Rochester

279. Chomp – September 26, 2017 – Rochester, MI

October2017Chomp1 (2)This week I learned that the holiday lights start appearing on the buildings in downtown Rochester in mid-October. Mid-October! I’m not ready for that time of year yet and am trying to block out all references to it that I’m starting to see (I’m steadfastly one of those “It’s still fall!” people). Downtown Rochester did otherwise give off autumn vibes when I was down there Monday evening, with pots of mums on display and fallen leaves skittering about on a brisk wind.

The reason I was in downtown Rochester Monday was to take a re-take photo of Chomp, a restaurant I visited for lunch a few weeks ago and where I enjoyed a ridiculously good sandwich, The Nolan, an amalgamation of – get this – turkey, bacon, Brie, fig jam, arugula, and pear. It was HEAVEN. I mean, a turkey sandwich with rich Brie AND sweet fig jam AND peppery arugula AND juicy pear AND bacon – are you kidding me???? It was fantastic.

Chomp’s menu in general abounds with amazing-sounding sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas, and burgers that I need to return and sample more of. Raw juices and smoothies are also offered.

The restaurant is a casual establishment. You walk up and order at a counter, then can take a seat in the dining area, and your sandwich will be brought out to you. Our food was delivered promptly on the day I was there, despite the fact that a sizable lunch crowd had descended upon the tiny establishment.

I believe the best restaurant meals are the ones that make you think about them for days after eating them. The Nolan was certainly on my mind after my encounter with it; I mused about recreating it at home but have yet to do so. But I know that with months of cold weather and waning daylight setting in, I’ll be looking for things like that sandwich to be bright spots in my day (because inevitably it’s the little things that brighten life, isn’t it?). And if I can’t recreate that bacon-Brie-arugula-pear-and-fig-jam turkey sandwich, well, I certainly know where I can find it.

200 S Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

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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

255. Rochester Chop House – June 29, 2017 – Rochester, MI

20170809_195900 (2)20170629_181820 (2)Hi, guys! OK, I can’t seem to get it together on getting this blog up to date during this cray-cray-ba-nay-nay summer, so here I am today, posting about a visit that happened TWO MONTHS ago! But that’s life sometimes, right? Perfectionism is going right out the window – good riddance! We’ve gotta talk about Rochester Chop House in downtown Rochester.

I visited the Rochester Chop House on a Thursday in late June after my mom and step-dad officially tied the knot after 10 years together! So we were there for a legit celebratory dinner. Given the special occasion-y vibe of the dimly-lit, demure restaurant interior and its upscale menu offerings (various steaks; upper-crust seafood selections such as King crab legs, lobster tails, and scallops), this was the perfect place to be toasting a recent matrimony. I ordered the 22-ounce bone-in ribeye with its glorious fat marbling and flavor – delicious!

Rochester Chop House is part of the Kruse and Muer restaurant group. It’s interesting because it’s connected to another Kruse and Muer restaurant, Kabin Kruser’s, which is in the front of the building when you first walk in. It’s a more casual, seafood-oriented establishment with a lively vibe. I hear its fish tacos are great!

www.kruseandmuerrestaurants.com

237. Tonia’s Victorian Rose – March 21, 2017 – Rochester, MI

20170321_125022 (2)20170321_113006 (2)20170321_115355 (2)Happy Friday, guys! I hope you’re looking ahead to a weekend open to much fun and exploring. I’ve got some good plans on the docket for the next few days, including visiting a brand-spanking-new local brewery tonight (counting down the minutes until happy hour as I type!), so look out for more new posts soon.

Today is all about my recent lunch visit to Tonia’s Victorian Rose, a tea room located in downtown Rochester.

OK, so I know the term “tea room” is probably not the most ear-perking one for many of ya, but let me assure you, Tonia’s Victorian Rose is straight-up delightful. A coworker treated me and another gal to lunch there Tuesday, and once I stepped into its soothing lilac-walled, sunshine-kissed, vintage-tunes-infused, grandly-grandmotherly interior, I didn’t want to leave. I was like, “Can we go get our laptops and hunker down with pots of tea and work here the rest of the afternoon?” Seriously – because pretty much this joint is the antithesis of my corporate day-job office. It has good vibes, is what I’m saying.

As you’d expect, the menu of Tonia’s Victorian Rose showcases a multitude of teas, including intriguing flavors such as Acai Pomegranate Blueberry Green Tea and Lavender Earl Grey as well as various decaffeinated options. I enjoyed a pot of decaf Earl Grey.

And the food there was great! I appreciated the selection offered, which surprised me for a tea room menu. I expected the few typical choices: chicken salad, mini sandwiches of the cucumber and egg-salad varieties, the requisite scones. And yes, there are chicken salad and scones on the menu, and you can get trays of those OG mini tea-party sandwiches if you make a reservation ahead of time. But there are also: sandwich varieties that you might not expect, such as the Italian Chicken and the Grilled Veggie Focaccia; crepes of both the sweet and savory varieties; two kinds of quiches; pot pie; and several soup and salad choices.

