Royal Oak

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

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

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

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

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

115 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.ladulce.com

239. Rebel Café – March 26, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170326_110900 (2)20170326_121723 (2)20170326_113306 (2)Sunday brunch has become a regular thing for me and two of my best friends, and Royal Oak is a routinely agreed-upon meeting spot. I thought we were running out of new places to try – until I stumbled upon Rebel Café!

All of my friends have been incredibly accommodating of my desire to visit locally-owned, new-to-me places for this blog. It’s at the point where many of them will automatically ask when we’re planning to hang out, “Where have you not been yet?” For this I love them more than they could possibly know. After three-plus years, I was afraid this obsession of mine with the novel would be getting tiring for them. But they have wholeheartedly embraced it, and I’m loving it. So cheers to my lovely pals! I’m glad to know they were getting sick of the same ol’, same ol’ corporate chains, too.

Sorry – little tangential love-fest there. But speaking of love, I can pretty much say I heart Rebel Cafe’s Asian salad. It is DELICIOUS – and I appreciate that they are not shy with the proportions on this one. This bad boy is loaded with shredded cabbage, carrot, jicama, crispy wontons, edamame, onion, and cucumbers and tossed in a sweet sesame dressing – and there’s the option to add chicken to it, too (yes, please!).

I had assumed that the Rebel Café was solely a breakfast and lunch joint – maybe because it features the kind of eats you would typically consume at those times: a slew of early-morning items such as pancakes and breakfast burritos, plus popular noontime items like sandwiches and salads. But it’s open in the evenings, too – until 3 a.m. (Coney Island competition!) on Fridays and Saturdays and until 9 p.m. every other day  of the week.

This is one of those casual joints where you order at the counter. The food was tasty and the place was clean and pleasant during my visit, so it’s getting my vote for a quick and affordable meal option whether morning, noon, or night.

410 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.rebel-cafe.com

229. The Morrie – February 5, 2017 – Royal Oak, MI

20170205_122447-2Today is a special day for 100 Places in the D, because it’s the first day of Blog Year 4!!!

I honestly can’t believe I’ve been posting on this blog for THREE years. I started 100 Places in the D in February 2014 with the daunting goal of visiting 100 new-to-me and locally-owned restaurants, bars, shops, parks, etc. within the Tri-County Metro-Detroit area over the span of a year, and somehow, I achieved and exceeded that goal with 102 visits.

My goal going forward was not to aim for 100 new visits each additional year, but to maintain the blog simply because I enjoy the hell out of it – it’s an excuse to make sure I continue to explore the area, get out of my comfort zone, and discover new-to-me local establishments. Thank you for following my journey, and if you’re intrigued by the prospect of starting your own version of the 100 Places Challenge whether you live in the D or elsewhere, I encourage you: please do it! Making exploring a priority has so brightened my life and expanded my horizons, and I hope it does the same for you if you’re inspired to follow in suit.

The Morrie restaurant in downtown Royal Oak has the distinction of being the last place I visited within Year Three of the blog. I didn’t achieve all of my goals set for Year Three (as always, I wish I had went further afield from my East Side environs more frequently than I did – there’s always Year Four for that), but I’m pretty pleased with what I did accomplish and mostly, with the fact that I’ve kept this all going. I’ll share a Year Three review soon.

Mostly, I have this rich and lively area to thank for the longevity of 100 Places in the D. D and Metro-D, I heart you! You never cease in unveiling intriguing new places for me to visit. 🙂

Take downtown Royal Oak, for one. It’s a fount of new establishments lately. What the heck is going on down there with the crazy turnover these last few years? Every time I go down to Main Street, I discover that a few more places have closed and new ones are slated to take their places. I hope for the sake of the businesses involved that it stabilizes down there. But one upside is that there are always new places for me to try despite the fact that I’ve been regularly visiting downtown Royal Oak since my teenage years.

The Morrie is one such recently opened establishment. It’s down near Bigalora, and according to a Detroit Free Press article I found online, it was formerly the Franklin Wine Store, which I kind of remember but never visited. I discovered The Morrie on Yelp when searching for a new brunch spot.

The rock-n-roll-themed restaurant/bar is a sleekly modern, beautiful space. There’s a wall plastered in classic vinyl and record sleeves. The Morrie’s big pull is that it hosts live music a few times a week: on Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes Thursdays, according to its website. A small stage juts out from the far end of the restaurant, intimately close to guest seating – an awesome vantage point from which to experience live music.

Live music wasn’t in the cards on my visit, because I was there for Sunday brunch. So were a lot of other people – specifically dudes, which my friend noticed, commenting, “Have you ever seen this many men at brunch?” There were two large tables of young guys near us. Apparently The Morrie is bro-brunch approved! We joked about getting her husband on board.

