Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: New Year's Eats

7 in West Bloomfield

To celebrate its one-year anniversary (they opened 12/1/2010), 7 in West Bloomfield is offering an all-inclusive evening of dining and dancing for only $60 per person (and that includes tax and tip). The four-course meal runs from 9 to 11 p.m. (limited seats are available). The upscale appetizer buffet will have shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon, oysters Rockefeller, sushi, assorted cheeses, fruits and vegetables and a gourmet salad display.Options for the sit-down entree selections include filet mignon, pan-seared Chilean sea bass and lemon chicken piccata, all served with loaded whipped potatoes and a vegetable medley. And, of course, be sure to save room for dessert. There will also be party favors, a champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight, late-night snacks and a DJ spinning all night long. Cash bar; VIP booths and bottle service available. Call 248.737.9777 to reserve yours in advance.

Bookies Bar & Grille

Downtown Detroit's favorite entertainment destination bar, Bookies Bar & Grille, will be popping bottles precisely how you'd expect them to: with lots of music and booze. For their New Year's Eve party they are offering a $50 ticket, which includes an open bar from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. (four hours to drink $50 worth of booze? EASY) as well as a late-night coney dog buffet, champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight, and three floors of the hottest hip-hop, dance, house and top 40 mash-ups featuring DJ Technician and DJ Salvador Rivera. Watch the ball drop in Times Square on their HD TVs and 16-foot projection screen. Reserved seating and coat check is available, and a four-course prix fixe dinner menu is also offered for an additional $30 (not including tax or tip). Tickets can be purchased at


If Greektown's Monroe Street can substitute for the raucous French Quarter in Virgin on Bourbon Street (you'll only know that movie because it was filmed in Detroit, and not for any other reason), then Fishbone's Rhythm Kitchen Cafe is a wholly acceptable fill-in for the candy-colored hedonistic Creole vibe conjured by Mardi Gras. Fishbone's is a Detroit-styled homage to the voodoo jazz of the Bayou, complete with plastic beads and krewe masks. If you're looking for a New Year's Eve that requires a little less planning and preening — something as easy as, well, the Big Easy — head to Detroit's own Fishbone's. Enjoy their usual selection of fresh seafood and sushi as well as steaks, pastas and Creole cuisine, then kick back when the Brian Sheehan Band kicks off at 10 p.m., playing classic rock, new wave and original cuts on what is rumored to be a "sparking" guitar.

Gaucho SteakHouse

The only authentic Churrascaria in metro Detroit, this Brazilian steakhouse offers the kind of dining experience you won't get anywhere else. Your meal is presented in the Brazilian and Portuguese "rodizio" style where "gauchos" (meat carvers) bring a seemingly endless stream of fire-roasted skewered meats to the table (16 in all) and shave off unlimited portions to your pleasing — use the green and red chips to signify when you're ready for more or when you're throwing in the meat towel. Beef ribs, baby back ribs, lamb leg and chops, rump roast, bottom and top sirloin, chicken, sausage, pork tenderloin and more await you, along with their gourmet 30-item salad bar with accompaniments such as smoked salmon, salami, asparagus, and grana padano (a hard cheese similar to parmesan). The prix fixe menu is always $43.99 per person, and they will be open until midnight on New Year's Eve.

Bourbon Steak inside MGM

There are few other restaurants in metro Detroit that come even close to matching the atmosphere of sophistication and distinction of Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak inside the MGM Grand Detroit. This is not the kind of place you visit unless you have extra money you don't want anymore; that being said, the exceptional staff ensures that your experience is well worth the splurge. If you're after something a little more champagne and charcuterie and a little less bump and grind this New Year's, Bourbon Steak's indulgent tasting menu is calling to you. This special menu is $100 per person with an an additional wine pairing available for $50 per person (tax and tip not included). Start with an amuse bouche of caviar parfait, first course choice of lobster bisque or steak "Oscar," entree choice of prime rib or curried lobster thermidor and a Knob Creek malted milkshake with chocolate ice cream sandwich and salted bourbon caramel for dessert. Truly spectacular wine pairings include Moet & Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon 1992 and Louis Carillon Puligny-Montrachet Burgundy 2006. Dinner service is offered 5 p.m. to midnight and reservations are required.

Sangria Tapas Cafe & Sky Club, Metro Detroit Salsa, and Cuatro Cirios Tequila are bringing you the kind of New Year's Eve celebration you can step, twirl and cha-cha your way through with Salsa Explosion. Sangria Tapas Cafe and Sky Club will be doing what they do best: creating a sexy-as-hell culture of Latin food, music and dance in downtown Royal Oak. Four DJs will be spinning salsa, merengue, bachata, reggaeton and top 40 tracks to keep your pulse pounding and your hips swinging until 4 a.m. Tickets are $25 at the door or $15 in advance or with dinner purchase, and include continental breakfast. Three-course dinner packages include one tapa, entree and dessert and range from $30-50 (paella for two is $70 and includes two tapas and two desserts). Prix fixe dinner packages do not include tax or tip. Make reservations for one of three dinner seatings at 248.543.1964; tickets for the party afterwards are available through and

Tom's Oyster Bar

As luck would have it, New Year's Eve falls on a Friday this year. For those of you out there unfortunate enough to have to work that day, never fear: your after-work happy hour is continuing as scheduled at Tom's Oyster Bar in Royal Oak. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. enjoy $4 martinis, $3 calls, $3 pints and $1 oysters. And since you're already here, stick around for their NYE lobster specials: an a la carte lobster tail dinner and a surf and turf with lobster tail and prime rib (specials will run 5 p.m. to midnight). They will still have the full board of fresh fish that they're known for, as well as their namesake selection of six different cold water raw oysters. They — you know, THEY — do say oysters are an aphrodisiac ... and who doesn't want someone to kiss at midnight? Just some things to keep in mind. You're welcome.

Andiamo on the Riverfront

The tricky thing about New Year's Eve is all too often trying to enjoy it safely. This year Andiamo on the Riverfront is offering guests a package that will allow them to pop bottles without worry and let the booze flow like water. Guests will start with a four-course dinner at Andiamo and afterwards enjoy the evening doing all of the pure and innocent things people do in hotels, such as play Yahtzee in a deluxe room at the Marriott Renaissance Center. Enjoy its stunning views of Detroit and Windsor, all for only $279 per couple (tax, tip and alcohol not included). Call 313.567.6700 for reservations. RDW

Originally printed here.

The London Chop House Returns; So What Should We Expect?

The London Chop House is one of the most storied establishments of Old Detroit, perhaps second only to the J.L. Hudson's building in its infamy. People still tell stories about it to this day -- nearly anyone with any interest in Detroit history and/or dining culture can tell you that this was the place Chef Jimmy Schmidt cut his teeth before opening the Rattlesnake Club, or that this place was so popular that the Caucus Club was opened merely to contain its spillover (with another interesting sidestory that the Caucus Club was where Barbara Streisand got her start -- true, if only down to the actual letter of the phrasing). It was one of the top-ranked restaurants in the country from the 1950s into the '80s, collecting top honors from a variety of publications as well as a James Beard Award along the way. It was a revelation in painstakingly detailed tuxedoed service at a time when this kind of service was still very much in vogue, far exceeding other establishments in its committment to its customer experience.

