Friday, September 28, 2012

[HOT LIST] DRW: Bougie on a budget

The patio at the Rattlesnake.

Detroit Restaurant Week starts another fall season this week. 17 restaurants, $30 three-course meals, 10 days, you know the drill by now. Many of these restaurants are places you might call "special occasion" restaurants -- as in, most people only ever go to them on special occasions. While DRW was initially conceived to get people out of that mindset and into these seats, the fact of the matter is these ain't no coney islands. But DRW makes these dining destinations more accessible to larger audiences, allowing all of us to be bougie on a budget. And these places here are the finest of the fine.

The infamous Roast bar.
#1 Roast (Westin Book CadillacDowntown)
Detroit's sexiest sexy-time dining destination is still Roast. It's been Roast since the day they opened and it will stay Roast until there is another Roast, which there might not ever be because there is no other Roast. Plus there is nowhere better in the city of Detroit to be bougie on a budget. Their infamous happy hour (food and booze from $3-5 - get stuffed and loaded for about 20 bucks) lets everyone feel a little fancy regardless of financial considerations, but all that is confined to the bar - which is about as easy to get a seat at as any of these places. Thankfully Detroit Restaurant Week democratizes the bougie on a budget experience for the whole dining room! (So now you just need to be lucky enough to snag a reservation.)

#2 Iridescence (Motor City Casino, Corktown-ish)
If being a AAA four-diamond award-winner every year since 2001 and a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence recipient every year since 2007 isn't enough to convince you of Iridescence's poshness, then maybe the fact that it was Hour Detroit's 2011 "Restaurant of the Year" will be. Or maybe it will be the 40-foot-high ceilings. Or the 40-foot-high automated wine cellar. Or the dramatic L.E.D. lighting. Or, you know, the food. Whatever it is that strikes your fancy for fancy, you can find it here.

#3 Coach Insignia (GM Renaissance Center, Riverfront)
It's not quite the mile high club but it's pretty damn close. More Wine Spectator awards and Hour nods, and also a view of the Detroit River from more than 70 stories up. Detroit loves it some steakhouses, and this one towers above them all. (Like, literally. Literally towers.)

#4 The Rattlesnake (Stroh's River Place, Rivertown)
Founded by Jimmy Schmidt in 1988 (who hailed from the original London Chop House), the Rattlesnake has been one of Detroit's preeminent dining destinations for decades and it still hasn't lost its luster, though they have been doing a lot to cater to a younger crowd (Roast isn't the only one with a killer happy hour).

#5 Caucus Club (Penobscot Building, Downtown)
Fancy like how Mad Men is fancy, the Caucus Club hearkens back to the golden days of Detroit's history. From the Bullshot to Barbara Streisand, this place has some stories. Put on a three-piece suit and return to a time when vodka was classy not trashy.

Bubbling under 24grille (Downtown), Cuisine (New Center), the Whitney (Midtown), Cliff Bell's (Foxtown), Atlas Global Bistro (Midtown)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hatch Detroit: The Final Four Analysis

What made last year's inaugural Hatch Detroit competition so exciting was that the semifinalists were pretty much all playing on an even field. Some had already successfully run businesses but weren't currently operating anything and lacked the capital to make another go at it; others were bright-eyed nu:Detroit settlers with nothing but a fun idea and hope in their pockets. This year's contestants included two businesses trying to open second locations (people don't get business loans anymore?) and businesses that had already benefitted from a tremendous amount of national press (up to and including a TV show). I thought for sure the littler guys were goners; in a move that surprised I think everyone, this year's top 4 finalists were all relative newbs, with each of the would-be Goliaths eliminated in the first round.

The competition is interesting, and it's no secret that I'm pulling hard for one candidate in particular - Rock City Pies. And yes, Nikita Santches is a friend of mine ... a friend I met in a professional capacity and got close with because I admire and respect what he's about and have faith in him as a professional. Last year I pulled hard for Hugh, who won. Joe Posch is also a friend, but beyond that I felt that his concept really was best - that it provided the most value in terms of economic growth by filling a very serious gap in independent retail in an area (Midtown) that is the best-suited for that kind of growth. Nepotism be damned, his concept really was the strongest one to suit the goals of Hatch (yet there were other concepts, like Anthology Coffee and Detroit Institute of Bagels, that I really wanted to see happen  ... and am happy to say both will soon be happening).

