Monday, February 28, 2011

Real Detroit Weekly Extended Cut: Roast

Michael Symon’s Roast
1128 Washington Boulevard, Detroit
(313) 961-2500,
Hours: Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bar opens daily at 4 p.m.

The word is out on Michael Symon’s Roast: this place is operating on a level that other area restaurants don’t even come CLOSE to touching. For the “Best Restaurant” category, there simply was no other competition. (No offense, everywhere else.)

Most *good* restaurants excel in one or two areas, more if they’re exceptional. Roast is the exceptionally rare place that absolutely NAILS it on all counts. There is not a single detail, not a single nuance of product, service or experience that is overlooked at this juggernaut of Detroit-area restaurants. This place is a well-oiled machine with a solid team behind it making sure it keeps firing on all cylinders.

First, the food: yes, they have a lot of meat. The hanger steak, smoked pork chops and roast beast of the day (which slow-cooks on a spit visible to the main dining room) are all favorites. The lamb ragu with paparadelle pasta is a sleeper hit, particularly because the tender homemade pasta is just as much the star of the dish as the juicy lamb itself. But some of the most noteworthy items on the menu are found under the appetizer section. The house-made charcuterie platter – which refers to the art of curing, smoking and preserving meats, a Symon specialty and one of the current culinary crazes in metro Detroit – is a rotating selection of pancetta, terrines, rilettes and sausages prepared for two. The beef cheek pierogi is once again an accomplishment of not only succulent meat but also the delicate dumpling dough. With the crispy veal sweetbreads, eat first and ask questions later. And the roasted marrow, drenched in oil and served on a sawed-off bone, has made it to the bucket list of mandatory Detroit dining alongside Slows’ mac & cheese and Buddy’s pizza. It may not appeal to all palates – it’s a bit gelatinous – but a necessary experience nonetheless.

Second, beverages: they have the best of all things you will find at any bar anywhere. Best beer list? Check, heavy on Michigan-made craft brews and fun, funky French and Belgian imports. The list itself is as precise in flavor profiling as the best wine lists. Best wine list? That may be more difficult to quantify but the list is extensive, runs the full gamut of price points, offers a wide selection of international and domestic labels, and is partial to lesser-known names. Best cocktails? You haven’t even HAD a cocktail until you’ve had one of theirs. The art of the classic hand-crafted cocktail – another current local craze – is demonstrated expertly here. High-quality gins, bourbons, rye whiskeys and vermouths dominate this menu of classic and classically-inspired hand-crafted cocktails, and be sure to ask about their current barrel-aged selections.

Other restaurants only dream of having a staff as knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming as the seasoned staff at Roast. Behind the bar, Travis Fourmont and Brian Vollmer (the “cocktail nerds” behind that majestic menu) are less “mixologists” and more your friendly neighborhood barkeeps plucked straight out of an 1800s saloon who make Corpse Revivers not because they’re trendy but because they are complex and delicious. Saddle up to the bar and you’ll feel right at home.

The atmosphere is posh while still being comfortable. The prices are surprisingly low – most steaks and entrees are under $30 – but the best thing about Roast, that final touch that makes them wholly untouchable, is the cocktail hour. From 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, enjoy $3 bites, $4 select beer and wine and $5 pours. Those “bites” include the ineffable Roast Burger: a 5-oz. burger topped with bacon, cheddar and fried egg served on a toasted English muffin. This creation has forever destroyed the burger bell curve; not all burgers are created equal but this one isn’t even fair. During cocktail hour(s) you can enjoy all the best of what Roast has to offer and spend only $15. It’s where Detroiters go to be bougie on a budget.

Read the print version here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chicago's Cafe des Architectes and My Cardinal Rule of Restaurant Dining

I would like to share with you today my cardinal rule of restaurant dining: food in restaurants should not be difficult to eat. If it cannot easily be cut apart, chewed apart, portioned into reasonable-sized bites utilizing the cutlery at my disposal, picked up as a finger food and bitten into reasonable-sized portions without half of it landing on or around my plate, slid onto a fork, stabbed onto a fork, or in any other reasonable and passingly polite way transferred from YOUR plate to MY mouth, you should not be serving it in your restaurant. Fine dining is already intimidating enough for a lot of people - what's proper etiquette? which fork do I use first? what's the proper way of ordering? how can I not make an ass out of myself in front of this waiter who just greeted me in French and told me he would be my "emissary" to the restaurant for the evening? Really, all these rules of decorum - whether real or simply perceived by the insecure diner - can be daunting, but once you get past all that -- past ordering the wine (oh thank god there's a bin number and I don't have to try to pronounce it!!!), past ordering the entree ("What's 'ratatouille'???" "I don't know, I never saw the movie!"), and are finally at the point of being able to relax and enjoy yourself, your mono-lingual fumbling through the Fratalianish menu comfortably behind you, the last thing you expect to encounter is having to fumble with your food. But too often chefs get a little too stuck on visual presentation and fail to account for any practicality in the act of actually EATING it.

Take for example the "Pintxos" at Cafe des Architectes in Chicago. "Pintxos" is French for "tapas" which is Spanish for "small plates" which is American Bougie for "appetizers." Basically the pintxos menu is a small plates menu, served daily from 4 to 7 p.m. and only available at "Le Bar" (that's what it's called, srsly). The pintxos is a combination of toppings - think chorizo with crushed tomatoes, Manchego with black olives - served on crostini. At only $5 each, they're a wonderful and inexpensive way to sample a number of different items. I always prefer going this route since I like to be able to taste more for less, especially without having to lock into an expensive entree I may or may not even enjoy and will probably get sick of eating after just a few bites. I get bored with food easily. Unless it's cheese.

And yes, I also ordered the cheese plate while I was there.

I selected the asparagus + goat cheese and the beef tenderloin + roquefort pintxos. The presentation was lovely: two large crostini piled high with thinly-sliced asparagus/sliced tenderloin and crumbled goat/roquefort cheese, diced tomatoes, greens, held together (but not really) with a toothpick on a plate EXACTLY big enough to fit the two crostini. So cute! So clever!

How the fuck do I eat it?