When a guest made a reservation, he would arrive to find his table with books of
matches and a reserved sign all imprinted with his name, as well as a card with
a coin in a slot reimbursing him for his phone call. Alpha types jostled for
table #1, while regulars glowed with the knowledge that their suavely jacketed
waiter had remembered how many ice cubes they liked in their
(Famous in its Day)

The Chop House was a hallmark of Detroit's former grandeur, the very embodiment of wealth, power, and prestige that local industry afforded high-powered businessmen. To look at some of the old menus now reveals a steakhouse that is mostly unremarkable save for comparisons to anything other than a steakhouse, but this was the kind of place where the food played second string behind the concertmasters that were image, image, image. The London Chop House meant money, and diners may just as well have eaten their hundreds pan-seared with garlic and white wine for the privilege of being seen in a place imbued with such illustriousness.

But that Detroit is gone.

I'll spare you the hand-wringing over That Which Once Was; that time has passed and most of us who "reminisce" about it today weren't even alive to see it. The London Chop House is the preferred go-to reference point of how great Detroit once was, much as Slows is the contemporary go-to reference point of how great it can be once again. (Conversely it is also an fitting analogy of how far Detroit hath fallen; read this piece on its imminent closing, printed three years before it actually shut its doors, in the New York Times.) Anyone who has spent any length of time writing about food and/or history in this town has spilled their fair share of Internet ink waxing nostalgic on the Chop House (self included). So the news that leaked last week -- news that may have been a bit overlooked in the course of all the holiday hubbub -- that the London Chop House would be reopening after nearly 20 years was met with surprising quiet.

Or maybe it isn't so surprising. At a time when every new high-profile venture in Detroit is met with much fanfare and the usual suspects doing backflips months in advance of its opening on the Craig Fahle Show, the re-opening of the London Chop House has been shrouded in secrecy. The few who do know any significant details about it -- whether garnered by legitimate means or through the grapevine of legitimate hearsay -- aren't at liberty to talk about it.

Here's what CAN be said: the restaurant that is opening is under the ownership of the Gatzaros family, local restaurateurs responsible for the Fishbone's chain as well as the fairly-new Wah-Hoo (an upscale Chinese restaurant in the Central Business District). It is being called the London Chop House & Cigar Bar. It will be located at 155 Congress St. in the lower level of the Murphy Building, the same location as before.

Aside from its name and location, any other similarities between the old Chop House and this doppleganger have yet to be revealed. The owners are extremely tight-lipped about it (like, legal action tight-lipped ... like, this might be my third law suit threat tight-lipped), and while it is supposedly scheduled to open in about a month there is almost no information available about it.

The secrecy may serve it well: sometimes the best way to build interest in something is to say absolutely nothing about it. But this lack of buzz early on may also not bode well for the new business: it is possible to be so secretive that no one knows about it, and thus no one cares. Perhaps they want to test the waters and get their feet wet before striking up the band and setting off the fireworks -- a prudent move for such a high-profile venture. Or should I say re-venture. The Gatzaros family have a solid enough track record with their successful chain of Creole-styled seafood restaurants (whether you think Fishbone's is a particularly good chain of restaurants I'll leave up to you), though this would be their first foray into true fine dining. If, indeed, that is the track they're pursuing, which is merely assumed by the namesake.

The question I'm left asking is: why? In my cautious and hesitant nature (some would say sarcastic ... some would say worse), I can't help but wonder if this reincarnation is less about living up to the former incarnation's glory and more about simply capitalizing on it. But let's just say the efforts are sincere: can it live up to the reputation of THE London Chop House? ***THE*** London Chop House. It would be like Rome trying to call itself the Holy Roman Empire again. Only, you know, on a much smaller scale.

The truth is, it can't be what the London Chop House once was. That ship sailed with the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. That level of impossibly proper service is not just a thing of the past here; it's a thing of the past everywhere. Where fine dining establishments once tried to out-grandiose each other, now they struggle to downplay their own fine dining nature to appeal to a wider clientele. "Sure, plates may be $30 on average and that's without any sides, apps, or dessert, but we're TOTALLY a place for the Every Man, just look how bright our walls are!" They call themselves "bistros" and design their spaces to look like renovated lofts with exposed brick and pipes. Very specific cultural shifts have occurred since the time that kind of dining with the burgundy leather wingback chairs in the cigar lounge and middle-aged male waiters with white gloves and 1965 Rothschild wine on a business lunch was popular; such visible flauntings of excess are no longer desired or admired (you can spend the same amount of money on your total bill, so long as you're wearing jeans and your server is more chummy than formal). The Chop House was very much a symbol of its time and place ... neither of which exist anymore.

Reopening the London Chop House is akin to trying to resuscitate the former glory of Detroit. But Detroit has changed. The world has changed. Spew all the pro-Detroit rhetoric you want--Slows is not the London Chop House nor is it meant to be. There are a lot of great things about Detroit, not the least of which being self-made opportunities for people who, say, got an English degree and then floundered for a few years and then decided "Oh, hey, I want to write about food now" and actually get away with it. I'm not complaining over here.

But to have the bravado to re-open an INSTITUTION (in the true sense of the word) such as the Chop House--that's going to be a very difficult scale to balance. On one hand you'll have the inevitable detractors who will eagerly proclaim that it isn't "the same;" on the other hand you're faced with the quintessential impossibility of making it so. There is also the added burden that anything reopening under the same name with the same expectation of standards will only tarnish the memory of the original place by not living up to them, forever tainting that image, image, image. Perhaps the secrecy is due to the fact that they haven't quite figured out the balance themselves yet. Or maybe it will just be so mind-blowingly awesome that we just have to wait and see.

And so I guess we wait and see.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Real Detroit: Pizzeria Biga (Extended Cut)

Pizzeria Biga
29110 Franklin Rd., Southfield
248-750-BIGA (2442),
Hours: Sunday through Thursday11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Satuday 11 a.m. to midnight

What does James Beard Award-nominated chef and restaurateur Luciano del Signore do when he’s not creating exquisite nouveau-Italian dishes at Bacco Ristorante? He makes pizza, naturally! “It was pure selfishness,” Luciano says of his latest venture, Pizzeria Biga in Southfield. “[I opened Pizzeria Biga] due to the fact that there isn’t a true hand-crafted Neapolitan pizza in metro Detroit. I couldn’t just go out and buy it so we decided to create it!” And as luck would have it, it turned out to be the right kind of business for the current economy.

The dough has exactly three ingredients: milled wheat flour, purified water and a touch of sea salt, with no commercial yeast, which makes it much easier for your body to digest and thus healthier (Luciano also just perfected their new wheat crust, which is even healthier). The majority of their 57 toppings sound like items you would find at il mercato di Campo de’ Fiori rather than in a pizza joint in Southfield, Michigan. The name refers to an ancient form of leavening called biga used in Italian breads such as ciabatta. The pre-fermenting process is laborious but the long process pays off; the dough is light and airy and can cook very quickly. At Biga the 100% wood-fired brick ovens are fired at 900 degrees and they have perfected the 90-second bake time for their pizzas. This is the way Italians have made pizza for centuries. “Why mess with perfection?” Luciano posits.

They take the time to make things other places just don’t offer. Prosciutto di Parma, besaola, speck, lardo, grana (aka charcuterie and imported cheese) … charcuterie that isn’t imported is made in-house, like the duck prosciutto and bresaola, and many of their items are also prepped in the oven before going on a pizza -- oven-roasted tomatoes, roasted fingerling potatoes, etc.

The same is true of their house made gelato, which is made fresh daily as it is in Italy (freezing affects the flavors so today’s gelato was made today, tomorrow’s will be made tomorrow, and so forth). They use all natural milk (hormone- and antibiotic-free) from local Guernsey Farms Dairy blended with fine Belgian chocolate, their own macerated fruits and Italian espresso to flavor their rotating selections of gelato and sorbetto.