This year I'm not so torn. I think all of these finalists are really fantastic ideas and I really truly would love to see them all happen; that being said, there are reasons why I'm voting for one among the others. And here they are.

The stack of boats at Kayak Pittsburgh.
Detroit River Sports
Love it! Want it! Let's do it! But unless they're buying 75 kayaks plated in gold, they don't need $50,000 to make this concept happen. Something like this can be launched with a relatively modest sum of $10,000. (On the VERY high end, $30,000.) It can be done without a storefront (just a storage facility for the boats overnight and off-season), and with nothing but a launch and an iPad to process rentals. Also, it's at BEST a 6-month business, and realistically probably a 4-month business (generally speaking the operating months for such businesses is Memorial Day to Labor Day - 4 months). But let's look at some illustrative examples, shall we?

Kayak Pittsburgh
Anthony Kiedis once sang about things "under a bridge downtown." He wasn't so much singing about placemaking as about heroin addiction, but as the song has been co-opted to mean any number of trite things dealing with bridges it could just as well be about Kayak Pittsburgh. Located under the Three Rivers Heritage Trail System overpass at the Allegheny Landing, Kayak Pittsburgh's "rental facilities" is a stack of boats and a makeshift desk. They now operate three "locations."

Port Austin Kayak
You know how Port Austin Kayak started? Chris Boyle bought 15 kayaks and started renting them out. Seriously, there is not a tremendous amount of investment required here.

Basically if you can have a launch, you can have a business. The proposed launch site would be on Belle Isle (which is really the only tenable site in the city to make this happen). This site was potentially problematic while talks of the state taking over Belle Isle were still underway; however with City Council once again holding up progress it's difficult to speculate on the feasibility of this project either way. But loss of a lease or access to their launch site would mean a most certain end to this business, and Belle Isle still feels like too much of a question mark (state parks run their own rental services, which is a huge source of income for them that goes towards the maintenance of the park and park services).
CORRECTION: A reader has informed me that Belle Isle as the launch site is merely rumor; I apologize for reporting information from second-hand sources without seeking official confirmation. As it stands there is no officially proposed site that has been reported to the public.

Ultimately Hatch Detroit is about fostering economic growth and creating viable neighborhoods where restaurants, bars, retail stores and other independent businesses thrive, creating street excitement and foot traffic while also impacting the growth of strong, sustainable neighborhoods. A boat launch on Belle Isle (or any other tenable site along Detroit's roughly 12 miles of riverfront shoreline -- that aren't the 5.5 miles slotted for the Riverwalk or the remaining available space gobbled up by riverfront housing and other expensive private property or otherwise inaccessible for a boat launch due to river walls), as super-fun as it sounds, does not accomplish this. Also, the barrier to entry for that kind of business is exceptionally low (significantly lower than even a food truck, the low barriers of entry for which have been praised and can range from about $15,000-80,000, though I've also seen higher estimates in the $45,000-250,000 range) and can be done with relatively little investment. As it stands, this concept is a little more Kickstarter than Hatch (and invariably just a lot of happy "wouldn't it be cool if..." talk until a site is secured and approved).

For a lively discussion on paddle boat businesses (including several reiterations that it is only ever going to be a part-time/spare-time business and such words of wisdom as "Bless all the fools that have started a livery business because they love paddling and the outdoors"), click here. For more about the livery business, see here and here.

La Feria
I like this concept. I think it sounds awesome. I would like to have a tapas restaurant and wine bar in Midtown, even if only just to have the option. However, from the looks of their Facebook page, it would appear that they have already secured a space and are currently in the midst of build-out. Now this is all based on pure conjecture, but this would seem to mean that there is already money behind the project -- one does not sign a lease and begin build-out without there being money involved. Which means it would not be a far stretch to make the inductive leap and assume that this place is going to open with or without the Hatch cash. And if the whole point of Hatch is to promote business growth in the city of Detroit by giving small businesses a shot they might not otherwise have (my words), then maybe let's not throw money at a place that already has it and spread the wealth a little, as it were.