At this point in your meal you are intractable ... you've already come this far, after all. You're not about to let it all come crashing down around some damn crostini. With steely determination you grab your fork and butter knife and begin sawing into this pretty dish. The crostini cannot - WILL NOT - be cut. It is toasted but still chewy; as you saw back and forth the only thing you succeed in doing is knocking all of the toppings off of it, which ultimately means they end up all AROUND the plate because the plate is *just* big enough to fit them in the first place. With dedication you decide to pick the crostini up and eat it as finger food - it's only a few bites, really; this seems perfectly appropriate. But alas, the toppings are piled too high and are too unstable--no sooner do you attempt one bite than half of the tiny artfully diced tomatoes end up on your plate, in your lap, on your chest, in your cupped hand and all over your fingers. Pretty much everywhere but your mouth, really. Then one of the large gobs of goat cheese plops onto your phone as you still have the crostini raised to your mouth with which you are trying to gently pull and shake the loose toppings in the greatest danger of going over thereby coaxing them down your gullet, then the crostini itself gives in and the whole bloody mess ends up in deconstructed piles on and around your plate, and despite this place having the word "architect" in the name you're pretty sure it wasn't meant as a Derrida reference.

You are undeterred. It is now a matter of principal.

Surely there MUST be some way of eating this. So now you determine that you must first eat the majority of the toppings off the crostini THEN eat the crostini with just a few sparse toppings on it as finger food because CLEARLY you cannot pick up the whole thing nor can you cut it into manageable pieces for ease of edibility. I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. So you pick up your fork and resolutely begin eating the individual toppings. Until you get to the thinly-sliced asparagus. Which is too long to be slid onto the fork, and too thin and slippery to be stabbed onto the fork, and too ungainly to be picked up crostini-and-all and consumed as wholly without the fork.

You start to panic. The diced tomatoes are everywhere. It looks like a four-year-old child ate at your place setting. You've stained your shirt, soiled the table linens and the napkin on your lap which thank GOD you remembered to put there or else you'd have to buy a new pair of jeans for the remainder of your stay in Chicago, your food is all over your face and fingers and you STILL haven't figured out just how in the holy hell you're supposed to eat these things and you're humiliated because you KNOW the entire staff has seen your struggle and are probably laughing to themselves about it and you think to yourself, THIS is the fine dining experience??? You're convinced it's you; that you're doing something wrong and that everyone else is effortless and graceful in the way they delicately eat these dishes.

I am not a delicate person. Most often I'm a bear with a bullhorn in a china shop full of anthropophobics with sensitive hearing. I'm loud and messy and clumsy. I prefer paper plates over china, licking my fingers clean over wiping them on linens, and eating with my hands over using utensils pretty much always. (I'm not sure how I got this gig as a food writer either. Moving along.) If there is something to be spilled, stained, dropped, knocked off a plate, flung from a plate due to a utensil malfunction, etc., I will be the person who makes it happen. So I understand what's it's like; I do. You don't have to be ashamed anymore! Much as I loathe restaurants that try to sell me on the idea of preparing and cooking my own food at three times the cost of me just doing it at home and having to cut my own salad greens, I ***HATE*** not being able to actually EAT the food I order because it's just too damn difficult to maneuver.

It always makes me think of my days in retail, may I starve and die a thousand deaths before returning to that realm. We would receive new visual directives, like extensive window changes that required 10-ft ladders, fishing line, wooden planks, 5-ft decals, 8-ft foam boards, 2 boxes of straight pins, a roll of packing tape, industrial-strength double-sided tape, 14-ft banners, 27 mannequins each wearing 3 layers of clothing and heavily accessorized, beaded chandeliers and added track lighting we had to install ourselves (go ahead: ask me about my last trip to the emergency room that resulted in 11 stitches), and we would be allocated less than $40 in payroll (or approximately one manager and one part-time minimum-wage associate working two hours each) to implement the directive. And all these times I would wonder, has anyone on the corporate visual team ever actually TRIED to set this within the same set of restrictions in personnel, time, and professional skill sets as they expect us to be able to do? Much like I wondered that I also wonder if some of the chefs in these high-profile kitchens ever try to eat some of their more visually striking creations with a plain old fork and knife.

They tasted great, BTW. Not trying to diminish that. Once I was able to Cirque du Soleil them into my mouth, that is.

All of that being said - and it was quite a mouthful! AY-OOOO! - I feel bad that Cafe des Architectes has to take the brunt of my wrath regarding challenging cuisine. It's not just them. It's actually a very fine restaurant with a clever and inventive French-inspired menu and really wonderful staff (Lisa at "Le Bar" was absolutely lovely: very engaging, clearly able to read her customers well, gave a great wine recommendation - the whole staff seemed excellent in this regard). I came here to try their Chicago Restaurant Week lunch menu, which sounded rather exceptional in a sea of some 200+ rather average-sounding menus. But being the perennially tardy person that I am, I missed the lunch menu and wasn't as excited about the dinner option, so I opted for the pintxos and, naturally, the French cheese plate with Brie de Meaux, Langres, Crottin Maitre Seguin, mango chutney, an OUTSTANDING balsamic reduction, candied walnuts, and crusty breads. The glass of Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc I had to pair was absolutely delightful, and at $19 for a glass I could have bought a whole bottle AND a king-sized candy bar at Costco! Yes, my biggest gripe about this place specifically was the outlandishly overpriced wine list (see: Ravenswood Zinfandel, $14; Cakebread Cellars Merlot, $19...per glass).

It being located inside the ultra-sleek Sofitel Hotel, the decor is done in an edgy, dramatic art deco palette of red, black and white with a lot of play on geometric shapes and patterns seemingly echoed in the presentation of the dishes. Despite my above griping (come on, I NEVERRRRRRR get to do that anymore!), I did enjoy this place and would certainly visit again. Having not been to all the gastro-this-and-thats in Chicago I can still pretty comfortably say that I don't think this place is doing anything so terribly different than the others, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable meal. Check out their Restaurant Week lunch menu below to see for yourself why this place made my short list.

Café des Architectes

French | Lunch, Dinner
20 E. Chestnut St. | Chicago IL 60611
City-N.Michigan | 312 324-4000

Enjoy Executive Chef Greg Biggers' cuisine rooted in French culture showcasing products from Midwestern farmers at Cafe des Architectes. The restaurant is located in the fashionable Gold Coast neighborhood and is a modern restaurant with dramatic appointments created by interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. Vibrant colors, overstuffed chairs, sprawling banquettes and lamps that employ upside-down toques as lamp shades grab your attention. The carefully crafted interior's design serves as the perfect landscape for the approachable cuisine crafted from ingredients procured from local farmers. "Top Ten Chicago Restaurant," Chicago Sun-Times, 2009. 3 stars, Chicago magazine, Chicago Tribune. Open Daily. B: 6am-11:30am; Br (Sat. and Sun. only): 11:30am-5pm; L: 11:30am-5pm; D: 5pm-11pm. Reservations accepted for lunch and dinner only.Valet

February 18-27, 2011
Lunch Menu

(choice of one)
Celery Root Velouté
truffles / micro salad / fresh herbs
Artichoke Salad
oven dried tomato / carrot mousse / lemon confit
Rillettes of Salmon
chives / crème fraiche / baguette croûton