Whet your appetite with a charcuterie plate of house-made duck prosciutto and creamy caprino (Italian goat’s milk cheese). Then try the wood-roasted beets salad with olive pesto, walnuts, arugula, onion, balsamic, olive oil, parsley, goat cheese and a variety of the woefully underappreciated slightly-sweet beet. Follow that with the prosciutto pizza with arugula and grana (hard cheese) on their wonderfully delicate, chewy crust and finish it all off with luscious crema gelato. All you’re missing is the warm al fresco Mediterranean dining!

Hand-crafted products and gourmand-friendly toppings aren’t the only things that set Pizzeria Biga apart. They offer carry-out and delivery -- pretty standard, really -- but they do it with a little more panache. Curbside pick-up allows you to order online or from your iPhone app (yes, there’s an app for that), park in the designated pick-up spots and call the phone number posted on the sign at the space to tell them you’re there, and they then bring your pizza right to your car with a hand-held credit processor so you never have to leave your car.

Once you get your pizza home -- which you can order to-go in 12’’ OR 18’, though only 12’’ is served in the restaurant because it is the ideal size to enjoy it -- you will find an uncut pizza with instructions to rebake and cut along with your very own Pizzeria Biga pizza cutter (if you’re a first-time customer). They do this because it allows you a better at-home pizza experience, allowing the crust’s natural moisture to stay balanced until you’re ready to enjoy it. They also deliver within a four-mile radius and get this: beer and wine is also available for carry-out and delivery at LESS THAN retail cost, cheaper than you would find in any store because you’re not paying for any overhead. They also focus on small-batch, hand-crafted wines and beers to be consistent with the theme of their menu.

If you’re dining in, enjoy a free soup or salad and soft drink with your pizza or pasta during the Biga Lunch Break Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Glass pours and draft beers are half off during happy hour Monday through Friday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the bar, and Sunday through Thursday after 8 p.m. the house pizza is only $2 with your drink purchase.

AND: they’re open Christmas Day. I KNOW. Luciano decided when they opened in June that they would be open every single day of the year for their first year, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Thanksgiving was pretty quiet but Christmas promises to be a little more lively, as the area has many non-Christian residents. New Year’s Eve also promises to be a more low-key affair than your usual high-ticket “swanky” events (which almost always disappoint, am I wrong?).

Fans of the AAA four-diamond Il Posto, which formerly inhabited this space, won’t even recognize it. When Luciano acquired the building, he had it taken down to the studs. The only thing salvaged was the common brick wall which creates archways around the dining area. But if what you liked most about Il Posto was the authenticity, you won’t be disappointed -- the whole identity of this place has been re-imagined from stuffy old-world formal Italian to breezy, casual, stylish yet equally refined nouveau Italian. It’s pizza … but it’s not “PIZZA,” at least not how we understand the pepperoni-grease-soaked with gobs of melty mozzarella (NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT) pizza here in ‘Merica. Pizzeria Biga offers a true taste of how the Italians do it, and this is why everything in Italy is better. (Except the narrow city streets common to ancient European cities that made those silly-looking dinky little cars popular. Of course for every Fiat there's a Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo -- oh yeah, and Lamborghini -- soooooo ... everything in Italy is still better. Including but not excluded to pizza and sports cars.)

Read the article as it originally printed here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar

Photo used with permission from Marvin Shaouni Photography.

Note: this event is tomorrow night, FRIDAY 12/10, 7pm-midnight, at the Whitdel Arts Center.

"You may recognize the name Noelle Lothamer from her popular cooking blog Simmer Down! Or maybe you know her from the Detroit-based Americana rock band Scarlet Oaks, in which she sings and plays guitar and keyboard (and previously drummed). Maybe you've viewed her photography on Flickr. Hell, you might have even bought vintage clothes from her. But now Lothamer is adding a few more titles to her repertoire: small business owner and event organizer.

'In July 2010, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law a bill freeing Michigan's cottage industry businesses from what she called "unnecessary regulation." This means that small food businesses grossing less than $15,000 annually and produce non-potentially-hazardous foods (think pies, popcorn, bread, jellies) can make and sell their goods to the public without the previous commercial kitchen requirements. Shortly after that, Lothamer — along with fellow foodie-turned-business partner Molly O'Meara — launched Beau Bien Fine Foods. The brand debuted at a Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) fundraiser in early October with a selection of inventive preserves (like Strawberry Black Pepper Jam). They are now expanding to include baked goods and candy..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Metromode: Metro Detroit's Pitmasters

"Okay all you self-styled 'chefs' out there, here's a recipe for you to try: take one stylishly rehabbed vacant old building, add a smoker or two, throw in some mixed-bag barbecue from the major American south BBQ regions (Texas, Memphis, the Carolinas, Kansas City), emphasize locally-sourced products, tout the variety of Michigan-brewed beers on tap, and let simmer, stirring occasionally. The idea is that you will ultimately end up with an unprecedentedly successful restaurant which will get you bags and bags of money as well as many stories in the New York Times et al.

'I kid, of course, but there certainly doesn't seem to be a great mystery behind the current metro Detroit BBQ trend.

'Far from being a matter of astounding coincidence with like-minded people having the same idea at the same time à la the crepes expectations, the current trend of upscale barbecue eateries (three opened in July and August 2010 alone; two are only 0.8 miles apart) certainly didn't happen in a vacuum. Ever heard of a place called Slows?..."

Read the rest of the article here ... and you definitely should because this is the best article yet written about metro Detroit's BBQ craze that has nothing to do with the food and only a little to do with Slows. In my own humble opinion, of course.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Sangria Tapas Cafe

"Even the windows sweat at Sangria Tapas Cafe and the upstairs Sky Club. Come dancing during the cold winter months and the sheer amount of body heat steams the windows up so much, they drip.

'Sangria was really the first tapas restaurant/salsa club of its kind in metro Detroit, and at 12 years, it is arguably the oldest. Owner Luigi Cutraro hails from Sicily. He said he decided to open a tapas restaurant because 'the tapas format is not your everyday restaurant with soup-salad-entrée, which I find very boring,' he explains.

''In a tapas bar you order six, seven, 10 different tapas; sometimes order things you would never order like the octopus, which is only $6.95 and if you don't like it, you give it to your friend. The tapas format is more fun!'"

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Booze: Not Just for Saturday Mornings Anymore

In October I noted that Governor Granholm was considering a bill that would allow for Sunday morning liquor sales beginning at 7AM (formerly noon) as well as lift the ban on Christmas Day liquor sales. The bill was not without its issues, and was stalled a bit before a compromise between lawmakers could be reached.

The bill that Granholm finally approved eliminated some of the controversial provisions that were packed into the version she rejected in October. The next hurdle will be in the weeks it will take for bars, restaurants and stores to get the additional $160/year permit that will allow for these early sales. As we are now in the midst of the biggest selling season for booze, businesses desperately want to take advantage of these weeks prior to the observance of the birth of the Purportedly Magical Jew.

For the time being, however, you'll have to get your hair of the dog the old-fashioned way: by drinking the remaining swill from half-empty cans of warm beer that you left sticking to your living room table in puddles of coagulating cheese dip product before you passed out immediately after that last shot of Jameson's and all your friends left you on your floor and you woke up hoping for a merciful death during those seven excruciating minutes between the time you rose from the dead and the time the bars start serving booze so you can drown that vile feeling in tomato-flavored vodka as God intended.

