Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Wah-Hoo

Got you all in check! (BUSTA!)

536 Shelby, Detroit
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 3 p.m. to 12 a.m., closed Sundays

"Out in the 'burbs, you'll find an abundance of cheap Chinese eateries offering a hodgepodge collection of American-Chinese dishes and sushi rolls friendly to the American palate. It may not be cutting-edge cuisine, but let's face it: it's familiar, cheap and still tastes better than most fast food. In the city, however, there is a severe lack of fast-and-cheap Chinese (food, I'm talking about — food). Shangri-La now has Midtown on lock, but the Central Business District (with all those pretty office buildings and the many people inside them who need to eat) was still missing out. Enter Wah-Hoo.

'Wah-Hoo isn't markedly "Chinese." There's no koi fish pond, no silk screen images of overtly "Oriental" landscapes. The space is spacious, minimalist and save for a few select touches (red-hued granite, a bronze Buddha statue high above the dining area, a calligraphy scroll drawn to look like the Detroit "D"), could just as easily be a contemporary steakhouse..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Metromode: Hungry for Success

You MUST MUST MUST click on the link below and check out Marvin Shaouni's photographs!

"September 2005, Detroit: Slows Bar BQ opens its discreet wooden doors. Detroit hasn't been the same since.

'There are few other restaurants in the metro Detroit area that have received as much national attention and acclaim as Slows. When Phillip Cooley opened this barbecue joint with his partners he was still in his late twenties. There was no way he could have anticipated the enormous success he would have with this casual concept restaurant.

''We really appeal to a broad demographic,' Cooley says of his restaurant's unprecedented success. 'We picked barbecue because everyone likes it, it's an American tradition, and it's one of the culinary art forms that's affordable.'

'Cooley heralded a new breed of restaurateur in Metro Detroit. They're young, attractive, smart, and savvy; they love food and know what it takes to run a successful business. As a result, their restaurants are hugely popular…but don't ever think it's easy...."

Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May Supper Club: Vince's 50th Anniversary

50 years ago Southwest Detroit was heavily populated with Italian immigrants, very different than the almost predominantly Hispanic population that exists today. Much like with other immigrant populations throughout the city, the Italians carved out their own corner of the city and there began opening businesses that celebrated their home country’s culture and traditions. Vince’s Ristorante Italiano is such a place.

Opened in 1960 by Vincenzo and Maria Perfili as a simple pizza parlor, Vince’s soon grew into a full-scale restaurant that was hugely popular with the community. Even as the area around them has changed, Vince’s has remained the same, serving the same hearty homemade pastas with award-winning house sauces that made them famous 50 years ago. The restaurant is now operated by Lidia Perfili, daughter of Vince and Maria, who still makes all the pastas, breads and sauces from scratch every day. The restaurant maintains its old world charm with red and white checkered tablecloths, classic Italian-American dishes, and the kind of attentive service that makes diners feel like they’re having dinner in someone’s home as a welcome guest.

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Vince’s is one of Detroit’s oldest family-run establishments. On Wednesday, May 26 from 6:00-9:00pm, Detroit Synergy’s Supper Club is celebrating this landmark occasion with a huge family-style event. Enjoy endless platters of rich, hearty, classic dishes prepared with care by Lidia and her team, and become part of the Vince’s family for an evening of great food and good cheer.

Diners will enjoy sharing the following:
~Tomato Bread (bruschetta)
~House Salad with homemade Italian dressing
~Pasta Arrabiata (a spicy tomato and basil sauce)
~Tortellini Alfredo
~Chicken Marsala
~Sausage & Peppers
~Sides of roasted potatoes, Italian beans, and pizza bread
~Spumoni for dessert

This is a true Italian experience that is as much about the food as it is about the family! $40.00 includes tax and gratuity (beverages excluded); tickets must be purchased in advance on the Detroit Synergy store at Ticket sales close on Tuesday May 25.

Detroit Synergy is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to generate positive perceptions and opinions about Detroit by bringing together a diverse community and building upon the City's strengths and resources to realize a common vision for a greater Detroit. Please visit for more information about the group.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

RDW: Restaurant Bites

Ha! No new restaurants in the city, GOOD DAY SIR! Behold, a rundown compliments of Real Detroit Weekly and me:

One door closes and another one opens. Literally. While it may seem that there have been a number of restaurants closing in the city lately ... well, there have been ... but almost just as quickly comes a new one to replace it.