(choice of one)
Shrimp Terrine
avocado / piquillo peppers / lemon
Grilled Red Mullet
dill / cider vinegar sabayon / spinach purée
Stuffed Leg of Lamb
ratatouille niçoise / winter spices / cardamom jus

Pistachio Cream
chocolate coulis / iranian pistachios / crisp
Pineapple Soup
coconut sorbet / brunoise of exotic fruits / vanilla
Chocolat Moelleux
cakey / creamy / crunchy

Friday, February 25, 2011

Real Detroit Weekly Best Of Blurbs

Some things to note:
#1: I did not choose the winners of these categories, but these are the blurbs I wrote for them.
#2: Below are only the blurbs I wrote because that's all I care about.
#3: Some of them were painful to write.
#4: Some of them were so painful to write they were completely re-written by my editors (see: BlackFinn, a place I hold so much disdain for I cannot even fake it for money).
#5: For those of you who are also my friends on Facebook and have been keeping score, I am still running at 100% on the "2011 Slows Initiative" (see: Good Girls Go to Paris entry; the Roast feature which I will be posting the EXTENDED cut later...I am not responsible for cuts made so long as I included the Slows reference in my original submission).
#6: I am trademarking the phrases "taco truck diaspora" (see: Jacques' Tacos) and "bougie on a budget" (also in the forthcoming Roast review), so bust off.


Best Restaurant to Rediscover: Forte
Birmingham’s been getting a lot of action lately with some much-talked-about new restaurants (including our “Best Restaurant to be Seen,” South Bar). With all the new (shiny!) restaurants debuting, it’s easy to forget about the old stand-bys … but Forte deserves your attention once again, with a new Executive Chef (Rich Travis, most recently of Tribute) and totally redesigned interiors and menus which include playful small plates and pizzas. The name is the same, but that’s about it.

Best Restaurant To Be Seen – South
Birmingham’s hottest new destination is all warm weather and beach bodies, even in the dead of winter. From the spicy Latin-fusion menu to the sultry club nights where there’s never a cover, this chic multi-room hotspot is a destination all its own. Part casual-upscale restaurant, part sports bar, part nightclub & ultralounge and all VIP, South has us feeling the Miami heat. Celebutantes and ballers are known to frequent, and you can feel like one yourself at Direction South with Jody Haddad on Thursdays. During the summer the ONLY place to be is that patio.

Best First Date Restaurant – Fountain Bistro
Look guys, there’s nothing wrong with dinner and dancing, but dinner and ice skating followed by hot chocolate and fire-roasted S’mores? – now THAT shows your creativity! Lucky for you, Fountain Bistro offers all of that right outside their door. Located directly in Campus Martius Park, with its summertime dancing water fountain and wintertime ice rink, Fountain Bistro offers endless opportunities for a romantic rendezvous in the heart of downtown. Oh, and their food is also fantastic. You’re on your own for the second date, but this will guarantee you at least get one!

Best Creperie – Good Girls Go To Paris
Good Girls is to crepes what Slows is to BBQ – it is so much more than simply a place to eat, but rather a bonafide DETROIT experience, known as much for its food as it is for its ambiance, its people, its story of against-the-odds success. Offering nearly 50 different kinds of savory and sweet crepes bursting with fresh, indulgent ingredients (all named after the “good girls” in Torya’s life), this place has charm, character, and our favorite crepes in the Paris of the Midwest.

Best Restaurant For Appetizers – Centaur
Yes, they have martinis. But did you know that they also have the most impressive appetizer spread in town? From lamb lollipops to cheesecake lollipops, the all-small-plates selection is extensive and every item is outstanding. The price is equally attractive: all plates are $10 or less with towers (orders of 3) half off Sunday through Thursday 4 to 7 p.m. And – AND – food is served until 2 a.m. 7 days a week. And also they have lots of martinis.

Best Food To Soak Up The Booze – Plaka in Greektown
Rough night? Yeah, we understand. So do the fine folks at Plaka Café, which is open 24 hours for your post-drinking-binge eating binge. They have a wide variety of food … and it has grease in it … and carbs … and it is often the difference between spending the whole next day in the fetal position or popping a couple of aspirin and going to brunch. Plus it gives you some time to shake off the vodka before stumbling home. It’s all about your safety.

Best 24-Hour Restaurant – Leo’s Coney Island
Where else can you get pancakes, gyros and a Coney dog at 4 a.m.? Not Denny’s, that’s for damn sure. Shoowt. Leo’s Coney Islands are open 24-7 like 7-Eleven, and they’re just about as easy to find. Whether you’re a high school student sitting with your 12 besties drinking coffee and discussing the merits of the band of the moment (ah, the good old days) or you’ve got the late-night drunchies (or maybe mid-day; we don’t judge here), Leo’s has you covered.

Best Bang For Your Buck – Big Boy
Don’t act like you don’t know. Roast may have burgers on lock, but sometimes we like to sink our teeth into the “Original Double Decker” – two all-beef patties with American cheese, lettuce and Big Boy’s signature “special sauce” on a sesame seed bun (the template for all fast-food copycats). And for a mere $6.99 you can also get their “endless” soup, salad and fruit bar, and here’s an insider’s tip: they can ASK you to leave, but they can’t FORCE you. Just sayin’.

Best Bagel – Detroit Bagel
Oh bagels, cleverly-disguised doughnuts that you are, why must you tempt us with your tantalizing array of flavors all wrapped up in your soft round body with just the right amount of crunch in your glossy golden crust and all tender and chewy on the inside! For 40 years now Detroit Bagel Factory has been baking up these carbolicious delights fresh daily and we love them like we love a bad habit. Try the parmesan; it will change your life.

Best Sunday Brunch – Beverly Hills Grill
We take our brunch very seriously here in metro Detroit. Unlike a surprising number of other big cities (we’re looking at YOU, Chicago), locals know that brunch is not just a meal – it is an ART. So it is not uncommon to find lines out the door and waits of up to two hours at some of our favorite brunchtime destinations, the most infamous of which is the Beverly Hills Grill. Though not as chic as its 90210-ish name might imply, their brunch menu epitomizes epicurean sensibilities. Bananas Foster French Toast with candied pecans and cinnamon is a decadent ooey-gooey delight. The Potato Latke “Sandwich” with Canadian bacon, brie, sweet onion and an over-easy egg sure doesn’t sound kosher but we’re cool with it. A Sunday at Beverly Hills Grill is sure to be a splurge – and you should be prepared to wait – but it’s well worth it.