Praise the Lord and pass the vodka!

View the complete details of House Bill 6224 here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Vicente's Cuban Cuisine

"There is a stereotype regarding Latin culture that it is somehow inherently sexy — something about the sensual dance, spicy food and sweaty climate ... just think of the tango scene at the beginning of Mr. & Mrs. Smith (oh if only...).

'For five years, Vicente's Cuban Cuisine has been heating up Detroit with its unique Cuban dinner experience where visitors have an entire evening of dining and entertainment under one steamy roof. Guests come for traditional Cuban dishes like the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Cuban paella with lobster, shrimp, calamari, scallops, Spanish sausage, chicken, clams, mussels, vegetables and Spanish saffron rice. Afterwards they burn off the calories by salsa dancing into the wee hours. Stereotype, meet even more awesome reality..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Six-Drink Slam @ Oslo

If Kat Lemos ever decided to quit the restaurant/bar/nightclub industry, she could easily be a stand-up comic (and that's not just the six drinks talking). When she wasn't scrutinizing every last detail of the cocktails she was crafting for Oslo's version of the 6-Drink Slam, she was bringing tears to our eyes with impersonations of her Thai-born mom (and business partner) and jokes that some readers might find inappropriate. Well ... probably not YOU.

Drink 1: The Narviktini

One of their many signature cocktails, this has Fuki plum wine, sake and fresh squeezed lime. It is light, refreshing, thirst quenching and almost got knocked over when I lunged for the next drink.

Drink 2: Kevin Love Japan

Nicole love Kevin Love Japan. Named after Kevin Reynolds, a Detroit DJ who has worked with Kat since Oslo reopened and who also apparently "love" Japan, this boozy brilliance has Jameson, Fuki plum wine, fresh squeezed lime and is topped with Sprite. Smooooth. Or, as one of my drinking partners noted, "It's gentle but it will knock you on your ass!" To which I replied, "Like a sweet-talkin' man!" And how ...

Drink 3: Pineapple In Yo Face Cake

She drinks a whiskey drink, she drinks a vodka drink ... next up, the Pineapple In Yo Face Cake made with muddled pineapple and cherries, Stoli Vanil, Stoli Citros, a splash of Malibu coconut rum, simple syrup and pineapple juice. Might as well have called it "All Over My Face Cake." At this point I'm starting to get a little warm. I'm starting to laugh a little harder; a little louder. I may even have a mild case of the "I love you man"s.

Drink 4: Raspberry Flirt

DAMN these bitches is strong. "They're potent but balanced," Kat says. And it's true. These expertly made cocktails are as smooth as sugar-flavored silk and go down just as easy. You think you're fine until you stand up and are swaying in place wondering why the rest of the room is moving while telling the server how much you appreciate the great job he's doing. (Thanks again, Brian!)

The Raspberry Flirt may have been my tipping point. It's an Asian-style flirtini made with Moonstone raspberry sake, muddled raspberries, Chambord and topped with Zipang sparkling sake, a touch of simple syrup and a splash of sour mix. The Zipang has a slight carbonation, so the drink is sweet on the tongue with a dry finish.

Drink 5: The Pama Sutra

This is a derivative of flavored cosmos and Stoli drinks. Kat spun it a bit, using Stoli White Pomegranik, PAMA liqueur, a splash of cranberry, Cointreau and a splash of sour mix and lime. Made me want to stand on my head but I'm not sure how much of that was "Sutra" and how much was just vodka.

Drink 6: The Roy

Last up — sad face — was the Roy, the drink that Kat takes to bartending competitions which was originally called the "Ecstasy" and was made for a stripper. Crown Royal, peach Schnapps, Amaretto, cranberry, sour mix and fresh-squeezed lemon. Tastes like what a stripper might taste like if strippers were candy.

Kat takes great pride in her creations and is equally proud that Oslo is the only bar where you can get them. (Go ahead and try to order a Kevin Love Japan anywhere else.) She has been bartending for 12 years and is a passionate perfectionist when it comes to cocktails. Go see her and have one of her amazing drinks. It will get you drunk. The end. | RDW

1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit • 313.962.1700

Read the full article with all the other Six-Drink Slammers here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From Clawson Patch: Due Venti

Note: (a) This is my new favorite place, and (b) I thought was editor was talking crazy talk when she kept having problems with my images but now I see what she meant. So here are clear and color-tweaked images for your vicarious visual enjoyment that include the exact same pork chop image that is mysteriously blurry on the site, I swear it's the same one.

"What's that smell? Garlic. Wonderfully fragrant and delicious garlic, and at Due Venti in Clawson, owner-chefs David and Nicole Seals do not hold back in their generous distribution of it in their carefully crafted and perfectly balanced dishes.

'Nicole was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and David has spent much of his career in kitchens. The married couple opened Due Venti near their home in Clawson two years ago with a goal of presenting northern Italian cuisine in a style that reflects what diners would find in Europe. What this means in layman's terms is, 'Abandon all thoughts of marinara sauce, ye who enter here...'"

Read the rest of the article here.

Husband and wife team David and Nicole Seals

Insalata della casa
Pork chop special


Budino di Polenta

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Guess My Real World Reference Was Too "Out There": Ronin

326 W. 4th St., Royal Oak
Hours: Sunday and Monday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Remember on the original “Real World: New Orleans” when Melissa (the bi-racial bi-sexual, not the Mormon Gone Wild) said she wouldn’t eat avocado because she thought it would be so good it would be like sex and she wouldn’t be able to stop? That was probably the most moronic thing ever said on “reality” TV up to that point, but then again that was before Jessica Simpson or Jersey Shore.

Yes, avocado is just like sex. Cool, creamy, mushy green sex.

At Ronin in Royal Oak, you can get all the creamy, luscious avocado you desire, alongside some of the metro area’s most creative sushi. Now, sushi purists tend to be at odds with most Asian-fusion joints -- which this place certainly IS -- for what they consider to be a lack of authenticity or too much pandering to American palates by means of spicy mayo, cream cheese and ... well ... avocado. But at Ronin you might find yourself singing a different tune, one that embraces this NOT bastardized but modernized breed of distinctly American sushi (a song that may resemble the sonic warbles of Morrisey, but I get ahead of myself). One taste of sushi chef Kaku Usui’s contemporary creations will make you a nu-sushi songbird in no time.

But Kaku -- a name you might recognize from the original incarnation of Oslo -- can’t take all the credit: the “Fasian” menu here is a group effort. Chef Mickey Lutes’s kitchen menu is full of intriguing cross-cuisine creations. Take their “burgers,” for example: your choice of Kobe sliders with ginger, smoked bacon, sriracha, lettuce, tomato and boursin cheese, or grilled Ahi tuna burgers with banana pepper-sesame aioli. My favorite hybrid is the sushi pizza. Actual name: Ahi Tuna Pizza, consisting of a crispy grilled tortilla, tomato, avocado (l’amour), cilantro and jalapeno with big, beautiful ruby-colored cuts of fresh sushi-grade Ahi tuna. This moshing of textures and flavors is completely unexpected -- the tuna itself dominates the dish but the kick from the jalapeno and contrasting crunch of the tortilla and smooth avocado create an impression of sushi deconstructed.

