St. Clair Shores

317. Red Olive – March 25, 2018 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

March2018RedOlive1 (2)March2018RedOlive2 (3)I’d never heard of Red Olive restaurant until a few years ago, when I worked with a colleague who was obsessed with ordering takeout from its Auburn Hills location.

Little did I know until recently, this locally-owned chain has 16 locations – 16! – in the Metro-Detroit area. Apparently, I’d been living under a rock, and this place is beloved by many more people than my former coworker.

In fact, I recently learned that one of my very best friends is also a Red Olive regular. Her last meal before her scheduled induction to have her son last fall was its chocolate-chip pancakes. That’s right: Red Olive’s wares helped to fuel a child’s birth! That’s kind of a big deal, especially considering how wonderful this particular kiddo is.

It was becoming more and more obvious that I needed to try this Red Olive place for myself, and last Sunday, I finally did while lunching at the Saint Clair Shores outpost with my aforementioned devotee-friend.

I can’t speak for what décor has been adopted by the 15 other Red Olive locations, but this Saint Clair Shores location, not far from Lake Saint Clair, has embraced the nautical theme. Murals of sailboats afloat on a vibrant blue sea grace the walls. Dark stained wood and deeply-colored booths give the place a more refined look than that of the typical diner.

I was ravenous with hunger and psyched to discover how extensive Red Olive’s menu is. I’d admittedly assumed its offerings would be pretty basic, probably because my former coworker had ordered one meal over and over: a side-salad with ranch, lemon-rice soup, and pita bread – not the most adventurous of cuisines.

In reality, the Red Olive menu is loaded with options; the Wraps section alone was enough to excite me over its selection (there’s a Grilled Fajita Wrap, a Reuben Wrap, a Chicken Shawarma Pita Wrap . . .). An entrée-salad area boasts intriguing varieties such as Strawberry Chicken Avocado Salad, Fattoush Salad, and Chicken Avocado and Mango Salad. There’s a sandwich section; a breakfast section; a section devoted to burgers and Coney dogs. There’s an entrée section containing comfort-food classics such as meatloaf and roast chicken, a whole area devoted to gyros . . . you get the idea. There are a LOT of choices!

I zeroed in on that Chicken Shawarma Pita Wrap, as well as a baby Greek salad. My friend got a breakfast combination plate with eggs and hash browns and the like.

Our food came out quickly. The Greek salad was fresh and filling; the shawarma was wonderfully toasted on the outside and stuffed with filling, tender chicken, crunchy pickles, and delightfully garlicky sauce. YUM!

The food being delicious was the best part of the Red-Olive experience, of course, but our total bill barely topping $20 also didn’t hurt. Now I can see why this place is garnering admirers and sprouting new locations all across Metro-Detroit!

23977 Harper Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

(With 15 additional locations in the Metro-Detroit area)

www.redoliverestaurant.com

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284. Bommarito Bakery – October 7, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

BommaritosOct2017-2 (2)BommaritosOct2017-1 (2)I’d never visited Bommarito Bakery in Saint Clair Shores until a few weeks ago; however, I did have a memorable run-in with one of its cassata cakes a few years ago.

A friend of mine had a party at which she presented the cake; I tried some, and my mind was BLOWN. It was the best cassata cake I’d ever had – which is saying a lot, because cassata cake is one of those things I’m particular about – i.e., something I’d previously specifically entrusted Vito’s Bakery in Clinton Township to make for me, because Vito’s cassata cake was THE cassata cake. It was its cannoli filling, with those chunks of chocolate and the perfect amount of cinnamon, that sealed the deal . . . my family and I have long seen Vito’s as the winner in the cannoli-filling department. But here was Bommarito Bakery totally dethroning Vito’s in my mind. What was happening????

After Bommarito and its bomb cassata cake shook up my world and earned my respect, I knew I had to visit the bakery so I could cover it for the blog. Earlier this month, I finally did and learned that Bommarito is much more than a bakery; it’s also a pizzeria, grocery, and wine store.

The evening I was there was a busy one, as it was the night of the annual Michigan vs. Michigan State football game; people were loading up on grub for their viewing parties. I myself was there to pick up a pizza I’d ordered. While waiting in line to pay, I was able to scope out the shop in greater detail.