I ordered the Extreme Victorian Rose Salad, a mash-up of two of the salads on the menu, the Cashew Chicken and the Victorian Rose. To be honest, I was confused about what I was ordering; I somehow missed that the Cashew Chicken Salad was a chicken salad of the aforementioned chicken-mixed-up-with-mayonnaise variety. I’m generally not a fan of chicken salad, so I was bummed by my misstep. But I ate it, and let me tell you: it was excellent! I loved the raspberry vinaigrette on the leafy part of the salad, the cashews mixed into the chicken-salad part, and the juicy mandarin oranges. The dish also came with a cranberry-orange scone accompanied by this awesome whipped butter with orange zest mixed in.

And then, there was dessert! Yes, the menu of Tonia’s Victorian Rose also offers various desserts, such as the rose-flavored ice cream topped with a dried (and edible) rosebud we enjoyed as a palate cleanser and conclusion to this tasty and tranquil meal.

118 W 3rd St.

Rochester, MI 48307

(Open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)

www.toniasvictorianrose.com

210. Bologna Via Cucina – November 30, 2016 – Rochester, MI

Happy Sunday, all! Did you get a chance to explore this weekend? Blessedly, I did; I got to try three new-to-me places this weekend, which I’m excited to post about on the blog next week! But today, it’s all about Bologna Via Cucina in Rochester.

Downtown Rochester is a treat to visit right now, with the Main Street buildings all brightly aglow come nightfall, decked out in holiday lights. The exterior of Italian restaurant Bologna Via Cucina is adorned with a shower of rainbow-colored lights.

Inside, the immediate storefront and bar area are tiny. There’s additional seating down a small hallway that snakes past the kitchen and bathroom. The interior has a cozy, sophisticated vibe. I found myself musing over that Billy Joel song, “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” Remember that one? “Bottle of red, bottle of white . . ..” OK, getting tangential here – focus, Jackie! In a nutshell, the restaurant gets high marks for style.

It also gets high marks for food! The Italian wedding soup was excellent. It had little cheese raviolis in the soup in addition to the meatballs and the spinach and all of that jazz. And my fettucine alfredo, despite its simplicity, was pretty great. It had a very rich, garlicky bechamel cheese sauce and thick, doughy pappardelle noodles.

Sometimes, simple is all you need. Although admittedly, ordering fettucine alfredo at an Italian restaurant is out of character for me – because in general, my stance is why choose an entree that I can easily prepare at home? Consequently, I usually steer toward novel or complex dishes. But when ordering at Bologna, I was annoyingly indecisive and craving cream sauce; hence, this impulse choice.

Later, I was regretful, as there were so many excellent-sounding and atypical choices on Bologna’s menu, such as the Maddie pizza topped with peaches, burrata cheese, basil, speck (a type of Italian cured pork), and a balsamic glaze; and the Traverse City Chicken, described on the menu as “almond crusted chicken, dried cherries, button mushrooms, cherry brandy béchamel” (and which my mom got and loved). For God’s sake, there is even a create-your-own pasta option where you can pick your noodle variety and sauce and add various meats and veggies! What can I say, I got an uncharacteristic bout of decision paralysis. Maybe I subconsciously wanted an excuse to come back and enjoy that cozy dining area fronting postcard-perfect Main Street.

334 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.joebologna.com

186. Rochester Brunch House – August 26, 2016 – Rochester, MI

20160826_12130720160826_12122220160826_12372220160826_123737Hello, all! Happy Tuesday!

It’s not too soon to dream of the holiday weekend, is it? If you live in the U.S. and are anything like me, you’re counting down the work days until the sweet, sweet patio-ing, barbecue-ing, bathing-suiting shenanigans. I am not going out of town for the Labor Day holiday, but I don’t mind. I just need a glass of wine, good company, and some golden rays! From what I can see of the weekend forecast so far here in Metro-Detroit, the weather looks like it’s going to comply with that last wish.

Speaking of sunshine, do you know which area establishment has some pretty excellent outdoor seating? The Rochester Brunch House! Last Friday, some coworkers and I lunched there. Located on Walnut Street (one street over from Main Street) in downtown Rochester, the lunch/brunch joint is nestled inside a large, Victorian-esque building that appears to have originally been someone’s home – typical of many of that area’s businesses.

Because the outside of RBH looks so quaintly old-fashioned, I expected its interior to be more granny’s parlor than contemporary. But it is surprisingly, gorgeously modern, all white walls, crystal chandeliers, and vibrant greenery both faux (wooden crates bestooned with fake lichen as artwork) and real (fresh, single-rose centerpieces on each table).