Detroit Vegan Soul
I understand there's a big vegan kick right now. But this is also one of the most obese cities in the country and the 5th fattest state, which means you can go ahead and make another inductive leap and assume that the majority of the city's population do not have healthy eating habits and cannot by forced into them by sheer force of well-intended will. Now is this systemic of a deeper-lying problem latent within the extreme racial and socioeconomic divisions ever-present in the city of Detroit in which lack of healthfulness is also inextricably tied to poverty and lack of education? ... yes. Alas, this institutionalized class warfare will not be changed in time for the final Hatch votes to be calculated.

While one could certainly make the "access" argument -- "people are unhealthy because they have no access to healthy food; this will be their access point and therefore they will adopt a healthier lifestyle" -- maybe. It's an "if you build it, they will come" sort of situation, but it sounds like they're building it regardless. I'm told the women behind this concept are absolutely lovely and I absolutely believe that to be true and I really truly do wish them all the best; I'm just trying to look at the bigger picture here. And right now that bigger picture is that the majority of the neighborhood clientele in the targeted location has not been indoctrinated into the vegan lifestyle and that for a neighborhood that has only JUST started its own process of redevelopment (and by "started" I mean a pop-up backyard hipster party that happens just a handful of days per year and some well-intended rhetoric about retail; oh, and let's not forget the Tim Horton's), then perhaps such a fringe restaurant concept isn't the best way to go right out of the gate. (Tim Horton's is the other food business showpiece.) Maybe they can single-handedly introduce fresh, healthy food to systemically unhealthy Detroiters ... but are you willing to bet $50,000 on it?

Rock City Pies
Am I friends with Nikita Santches? Yes I am. But we became friends out of a professional relationship, and those are some of the friendships I value the most -- people whose work ethic and ethos, not to mention talent and personality, I like/respect/admire so much that we actually become close friends. Is this nepotism? Sweetie, this is Detroit. It's all nepotism. But much as I shouted for last year's winner Joe Posch of Hugh not because he was a friend but because I felt he had the best concept that best served the Hatch objective, so too am I doing the same for Nik. (And also for America.)

First things first: Rock City Pies would not just be a dessert pie stand. There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about this (and the one-line blurb on the Hatch website really doesn't help to clarify it). Rock City Pies, as a restaurant, would be pie-themed: pizza "pies," pocket pies, pot pies AND dessert pies. There would be a selection of other menu items too (like an expansive salad bar of locally-sourced items like fresh micro greens and funky, spicy lettuces) - "pie" is just the launching point for a full-service restaurant and bar that would serve both the WSU and CCS students as well as the DMC and many other workers in Midtown whose current options are still pretty limited considering the daily influx of tens of thousands of people. It's all about simple, hearty, home-cooked, from-scratch, affordable food that can serve the whole community; things people want to eat (there is a reason comfort food is all the rage right now), things they can afford to eat, things they can grab on the go. There will also be a bar serving all Michigan beers and Michigan wines (according to Nik, the products being made in our state are so fantastic there is no need to look outside of it). Nik and his father will do all of the construction themselves (save for specialized trades like electric and plumbing) and he'll be utilizing materials salvaged from Detroit sites. THIS is the concept you are voting on; not "just a pie shop."

Is it "just another restaurant"? Well yes, but by that definition so are two of the other three finalists. And while it sounds the The Detroit Vote has now swung towards Detroit River Sports judging by Facebook ("OhMyGodYouGuys, doesn't this sound cool?"), I would urge you to take the above points into consideration before you get all click-happy.

And now, I sign off like Dennis Miller.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

HE MADE IT! The Official Eat It Detroit Hatch Candidate of 2012 Rock City Pies made it to the top 4, thanks to all your help! This is a real David v. Goliath story in the making ... and don't we all just love those underdog stories? Of course we do, especially here in Detroit. SO VOTE. Round 2 starts Monday. [Hatch / EID FB]

Detroit Pop-Up City. Also, Great Lakes Coffee is the best thing that happened in Detroit this year. (Green Dot Stables being second.) [NY Times]

So much the best thing that when the Detroit News finally tuned into the story, they made a joke about jumping the shark so I didn't have to. Also, this means the Freep's version of The Coffee Story is soon to follow. Sure am glad I beat them both by over a year (also here). But seriously though, why do we have two newspapers? [Det News / GLCB FB / Metromode / Curbed Detroit]

