it’s actually inspired by “Italian influences and inventive fare.”

Both Italian influence and inventive spirit are evidenced in Too Ra Loo’s pizza offerings. The extensive list of pies include the Belgian with its brussels sprouts, bacon, parmesan, and balsamic glaze and the Lafayette topped with the makings of a Detroit coney dog (chili, mustard, hot dog, and red onion, naturally!).

Too Ra Loo’s menu offers a wide-ranging variety of dishes besides those pizzas. The Small Plates section offers both traditional bar apps (nachos, quesadilla) and more refined ones (mussels in a “red curry coconut broth,” a whitefish pâté). There are entrée salads, burgers and sandwiches, and comfort-food fare such as the Steak and Potatoes and Spaghetti with Meatballs.

I surprised myself by choosing from that menu the Ancient Grains, a salad featuring a mix of greens and kale topped with lentils, chickpeas, pepitas, shredded carrots, zucchini, and cabbage, quinoa, and other grains and tossed in a citrus vinaigrette. I generally wouldn’t choose a healthful salad from a menu that includes such decadent fare as a Reuben sandwich or Cheeseburger pizza! But that Ancient Grains salad called to me in that moment. And I’m so glad it did, because it was FANTASTIC! All those fresh, hearty, healthful ingredients melded together to form supreme deliciousness. Despite its generous proportions, I gobbled that Ancient Grains salad in its entirety, savoring every flavorful, nourishing bite.

I also savored a pint of hard cider chosen from Too Ra Loo’s extensive beer menu. Many of the craft beers and ciders featured are Michigan made. And while I did said savoring outside, on Too Ra Loo’s patio, I’d love to return for a drink and a meal inside.

I’d characterize Too Ra Loo’s attractive dining room as upscale-industrial: lots of gleaming dark wood, brick, and exposed duct work. A wrap-around bar dominates the center, and plenty of TVs are featured throughout, primed to broadcast the games du jour. It’s a totally inviting space to cozy up with good food and friends – staycation or otherwise!

139 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.tooraloorochester.com

482. Park 600 – October 2, 2020 – Rochester, MI

In early October, I got to dine out on the Park 600’s beautiful patio. Take that, COVID-19!

The Park 600 is a restaurant at the independently-owned Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. While I’d never visited the hotel previously, I’d heard word of its elegance and was excited at the opportunity to experience it firsthand when I was invited to dine at the restaurant.

While I didn’t eat inside the Park 600, I was able to admire its interior while grabbing a drink at the bar. The restaurant exudes both modernity and class in its gorgeous mix of earth-toned elements – its rich wood paneling, bronze chandelier lighting, and granite-topped bar counter.

Inside that restaurant, I felt a longing for pre-COVID times – times when I ate in inviting establishments such as this one on a regular basis! But I haven’t felt up to indoor dining since the virus hit – and I doubt I will anytime soon.

The silver lining of it all was that I got to eat on The Park 600’s patio, and that was a lovely experience indeed – despite the temperature hovering around 50 degrees on that evening. Heat lamps – and coats – made the covered portion of patio pleasant. I admired the flagstone terrace in the soft white glow of the strings of bulbs strung overhead.

This outing familiarized me with the Park 600’s dinner menu, which currently features a profusion of luxe appetizers (Tuna Tartare, Baked Double Cream Brie, and Prime Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio are examples), plus soups, salads, pizzas, and protein-centric dishes such as the Filet Mignon and Crispy Skin Mediterranean Sea Bass.

The dish I decided on, the Roast Chicken (sans the wild mushrooms) was excellent. I’d chosen it because I was looking to behave myself by taking a break from red meat (my preferred protein) – but WOW, did Park 600 do poultry right via this dish! The chicken breast was so tender and flavorful served in the house-made marsala pan sauce, pairing well with the spinach, carrots, and parmesan mashed potatoes. I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

Satisfied as I was by this excellent dinner, the friendly, attentive server didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to order from the Park 600’s dessert menu! My dinner companion and I shared a slice of the chocolate cake, which was well worth the decadence with its layers of rich mousse.

In short, the dining experience was a stellar one – one I’m grateful to have had despite the pandemic. Thanks, Park 600, for an evening worth celebrating!

600 E. University Dr.

Rochester, MI 48307

(Open for lunch/brunch as well as dinner; check its website for hours)

www.royalparkhotel.net/park-600.htm