Best Steakhouse – Gaucho’s
Four words: 15 kinds of meat. Gaucho’s Brazilian Steakhouse is the only authentic “churrascaria” in the area. The way it works is simple: all meals are fixed price and you have unlimited servings of fire-roasted, skewered meats. (And when you need a little rest between meats, your meal also includes their gourmet salad bar which features Italian salami, smoked salmon and prosciutto – and no that does not count as more meat … it’s more like transition meat … a meat intermezzo?) You use green and red tokens to signify to the gaucho – the meat-carver – when you want more meat or when you need a time-out to digest (which color is used for which is fairly intuitive). Otherwise the gauchos come around presenting 15 different meats in intervals and you just eat and eat and eat. MEAT. It’s less fine dining and more FUN dining, and we love the succulent meat parade.

Best Seafood Restaurant – Ocean Prime
Ocean Prime gives us the best of both land and sea (which we’d certainly expect from a marriage between Cameron’s Steakhouse and Mitchell’s Fish Market), but in addition to stellar seafood the space itself is STUNNING. Soaring ceilings, soft curves, tactile textures and artistic lighting make this a feast for the eyes as much as the stomach; but don’t be jealous, stomach – crab-crusted blue tilapia and Chilean sea bass in a champagne truffle sauce are just a taste of what’s in store for you.

Best Fondue – Melting Pot
At the Melting Pot your prix fixe 4-course meal offers a variety of options. Choose your own luscious cheese blend served with crusty hunks of bread for dipping; enjoy a hearty salad with their signature dressings; pick from an assortment of meats and seafood served with vegetables to cook in a rich broth or oil; and finally decide on your decadent chocolate dessert served with strawberries, fudgey brownies and creamy cheesecake for dipping. Playing with your food has never been so sexy.

Best Tex-Mex – Penny Black
Tex-Mex/BBQ/Cajun/Southwest … Rochester’s spankin’ new homage to spicy Southern cooking presents a scattershot variety of fusion items, from handmade guacamole to hot wings, brisket sliders to Baja fish tacos, Cajun beef tips to shrimp po’ boys, St. Louis ribs to jambalaya, quesadillas to fajitas. Really, the array of options is staggering, like touring the American South from one coast to the other. Tex-Mex is just one of many styles on the menu here, and all are equally worth exploring.

Best Food Truck – Jacques’ Taco
From “roach coaches” to the newest “it” cuisine, taco trucks have experienced a major overhaul in our collective conscious. Now the adventurous “foodie” seeks them out as wild prey in unexplored terrain. The truly tenacious (these things can be hard to track) are rewarded with the unique culinary experience of cheap street food that’s better than what you get at most restaurants, and OH! the bragging rights! Jacques’ Taco is a ramped-up version of the traditional taco truck: Chef Wes is a Michelin-starred chef preparing gourmand versions of tacos, and is often in suburban areas like Royal Oak and Novi. Taco trucks are not indigenous to these parts but as their populations have spread, some have become domesticated (a phenomenon known as taco truck diaspora). Jacques’ makes your undertaking a bit easier by announcing where they’ll be on what days, so even if you’re not a culinary thrill-seeker you can still enjoy the spoils.

Best Raw Food – Tom’s Oyster Bar
It doesn’t get much more raw than oysters. And for raw oysters, it doesn’t get much better than Tom’s Oyster Bar. They serve six different types of cold water raw oysters daily from some of the best oyster waters in the world. But that’s not all that’s raw about Tom’s: they also have a full sushi menu featuring all of the classics as well as some signature creations, and the cold smoked salmon is a house specialty.

Best Ribs – Oxford Inn
Ribs are becoming a bit of a heated topic in these parts thanks to a surge of upscale BBQ joints along with old-school rib shacks all promising to be the best. But when it comes to ribs, to each ribeater his own. If you prefer award-winning baby back pork ribs caramelized with BBQ sauce that are so tender, so juicy the meat just falls right off the bone and into your mouth, Oxford Inn has the best in town.

Best Salad – J. Alexanders
J. Alexanders offers a wide range of casual-upscale American steakhouse dishes, but we love those heaping salads for dinner. If the word “salad” makes you think “polite plate of greens,” J’s challenges you to take on their Boca or Cypress salads and dare to call them dainty. Generously topped with hearty ingredients and flavorful house-made dressings, these greens eat like a full meal. Plan on getting a to-go box for that “delicate” salad of yours.

Best Fast Food – McDonald’s
What? It’s the world’s largest fast food restaurant chain and it’s even more Mc’merican than apple pie. For hundreds of millions of people all over the world, those golden arches conjure happy childhood memories by way of the appropriately-named Happy Meal, and there is no better hangover cure than the sausage, egg & cheese McGriddle. And when these guys bring back an old menu item, it makes international headlines (see: the McRib). Now go get yourself a Shamrock Shake while supplies last.®

Best Sub Sandwich – Potbelly
They say they were named after an antique stove, but we know the real truth: a “potbelly” is what you’ll become if you indulge in your love of their sandwiches a bit too often. Oh, sure, they have their “Skinnys” menu … but our favorite is “The Wreck” – four different kinds of meat with mayo and Swiss cheese served on their warm buns that goes straight to our buns. Add to that an order of creamy potato salad and a hand-dipped Oreo malt … hence, “potbelly.”

Best Bar Burger – Rosie O’Grady’s
Rosie O’Grady’s is a sports bar haven, but it’s also a haven for hungry diners craving high-quality bar food, from coal-fired artisanal pizzas to exceptional burgers. Made with U.S.D.A. Choice Angus ground fresh on-site daily and hand-pattied to order, these burgers are in a whole different league than the rock-hard, flavorless frozen patties you get at most other bars. Our choice is “Emily’s Choice”: a bleu cheese-stuffed burger cooked over mesquite with Jack cheese, bacon and avocado. Droolikins.

Best Burrito – Zumba
Inside the tiny building that houses Zumba Mexican Grille is a world of fresh, affordable, healthy Mexican food that will forever make you swear off the over-processed “food product” you get at certain fast food chains. The burritos are more than a handful – literally – and are stuffed with rice, beans, and your choice of meat and toppings. And with the skirt steak burrito being the most expensive item on the menu (at $6.35), you can leave without feeling guilty about your waistline OR your wallet.

Best French Fries – Mr. B’s
Mr. B’s has been a staple of the metro Detroit sports bar scene for many years, and what has made it consistently popular with each new wave of freshly-21 collegiate sportsfans and the older tried-and-true regulars is the fact that it’s a no-frills kind of place. The menu is all bar standards, but the fries are their signature: their “original recipe” crispy seasoned fries are a long-time local favorite, and a welcome change from the soggy, bland fries at other places.