Not only is this place a purveyor of freshly baked breads, cookies, cream puffs, cannolis, donuts, cakes, pies, and the like, it also offers sub sandwiches and gelato – in addition to the aforementioned pizza. Then there’s the extensive wine selection and the rows of dry and refrigerated groceries. Bommarito Bakery really has all of its bases covered! Not only can you stop there and pick up some tasty baked goods for your next office potluck, while you’re at it, you can grab some subs for dinner, some wine to accompany it, that milk you ran out of, the bread for the kid’s sandwiches, that mind-blowing cassata cake. . . it’s truly a one-stop-shop kind of bakery!

21830 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.bommaritobakery.com

270. Journey’s End Coffee Shop – September 2, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170902_131142 (2)20170902_131436 (2)After breakfast at the Original Pancake House in Grosse Pointe Woods (which I’m always happy to visit because they have some of the best bacon EVER), I decided to stop into Journey’s End Coffee Shop in Saint Clair Shores to enjoy a cappuccino and catch up on some journaling. The coffee shop is small and only contains a few tables, but its staff is friendly; its golden-walled interior, welcoming. Smoothies, bagels, pastries, and a soup-of-the-day are offered in addition to a variety of coffee and tea drinks.

Worth noting: Journey’s End opens early – at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. But it closes in the afternoons (at 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and 3 p.m. the rest of the week).

25109 Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48081

www.journeysendcoffee.com

264. Watermark Bar & Grille – August 11, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170811_21022520170811_19063120170811_190715 As with several of the current restaurants on the Nautical Mile, the Watermark Bar & Grille has a legacy: it used to be the Beach Grill and then Tin Fish. You might think those ghosts of its hard-partying past would be hard to shake. But the Watermark seems determined to carve out its own identity, with modern nautical-themed decor, an extensive menu, and regular live music out on that gorgeous lakeside patio.

If being right on Lake St. Clair jamming to lively tunes brings out a propensity to be festive with the adult beverages (I mean, who could blame you, especially in these beautiful days of extended summer weather!), you only need to turn to the Watermark’s wide-ranging food menu to bring you back to center. It’s packed with a variety of hearty sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, signature hot dogs (such as The Southwestern, smothered in guacamole, jalapeños, cream cheese, and cilantro and wrapped in bacon – deluxe!), noodle dishes, Tex-Mex fare, and more upscale, surf- and turf-centric entrees such as filet and barramundi topped with crab meat and hollandaise sauce. I got the steak fajitas and enjoyed loading them up with grilled peppers and onions, Spanish rice, salsa, cheese, and guacamole.

Unlike some lakefront restaurants, the Watermark is open year-round. So even after the fair weather wanes, you can sit in its expansive dining room and gaze out onto the water, dreaming of the days post-thaw when you can hit that patio.

24420 Jefferson Ave.

St Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.watermarkbarandgrille.com

253. Eastside Bagel – June 11, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170611_110033 (2)20170611_111700 (2)Good morning, all! If this morning has not been as good as you’d like it to be, there’s still time to redeem it by heading over to Eastside Bagel in Saint Clair Shores. I mean, check out that delightful Everything-bagel sandwich above with its turkey and bacon and spicy cream-cheese. Perfection! Not hard to see why this place was bustling on the weekend morning that I visited it last month, patrons crowding around the little tables to enjoy their bagels, sandwiches, salads, and soup in leisurely Sunday-morning fashion.

21601 Harper Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.eastsidebagel.com

249. The GrubHouse – May 23, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170523_183051(1)20170523_183123 (2)May 23 was a busy day for me in visiting new places. I got a carryout lunch from the Troy location of Neehee’s, an Indian vegetarian street food joint, and enjoyed it at a picnic table overlooking the lake at Sylvan Glen Lake Park. Then I had dinner with a friend at The GrubHouse, a diner-type restaurant in Saint Clair Shores.

I appreciated that the decor at the GrubHouse was super cute and modern compared to the (non-existing) style you would see at a typical diner. It was obvious that the owners had put attention and care into its ambience. I also appreciated that the service was attentive, the food came quickly, and that the Michigan Cherry Salad I ordered, with its herb-marinated chicken, dried cherries, walnuts, feta (substituted for its usual blue cheese), red onion, cucumbers, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing was DELICIOUS.