The restaurant’s brunch menu has such an eclectic mix of items that it’s easy to see how it would appeal to everybody in some way. There are classic breakfast items (French toast, pancakes, chicken-and-waffles) and iconic brunch items with a unique spin (three different varieties of Eggs Benedict, including one with pork belly and a five-space hollandaise and another incorporating potato skins). There’s a Croissant ‘Wich and bagels-and-lox, and there are items encased in bowls: the Smoked Salmon Bowl, Southwest Bowl, the Veggie Bowl. There’s a jazzed-up order of avocado toast sprinkled with pepitas, sunflower seeds, and chipotle-and-lime-infused salt, and there’s a sandwich called Chick Norris.

As someone who goes to brunch quite regularly but is not really a brunch person (conventional breakfast foods don’t especially thrill me), I so appreciate the vibrance, creativity, and extensive nature of this menu. I ended up getting the Asian Ramen salad, a filling bowl of shredded cabbage and carrots, thinly sliced red bell peppers, radishes, bean sprouts, orange segments, and crispy breaded chicken in a peanut curry dressing. I also ordered a side of beautifully fresh fruit and a whipped cream-topped Spanish coffee, the latter because the waitress suggested it and because Spanish coffees are one of those drinks that I love and always forget about.

Royal Oak has loved and forgotten many a restaurant, but I can’t see The Morrie succumbing to turnover anytime soon. It’s obvious a lot of care has been put into curating the interior design, the menu, and the bands (you can see a list of the scheduled live acts on The Morrie’s website under the “Music” section).

511 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.themorrie.com

205. Café Muse – October 30, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

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Hello, everybody! Happy Friday! This post is going to be short and sweet today, so we can all get out there and start exploring. 🙂

Last Sunday I was back in Royal Oak for the fourth time in two and a half weeks, for brunch with the gals at Café Muse on Washington Street. I’ve been hearing good things about this joint for years, and its Short Rib and Grilled Three Cheese Sandwich did not disappoint. The pretty, peaceful ambience of this small restaurant makes it the perfect place for a lowkey breakfast date (available daily starting at 7:30 a.m.). It also offers lunch seven days a week, starting at 11 a.m. (I ordered off of the lunch menu), as well as dinner Tuesday through Saturday nights.

418 S. Washington Ave.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.cafemuseroyaloak.com

202. Hamlin Corner – October 23, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

20161023_12531420161023_134905Hey guys! I hope you are having a fantastic week and finding yourself time to get out there and explore.

I had some shenanigans in Royal Oak this past weekend. I was down there Sunday for the third time in about a week and a half – this time at restaurant/bar Hamlin Corner, partaking in a special event put on by CycleBar Royal Oak. It was a Lions afternoon viewing party/brunch – preceded by a half-hour spin bike class that was conducted outside, on the sidewalk outside of the bar.

Have you guys ever taken a spin class? This was my first one, and I must admit, it was harder than I expected. Damn, my legs burned!

Note to self: don’t go to spin class already sore from the prior day’s workout.

Despite the challenging (and losing) battle of trying to spike my RPM (Rotations per Minute, according to my spin-savvy companions), it was a fun and novel experience. The music was bumping, the CycleBar instructors were lively, and bemused passersby were entertained, so that helped to distract me from the burn of the bike. And even though it was grueling for me, I expect that it wasn’t the most difficult of spin classes. Once I was done, I forgot all of my pain and was like, “Yeah, I’d do this again!” And I never felt any more sore in my legs than I already was – no hobbling down stairs gripping the guardrails for days like I am after some hardcore workout classes.

And after the workout, there was the buffet (including BACON – sweet, sweet reward! – and fruit and scrambled eggs and cubed hash browns and toast). We sat and brunched and watched the Lions game. Then we helped the CycleBar instructors wheel their exercise bikes back to their studio across and a little ways down Main Street, which was hilarious. I can now lie on my deathbed some day when I am super old and breath a sigh of relief that yes, I have really lived: I have pushed a stationary bike on wheels across a major road amongst a string of other people pushing other stationary bikes on wheels. 😛

I’m not sure how often CycleBar Royal Oak hosts such events at Hamlin Corner. You can check out its class schedule at this link to see if any such events are currently scheduled: www.royaloak.cyclebar.com/apps/mindbody/elements/list-schedule.

Spin workout aside, Hamlin Corner appears to be a pretty solid venue. It’s got a relaxed yet classy vibe; it feels like the perfect venue to chill, grab some food, and watch a big game with a group of friends. There are plenty of TV screens studded around its sleek interior and various seating options, including a long bar rail and tables that can accommodate larger parties. And it’s obviously open to hosting unique events!