Best Pizza (deep dish) – Pizza Papalis
If you’re looking for authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza, look no further than Pizza Papalis in Greektown. They’ve been serving their golden-crusted 3-inch-thick pies since the ‘80s, formulating exclusive recipes with high-protein unbleached flour for the flaky crust and imported Italian tomatoes for their secret recipe sauce. The result is a heavy pie generously stuffed with premium ingredients. The deep dish take longer in the oven, but you’ll need that time to build your appetite: one slice is enough to stuff even the hungriest pizza connoisseur.

Best New Restaurant for Pizza – Pizzeria Biga
There’s gourmet pizza, then there’s Pizzeria Biga. They offer the true Neapolitan pizza experience using a starter (called “biga”) that makes a lighter and airier dough, the same method that’s been used in Italy for centuries. The toppings are pure European sensibility: house-made charcuterie, robust imported cheeses, oven-roasted vegetables. The resulting pizzas have a tender, chewy, bubbling crust and wholly unique flavor combinations (“Farm Egg,” anyone?). You can also take home a bottle of wine at LESS than retail cost. Now THAT’s amore.

Best Ice Cream Shop – Ray’s
Ray’s Ice Cream is the kind of old-fashioned ice cream parlor (back when they were called “parlors”) that brings about a wave of nostalgia for a period of time most of us only know from the movies. This independent neighborhood ice cream shop and soda fountain has been owned by the Stevens family since 1958. They offer over 40 flavors of smooth ice cream by the head-sized scoop, as well as sundaes made with Michigan’s own Sanders hot fudge.

Best Sushi Chef – Inyo, Kenny Wee
The true test of a chef is in his Omakase. “Omakase” means “to trust” in Japanese, and a chef working in this tradition is known for his inventiveness of flavor, style and presentation – it’s a sushi chef’s swagger. Inyo in Ferndale is already lauded for having some of the most inventive sushi in metro Detroit, but to truly see Executive Chef Kenny Wee’s talent in its rawest form (so to speak), opt for the Chef’s Choice menu: 7-10 courses requiring 24-hour advance notice, an Omakase experience like none other.

Best Caribbean – Bahama Breeze
At Bahama Breeze, they put de lime in de coconut and drink ‘em both up. Jerk seasonings and mango pineapple salsas abound on their extensive menu that features the uniquely lush flavors of the tropics, from savory fire-roasted jerk shrimp in garlic thyme sauce to tender West Indies baby back ribs glazed in guava BBQ sauce. The island-themed menu, endless list of refreshing tropical drinks, and lively Caribbean spirit will make you sing, “Daylight come mon, me no want go home.”

Best Italian – Andiamo
After 20 years, the Andiamo Restaurant Group has become a distinctive brand in metro Detroit with 10 different locations serving up some of your favorite rustic Italian-American dishes. This locally-owned chain is your favorite place for hearty pastas and old-fashioned Italian hospitality, and each location has its own unique personality and flavor. Whether for a business lunch, a romantic dinner, or a 200-person banquet, Andiamo serves you well. Buon appetito!

Best Middle Eastern – Olives
Living in a metropolitan area with the largest Arabic population outside of the Middle East means we have easy access to REALLY EFFING GOOD Arabic food everywhere we go. (What’s that, Chicago? New York? Awwww, so sorry you’re missing out!) Olives Mediterranean Grill offers all of our Lebanese and Greek favorites – hommous, baba ghanouge, kibbee, stuffed grape leaves, fattoush and tabboulee salads, shish kafta and chicken tawook, gyros and shawarma, as well as raw juices. The void left by La Shish has successfully been filled.

Best Thai – Bangkok
Thai cuisine is so much more than Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles (not that we have anything against drunken anything). Authentic Thai incorporates the delicate flavors of kaffir lime, coconut milk and lemon grass – with a whole LOT of spice kicked in (if you so desire). Bangkok Cuisine offers diners a full Thai flavor profile friendly enough for American tastebuds, but spicy enough to be called anything but meek. Think you can handle the heat? Order the extra hot; we DARE you.

Best All-You-Can-Eat – Harbor House
When you think of all-you-can-eat, you probably think of tacky buffets that announce “over 100 items daily!” or places that cater to the olds. At Harbor House, the all-you-can-eat dinner is table-served with options like shrimp, pork chops, frog legs and whitefish, all served with beer-battered mushrooms, soup, salad and fresh-baked bread for only $20. You can also upgrade to crab legs for $34.99 and prime rib (Fridays and Saturdays only) for $25.99. Nothing tacky about that!

Best Cupcakes – Cupcake Station
It was the first of its kind in Michigan, and it’s still our favorite. The Cupcake Station is all cupcakes all the time, baked fresh from scratch every single day. These tempting treats are sinfully delicious with rich, moist cake all wrapped up in whipped buttercream frosting and topped with candy pieces and chocolate drizzle. Specialty cupcakes are stuff-in-your-mouth-sized edible works of art. Stop in on Two Buck Tuesdays when regular-sized cupcakes are only $2.

Best Sunday Mimosas – D’Amato’s
D’Amato’s hasn’t made any kind of ground-breaking innovations to the basic mimosa – it’s still just orange juice and sparkling wine – but they (a) offer them bottomless, which is the ONLY way to brunch, and (b) also offer bottomless Bellinis. Which. Is just. AWESOME. D’Amato’s also has the rockinest brunch in town with live music by Gino Fanelli’s Red Hot Sugar Daddies, which is like swing-jazz-whiskey-rock that goes better with bottomless booze than food does. (You should probably eat too though.)

Best Pancakes – International House of Pancakes
Lots of places do pancakes. Lots of places even do specialty pancakes. But NO ONE does pancakes like IHOP. (And no other pancake has a recurring starring role in “Eat This, Not That.”) The truth is, taking a stack of buttermilk pancakes, stuffing it with cinnamon roll filling, slathering on cream cheese icing and piling on the whipped cream is not, in fact, healthy. These are IHOP’s new CINN-A-STACK pancakes. We can’t WAIT to try them.

Best Specialty Maki Roll – Café Sushi
The Super Max Roll. Know it. Love it. Sushi purists will sneer; everyone else will salivate. The Super Max Roll is your standard-issue California Roll – avocado, cucumber – stuffed with tempura-fried shrimp and fried conch. Then the entire roll is dipped in tempura batter and fried. THEN it’s covered in spicy mayo and more conch meat and THEN it’s broiled until it’s all hot and bubbly. And then you eat it. Any questions?

Best Restaurant You Haven’t Been To – Café Muse
It is the Oprah book of Detroit restaurants, but there’s a lot more on the menu than the Grilled Cheese that Launched a Thousand Yelp Reviews. The team at Café Muse has worked hard to step out of the Big O’s shadow, and the restaurant’s true potential shines in its ambitious dinner menu. They take pride in working directly with local farms to source fresh, in-season ingredients and boast a handsome selection of hand-crafted cocktails, Michigan craft beers, and a carefully-curated wine list.