From their specialty rolls, sushi chef Keith Cha’s signature is the Cha Cha Roll -- spicy tuna topped with shrimp and garlic aoili, wrapped in sesame soy paper and baked. It has the deceptive visual impression of toasted marshmallows but is a very rich, decadent roll thanks to the heavy egg-based aoili. By contrast the vegetarian Shinto roll is light and downright delightful. Again playing on the contrasting textures of crunchy and creamy, this roll has lettuce, carrot and tempura bits with garlic mayo and topped with avocado -- all the joys of sushi without any of the concerns over parasites.

Sushi aficionados who frown at such Westernized flavors, take heart: the menu may be mass-audience-friendly, but Kaku is a traditionally-trained sushi chef lauded as one of the very best in the area. If REAL sushi is what you want (cuttlefish, quail egg, eel), Kaku abides. It’s the best of both worlds, really. And if after your meal of "healthy" sushi ("healthy" being all relative, really, what with all the mayo and cream cheese ... one must awe at the distinctly American ability to make some of the healthiest food in the world and transform it into high-fat, high-cholesterol, high-calorie garbage. What's next, swapping out the seaweed paper for bacon? You know what, forget I said that ...) you feel you can justify a decadent dessert, the exceptionally creative desserts with an Asian-inspired flare will cure your cravings. Try the Oreo Cookie Tempura with black sesame ice cream and vanilla crème anglaise -- basically an Asian deep-fried Oreo.

Ronin is the best of both worlds in a lot of ways. It’s definitely hip and trendy, but in the antithesis way to BlackFinn. At Ronin you get a little glimpse of the Royal Oak that once was: girls with lips almost red enough, eyeliner almost thick enough, hair almost black enough to be called “goth;” lots of gender-blind tattooed sleeves. And while most trendy sushi joints are all about the techno, here you’ll get a mix of James Brown and New Order. “Ronin” means a masterless samurai, and by Royal Oak standards this Ronin is certainly a renegade.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Fountain Bistro

The quiche is rad, check it.

"Located directly in Campus Martius about 20 steps away from the magnificent fountain (and the towering holiday tree in the winter), Fountain Bistro is a venue unlike any other. Currently geared towards the downtown business crowd, with breakfast and lunch hours offering both speedy to-go service or full sit-down dining service (as well as business catering), long-term plans are to grow the concept and really transform it into 'what's happening' in the area. You can book a private party here and not just be stuck inside a restaurant, but also be able to have fun outdoor activities all around you, from summertime concerts to ice skating all winter.

'Fountain Bistro's official grand opening was just this past June, making this their first winter transition. They are introducing their new fall and winter menu this week, which focuses more on cold weather comfort food, since the fresh ingredients emphasized in the opening menu are now out of season..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Sajo's Clinton Township

"The Sajo's brand has been an Eastside staple for over 20 years. Seven years ago, Jim Sage opened a second Sajo's in Clinton Township in a location that had previously seen a lot of turnover with one unsuccessful restaurant after another. Fortunately, this hasn't been a problem for Sage.

'This large, spacious restaurant includes several separate banquet facilities that can accommodate anywhere from 25-180 people for anything from baby showers to luncheons to small wedding receptions. The interior is a bit airier and a little more welcoming than most outdated, stuffy banquet halls. Sajo's is decorated with bold and bright colors, offset by blonde wood, tempered glass and muted tones of sage green. The overall effect is cozy contemporary..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Detroit Soup (Extended Version from Real Detroit Weekly)

Photo by Vanessa Miller, reprinted with permission in Real Detroit Weekly; click on photo to see original article

As a city dweller and socializer closely linked to “The Scene,” I’ve been seeing increasingly more self-congratulatory glommers-on types popping up all over the Detroit Interwebs and it has been disheartening (when not absolutely infuriating). I've been feeling that the very things that made Detroit great are now being commodified for mass consumption, and NOT by outside media, no – by our very own people.

"You've been really down on the city lately," my friend said to me after we left the last
Detroit Soup gathering on Sunday, October 3. And it's true: between the self-serving sycophants and shameless opportunists hoping to capitalize on the nation's newfound fascination with Detroit, I feel like the true DIY underdog spirit of Detroit has been lost and replaced by people ready to do backflips for the chance to get their names in the papers or their faces on camera. Detroit, for me, had lost its sincerity.

Kate Daughdrill, along with her friend Jessica Hernandez, is responsible for launching Detroit Soup, a once-monthly social gathering which raises money to fund micro-grants for community-oriented projects voted on by the attendees. The event is set up as a dinner party in the loft space above Mexicantown Bakery, which is owned by Hernandez’s family. It is held the first Sunday of every month (November 7 will be the next gathering).

“It started as a gathering experiment just to see what would happen once these conversations started,” Daughdrill says. The intention behind Soup is to engage people from the community in dialogue about how to support each other in a practical way, and then do so. Every project proposal submitted for the month is presented and voted on by those who donated their $5 at the door, and can be anything from traditional art projects to socially-engaged projects, from regional photography to community park renovations to hoop house builds. “We tried to really open it up so it can be anyone from artists to builders,” she explains.

When Daughdrill and Hernandez initiated Soup in February – facilitated with a whole network of friends and community members, each one of them volunteering their time and efforts – it started with about 20 people. Now it has grown to over 150, with the largest crowd yet attending the October gathering. Daughdrill worries about the growing size and admits they may need to start limiting their audience: “For people to actually have these conversations it is important to the experience that it feel intimate and not overwhelming.”

One way it can continue to grow in a sustainable way is for other Soup projects to branch off from this one. Already a second Soup – Soup at Spaulding, which is held every Thursday – has grown from this, and Daughdrill hopes there will be more. “We’re interested in being a hub to launch other Soups, and connecting informally as friends. I want people to feel free to make it their own,” she says. “We’re all talking so much about sustainability now; whatever we do that is going to be sustainable has to be enjoyable too.”

Which is why Soup is organized as a dinner party, with hearty, healthful organic soups, salads and sweets made by volunteers and breads donated from Avalon. “The idea is for Soup to be a spot for some serious dialogue but also a casual connection with people,” explains Daughdrill. “And we also hope it’s really pleasurable and really fun; we want to show we can engage citizens in a way that is pleasure-based.”

Daughdrill, an artist and graduate student at Cranbrook who originally hails from New Orleans – a kindred soul city to Detroit if ever there was one – is most interested in the intersection between art and community; the political and social life of a city. “It’s interesting to see how we develop these little independent hubs alongside the infrastructure and institutions of the city.” A model like Soup is community-driven and democratic; it allows for the people to decide how they want the money they’ve donated spent and encourages conversation about how to do that. It is a microeconomy, an independent cultural infrastructure, which makes it more sustainable than projects tied to nonprofit regulations or corporate interests. It is, in a word, pure.

Media folks just LOVE to make the Detroit-New Orleans comparison, but the truth is there are no two other cities
that were once so almighty who have suffered the same cataclysmic declines, at least not in the last century (and really, NOLA had a lot better go at rebuilding post-natural disaster than we have post-economic, political and social collapse). "It's a very fierce spirit," says Daughdrill of Detroit, "something very raw but it's also a great American city [with a lot of history]." She compares the current national focus on Detroit -- the coast-to-coast *gasp* now-whatever-will-they-do? and *gasp* gee-wow!-successful-businesses-in-Detroit! trivializing treatment we've received in endless waves over the past year or so -- to the influx of people from across the country that descended on New Orleans after Katrina. "New Orleans maintained a lot of its spirit even after other people came in to rebuild it." She postulates that all the interest from the outside created connections between the new energies that were coming in and the city's very old indentity and traditions, enabling it to shape and grow in a new way.