386 N. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.hamlincorner.com

201. Ale Mary’s Beer Hall – October 14, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

20161014_23081520161014_232613Happy Saturday, everybody! After several days of rain and gloom, it’s blue skies and sunshine this morning here in the D, and I can’t wait to get out into the world!!! I spent all day yesterday in my house during a much-needed work-from-home day, but now I’m ready to break out.

Maybe you’re ready to break out, too. If you’re local, why not take a visit to Ale Mary’s Beer Hall in downtown Royal Oak for its excellent pub grub and expansive selection of craft brews?

Last Friday night, I met a friend I haven’t seen in a while in Royal Oak for a tea date at Goldfish Tea. Translation: we both wanted a cheap night.

(Goldfish Tea is lovely, by the way. It’s not cheap for tea – they do tea right! – but it’s cheap in the general scheme of life.)

And then my friend was like, “I could really go for a hamburger!” That was all she had to say to sell me. My financial resolve went right out the window at the mention of a greasy meat sandwich. We decided on Ale Mary’s because neither of us had been there (a woman after my own heart! – and one of the many reasons we are friends).

The long, narrow interior of the bar, done up in the popular industrial-chic style of the area, was noisy and crowded. We were able to convince two girls at the bar to scoot down a seat so we could grab two stools. After much deliberation (everything on the menu sounds AMAZING, especially at 11 p.m. on a Friday night) and feedback from our bartender server, I ordered the Cuban, a beast of a sandwich loaded with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, cracked mustard aioli (sooo good!), and McClure’s pickles and accompanied by crispy beer-battered French fries. My friend ordered the Beer Cheese Burger, which I tried; it was excellent.

I saved half of that Cuban sandwich and had it Sunday afternoon for lunch, after toasting it in the oven, and it was phenomenal – possibly better than it initially was. So so so so good.

Neither of us drank (I know, sacrilege!), but I was tempted to, because Ale Mary’s offers a fine assortment of craft beers, including some local brews.

316 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.alemarysbeer.com

 

200. The Office Coffee Shop – October 13, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

20161013_14512120161013_150412It’s a big one today, people! The 200th new place visited for 100 Places in the D!!!!!

During my first year of this blog, which ran from early February 2014 to early February 2015, I visited 102 new-to-me, locally-owned establishments. I marvel at this now, especially considering that I worked two jobs for half of that year, averaging 50-60 hours a week between the two of them and working seven days a week unless I took a vacation day. How the hell did I do it???

I’m proud that I accomplished my goal of visiting 100 new places in one year. It was the premise for this blog, of course! Post-achievement, I told myself that while I definitely wanted to keep moving forward with the blog, I did not need to hit 100 new places every blogging year. I envisioned a pace of about 60-75 new visits a year.

In Year Two, I hit a total of 61. My goal for Year Three is 65; I’m currently at 38 (this includes #201, which I’ll be writing about later in the week). That means I have 27 visits to go in less than four months, so I’d better get hustling! I don’t want to count too much on the potentially snowy months of December and January, so I’m looking to be especially intentional with my visits this November. I’m hoping to get further afield and hit more cities that I’ve never before covered on the blog, such as Wyandotte, Novi, and other places that are further afield for me as a Macomb County resident.

This blog and this habit I’ve formed of seeking out new-to-me places instead of visiting the same-ol’, same-ol’ corporate-chain ones all of the time have been so fulfilling to me. My world has expanded, and I’m not EVER going back to the old, small one where I repetitively made the rounds of B’Dubs and T.G.I. Friday’s and Boston’s. No thank you! OK, occasionally I still find myself at one of those places; they have their place in my world, and I’m not gonna be a total snob and refuse loved ones’ invitations to corporate chain restaurants or boycott my local Biggby when there are no independent coffee shops in my neighborhood (plus I still adore B’Dubs’ Spicy Garlic Sauce and feel a need to eat there at least once a year). The point is, I know now that there is so, so much more out there, more unique restaurants in the Tri-County area of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties than I will ever have time to get to – and new ones opening every month. Yay, Metro Detroit!!!! Yay to supporting local businesses!!!!

And yay to my 200th visit! It was nothing flashy, but it was lovely. I escaped work early on a sunshiny day last week and went to a place I’ve been wanting to check out for months and months and months, The Office Coffee Shop. It’s located in downtown Royal Oak, off of 4th Street on Lafayette Street (which is just beyond Washington Street if you’re coming from the direction of Main Street). I had an excellent cappuccino there with extra-extra foam, thanks to the great barista who waited on me. I sipped my cappuccino, wrote in my journal, and basked in the coffee-shop ambiance. I love coffee shops, and it had been a while since I’d visited one on my own and just sat there and wrote.