As with any quality home-style restaurant, the GrubHouse’s menu covers a lot of ground, offering an extensive selection of appetizers; sandwiches; salads; burgers; Coney dogs; seafood dishes; and meat-centric entrees such as a chicken kabob platter, country-fried steak, and lamb chops (a steal at only $13.99!).

22230 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.mygrubhouse.com

228. Caffé Far Bella – February 4, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170204_134238-220170204_134843-2Hello again – and by the way, Happy February! I have a fondness in my heart for February, which is kind of hilarious to me considering that I used to hate it.

I hated February because it always was that part of the winter for me that felt like an unendurable slog, like “REALLY? MORE snow, MORE ice, MORE gloom?” Then I got sick of hating it and decided to find reasons to love it – which I actually got pretty good at.

February for me now is all about unending coziness (so.many.blankets), notable gains in daylight (it’s actually light out until 6 p.m. now – YES!!!), and making excuses for self-indulgences like fresh raspberries and good books (Valentine’s Day IS next week = good excuse to spoil ourselves). And it’s a time of hot beverages – lots and lots of warming tea and coffee.

Speaking of hot beverages, I stumbled across Caffè Far Bella this weekend while driving around on the East Side and craving a cappuccino. My GPS pulled it up as an option in Saint Clair Shores, and once I realized exactly where it’s located, I was like, “Oh, yeah! This is the coffee shop next to Cedar Garden I’ve always wondered about!”

Now I know: Caffè Far Bella is a delight. Stepping inside, I discovered a cozy, inviting space decorated in hearts and snowflakes. The man who greeted me behind the counter, who I believe owns the shop with his wife, emanated cheerfulness in that contagious way that makes you smile, too. After some harried driving about town, I was more than ready to sink down at a table in this friendly space with a steaming beverage, an Italian fig cookie, and the newspaper.

It was so nice to take time out to read the comics (when in the heck was the last time I did that?) and enjoy my cookie and decaf cappuccino, which were excellent. It was the first time I’d had the decaf variety of my favorite coffee drink, and I have to say, I did not taste the difference. In fact, it was one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had, so yay to rich flavor + no jitters!

In addition to selling a variety of coffee drinks and teas, Caffè Far Bella offers an extensive selection of baked goods, breakfast items, sandwiches, soups, and salads, making it a viable breakfast or lunch option. Also worth noting: it closes early most days – at 4 on Saturdays and at 5 every other day of the week except Thursdays, when it’s open until 7.

23415 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.cafefarbella.com

190. The Current – September 20, 2016 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20160920_190315Hello, all! Happy Monday! OK, I know Mondays are not the happiest days for all of us. But there’s a way you can make your Monday special: by doing some area exploring. Hit up The Current in Saint Clair Shores for dinner!

I was there for a good friend’s husband’s surprise birthday party last week, and let me tell you, being there amongst a bunch of cool people made my Tuesday evening so much more interesting.

The Current is in a plumb waterfront location of the Nautical Mile, in a building that has housed multiple incarnations of restaurants in the past decade or so, including a Rojo’s that I’d once visited. The view of the water from the restaurant is excellent. We ate inside, but I’d love to dine on that lakefront patio! The patio has an abbreviated menu (mostly appetizers, salads and sandwiches), which is why we didn’t eat outside.

I had no complaints about the food and drink I ordered off of The Current’s menus. My eight-ounce sirloin topped with Gorgonzola bacon butter was delicious, and I loved that amongst the proffered local beers was B. Nektar’s Zombie Killer – YES! It’d been awhile since I’d had that honey and cherry-infused hard cider, and I was all about it.

One thing I was not all about at The Current that I feel is worth mentioning is how incredibly staggered our food was coming out. Our group was large – probably about 25-30 people sat at two long tables. One server had each table. I heard a fellow diner say that the way the order input goes down there is that the server enters the order on a tablet, and the kitchen starts on each individual dish as it is entered in. Not the greatest method for a large party such as this – it resulted in what I estimate was about twenty minutes between the first and the last dish being brought out. Not cool, Current! There should not be more than five minutes between the serving of the first and last dish in a group of that size.