With all eyes on Detroit, there is indeed a lot of shallow opportunism. But there is also a lot of opportunity. Change is possible in an unprecedented way as we continue to be viewed as animals confined in cages made to look like our natural habit, on display for all the world to watch and critique but not interfere. Right now we have a unique platform from which to identify and address the needs of the community and make it happen in a sincere way that has long-term sustainability (and those needs do NOT include another set of self-promoting pseudo-cheerleaders).

“I think that a lot of issues in terms of arts or infrastructure are pretty urgent,” Daughdrill further explains. “There’s a need for this sort of process of how we support each other.” It is about how to learn and grow together, how to engage in important and timely dialogues, and creating true democratic experiences where people hash things out through dialogue. It’s not simply a matter of micro-grant funding; it is a whole new concept of community organization.

My initial instinct is to snark on everything. But after witnessing Soup myself I could find nothing about it to snark on. So often Detroit feels like a self-appointed Tribal Council, but this was like being amongst the tribe itself. This is the future. As I sit in my corner reveling in my sardonic wit, the next crop of energetic, idealistic, hopeful youths are out there actually making a tangible impact in the community, a hell of a lot more than just linking to articles that say "DETROIT!" on Facebook. The group is utterly genuine and sincere in their efforts in a way that is refreshing ... even inspiring. After my experience at Soup and my 30-minute conversation with Daughdrill (during which we micro-machined our way through about 90 minutes' worth of discourse), I felt my Grinchy heart grow three sizes that day.

To everyone involved with making Detroit Soup happen, I thank you.
Detroit needed this. I needed this.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Plaka Mediterranean Grill (Canton)

"Plaka Mediterranean Grill in Canton is not the easiest place in the world to find. First off, it's in Canton — which is where mega-store monoliths and sprawling shopping plazas go to reproduce. Secondly, it's kind of hidden behind the giant parking lot of Panera Bread (which is the only way I was able to find it after driving up and down Ford Rd. a few times and finally calling Plaka's owner, Dino). In Cantonian terms, it's two clicks west of IKEA on Ford Rd. (because everything in Canton is on Ford Rd., and all directions must be given in relation to the IKEA).

'But all this urban sprawl means one thing for western Wayne County: there are a lot of people there and they need to eat...."

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Beer Festival in Pictures

Some say a picture is worth a thousand words. I don't feel like writing a thousand words which is why I'm choosing to share my experience at Beer Fest with images instead.

The Michigan Brewers Guild's Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market -- the endcap event to the second annual Detroit Beer Week -- was a huge success. Tickets sold out the day before and the day itself was perfect--warm, overcast with only the tiniest bit of briefly-lived drizzle (and by then it was towards the end of the day so most of us barely even noticed, thinking it probably just the backsplash of hundreds of spilled beers misting into the air).

Some quick thoughts: I didn't get there until 2, thinking it ended at 5 ended at 6. My whole theory of "you can do A LOT of damage in 3 hours" was indeed correct but poorly-timed. Probably didn't need those extra 45 minutes of drinking (which is as long as I lasted until I commanded - COMMANDED - my group go to Supino). Note to self: actually look at the event schedule next year.

More thoughts: I wish I had not sacrificed my beer menu to the port-a-john. I would really like to share with you the names of some of the great beers I had but to try to do so from memory when I can barely tell you which breweries I had visited by the end much less which beers I drank throughout would make me feel bad about myself.

However, I do recall that the Wild One from Bell's was the Best in Show. A blend of 20 different batches of brown ale and wheat wort fermented in oak wine barrels, this is a limited release sour they tap only at festivals and I almost hate to admit it but it puts most of Jolly Pumpkin's highly-lauded sours to shame. But that could be the dozen or so beers I had before that talking.

This year was kind of like a Halloween party for beer geeks. (Scroll down to the pics; you'll see.)

I owe a few people apologies: first, to Steve from the Livery, I DID try to find you so I could be the Firkin Virgin but you were not standing still in one place with a sign that said "Steve from the Livery" and I gave up after 3 15 minutes. My humblest apologies.

I also owe the Ian formerly known as Ian 2 and now known as Ian The Second One I Met an apology. I shall henceforth refer to you by your initials, IDRG. (Put a space between the first two letters and a "u" between the last two. Thaaaaare it is.)

Look at how Beer Fest brings people together: a chick in an MSU jersey and a dude in a cowboy hat. I mean, why not?

Brains? *spit* This zombie thirsts only for beer.

I'm not sure what utility the plaster glove provides, but it sure does look cool.

Over in the food stands Traffic Jam & Snug was giving out whole wheels of cheese.

Clam chowder lava from Detroit Beer Co. I think. Or whoever was next to them.

Anthony and Dave from Foran's. Two reasons I hang out there.

The Postmortem Spiced Porter was awesome. I think.


Are those prescription?

This just needed to be photographed and you all needed to see it. Not once...

Not twice...

But three times.

Bottom right: the pretzel necklace - a fashion "do" at Beer Fest.

This guy. This guy right here. I don't know about this guy right here.

So this was getting near the end of the day. The blurriness of this photo is a nice representation of the blurriness of my vision. But I did think the sign was funny. "We drink all we can and sell the rest."

Okay I'm done with this now. I'll do more word-writey kind of stuff later. Buh-bye.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Seriously Guys, This Whole Phil Cooley/Slows Thing

So the New York Times covered Slows again. Which you know because it was re-posted on Facebook twelve dozen times if once. What was most interesting about all this re-posting was the reactions it drew -- some were thrilled and got all gushy over Phil Cooley (part-owner) and/or the restaurant itself, which many throughout metro Detroit claim is their absolute favorite.

With that also came the voices of dissent, the weary sighs of "Slows AGAIN?" and those adamant in their claims that Slows is NOT in fact the best restaurant in Detroit.

Guess what? It's not.

But that's not the point.

Does Slows have the best food? In my opinion, no. When I do go there it's typically just to drink, and even then that's none too frequent -- I love the beer list (big focus on Michigan craft brews; hi I'm Nicole and I drink a lot of beer), but the consistently large crowds and long waits tend to be a deterrent to me.

So okay, they don't have the best food -- hell, if you asked Phil Cooley HIMSELF if he thought his restaurant was The Best he'd probably say no. But that doesn't matter -- people like it. People like it enough to wait in lines up to three hours long on weekends just to get a seat. People like it enough to drive from the farthest reaches of the suburbs just to wait in that three-hour line. People like it enough to warrant THREE different articles in the New York Times and another in the New York Post, as well as a national nod from Bon Appetit as one of the top 10 new BBQ eateries in the country.

How did Slows become as popular as it is? Beats me. "Phil caught lightning in a bottle with that place," one of his good friends once said to me.

But sometimes a restaurant opens in a place and time and causes a ripple effect that is so much bigger than itself. Sometimes that particular establishment comes to MEAN something in its community; it comes to REPRESENT something greater -- not just a restaurant but a symbol. That place then shapes the community around it, creating a new identity for the community and ushering in a new beginning for that particular place at that particular time.

Slows is that place for Detroit.

The article mentioned that it would be difficult to find a business owner in the city who has not been somehow touched by Phil Cooley. That sounds a bit sweeping and maybe even over-grandiose, but if we're talking specifically about NEW business owners who started out sometime within the last 5 years it's sure as hell true. Go ahead; find me one.