And since we're on the subject, here's Hour's version of The Coffee Story too. Oh, media. [Hour]

ZOMGZ MOAR COFFEE. Transplanted Detroit-area person in New York is opening her third coffee shop in her hometown hood. The signage for the soon-to-open Roasting Plant Coffee in the First National Building is up; I'm no Curbed Detroit but I kind of love the look here. [Curbed Detroit]

DevNews-a-Palooza courtesy of Curbed Detroit: Gold Cash Gold is going to have to rush Phil rush so that the banquet center is open in time for the Auto Show (the rest is targeted for end of summer 2013); Avalon International Breads now has a retail location at Henry Ford and will open a third on Canfield as part of their expansion; also - more lofts and greenways! [Curbed Detroit]

The design of Vinsetta Garage is praised by the Preservation Nation blog. Gears, steers and beers! [Preservation Nation]

The second-annual Detroit Design Festival got a lot of buzz this year, but not all of the coordinating events got a lot of people. Eastern Market After Dark at least appeared to be a big success. [HuffPost Detroit / DDF FB / EM FB]

Detroit is the capital of mac 'n cheese. TAP inside MGM Grand Detroit opened this week, and they managed to make this most artery-clogging of dishes even worse -- by deep-frying it. [MGM FB / EID FB]

Slows is on another best-something list. [The Chive]

Jolly Pumpkin released their La Roja Grand Reserve this week, but if you haven't purchased any by the time you read this it's probably sold out. Sad trombone. [JP FB]

Traverse City (and surrounding areas) shall now henceforth be known as the Hamptons of Michigan. Because everything must be the something of something. [Forbes]

Speaking of the area, a new winery opened on Old Mission this weekend (which brings the grand total up to 8). Say hello to Hawthorne Vineyards! Another new winery also opened on Leelanau over the weekend, but I'll leave that one for Batali. [Hawthorne Vineyards FB]

Forbes is crushing on Detroit in a major kind of way. Whether Another Detroit Is Happening or not, if you say it enough times it must be true. [Forbes]

Then again, reality bites. [Deadline Detroit]

After losing several participating restaurants to closings and remodelings, this season of Detroit Restaurant Week is down to just 17 restaurants ... which means reservations will be even more impossible to come by. It starts Sept. 28 and runs through Oct. 7. [Freep / EID FB]

Real Detroit Weekly got a bad case of the "me toos" and decided to host their OWN DAMN RESTAURANT WEEK the same days as DRW (remember, DRW is sponsored by the Metro Times). So now Plymouth has their own restaurant week and it too starts Sept. 28 and runs through Oct. 7. [RDW FB]

Didn't this story already happen? Apparently there was a resurgence in interest over Royal Oak's Taste Love Cupcakes due to re-runs. [Crain's]

Thursday, September 20, 2012

[Metromode] Reel History: The Redford Theatre

Modern movie theatres aren’t so much theatres anymore as they are entertainment megaplexes offering any number of additional distractions beyond the simple movie-going experience, from leather seats the size of La-Z-Boys that vibrate to bars and bowling alleys. But the Redford Theatre in Detroit’s northwest corner (in the Old Redford neighborhood, bordering Redford Township) has been running the “show” in the exact same way since 1928.

The Redford Theatre was built in 1928 and has always -- and continuously -- operated as a movie theatre. It houses an original Barton Theatre Pipe Organ, a historic instrument made by the Ann Arbor-based Barton Organ Company and one of only about 250 that were manufactured during the company’s production period during the age of silent films (it closed in 1931). Only 8 or 9 Barton organs still exist in the country today.

Read more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

[HOT LIST] German food

Cheese and sausage platter at the Berkley Front. All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

Pretzels and mustard. Sausage and sauerkraut. Beer and ... beer. And cheese. And beer. And more sausage. Beer, brot* and brats are the base elements of German cuisine -- much as the Irish stew everything, the Germans grind everything and stuff it inside animal intestine then eat it with beer. So what I'm getting at here is that they're really into sausage -- bratwurst and knackwurst and wieners of various form.