That is enough of me on my former-server soapbox. I prefer to highlight only the positive aspects of the places I visit for this blog, but occasionally, I feel the need to point out a less-than-stellar facet if I believe it will be helpful for you guys to know before visiting. I would definitely say The Current is worth a visit, but if you go with a large group, it would be wise to talk with your server(s) to make sure that your entrees will come out relatively all at once.

24026 Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

(Open for dinner Monday through Friday and lunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday)

www.thecurrentrestaurant.com

179. Eos Café – July 10, 2016 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20160710_162540 (1)My friend had become somewhat of a VIP at this new coffee shop in her neighborhood, Eos Café. She’d been coming in frequently and joked that the table by the window that she always sat at should be designated for her, so they put a sticker with her name on it on the side of it. I think it was on there for about a week, but Sunday when I visited the place and told the owner I met that I was her friend, we discovered that the sticker had been ripped off. VIP status denied!

No, not really. My friend is too charming to have anyone deny her the privilege of being denoted a favored regular. And this owner of Eos is too friendly for me to see him ever treating any customer as more than top-tier. On my visit, he took some time to chat with me and gave me a free iced tea. He was very welcoming, as was the overall vibe of the coffee house. It’s a beautiful space, very soothing to be in, and I found myself wishing it was on my side of town so I could regularly visit and get some writing done. Maybe I’ll need to find an excuse to come to Saint Clair Shores more often.

Eos is not just a beautifully ambient shop peddling the usual coffee and tea drinks; it also offers smoothies, breakfast items, salads, and a variety of sandwiches and paninis. (Ok, it’s not even 9:30 in the morning as I’m writing this, and I’m starving. I need a chicken pesto panini!)

30625 Jefferson Ave.
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082

www.eoscoffeehouse.com

136. Nautical Ride – August 19, 2015 – St. Clair Shores, MI

Heading over to my friend Candace’s house on this Wednesday evening after work, I mused, “What are we doing tonight again?” She had invited me to a free, organized bike ride meeting near the Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores, but I wasn’t clear exactly what it was all about. It ended up being an event called The Nautical Ride, St. Clair Shores’ version of Detroit’s weekly Monday night bike ride extravaganza, Slow Roll. And it was pretty awesome!

The night we went was one that looked really nasty weather-wise; it was threatening to storm, and it had rained very heavily where I work in Auburn Hills just a few hours before. So I was surprised to see what looked like several hundred people gathered for this bike ride, many of them children. If the children could brave the threat of a storm, so could I!

My friend and I soon learned that these Nautical Riders are not messing around! This is a very professional outfit. There are free helmets for those who would like them. There is cooperation with the police/city, who have approved having the cyclists take up the far-right lane of the roads they are traversing each week on the designated route. There are Nautical Ride volunteers helping to direct traffic through intersections and patrolling up and down the column of cyclists, making sure everyone is OK and everything is running smoothly. People with children riding are asked to gather at the front of the pack, then the rest of the participants are asked to line up based on skill level, with slower pedalers lining up towards the back. Yeah . . . we didn’t really end up heeding that, then struggled to keep up with those in front of us in the beginning, causing one of the roving Slow Roll volunteers to urge us to speed up. “We’re trying!” we yelled, pedaling furiously. Fortunately, shortly thereafter, the line in front of us slowed considerably, and we were able to easily keep up. And it was fun! I even somewhat mastered the wobbly borrowed bike that I was riding on (was it the bike, or was it just me sucking at riding a bike for the first time in years? Likely a combination of both!).

I would highly recommend hitting the next Wednesday night Nautical Ride that falls on one of these upcoming sure-to-be-gorgeous, early-fall evenings. The rides are sponsored by Roy O’Brien Ford in St. Clair Shores, and according to their website, are supposed to take place every Wednesday night through October. The Nautical Ride Facebook event page, which you can get to and view from the Roy O’Brien website even if you don’t have Facebook, lists the location each ride will meet at that week. The meet-up time is 6:30 p.m., with rides leaving at 7 p.m.

I neglected to take any photos on my ride, as I decided not to bring my phone with me. The above photo is one that was featured in a July 22, 2015 C & G Newspapers article about the event.

Held every Wednesday night June through October;

meeting location varies; riders meet at 6:30 p.m. and leave at 7 p.m.

http://www.royobrien.net/dealership/nautical-ride.htm