The Office has a very nice, homey vibe. There is plenty of natural light let in by the large-paned windows and plenty of seating options. I’m also intrigued by the driving concepts of this place. The owners of The Office, a husband-and-wife team, opened it with the dreams of 1) establishing a place that could be a co-working space for entrepreneurs and other professionals, offering them services that traditional coffee shops don’t, such as printer and fax machine access, conference room rentals, and mail shipping and receiving; and 2) operating a business that gives back. The Office accomplishes both, offering the aforementioned business-related services (plus several others) and giving 5% of the proceeds from each purchase to the customer’s charity of choice (the customer gets to choose from one of three featured; I chose for my donation to go to the Boys and Girls Club).

OK, the more I think about it, the more I am obsessed with this place! How excellent is this idea of marketing a coffee shop as a co-working space and offering these additional amenities? I need to get on with my dream of becoming an online entrepreneur so I can work there all of the time! And the charitable aspect is as smart as it is inspiring. Who doesn’t like to know that they are doing good while they are sitting and sipping a latte?

402 S Lafayette Ave.
Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.theofficecoffeeshop.com

 

 

163. Oak City Grille – January 30, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

20160130_200605Oak City Grille is a solid establishment with a menu catering to the classier crowd that frequents Royal Oak (think steaks, lamb chops, lobster raviolis). A raised stage behind the bar featured a talented singer-guitarist strumming acoustic versions of popular tunes on the Saturday night I was there – and according to the restaurant’s website, musical entertainment is presented every night Tuesday through Saturday from around 8:3o or 9 until closing time. Good to know!

212 W. 6th St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.oakcitygrille.com

150. Atomic Coffee – October 18, 2015 – Royal Oak, MI

20151018_164303 (2)I’ve always preferred Caribou Coffee over Starbucks. It just feels, I don’t know, the less corporate chain-ish of the two. Its shops are cozier (the fireplaces!) So I was sad when the Caribou in downtown Royal Oak closed a few years ago. It was a nice, spacious location.

BUT, there is another coffee shop in its place now – an independent, locally-owned one – and it’s great! Atomic Coffee. You may have seen its storefront with the cartoonishly large mug on your strolls along Main Street. I’ve been there twice now, once in mid-October and again a month later, during the early evenings on Sundays. I had thought the place would’ve started to clear out during that time period (Sunday dinners? Evening football broadcasts? Anyone?) but that was not the case. It was jammed-packed on both occasions, and only by the grace of God and some really astute scouting was I both times able to pounce on newly evacuated tables. I’ve never seen a coffee shop full of so many young people eager to study at once! Because yeah, the demographic is for the most part young and hip-looking, which is pretty much what you’d expect given the ambiance. Atomic Coffee is all white and sleek and modern – and hey, there’s the old Caribou fireplace with a blaze going over there! But it didn’t feel annoyingly over-pretentious to me. It has a good vibe. It’s a comfortable, homey place to get stuff done, when you don’t feel motivated to get that stuff done at home (because we all know we’ve been there!).

Not gonna lie, I haven’t actually had its coffee yet. I know, sacrilege! But I did visit on Sunday evenings – didn’t want to be rolling around in my bed wide awake until four in the morning afterwards. I had sparkling water the first time I was there and a very lovely tea latte and a Voss bottled water the second time. The reviews on Yelp do seem overwhelmingly positive regarding the coffee. Prices are on the higher side but are nothing out of the ordinary for a nicer independent coffee shop, and it’s good, quality stuff you are getting. Not only is there an extensive coffee and tea menu, but Atomic Coffee also offers raw juices and an impressive food menu, including sandwiches, salads, and breakfast items such as quiche and vegetable croissants.

So, in short, Atomic Coffee is pretty much awesome, and you should pretty much go there the next time you can’t stand being in your house anymore.

401 S. Main St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067

149. Saffron – October 18, 2015 – Royal Oak, MI

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20151018_161840I’m on a Royal Oak kick lately. What can I say, it’s a lovely town! Even after all of these years, there are still a bunch of places there that I haven’t visited – partially due to businesses closing all of the time there lately and new ones opening up in their places (what’s the deal with that, Royal Oak?). I’m not sure how long Saffron has existed in this storefront, but when I stumbled upon it as I was strolling around one leisurely Sunday afternoon, I was immediately excited. This shop is my jam! This shop is like the best part of my brain threw up in it and the throw-up materialized into clothes! Ok, that’s sort of a gross analogy, but it feels true to me. What I’m saying is, the delightfully hippie, free-spirit clothing and accessories Saffron offers quite resonate with my heart.

308 W. 4th St.

Royal Oak, MI 48067