Best Old-School Dining Experience – Lelli’s
Lelli’s in Auburn Hills is an old-school Italian steakhouse serving up steaks, chops and seafood the same way it has since the original location in Detroit opened over 70 years ago. You got your huge plates of pasta. You got your obligatory lake perch. You got your 14 different preparations of veal (not including combination plates) and five different preparations of lobster. It’s not chic. And it’s not cheap. But here you can actually TASTE what Detroit’s glory days of dining were all about.

Best Sushi: Crave
Crave in Dearborn set the standard for sushi restaurants-as-ultralounges in metro Detroit. This place is pure culinary couture, where high fashion meets high food art. Known particularly for its ultra-sexy summertime party series “Crave the Sunset,” Crave also boasts an equally sexy sushi menu. The sushi here is contemporary fusion, drawing inspiration from various different culinary traditions with particular Mediterranean influence in their use of citrus fruits and spices. Some of their signature rolls include the “Sunset Roll,” made with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, Japanese cucumber and masago topped with seared scallops and citrus tomato mint relish. The “Temptation Roll” is baked eel, cream cheese and Japanese cucumber layered with seared mignon and topped with a sweet drizzle. These are NOT your typical sushi rolls. These are not what would even be considered “inventive” at other sushi restaurants. These are a culinary creation all their own, and you can only get them here.

Best Casino Restaurant: Wolfgang Puck
Detroit’s casinos offer some of the finest dining opportunities in metro Detroit, and we’re not talking about buffets here. Wolfgang Puck Grille inside the MGM Grand Detroit is an artful melding of upscale contemporary and casual rustic. Stop in for a burger and beer before a game, or enjoy a lavish five-course meal with sinfully opulent wine pairings for a special occasion. Either way, they welcome you as their guest with dedicated service and a sophisticated menu in this cozy yet chic environment.


Best Irish Bar – Old Shillelagh
Those little green men you see aren’t just the Guinness and Jameson talking. Well … they are, actually, but you’re not the only one. At the Old Shillelagh everyone’s Irish and it’s St. Patrick’s Day all year round! Bang along on the table to Irish drinking songs, slam an Irish car bomb, and have a bloody brilliant time. As the old Irish blessing goes, may you be in heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead … you’ll need the head start.

Best Latino Bar – Vicente’s
Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine offers a full Latin supper club experience – a wide range of Cuban and Latin foods including seafood paella and a full tapas menu, a variety of tropical-flavored mojitos and red and white sangria, and most importantly – SALSA. Every Friday and Saturday night they offer free salsa lessons followed by salsa dancing, merengue, bachata, reggaeton and top 40 into the wee hours. Even the spiciest thing on the menu can’t touch the amount of heat on the dance floor.

Best Bar At Midnight – Tin Fish
At Tin Fish, customers get a well-rounded experience. By day it is a sophisticated seafood restaurant with a contemporary atmosphere and fresh seafood dishes. By late evening, it is a full-fledged martini bar where singles and professionals alike unwind. And at midnight, the space is transformed to a rocking nightclub, packed with dancing bodies who know the night is still young. This place is the perfect mix of casual, trendy and fun, and the witching hour is when all the magic happens.

Best Bar For The Bachelorette – Amnesia
Not just because it’s a fitting name … PRECISELY because it’s a fitting name. Brides-to-be and their gaggle of girls will love the funky throwback ‘70s grooves at the newly redefined Amnesia inside Motor City Casino. What’s not to love? Big pants, big shoes, big hair – given the penis paraphernalia common to bachelorette parties, there is a certain preoccupation with things that are big, so the theme is consistent. Plus it can’t hurt the bride to hear “I Will Survive” a few times.

Best Draft Beer Selection – CK Diggs
Rochester Hills has a big secret it’s been keeping from us for over a decade now. It’s one of those hidden-in-plain-sight secrets that hasn’t so much been kept from us as we never knew we were missing it. Welcome to CK Diggs, where there are 40 craft and imported beers on tap on their impressive custom-built tap system. Michigan craft brews have a strong show, but if the draft selection doesn’t blow your skirt up they have another 90 beers available by the bottle.

Best Pick-Up Scene – BlackFinn
If you enjoy a quiet bar where you can sit and enjoy a quality aged scotch while having a pleasant conversation with friends … this is not your bar. BlackFinn is where the people who used to go to Woody’s and O’Tooles go once they graduated college, got jobs and started making grown person money. And this is their singles scene. The atmosphere is a bit more upscale, but the end goal hasn’t changed since the frat house. How YOU doin’?

Best Bar On A Monday Night – Clancy’s Irish Pub
Clancy’s in Clinton Township is what happens when an Irish pub marries and has little boozy babies with a sports bar. On Monday nights they offer half-off pizza and $1.75 pints to go with whatever sport is in season. Their express lunch is $4.99 every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., or get a burger, beer and fries for $5.95. If you’re feeling the luck of the Irish, take the 5-lb burger challenge and get your name on the Champion Burger Wall of Fame.

Best Bar On A Tuesday Night – Tiki Bobs
Where spring break never stops! On Tuesday nights, Tiki Bob’s Cantina in Pontiac throws the biggest college night party in metro Detroit with Channel 95.5. Doors open at 9 p.m., ladies are free before 10:30 p.m., 18+ are welcome, Miller Lite is $2 all night … expect to see people dancing on the bar, doing body shots and taking Ke$ha’s “Take It Off” quite literally as a series of instructions. Why spend the money on a plane ticket to Cancun?

Best Bar On A Wednesday Night – Roger’s Roost
Roger’s Roost in Sterling Heights is the eastside hotspot on Wednesday nights, and it’s all because of the ugly mugs. Bring in your own ugly mug and get it filled for just $3 ($4 for imports), up to 34 ounces. They also have $3 shots throughout the night and half-off appetizers. The bar area has a ton of TVs, pool tables, games and live entertainment. It’s all about the unfussy boozing and this place is ALWAYS packed. Eastside knows how to throw down!

Best Bar On A Thursday Night – Great Baraboo
CLEARLY the eastside knows how to throw down because they’re cleaning house this year with the best bar nights of the week … at the Great Baraboo Brewing Co. in Clinton Twp., the best bar night is their Thursday night Ladies’ Night. Authentic Coach hand bags are raffled off and ladies get $3 martinis all night. Also on Thursdays, Mug Club members can bring in their growlers and get a refill for only $4.

