Wednesday, January 4, 2012

[HOT LIST] Ferndale

Pete Steffy of Pete's Chocolate Co. at the Rust Belt Market. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

In a major upset that majorly upset city residents, #8 seed Ferndale massacred its CoD competition for "neighborhood of the year," becoming the first-ever winner of the prestigious fake Curbed Cup trophy. I haven't exactly been quiet on my feelings about Ferndale (also here, and all over the Facebooks), so I figured heck, let's trot this topic out for one more go-round before I've tired myself out on it. In honor of the first-ever winner of the prestigious fake "neighborhood of the year" award from Curbed Detroit, here's a look at some of Ferndale's best (by category). Some new (as of 2011), some old (as of before 2011), some borrowed (from Pleasant Ridge, which should really count as Ferndale anyway) and some blue (yep, it's that same picture from inside Red Hook again, but I like it oh so very much).

Red Hook. Photo by David Landsel.
#1 Coffee
As in, wake up and smell the. Chazzano Coffee Roasters has been around for a few years now and is still roasting and brewing some of the best coffee in Detroit. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Frank is not a roaster, he's a wizard. The Red Hook brought Portland's Stumptown Coffee Roasters into town (the first to do so since Commonwealth in Birmingham started roasting all their own), and more importantly brought back a storefront for Pinwheel Bakery. And the old sleeper AJ's Music Cafe continues to be a world-class coffee house in the traditional '90s sense with live indie music and a Guinness World Record.

#2 Breakfast, Brunch and Brinner
Ferndale is home of the teeny-tiny diner where everything is made from scratch and breakfast is king. The Fly Trap, Toast, Pete's Place, Hilton Road Cafe, Mae's (technically in Pleasant Ridge but SRSLY, it's Ferndale) - none of these are just diners, just plain old regular greasy spoon fuel stops for your food tank. These are houses of comfort food worship, and is there a comfort food MORE comfy than brunch? I think not.

#3 Lunch and Dinner
The one arena in which Ferndale falters a bit is in non-brunch dining. But things are starting to look up, and there are definitely a few favorites that have sprung up over recent years. The Emory has killer burgers and even more killer beer list (also an amazing Spanish coffee, check it). Torino Espresso + Bar - which could also go into almost every single other category on here (they serve illy coffee and Avalon pastries for breakfast) - has fantastic paninis as well as artisan cheese and charcuterie platters (any time is the right time). Rosie O'Grady's has bloody good burgers and pizza (they make their own pizza dough and sauce, and grind and patty their own burgers). Food trucks are also becoming a thing in Ferndale, with Jacques Tacos and Taco Mama taking the lead on that. Speaking of tacos, everyone's looking forward to Woodward Imperial opening in the coming months (the owner recently informed me he is just waiting on his liquor license and it will, he hopes, be open in 30-60 days ... they're gonna do tacos, in case you didn't get that from the context).

B. Nektar. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.
#4 Food shops and whatnot
B. Nektar Meadery continues to kill it with crazy-awesome new releases like the drunky Funky Monky and wicked Zombie Killer, while their empire continues to expand across the States and their tasting room hours recently expanded to every Friday (5:30 to 10 p.m.) and Saturday (1 to 7 p.m.). 8 Degrees Plato Beer Company just opened in the fall and I love them already. The Rust Belt Market also opened this year and gave the world a much-needed and appreciated outlet for Rock City Pies, Pete's Chocolates and Perkins Pickles.

#5 Cocktails
I'm running out of ways to talk about craft cocktail culture in metro Detroit. (See: Hour. 944. NY Post. Eater. Metromix past and future. Ambassador. Couldn't even conjecture how much here and on Facebook.) Suffice it to say, it is a thing and these places are doing it. The Oakland is just OMFG NFW F-YAH. Valentine Vodka is the best vodka in the world, so if you're a vodka drinker you're in the right place (mix it with McClure's Bloody Mary mix for the best thing ever). And Torino Espresso + Bar does craft cocktails (house-made infusions and fresh ingredients with a culinary approach) with an Italian twist. Between these places, B. Nektar and the beer list at the Emory, Ferndale is pretty much a one-stop drinking destination. Because no one drinks wine anymore.

Bubbling under Grasshopper Underground, Sakana Sushi Lounge, Howe's Bayou, Treat Dreams, Danny's Irish Pub, Assaggi Bistro, Anita's Kitchen, Inyo, Christine's Cuisine, Dino's Lounge