We all shed a tear when (PROOF) closed. Thankfully, Grosse Pointe's self-described "high-class dive" Hard Luck Lounge has taken up residence in its former Woodward location across the street from Comerica Park. Hard Luck serves up some of the tastiest, most creative martinis around in a very stylish yet cheeky Vegas-themed atmosphere. Their menu of over 50 martinis includes fun, seasonal concoctions as well as a little something called the "Candy Shoppe." They'll also be launching their own private-label vodka.

In fact, this whole stretch of Woodward is experiencing quite a growth spurt. Inside Campus Martius Park on Woodward (where Au Bon Pain just closed earlier this year), Fountain Bistro will be opening early this summer and will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner in an atmosphere that is classic European café with a modern American sensibility. Fountain Bistro is owned by John Lambrecht, who also owns Bookies Bar & Grille.

In the Kresge building, Aaron-Micael Beydoun, a 24-year-old Detroit native who spent the past few years in Shanghai, has already soft-opened Chez Zara, a café so thoroughly Italian that everything, from the quality Lazzarro espresso to the furniture, is imported from Italy. Says Beydoun, a commodities trader, "Kmart started in the building. There's very rich history in the Kresge," he says. "I somehow want to help reincarnate what they did with Kmart — building something new in Detroit." Grand opening is Memorial Day weekend.

Down at the Compuware building, a Tim Hortons outpost just opened in the former Janet's Java location. And in the Compuware parking garage on Monroe St., Café Kabob Mediterranean Grille & Catering (CK Grille) will open in June. CK Grille will offer seating for 80, carry-out and catering, while targeting the weekday work crowd with daytime hours (they will stay open later for festivals and events).

Trekking a bit further down Monroe St., check out the just-opened Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Called "The best $5 burger a man can eat" by GQ, Five Guys is open LATE, serves up monster-size portions AND beer, and is also damn tasty. Did I mention it's open LATE? Till 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, midnight Monday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Sundays. Also in Greektown, Red Smoke Barbecue will be opening soon. It looks very Southern-chic, but will it be able to give Slows a run for its money?

It'll be tough once Slows To Go opens late this summer in Midtown at the corner of Cass and Alexandrine. The carry-out-only second location of this nationally-acclaimed Detroit BBQ hotspot has been buzzed about for some time, but it WILL be open by fall—owner Phil Cooley promised. I don't believe in God, but I believe in Phil Cooley.

This new Slows location will be located nearby another nationally-acclaimed Detroit favorite, Avalon International Breads. Right up until Avalon relocates, that is. This move into a larger location has been discussed for years, but may now actually happen thanks to the backing of three new investors (who own several Michigan restaurants and breweries all over the state, including the Bastone complex in Royal Oak) and Avalon's continued financial growth. Those of you (like me) who have ever tried to snag a table inside will collectively breathe a sigh of relief when this finally happens. RDW

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: What Crepe?

"This One!

'When What Crêpe? opened late last summer, it was love at first bite. OK, I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it WAS! Each delicate crêpe burst with fresh, scrumptious fillings. The Mushroom Madness? Pure genius — stuffed full of button and shiitake mushrooms and gruyere Swiss cheese, drizzled with a truffle zip sauce ... every bite is pure decadence. This is just as rich and as filling as a lobster béchamel or a tender filet with a gorgonzola cream sauce. And it's only $8.50.

'Chatting with owner Paul Jenkins Jr. is an almost soothing experience. This is someone who truly loves life and people. With a background in his family's construction business (which built such prominent commercial projects as the Motor City Casino) and his own special events design and promotion business, PJ has traveled the world several times over and even thrown parties for the likes of P. Diddy and Alicia Keys. His experiences have taught him all aspects of creating a successful business — from building and design to marketing and market appeal..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Toasted Oak Grill (Extended Cut from Real Detroit)

I'm going to be honest: I LOVED this place so much I had to write more about it than space allows for in the Clean Plate Club column. So here it is, the full cut of me gushing about how great this place is (and it IS). It makes the drive out to Novi worthwhile, and I have NEVER said that before!

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a gourmet market AND a sustainable restaurant adjoining a swank Novi hotel!

Toasted Oak Grill & Market just opened in April and already it has received rave reviews. But perhaps more importantly, it has received the attention of foodies from Ann Arbor to Detroit, many of which are already proud repeat customers. (It’s true: I took a Facebook poll.)