A lot of people complained about the portrayal of Phil as the posterboy for the city. You know what? We sure as hell could do worse than him. He's smart, funny, attractive, successful, and above all else humble--why wouldn't we want this person representing us? If not him, then who? I'd rather choke on a Yardbird than see some of the other smarmy, self-serving, self-congratulatory types who would LOVE nothing more than to be given that opportunity be in that position, those who claw so desperately for their piece of the All Eyes on Detroit pie. Give me one Phil Cooley over a thousand of those types and plaster his face on billboards all over the country that simply say " = Detroit."

The article speaks of his commitment to the community, his charity work, the various efforts he makes to help others succeed. Now I don't make it my business to stalk the guy as some seem to, but being yet another grape on this Detroit vine I do hear things. I couldn't possibly try to recount the various Good Deeds of Phil Cooley, but I can say this: he cares more about this city than anyone else I've ever met, and he means it. His brand of boosterism is utterly sincere, and it's also quiet. One thing you won't see Phil Cooley do is post links on his Facebook page to any and every article written that happens to say "Detroit!", nor will his status updates read "Gee willikers Detroit is super-cool! *wide-eyed blink*" Homeboy doesn't even HAVE a Facebook page (honestly -- does he really need one?). And he's certainly not running around time waving his arms around and jumping in front of every camera and microphone he sees cross his path. If you could accuse him of anything it would be being too much of an idealist. A journalist friend once asked me if Phil were "actually crazy enough to want to do something with the train station." My answer: he just may be.

There are worse things to be.

And despite all of this national attention, Phil remains steadfastly humble. Everyone else around him seems to know he's Phil Cooley except for him. I remember, during the short-lived days of the Mercury Coffee Bar, reading another blogger recounting an experience at the MCB where Phil himself was out on the floor sweeping and mopping. At a recent dinner party for over 100 people, Phil was out there serving food right along with the proles. For as much as people seem to elevate, even idolize, even idolatrize him, Phil is still just Phil.

I've commented privately to a select number of friends whom I can say such things to that if I did not live in the city, I would think there were exactly three restaurants here: Slows, Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes, and Supino Pizzeria. And that's it. These are the places that seem to receive the most attention, but you know what? Every single one of these business owners is an absolute stand-up fucking human and if these are the people who are representing my city then all I have to say is thank GOD.

But above them all stands Phil, and Slows. Slows: the restaurant that has become synonymous with Detroit and vice-versa. Is it the only restaurant here? Is it the BEST restaurant here? No and no. But it's not like this is the first time Detroit has been misrepresented in national media--and hell, even our OWN media is often guilty of lazy piggyback journalism. And this is the ONLY restaurant in the city--really even state--that has consistently attracted the attention of publications across the country over the past few years, and it is always represented in a positive way which means FINALLY after all of our grousing that Detroit ITSELF is being represented in a positive way. And bad thing?

Sometimes a restaurant opens and it comes to mean more to the communtiy than simply being a place to eat. Sometimes it becomes bigger than itself.

Phil Cooley didn't ask to be the posterchild of Detroit, but he is. And he's doing the best that he can with it. Detroit needs a hero, it's very own White Knight. Our politicians and community leaders have failed us. So why not an energetic, youthful idealist who owns a really freakin' popular restaurant? We could do worse, guys.

If this were high school (and my GOD does it ever feel like it sometimes, but I digress), Phil Cooley would be the most popular guy in school. In fact his popularity would ECLIPSE the popularity of all others. He'd be the most popular guy in high school even YEARS after he graduated, after he went off to college and moved away. He'd be so popular he'd be mythic. Everyone in this city wants to be connected to Phil Cooley. Everyone here wants to claim him as their personal friend. Everyone simply wants to be in his orbit, or even just be seen near him.

I call him "Prince Phil" but I do it in jest. He may or may not find it funny but he's too fucking kind to say otherwise, so he usually just smiles politely and volleys the comment off to someone else. But I'd vote this guy for fucking President. Detroit is lucky to have him here, being as passionate and sincere as he is, regardless of whether the ribs at his restaurant are any good or not.

I love to snark on things just as much as the next guy, and yes, I AM that person who reads the latest New York Times feature in a flurry of Facebook re-posts and thinks "Slows AGAIN?" But after thinking long and hard about this over the last day I realized, Detroit could do a lot worse.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Detroit Beer Week: BIKE-Toberfest

I've mentioned this event before, but it deserves its own special shout-out. Unfortunately participation is a bit contingent upon either working or living in the city and being able to be home, on your bike, and able to meet at the Detroit Beer Co. at 5:30pm sharp...that counts me out, but that doesn't mean you can't try to recreate this bike tour through Detroit's beer history on your own and try to wobble your way along the same path! Bil has done a great job putting together a tour package where participants not only see historical sites relevant to Detroit's brewing history, but also get to enjoy some of the best beer the city has to offer. Huzzah!

The deets:

Our resident Detroit cycling beer enthusiast, Bil Lusa, will take you on a tour of the D's historical & current breweries. Explore Traffic Jam, Motor City Brewing, the historical brewery buildings of Eastern Market, Atwater and more...

Gather @ Detroit Beer Co for happy hour, enjoy a pint and prepare for a prompt 5:30pm departure. We will end the tour @ Grand Trunk where you can enjoy New Holland Brewing's event and/or the Beer ...vs Wine Cheese Pairing upstairs @ Motor City Wine.

BIKE RENTAL IS AVAILABLE - PLEASE CONTACT BIL LUSA VIA EMAIL -- if you need to rent a bike, we need to know by Tuesday the 19th.


City sights include:

Grand Circus Park
Cass Corridor
Wayne State
The currently closed incinerator
The Heidelberg Project
Eastern Market
Dequindre Cut
Wheelhouse Detroit
Renaissance Center

Current Breweries include:
Detroit Beer Co
Traffic Jam
Motor City Brewing Works
Atwater Block Brewery

Historic Post-prohibition Breweries and Sites include:
Koppitz - Melchers

Real Detroit Weekly: Tin Fish (Novi)

"The newest location of the locally-owned restaurant chain Tin Fish is located at Twelve Oaks Mall, but it is certainly not your average 'mall restaurant.' First, it's enormous, with a separate dining area geared more towards the fine dining experience as well as an indoor/outdoor patio which creates an open, airy feel. But the epicenter, as well as the pièce de résistance, is the large bar with a huge elevated stage for live bands directly on top of it.

'Admittedly, that sounds strange, but the best way to describe it is like this: you walk in and there's a great big open feel in the bar area, which is the 'main' area of the restaurant. All seats and booths are pointed at the bar, which is at the far end of the space, and the stage is directly above it. That clear it up for you? Well damn, guess you'll just have to see it for yourself then..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

DBW: Beer Drinker's Guide to the Galaxy

Detroit Beer Week starts this Saturday. That's really all I need to say. Here's a complete-to-the-minute guide of all the DBW festivities this year. Who wants to play "Beer" with me? (I'm warning you: I'm really good at "Beer.")

Saturday, October 16: Tap: Detroit
(I'll have a little more thorough information on this tomorrow; for today I cut & paste.)

This year’s Detroit Beer Week kicks off on October 16 with “Tap: Detroit” – a charity beer event at St. Andrews Hall, co-produced by Live Nation and Liquid Table, with support from the Michigan Brewers Guild and other sponsors. Tap: Detroit will feature eight of Detroit’s best beer-friendly restaurants pairing multiple dishes with Michigan beer, a rare beer and cask ale sampling, live entertainment on all three floors, and a cocktail lounge showcasing Michigan-distilled spirits and meads. Tickets are $35 for the main event, and $55 for all-access. A portion of proceeds from Tap: Detroit will benefit Pints For Prostates, a charity to build awareness and fund research for prostate cancer. More information at

Tickets are available online at & as well as St. Andrew's box office, Kuhnhenn Brewery, Merchants Fine Wine (Dearborn), Grand Trunk Pub, Meadows Fine Wine (Farmington Hills), Holiday Market Beer Dept (Royal Oak).