As I believe I’ve explained on this blog before, while I go to brunch with friends quite regularly, I’m admittedly not a big breakfast-foods person – mostly because I find eggs icky. And they are featured prominently in like 90% of restaurant breakfast menu items! Because the Rochester Brunch House has an extensive lunch menu – featuring a multitude of salads, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers – this made me a happy camper indeed! I ordered the Spicy Chicken pita wrap with hearty chicken, grilled jalapeños, creamy tzatziki sauce, and Swiss cheese.

Of course, most people are attracted to RBH for its brunch menu, which is also extensive – and, eggs aside, looks pretty damn phenomenal. I need to go back to try the Monte Cristo French toast; several people around us in the restaurant that day got it. We also spotted a few enticing platters of pancakes, all festooned in thick icing. And my tablemates’ Sammy Benny (Eggs Benedict with salmon), amped-up biscuits and gravy (including fried chicken and scrambled eggs), and chicken and waffles (pictured above) made for pretty displays, as well – and satisfied bellies!

301 Walnut Blvd.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.rochesterbrunchhouse.com

168. Give Thanks Bakery – March 19, 2016 – Rochester, MI

20160319_12352720160319_12384420160319_124727Happy Saturday, guys!!!! Today I headed over to downtown Rochester to visit a place I’ve wanted to go for months and months and months now, Give Thanks Bakery, a delightful little European-style bakery/café serving delicious fresh-baked pastries and breads and cakes and coffee drinks. Because heaven is an almond croissant and a cappuccino – or a margarita-laced Tigers game in mid-summer (almost here!!!). I’d take either, really.

You guys, Rochester is lovely, but traffic is crazy out there! OMG, what a cluster today!  Once I exited M-59 and turned right onto Rochester Road to head north, it was like every single person who lives in that area was out on the roads at once. OK, obviously that is an exaggeration, but not really. It was cray. It made the congestion of the Hall Road area where I live look like child’s play. Downtown Rochester was just as jammed, but the Universe was benevolent and delivered me an excellent parking spot behind the bakery after just a few minutes of circling. ~Sigh of sweet relief.~

Give Thanks was a welcome oasis of calm amid all of the chaos. Sitting at one of the three little marble-topped tables, savoring my croissant and my cappuccino in its tiny cup, I mentally regrouped. I soaked up the ambiance – the friendly chatter, the pleasant oldie standards (songs by Etta James, Frank Sinatra). Families with cute, energetic children filtered in and out, and obvious regulars interacted warmly with the staff. It was lovely.

You should go and savor a piece of that loveliness! And a chocolate croissant (I’m into croissants, as you can see). But be sure to get there early – Give Thanks is only open until 2 p.m. on Saturdays and until 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (it’s closed Sundays and Mondays).

225 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

www.givethanksbakery.com

 

 

133. Rochester Municipal Park – August 1, 2015 – Rochester, MI

Rochester Municipal Park

Yesterday, I ran in a 5K race at AdvoKate, a charitable event held in remembrance of Kate Hrischuk, a local six-year-old girl who died of brain cancer in 2007. Her family started this inspiring annual event to honor her as well as to benefit St. Jude and its research on pediatric brain tumors. So you couldn’t help but feel good running in this race! Not to mention, it was a gorgeous, clear-skied, sunny summer morning, and the Rochester Municipal Park – the race headquarters – is a beautiful facility. It contains a lovely pond, play areas for kids, and paths that are great for running, biking, and dog-walking. The race trail wound through the park, downtown Rochester, and surrounding residential areas. As you would expect if you’re familiar with Rochester’s topography, it was quite hilly – and okay, going up the hills really sucked at times. But the ease of the downslopes made those uphill battles totally worth it!

You can learn more about AdvoKate at http://www.advokaterun.org.

608 Seventh St.

Rochester, MI 48307

http://www.ci.rochester.mi.us/196/Municipal-Park

122. The Meeting House – May 31, 2015 – Rochester, MI

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The Fat Elvis french toast!

What a gorgeous place The Meeting House is! I was very enamored by it. I knew my instinct to brave the never-never-never-ending weekend rain and cold would play out ok, despite my initial resistance to swimming back out into it after just driving to and from Clarkston. (Preparing to ring in June in a rain trench, tall boots, jeans, and a knit hat? Not cool, Mother Nature, not cool.) I met a group of women there for a Sunday brunch. Not all brunches are created equal, and this one was happily in the pretty-damn-great category. Of course, there were brightly-colored, cutely-named drinks involved; any brunch place can produce those, but these were a little more striking. The one I ordered contained grapefruit juice and pepper-infused Valentine’s vodka – definitely a novel combo! There was also a luxe ambiance and, most importantly, amazing food offerings – check out the peanut-butter french toast dish, The Fat Elvis, that I ordered. It was awesome!

301 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

http://themeetinghouserochester.com