After seeing the space and sampling the cuisine, it’s no small wonder: the sprawling space which is separated into three distinct sections is refreshingly hip. Designer David Ashen, who has designed all of Sage Restaurant Group’s ventures, has created a space that feels “Up North” rustic gone ultra-chic: a suspended fireplace encased in slate-gray stone, wood floors and paneling, accented with bright, bold colors like yellow and royal blue, and modern, plush furniture. Decorative touches such as a crate, glass goblet, and candle wax sculpture in the middle of the second dining room add whimsy. The chalkboards announcing the cheeseboard and charcuterie selections create a fun, casual vibe—while also smacking strongly of Zingerman’s, which was a strong inspiration for this restaurant concept.

But wait, did someone say “charcuterie”? Yep: Chef Brian Polcyn of Five Lakes and Forest Grill, who is also considered one of the worldwide leading experts on the art of smoking and curing meats (“charcuterie”), is churning out a whole new generation of chefs dedicated to meat and sustainable cuisine over there in his classrooms at Schoolcraft Culinary School. Toasted Oak’s Executive Chef Steven Grostick studied under Polcyn in school, then trained under him for 11 years at the now-reconceptualized Five Lakes Grill. Grostick espouses the same ideals Polcyn drilled into him all those years: meat is an art; support local farmers.

When Grostick was brought into Toasted Oak, he was given complete autonomy to design a menu that is seasonal and sustainable, focusing on all things local from working with local farmers to all Michigan-made products. There is also an herb and flower garden outside in one of the three outdoor patios. “How awesome would that be,” exclaims Grostick, “the cook runs out of basil and someone runs outside with a pair of scissors! You can’t get any more fresh than that!”

The Pickled Spring Beets is a great showcase of Michigan in the spring, with butter lettuce, goat cheese croquettes, pistachios, and orange vinaigrette. The mussels used in their three different preparations are the superior Blue Hill Bay. The Mussels Dijonaise are served in a heavy Dijon, tarragon, and cream sauce, perfect for dipping the grilled bread and hand-cut frites that come with them. The Lake Huron Trout is served over a spring salad of frisée, spinach, and spring peas, with a mustard seed vinaigrette. And for bread, each table is served exceptionally moist cornbread out of a tin can with whipped butter and a dash of sea salt. (When asked about it, Grostick grinned and said, “That one I’m keeping a secret!”) I ended with the Butterscotch Blondie Brownie Sundae—ooey gooey decadence, served in a glass canning jar. Everything is also very reasonably priced here: the most expensive item on the menu is the Creekstone Farms Filet at $28, and this is beef that has been massaged daily and air-lifted to the slaughterhouse. The market plates include a variety of pates and terrines as well as cheese boards and Grostick’s own charcuterie platters. Much of what they make and use in-house is also available for purchase in the market, from maple syrup to dressings to a bacon caramel sauce that they cannot keep in stock. (And yes, it is THAT good—try it with cheese or ice cream.)

But what separates Toasted Oak the most from other restaurants is its retail wine pricing. Everything you see on the wine list is also available for purchase in the market, and all of it is priced the same—no 200+% restaurant mark-up. This is a concept almost unheard of; for only a small corking fee, you can enjoy a bottle of wine with dinner for the same cost as you would have if you’d bought from the market and taken it home. Also, in keeping with their local commitment, they’ve got the largest selection of Michigan wines I’ve ever seen in the metro area: labels like Black Star Farms and the tiny Peninsula Cellars that you just simply cannot find anywhere else.

Another shining star to add next to their name: exceptional service. The servers (many of them Detroit Fish Market refugees) are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and passionate, and this shows in how excitedly they talk about the food, the wine, and the ethos. While the Grill and Market are located inside the Baronette Renaissance, they are separate entities unto themselves. They do provide catering and room service for the hotel, but outside of that they’re simply a really great restaurant and market that happens to adjoin a chic hotel. From the initial concept to the product and the talent, Toasted Oak is scorching hot.

To read the article as is printed, click here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Special Feature: Mother's Day Brunch

You people seem to like lists, so here's one. Please note: this is by no means a "comprehensive" list--more like a list of places whose mailing lists I've ended up on one way or another and a simple copy-and-pasting of information that was sent to me directly. So, any of you restaurants who want to end up on such a list later, add me to your mailing list, ciao. (Also note: anywhere that does a regular brunch WILL be doing a Mother's Day brunch, so it's just a matter of what they might be offering and at what price.)