With Oktoberfest officially beginning this Saturday there is no shortage of Oktoberfest-themed parties at brewpubs and restaurants all over metro Detroit (basically it's St. Patrick's Day: The Fall Edition, but with lederhosen instead of leprechauns), but these are the places where it's pretty much Oktoberfest all year round. Some are decidedly German; others are German in spirit if not so much in name and décor. PS, straight-up cheese and meat plates totally count -- in Germany it's called Frühstück if it's breakfast, Abendbrot if it's dinner; either way it is an extremely common meal (served with bread, mustard and other accoutrements; many sauered, of course). Plus bier. Viele bier.

I never said it was pretty.
#1 Richter's Chalet (Dearborn)
I love this place so hard. From the Bavarian chalet-style facade (barely noticeable from the road as it is located right where Telegraph eats Michigan Ave.) and the lovely older ladies who take exceptionally good care of each customer, right down to the German music playing nonstop (everything from polka to German pop, which is really, really bad), this place is homey and quaint and kind of kitschy and totally adorbs. Specialties include Jaeger Schnitzel (sauteed veal with mushrooms in gravy) and Rindsroulade (round steak rolled and stuffed with bacon, rice and onion served in gravy), and schnitzel and sauerbraten and spätzle and Spaten ... German words are fun. They've also got Bavarian chicken dinners as well as American options, and entrees come with about 18 different sides for under $15 so come hungry.

#2 Jacoby's German Biergarten (Detroit)
"Spaghetti and meatballs" in German is Koenigsberger Klopps. That's actually not a literal translation but basically it's German meatballs over slightly crispy spätzle covered in lemon beurre blanc served with a side of red cabbage, and you can get it -- as well as a variety of other German specialties and American pub food -- at Jacoby's Biergarten (though, technically, the name is a misnomer; really it's just an indoor beer hall). They've got a great selection of German beers and other imports with a smattering of Michigan crafts to keep everyone happy, plus they've got those communal tables everyone seems to be so fond of now and have had them for, like, over 100 years. Once upon a time -- in the before time, the long long ago -- the beer hall upstairs was a riot on weekends, but now they just rent it out for private parties. Back in the days when people hung out in Detroit not because there was some intrinsic value attached to hanging out in Detroit but because it was cheap and kind of seedy and nowhere carded or cared was when Jacoby's used to have live music upstairs every weekend, but those days are gone and now people would rather drink in empty lots without indoor plumbing. (Though, to be fair, Jacoby's version of indoor plumbing isn't much of an improvement over an outhouse.)

#3 Dakota Inn Rathskeller (Detroit)
They serve traditional German dishes, but that's not why people come here. People come here for the chicken hats. At the Dakota Inn, located in Detroit's Palmer Park neighborhood and owned by the Kurz family since 1933, Oktoberfest is six weeks of sing-alongs and ceremonial keg tappings. And chicken hats. Design nurds will dig the beautiful Bavarian architecture and rugged antique furniture (and cuckoo clock!), beeries will lurv the selection of seasonal German biers, and everyone will love the polka because polka is the music of The People.

The Dakota Inn.

#4 Wurst Bar (Ypsilanti)
Wat is more German than wurst? The Wurst Bar might not be QUOTE-UNQUOTE "German" per se, but close enough. Beer? Check. (Really killer Michigan beer at that.) Brats? Pick an animal. There might not be sing-alongs or chicken hats, but all craft on draft is $2 after 8 p.m. on Fridays and probably that is all you really need to start your own damn sing-along. To, like, Slayer or something.

#5 Metzger's German Restaurant (Ann Arbor)
They've been serving traditional German dishes like schnitzel and stuffed cabbage for over 80 years, and they also pack some awesome German beers like Einbecker Schwartz. Try the "Haus Platter for Two" with wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, mettwurst, knockwurst, spätzle, sauerkraut, red cabbage, potato salad and house salad or soup for the most delicious of Deutsch-ish experiences. (Alternatively, their fresh lake perch is also a house specialty.)