Sunday, October 17:
Official Tap: Detroit After Party
The game of "Beer" shall continue from midnight - 2AM at Jacoby's German Biergarten after the Tap: Detroit debauchery. Jacoby's is conveniently located within stumbling distance of St. Andrew's Hall.

Sunday, October 17:
Whiskey & Beer at Ye Olde Tap Room
Hey look, two things I'm good at!

Once you've risen and gotten through your productive Saturday to-do list, following an amazing night at Tap: Detroit, come join us at one of Detroit's oldest & iconic beer bars, Ye Olde Tap Room. The whiskey and beer will be flowing!

This Prohibition-era bar has a rich and fun-filled history (wink-wink). Check it out on their site and experience it for yourself. The "owner Russ 'Big Mack' Mack is known for his deadly skill with a bottle opener and would kill a 6 pack at the slightest provocation".

Tuesday, October 19:
Beer Dinner at Cliff Bell's featuring Kuhnhenn and Dragonmead Breweries

Take one part Cliff Bell's amazing atmosphere, one part innovative culinary offerings from their chefs (Executive Chef Matt Baldridge hails from the Rattlesnake Club), and then mix with beers from Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. & Dragonmead Microbrewery ... the result is an evening sure to please! Join us as we explore beer and food in one of Detroit's historic landmark bars where art deco decor, avant garde cuisine and some of the most cutting-edge beer in the state meet in a polygamous marriage of exceeding excellence.

Tickets are $30 and include 4 courses with beer pairings as well as an opportunity to discuss the wonderful world of beer & food with the brewers and fellow enthusiasts. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended. Please call 313-961-2543 to reserve your spot today.

Thursday, October 21: BIKE-toberfest

Bil Lusa!!!!!! Bil Lusa does things with beer and bikes! Did you know he was one of the people who helped Jon Piepenbrok organize the innaugural Detroit Beer Week? Huh? Huh? How about did you know he is the MAIN organizer behind the annual Tour de Troit bike ride, which this year drew in some 2,500+ cyclists from in and around the city? Hmmmm? Bil Lusa. A Detroit Original.

Anyway, Bil Lusa organized this event, which is a natural combination of his loves of beer and biking. He also writes for Brewing News. He ALSO owns his own company, which does something with computers or cars or databases or something; whenever he talks about it we're usually drinking and I space out until he starts talking about something my 20th-century brain understands.

Bil Lusa. Also single-handedly responsible for increasing the city's Caucasian population one offspring at a time.

No autographs, please. He is a busy man.

Here's the deets:
Explore Traffic Jam, Motor City Brewing, the historical brewery buildings of Eastern Market, Atwater and more.

Gather at Detroit Beer Co, enjoy a few pints and prepare for a 5:30pm departure. We will end the tour at Foran's Grand Trunk where you can enjoy New Holland Brewing's event and/or the Beer vs. Wine Cheese Pairing upstairs at Motor City Wine.



Thursday, October 21: Metro Times Detroit Beer Week Happy Hour at Wolfgang Puck

Allegedly, anyway. It's in the MT's email blast but there is no time or details. As I have not received a Facebook invitation for it and cannot easily located it with The Google, it's as good as not happening in my book. But the next print edition comes out in time for this happy hour to happen so maybe check there. I'm simply the aggregator here.

Thursday, October 21:
Beer vs. Wine Cheese Pairing at Motor City Wine

It's exactly what it says it is, and it's happening in Motor City Wine, which is upstairs from Foran's, which is the Happiest Place on Earth.

Speaking of Foran's ...

Thursday, October 21:
New Holland Brewing Night at Foran's Grand Trunk Pub

Foran's Grand Trunk Pub
= the Happiest Place on Earth. All their taps are Michigan drafts with another 100 or so Michigan labels by the bottle, and probably the most extensive selection of Michigan spirits in the metro area.

New Holland makes Ichibod, El Mole Ocho, and Dragon's Milk, currently 3 of my top 10 favorite beers I'm drinking. If you don't think I'm going to be there then you've never read this blog before, not ever, not even once.

Friday, October 22:
Foxtown/Park Ave. Pub Crawl

Park Bar / Cliff Bells / Rub BBQ Pub / Hard Luck Lounge / State Bar / Hockeytown Cafe / The Town Pump Tavern / Centaur...a $10 wristband will get you drink & food specials as well as waive any cover at each establishment...come explore all that Foxtown has to offer! A Detroit Ber Week representative will be selling wristbands at each location.

Saturday, October 23:
Michigan Brewers Guild Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market
God bless you, press release:

2nd Annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival (formerly Harvest Beer Festival)
Presented by the Michigan Brewers Guild and Metrotimes
October 23rd, 2010
Eastern Market, Detroit ***
Purchase Tickets***

The 2nd Annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival will take place Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 at the Eastern Market in Detroit. The Harvest Festival is a cooperative effort between the Michigan Brewers Guild and Metrotimes and we expect our combined efforts to result in one of the best local beer events in the region. The Eastern Market is one of the nation’s oldest farm markets and the area is rife with brewing history. In its heyday, there were more than 40 breweries in the Market area and malt silos still stand as a testament to the rich brewing history. The Market will be open on Saturday so you may want to come early and check it out. We are expecting more than 40 Michigan microbreweries and brewpubs to participate and there will be nearly 200 different beers available to sample. The event will be open from 1:00pm to 6:00pm; Rain or Shine. Enthusiast Members of the Michigan Brewers Guild will be allowed to enter the Festival an hour early at Noon. The Festival will take place in the parking area near shed #5 and there is ample parking in the surrounding area.

The cost to enter the Festival is $35 in advance and $40 at the gate if tickets are still available. The total quantity of tickets is limited so advance ticket purchase is suggested. Tickets can be purchased here on our website, at participating member breweries and at select retail outlets. Please see the related post on the MASH (our blog) for an updated list of ticket outlets. 15 drink tokens are included with a ticket and each token is good for one 3 ounce beer sample. Additional tokens are available for purchase inside the Festival for 50 cents each. Live entertainment will be provided by local bands and food prepared by local restaurants will be available for purchase.

Festival attendees must be 21 years of age or older and have ID to enter. Designated Drivers are encouraged and DD tickets will be available on line at the gate for $5 each.

Please look for information to be posted on the MASH regarding participating breweries, ticket outlets and other information. The MASH will be updated as new information becomes available. Please feel free to make a post of your own if you are organizing a bus or have something else to share.

Cheers, and see you October 23rd at the Eastern Market!

Saturday, October 23: Official Detroit Fall Beer Festival After Party

At the newly-remodeled taproom of Atwater Block Brewery from 6pm-midnight.

Sunday, October 24: Sunday "Bloody Mary" Sunday at Third Street Bar

Though it's *technically* not an official Detroit Beer Week event, it's a nice way to round out the week's festivities. From Jon: Scott and the crew from 3rd Street have been gracious to host our closing party for DBW 2010. We will be creating the ULTIMATE BLOODY MARY BAR -- yes you read that correctly, you will be in Bloody Heaven!!! To aid in your recovery, they will be adding breakfast items to their taco truck menu; the chili verde is AMAZING and I can't wait to smother chorizo & eggs with it!