Best Bar On A Friday Night – Emerald Ballroom
Friday nights take us to “the Clem,” the affectionate name Eastsiders have given to Mt. Clemens. Channel 95.5 hosts “New School Fridays” with all the hip hop hits you love in this often-overlooked state-of-the-art nightclub facility. Guys are free before 10 p.m., ladies 21+ are free before 11 p.m., cover is only $5 for all 21+ and ladies 18-20. They also have $2 drinks until 11 p.m. and $2.50 Bud Select all night long. Ain’t no party like an eastside party.

Best Bar On A Saturday Night – Clutch Cargos
On Saturdays we head back to Yack-town with Channel 95.5’s Nick Craig broadcasting live and DJ David B spinning all night long at the former church-turned-den of sin, Clutch Cargos. Ladies are free before 11 p.m. and $2 drink specials on premium liquor until 11 p.m.

Best Bar On A Sunday Night – Tonic
Pontiac. Channel 95.5. Here we meet again. This time it’s at Tonic Nightclub with a live broadcast featuring DJ Paul Martindale. Tonic’s been the hottest place to be on a Sunday night for so long we don’t even remember a time when it wasn’t, and Pontiac has more poppin’ for the college-age set than any of the so-called “college towns.” We like our booze cheap, our beats fast, and our bass down low. Thank you for accommodating, Pontiac.

Best Happy Hour – Uptown Grill
If you live in or near Commerce Township, this is the only beer bar, martini lounge, upscale restaurant, casual diner, wine bar, early morning breakfast place, late night breakfast place, steakhouse, seafood restaurant, pizza & burger joint, coffee house, sports bar and nightclub you’ll ever need. It may suffer from a multiple personality, but they do it all remarkably well. Every day they have their standard happy hour specials - $2 shots, $3 bombs – then each day of the week has its own list of specials, too.

Best Retro/Nostalgic Bar – The Study in Ronin
Ronin is a trendy place for people who loathe trendy places. The warm woods, earthtones and rich textures give it a very chill vibe. The staff is friendly with aesthetic hints of Royal Oak’s old goth sensibility and the music is a mix of and new wave. This is the kind of nightlife atmosphere that best appeals to those of us who were industrial-goth teenagers smoking cigarettes in the old Brazil coffeehouse before we grew up and got money but now still don’t fancy jock rock or the sportsfan crowds. Ronin is all retro Royal Oak.

Best Bar Before A Tigers Game – Bookies Bar & Grille
The Official Detroit Holiday that is the annual Tigers home opener is April 8 this year. There are a lot of bars downtown you could celebrate at, but Bookies Bar & Grille is hands-down the best place to be on this or any other Tigers game day. They’ve got three floors of fun and a sunshine-drenched rooftop patio that’s one of the best places to drink during the summer. Bookies is also just a short walk to Comerica Park (and Ford Field, and the Fox Theatre, etc.) so this is the ideal one-stop destination; if the park is just a little too far of a stumble for you, then hop on the Bookies bus and it’ll take you straight there. Or just stay here and watch the game on their 16-ft projection screen. They always have killer game day beer & booze specials, and their bar food is some of the best in metro Detroit.

See them the way they actually printed: click here for restaurants, and here for bars.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Real Detroit Weekly: Andiamo Osteria

"With 11 locations in metro Detroit, the Andiamo Restaurant Group is a well-established local brand. Each location offers something distinctly different and unique, each with its own identity and flavor, if you will. The Royal Oak location, Andiamo Osteria (which means "gathering place"), has the most urban flair, being right in the heart of trendy downtown Royal Oak with an outdoor patio and open windows looking out over the hustle of uber-cosmopolitan Main Street.

Executive Chef Stephen Kuclo has overseen operations here since opening in 1999. If you're visiting, try to get a taste of what sets it apart from the others by sampling from Chef Steve's Signature Dinner Specials. Andiamo's menus are consistent from one location to the next (you always know exactly what to expect and exactly how it will taste, and it is that comforting familiarity that is a draw for many people)..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Metromode: Made Here, Eaten Everywhere

"When people think of Michigan-made food products, they usually think of the iconic brands, items unique to the Mitten that are a staple of nearly every household's pantry. Vernors ginger ale, Faygo pop, Better Made Potato Chips, Sanders' milk chocolate fudge and Bumpy Cake - these are the brands we most readily identify as 'ours.' This would lead one to think that these much-beloved Michigan brands represent our largest food processors, products that are most likely to have national recognition. It's a natural assumption to make. It'd also be wrong.

'Much as we adore our 'Red Pop' and the potato chips that promise to be the best (or at least 'better'), good luck trying to find these products outside of the state. Still, Michigan is not without its nationally-distributed brands, many based in our very own southeastern pinky of the Mitten. You may not have heard of them or even knew they were manufactured locally, but chances are you've eaten them..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner Options

I do my best to field the barrage of emails I get from PR people looking to promote their restaurant & bar clients, restaurant managers/owners looking for any kind of media coverage they can get, and people trying to sell their food products or food-based businesses. This is what I consider "doing my best."


Decadence 2011
The Sweetest Party In Town

Friday, February 11th | MET Hotel, Troy | 8pm

~ SIP ~
Spicy Reds, Crisp Whites, Sparkling Champagnes
and Rich Chocolate & Dessert Martinis

Chocolates, Desserts & Confections
From Metro Detroit's Finest "Sweets Boutiques"

To DJ Chrome & DJ Surab Deb Until 1am

Immerse Yourself In An Evening That Will Tantalize Your Senses

A Portion Of All Proceeds Will Benefit The Children's Center


7:45PM Guest Arrival & Check-In
8:00PM The Decadence Begins!
All Sampling Stations Open
Passed Hors D'oeuvres (General Admission)
Lavish Private Hors D'oeuvre & Champagne Reception (VIPs)
Cash Bars Open

9:30PM Late Night Ticket Holders Arrive
10:00PM Dancing to the Sounds of DJ Chrome & DJ Surab

Scrumptious hors d'oeuvres catered by Petruzello's of Troy. The Petruzello's
team has been creating Metro Detroit's most elegant event menus for over 30 years!

Guests will enjoy their choice of sampling of spicy reds & crisp white wines, an array of champagnes and decadent martini & liqueur samples. Varietals Announced Soon!
** VIPs enjoy additional private reserve wines & champagnes**

Metro Detroit's most popular local "Sweets Boutiques" including bakeries,
chocolatiers, caterers, and restaurants present their finest and most unique creations...
be sure to pace yourself!

The MET hotel presents their 'death by chocolate
with over a dozen fruits and unique snacks for dipping...
everything tastes better with chocolate!

People's Choice Award! Guests will vote for Metro Detroit's
"Most Decadent Sweets Boutique".

Evening Chic - Upscale Attire Requested.