Bubbling under Ye Olde Tap Room (Detroit), Fort Street Brewery (Lincoln Park), Berkley Front (Berkley), Biercamp (Ann Arbor), Heidelberg Restaurant (Ann Arbor), Schnäck (Detroit-area pop-up), One-Eyed Betty's (Ferndale), Georgio's Apple Orchard Inn (Washington)

*brot = "bread"

 Richter's Chalet on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

Mead is manly.
Food + Wine is already keen on the "stunning" Great Lakes Coffee bar in Midtown for their "fantastic list of obscure natural wines." Which is extra-impressive considering the bar was probably only open for all of a month by the time of this issue's print deadline ... does that mean F+W editors are trolling Detroit? Hmmmm... [Food + Wine / EID FB]

Imperial launched a brand-new brunch this weekend and I happened to stumble in. It's no beauty queen but the biscuits and gravy (made with chorizo gravy and topped with fried egg) are THE BOMB. Brunch goes into full effect next Sunday. [EID FB]

Seriously though, F+W is all up in Michigan's business it seems (and now everyone is writing about hard ciders). Batali-certified Tandem Ciders gets some F+W ink. [Food + Wine]

Grilled cheese sandwich ice cream exists now. [Treat Dreams FB]

Baconfest returns for 2013! VIP tickets go on sale in December. You have been amply warned. [Baconfest Michigan FB]

Cherries and Grapes is a new online store that ships Michigan-made wines, ciders and specialty products right to your home. This is a great way to get ahold of products from smaller producers that don't distribute far outside their tasting room (if at all). [Promote Michigan]

This was a spectacularly boring news week. Here is a picture of a tatted-up Russian in an American flag tank top. Also, vote for Rock City Pies in Hatch Detroit on the website and Facebook page; round one voting ends tomorrow at 6 p.m.! [EID FB / Hatch]

Pop-ups, pop-ups, pop-ups. It's like everyone's afraid of commitment nowadays. [EID FB / Curbed]

Bell's Brewery's commemorative "Batch" series was supposed to end at 10,000, but wait just kidding, now they're doing Batch 11,000 and calling it the Spinal Tap-inspired "This One Goes to 11." "This One Goes to 11 Ale 'finishes with a lingering warmth.'" That means there's a f-ck-ton of alcohol in it. (11% ABV, to be exact.) [MLive]

Here's a story about an old-fashioned candy shop in that other part of Detroit. You know, the part the hipsters haven't colonized yet. You know, the other 127 square miles. [Metro Times]

Apparently mead is manly. B. Nektar's Wildflower mead is named the "draft pick" for the Detroit Lions. PS, it's only available by the bottle. [Esquire]

This is just adorable. Macomb's got the me-too's! [Macomb Patch]

The D in LV. It is of course seedy, as one should expect a Detroit-ish-themed property in Las Vegas to be. [Curbed Detroit]

Seriously though, would you please just fucking vote? [HuffPo Detroit]

Friday, September 14, 2012

[DIY] Feed the Animals: Child Bite + The Emory

Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

Shawn and Sean of Child Bite have big, beautiful beards. They are the beards of road warriors, and they have conquered many a road.

These guys aren't the phone-it-in, "I'm in a Detroit band" types who play the occasional gig when it suits them. These guys tour, and they tour hard - relying on the kindness of fans and strangers to put them (and their beards) up for the night while they're on the road. "I don't ever want to have regrets in life," says Shawn Knight, referring to the crazy life experiences they have while traveling -- not "crazy" like strippers and blow (though they've heard and can repeat their share of those stories), but more just ... random. Random and weird and wonderful.

I meet Shawn and Sean at the Emory for some pre-DIY Street Fair food and fun. We originally planned that they would order off the children's menu (get it? "child" "bite"?), only to discover the Emory doesn't actually have one. Crazy that a bar doesn't have a kids' menu, but I digress. Shawn and Sean may have some truly majestic facial hair (Shawn's, left, is 10 months old; Sean Clancy's, right, is 6 months), but they also have some wonderfully random stories from the road. Like that time they drove to Alaska for the World Beard and Moustache Championships. True story.

"We did a five-week tour to Alaska," Sean explains. "We were officially members of Beard Team U.S.A., representing the United States in the 'Beard' category." Sean spent about $2,000 on van repairs before they set out on this excursion, only to have that same van break down on them two days into it in Chicago. But since they had already made the commitment to play several shows on the route and had put so much work into making it happen, they decided they needed to see it through to the end, no matter what. Every dollar they had went into renting other vans -- the one with all their equipment had to be left state-side, so they also had to rent another van in Canada plus equipment once in Anchorage. On and on it went but they got there and they played, and they both went home with 4th place ... which is what everyone gets but who cares, how many of you represented America in an international beard competition? I certainly haven't.