First, let's start with a great one-stop resource for a whole list of different restaurants with Mother's Day Brunch menus via Open Table. Click here. (Yeah, I'm making you do some of the work this time, what're you gonna do about it hmmmm?)

Grange Kitchen + Bar (Ann Arbor)
Join Grange this Mother’s Day and enjoy a brunch
that combines an eclectic and varied mix of breakfast and lunch with
ingredients from the area’s local farms. Spare the kitchen and celebrate Mom
with Grange.

Sunday, May 9th
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.


Angelina Italian Bistro (Detroit)
Check their Announcements page on their website. In the future, dear restaurants, please make your menu is copyable and not an image file that can't be copied or saved, thanks.

Cuisine (Detroit)
May 9, 2010

First Course
(Please choose one)
Grilled Pear and
radicchio salad with candied walnuts
Cream of corn soup with crab
Salmon Caesar with Cuisine smoked salmon

(Please choose one)
Pecan coated whitefish with an apple slaw and citrus
Beef tenderloin roasted with salsify potato salad and green
Roast Chicken in a port wine shiitake sauce
Mélange of vegetables – 6 different preparations

Strawberry sorbet
Chocolate tart
$30.00 per person exclusive
of all beverages, tax and gratuity
Josephine Creperie & Bistro (Ferndale)

On Mother's Day Sunday May 9th, Josephine Creperie & Bistro will
be open
from 10:30 am – 8pm

We will host a Brunch buffet from 10:30
am – 4:30pm
with seatings at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm
Our Brunch
Buffet Menu is listed below

We will host an A la Carte Dinner
from 4:30pm – 8:00pm.
Our Dinner will feature all your favorites from our
dinner menu plus some fabulous Chef specials such as Steak au Poivre, Duck
Confit with Port Wine Sauce, Seafood Newburg Crepes and Creme Brulee.

Reservations are Required for both Brunch and Dinner

Mothers Day
Brunch Buffet Menu
Adults $21.95 kids 4-10 yrs $9.95 under 4 yrs free

Starters & Cold Items
Fresh Fruit Tray
Cinnamon Rolls
Veggie Pasta Salad with Cucumber Dressing
Spring Mix Salad with
Raspberry Vinaigrette
Vegetable Crudite with assorted Chef's Spreads
Cheese Pate with Fresh Breads
Seafood Pate with Fresh Breads

Roasted Atlantic Salmon with Shrimp Newburg Sauce
Complete Omelet
Eggs Benedict , Canadian Bacon and Hollandaise Sauce on an English
Classic Scrambled Eggs,
Country Style Potatoes
French Toast with Grand Marnier Syrup
Glazed Baked Ham
Maple Glazed
Spinach Crepes~ Crepe stuffed with Spinach, Ricotta and Parmesan

Sweet Table
Profiteroles with Vanilla Custard Creme
Espresso Brownies
Strawberry Cream Cheese Loaf Cake
Blueberry Loaf
Nutella Banana Crepes ~ Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with Bananas &
Whipped Cream
Lemon Tarts
Many More Chefs Specialty Desserts

Reservations required for Brunch and Dinner
Mother's Day Brunch
Buffet 10:30 am – 4:30 pm
seatings at 10:30am,12:30pm & 2:30 pm
Mother's Day Dinner A la Carte 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Please phone for

My new favorite place in metro Detroit which I just discovered this week:
Toasted Oak Grill & Market (Novi):
The Baronette Renaissance Detroit-Novi Hotel (27890 Novi Rd 48377) will host a
Mother’s Day brunch from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 9. A Mother’s Day
dinner will be hosted by Toasted Oak Grill & Market from 3 – 9 p.m. that

Menu items will include an array of breakfast breads, danishes
and muffins; a cold table, which will include a display of imported and domestic
artisan cheeses, a selection of salads, smoked seafood and house made
charcuterie; a hot table of traditional and unique brunch items such as eggs,
hashes, bacon and sausage, breakfast potatoes, biscuits and gravy and Michigan
baked apples; omelet, pancake and waffle bars with assorted toppings; hot
entrees and sides including roast porkloin and Coq Au Vin; and a dessert buffet
of crème brulee, assorted tortes, cheesecakes and tarts, mini pastries,
chocolate mousse shooters, chocolate fondue and made to order Bananas Foster. A
fruit display including fresh sliced fruit and berries and yogurt parfait minis
will also be available. Bubbly champagne and bottomless mimosas will be
available for the adults and the children’s menu will include chicken tenders,
macaroni and cheese and hot dogs.