Buy Early & Save!
VIP - $75 // Now Only $60
GA - $45 // Now Only $30
Late Night - $30 // Now Only $20

More Info & Tickets at


Valentine's Day Prix Fixe Menu at Opus One, Detroit

Three Course

Prix Fixe Menu

$35 per person


An Exclusive

Valentine's Day

Ala Carte Menu

Opus One has paired up with Blumz by J.R. Design to bring an extra special touch to your Valentine's Day dinner. Flower arrangements are available to order and will be delivered tableside during your romantic Valentine's Day dinner. Contact the Maitre d' for additional information.

SUNDAY 2/13 - MONDAY 2/14

Wine and dine your Valentine at Grange Kitchen + Bar, Ann Arbor.
Enjoy a 4 course dinner with multiple selections for each course.

Sunday, February 13th and Monday, February 14th.
$50 per person plus tax & tip
Optional wine pairing will be available.

Guest can choose from one of the following for each course:

First Course

Chilled oysters, spicy apple gelee, whitefish caviar
Braised beef shank raviolo, shaved parmesan
House smoked salmon pate, caraway crackers
Chickpea crepe, peppery greens, spiced yogurt

Second Course
Warm salad of roasted radishes, lettuces, grilled onion, white beans
Fried egg, shaved lardo, lentil stew
Michigan shrimp and crab cakes
Braised pork belly, confit cabbage, blood orange

Third Course
Crispy duck confit leg, warm salad of sorrel, watercress, cumin orange vinaigrette
Portuguese chorizo and seafood stew
Grilled grass fed tenderloin, creamy kale, red wine reduction
Rice and winter vegetable stuffed cabbage, currants and pine nuts

Fourth Course
dessert selections from our Pastry chef, Jennifer Green


Enjoy Valentine’s Day with special menus exclusively from the Signature Restaurants at MGM Grand Detroit on Valentines Day – Monday, February 14 only:

Wolfgang Puck Grille is offering customers a three-course, prix-fixed menu from 5 – 10 p.m. The cost is $35 per person with an optional $21 wine pairing. Diners can choose from:

· Three delicious appetizers: Cauliflower Soup, Chopped Vegetable Salad, and Ricotta Gnocchi; and
· Four entrees: Roasted Chicken Breast, Sautéed Salmon, Grilled Rib Eye Steak and Angel Hair Pasta; and
· Dessert is a Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse with Caramelized Bananas and Rum Raisin Ice Cream

For reservations, please call 313-465-1648.

Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak will have a $65, per person, four-course tasting menu with an optional $45 wine-pairing package. For reservations please call 313-465-1644. The menu consists of:

· Amuse: Dungeness Crab with an avacado-yuzu puree, green apple and masago arare
· First Course: Thai Lobster Bisque with lobster knuckle, root vegetable and coconut milk
· Second Course: American Kobe Eye of the Rib Eye with Yorkshire Pudding, haricots verts, foie gras and red wine jus
· Third Course: Chocolate Mousse with raspberry gastrique and Nutella ice cream

Mina’s SALTWATER also will offer a $65 per person four-course tasting menu. Please call 313-465-1646 for reservations. The menu includes:

· Amuse: Caviar Parfait with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and egg
· Appetizer: Laughing Bird Shrimp with grits, cheddar and japlapeño biscuit
· Entree: Medallions of tuna and foie gras with potato cake and pinot noir jus
· Dessert: Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte with hazelnut ice cream

WHO: MGM Grand Detroit’s Executive Chef William McIlroy is available to discuss Valentine’s Day dining at your convenience

WHERE: MGM Grand Detroit, 1777 Third Street, Detroit


Renowned restaurant offers special Valentine's Day menu

WHAT: This Valentine's Day, The Rugby Grille will provide the perfect experience for couples looking to celebrate their love. The world-class food prepared by the team of Executive Chef Jim Bologna will ensure that your celebration resonates. Diners may choose from beginning offerings including Tuna Tartare, Lobster Pappardelle or Duck Tacos. Entrée selections include a 16 oz. New York Strip for two, a Kona Crusted Bone-in Filet or Dover Sole, a Rugby Grille classic prepared tableside. Guests may finish their evening with a decadent dessert prepared in-house by The Townsend Bakery. The complete Valentine’s Day menu is available on

WHEN: Monday, February 14, 2011

Entrées: $28-60++

WHERE: The Valentine's Day meal will take place at the Rugby Grille inside The Townsend Hotel. Advanced reservations are highly recommended.

The Townsend Hotel

100 Townsend Street

Birmingham, MI 48009

(248) 642-5999

There are lots and lots and lots and lots of others, but these people had the tenacity to email me directly instead of assuming I would stumble across it in the Eminem/Chrysler/RoboCop/Pistons/1-8-7 Scheiße-pile that is currently Facebook and Twitter, and I happen to be of the mindset that hard work and perseverance should be rewarded (at least that's what I keep telling myself).

PS, Detroit, you need a hobby.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hour Detroit: Craft Cocktails Make a Comeback

Also note: Rifino Valentine of Valentine Vodka will also be opening his own cocktail bar in the coming months, an announcement made after the print deadline for this issue of Hour.

"Classic cocktails are having a resurgence. The almost cultish trend is one-part organic, two-parts local content, with a splash of Iron Chef and a dash of Mad Men for style.

'The new darling of the drinking crowd is rooted in the belief that drinks are meant to be sipped and savored, not slammed and forgotten. Apparently, the slow-food movement and its emphasis on farm-to-table, sustainable, and artisanal, applies to what’s on your plate — and in your glass.

''It’s a natural progression,' says Antoine Przekop, sommelier and beverage manager for Bourbon Steak and SaltWater at the MGM Grand Detroit. '[With craft cocktails], people want to push the envelope and do things that you would not expect, just like chefs do....'

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Real Detroit Weekly: CK Diggs

"Tucked away in the corner of a strip mall in one of the less-dense spans of Oakland County, you might not have noticed CK Diggs, or maybe you dismissed it as merely a 'strip mall bar.'

'Expect the unexpected, my pets. CK Diggs is a venerable beer bar, easily in the top ranks of true beer bars (that aren't breweries) in the 'burbs.

'They have 40 beers on their custom-built tap system and not one of them is from Anheuser-Busch – think all imports and local craft brews, plus another 90 by the bottle. Those of you with a graduate beer degree will be stimulated with Belgian ales from Delerium and Trappist ales from Orval, Chimay and Rochefort. Locals have a strong show with favorites like Short's Bellaire Brown and Huma-Lupa-Licious, New Holland's Dragon's Milk and the popular brewery partnership label Milking It. You'll also find Bell's, Dragonmead, Arcadia, Frankenmuth ... it's a beer nerd's nirvana..."
Read the rest of the article here.