Shawn Knight. Photo from Child Bite's FB page.

"Really it's kind of a dog show, you're on the runway and you have a number," Sean explains. It could be said that they were doing the whole "beard thing" before it was cool, growing "tour beards" while on the road because, well, it's just easier than shaving. The beard thing is serious business, too: I joke about them getting sloppy with some milkshakes but no-can-do. As Sean explains:

"Ice cream and frosting and things of that nature, when they get into your beard or your moustache they stick, no matter how many times you try washing it out. It grows a very foul odor. It’s just something I’ve experienced." He says that no amount of soap or scrubbing helps. "I wash my beard more than any other part of my body. Like, I’m so paranoid about it. … it couldn’t get any closer to my face. It’s a part of me!"

Okay, so no smashed cake and dripping ice cream photos, got it. But being the road warriors that they are, they've also had some solid food adventures.

At Voodoo Doughnut in Portland they got a donut that was later shut down by the FDA for having a Dimetapp glaze. (They also got a "King Dong" there, which is exactly what it sounds like in donut form. "We were eating it for, like, three days," Sean says.) In Waterloo, Ontario, Granny Bonn's is "in this weird shitty strip mall and looks like a high school cafeteria inside." It's also an Asian-owned fish and chips place. "It's the best food I've had..." Sean trails off. "I think about it all the time. It was fucking awesome." Shawn adds, "We felt like we were in a Chinese restaurant but they served fish and chips."

Sean swears by metal bar/burger joint Kuma's Corner in Chicago (one of the country's most famous burgers at the moment). "I waited two and a half hours in line for a burger there. They make their own ketchup that's, like, salsa ketchup and super delicious, plus the waffle fries and the pretzel bun... I got the YOB [named after a metal band] and it was awesome, and they fucking played awesome metal music."

They also discovered "313 Detroit-style pizza" at a pizza shack in Austin, Texas while playing SXSW. "I love pizza," Sean says. "Whenever we’re out of town I think about pizza. Michigan has really good pizza but not a lot of places do ... that 313 pizza was like Buddy’s or Jet’s ... I’ve never seen that [Detroit-style deep dish] pizza anywhere besides Detroit and now this shack in Austin." If you're ever in Milwaukee, Palomino Bar and Restaurant has a large selection of vegetarian and vegan options and offers large portions for low prices. Sean says, "Milwaukee is very into the local beers and local food. They don’t really have a lot of bullshit."

But the question burning on Detroiters' lips of course is -- WHAT ABOUT US???

Shawn and Sean both dig Green Dot Stables for the funky sliders (like catfish, and duck, and lamb) and Christine's Cuisine in Ferndale for items like the "Burrito Bomb." Sean sings the praises of Slows' sandwiches. Shawn likes Hot Taco right down to its inconsistencies ("I like that when different people are working there it tastes different"), and Sean can't get enough of the New York Red Hots coney island in Madison Heights. "It has the same menu every other fucking coney island has, but the chicken fingers pita and the Reuben," he pauses for emphasis. "The food is delicious there and no one's ever in there and it's open 24 hours." Unlike other coney islands that are swarmed with "drunk assholes" as soon as the bars release them to the public, "There's, like, literally no one ever there, EVER."

Naturally the $5 burger-and-beer combo and the Emory every Tuesday is one of their top picks (Sean recommends you get a side of the creamy Italian dressing and put it on the burger), as is the ever-popular Treat Dreams in Ferndale (Passalacqua are also fans) and their ever-popular Sunday Breakfast ice cream (with bacon). (For the record, if Child Bite were an ice cream flavor it would be chocolate-orange, inspired from an experimental "float night" they once had on tour when they made a float with chocolate ice cream and orange soda.)

As for the other question burning on Detroiters' lips -- how does Child Bite keep their beards so "full"? -- the answer is, "Children, duh." "Young babies." "The whole idea behind the band is hiding in plain sight." "We eat kids." Just call them Child Swallow.

Child Bite plays the McClure's Stage at the DIY Street Fair Saturday at 11:15 p.m.