Toasted Oak Grill & Market will
host a Mother’s Day dinner that evening from 3 – 9 p.m. The three-course dinner
will include a special treat for mothers. Guests will be able to choose from the
following starters: Crispy Point Judith Calamari with lemon, zucchini, lemon
aioli and gremolata; Smoked Salmon Rillettes comprised of Pernod steamed and
smoked salmon with creme fraiche and accompanied by grilled country bread; Gulf
Shrimp Cocktail with gazpacho cocktail sauce; Grilled House-Made Kielbasa with
caraway beer mustard and warm potato salad; Pickled Spring Beets atop butter
lettuce with goat cheese croquettes, pistachios and orange vinaigrette; and
House Salad, seasonal lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shallot vinaigrette.

Entrée selections include Frites comprised of grilled Creekstone Farms
Bistro Tender with shallot butter and red wine sauce accompanied by frites; Pan
Roasted Amish Chicken with buttered turnips, green beans, grilled sweet onions
and pan jus; Wood Grilled Lake Huron Trout with frisee, spinach, spring peas and
mustard seed vinaigrette; and Creekstone Farms Filet Mignon with black truffle
butter and fingerling mash.

And to complete the meal, guest can enjoy
Butterscotch Blondie Brownie Sundae, with toffee chip ice cream, butterscotch
sauce, whipped cream, verjus cherries; Mud Pie with chocolate custard, chocolate
cookie crumbs, rocky road ice cream, hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, and double
chocolate cookies; Berries and Sabayon with seasonal berries, sweet marsala wine
and whipped custard sauce; or Key lime Pie with whipped cream and lime zest.
Ala carte selections at Toasted Oak Grill & Market on Mother’s Day
include Market Charcuterie Board including Chef's selection of charcuterie,
pickled vegetables, mustard and baguette toast; Market Cheese Board of Chef’s
selection of cheeses with seasonal compotes, crackers and baquette; and Chicken
Liver & Foie Gras Pate served with caraway onion jam and baguette toast.

For more information about the restaurant, please visit .

The cost of the brunch at The Baronette
Renaissance Detroit-Novi Hotel is $32.95 for adults and $15 for children ages
4-12, non-inclusive of tax or gratuity. There is no cost for children under four
years old to attend. The cost of the three-course dinner at Toasted Oak Grill
& Market is $35 per person, not inclusive of tax and gratuity. Please call
248-277-6000 for additional information and to make reservations for both

About Toasted Oak Grill & Market
An original new
restaurant concept born and bred in Michigan, Toasted Oak Grill & Market
features an imaginative menu of American brasserie cuisine, created by Michigan
native Chef Steven Grostick, with an emphasis on all things local. Featuring a
fresh market and wine shop that spills into an inviting and cozy dining room,
Toasted Oak Grill & Market is located at the Baronette Renaissance
Detroit-Novi Hotel, 27790 Novi Road. For more information, please visit

D'Amato's (Royal Oak)
Mother's Day is right around the corner and we'll be having one of our special
buffet brunches with 3 separate seatings at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm. After 12pm, our
full bar and bottomless mimosas/bellinis will be available for purchase. Price
is $26 adults, $8 children. Selections include an omelet station, crepes, fruit,
cheese, smoked bacon, salads, and much more. Book now as space is quickly
filling up. 248-584-7400

Real Detroit Weekly: Niki's Pizza

"Niki's Pizza in Greektown has been serving Detroiters its nationally noted pie for 30 years now. (Seriously: it was named one of the top 25 pizzas in the country by GQ's food writer Alan Richman in 2009.) In April, Niki's reopened after a three-week closure to unveil a brand-new look.

'This was Dennis Kefallinos' gift to himself and his customers. Niki's was the beginning of his business empire in Detroit, which also includes 10 loft properties (most of which have a 90 percent occupancy), commercial properties, the Russell Industrial Center and Russell Bazaar, the Shops at Kresge, Loco's, Coaches Corner and the recently-opened Niki's Lounge above the restaurant..."

Read the rest of the article here.