Friday, November 30, 2012

[Metromode] Dino's: Feeding Fans and School Kids Alike

Festive lights at Dino's in Ferndale.
Dino's Lounge is a Ferndale staple. Opened in September 2002, Dino's is the kind of place that has gained a loyal local following not for its gimmicky appeal or trendiness, but just for being a friendly neighborhood place offering good food and fun times, the kind of place that gained popularity not through vigorous advertising but by word of mouth. Owner Dean ("Dino") Bach is well-known as much for his involvement in the community as for his jovial sense of humor.

Dino's regularly hosts various fundraisers and community events, while Bach himself has been involved with the Michigan AIDS Coalition, Ferndale Youth Assistance, and currently serves on the boards of the Ferndale DDA and the Ace Academy Charter School in Highland Park, a strict discipline academy for incarcerated males ages 12-20.

His latest venture is something of an outgrowth of all of the work he has been doing through Dino's over the past decade. Bach recently purchased the old VFW Hall next to the Valentine distillery on Vester Street in Ferndale which he is converting to a large-scale three-shift catering kitchen and banquet facility through which they will cater healthy lunches for several area schools as well as expand their highly in-demand catering services. All of which came about by accident and circumstance.

Read more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

[HOT LIST] College food (Midtown edition)

Honest?John's. Photo from Flickr.
Editor's note: Your HBIC has been very busy lately and needs some help around the house. Please meet Stefanie Cobb, EID's new Co-Conspirator! She sent me a lovely email asking for my guidance and because flattery will get you everywhere I decided to adopt her. She is in college at WSU and thus an expert on this particular HL topic. Please do not call her an "intern;" she is getting paid and is not doing my dishes or laundry. Speaking of which, I still need someone to not get paid to do my dishes and laundry. Who isn't me. --XO, NR

Midtown is crawling with students and artsy types (who may or may not actually be students; it can be hard to tell). University life in Detroit might not offer the same kind of … ah, amenities as those your buddies have while dorming it up at Central or MSU, but one thing remains consistent across all college campuses: college students eat a lot of crap. With a diet primarily comprised of all things non-perishable, microwavable, and – most importantly – cheap, our aspiring academics long for something other than that which can be ordered from the Dollar Menu. (But thank you Wayne State for being so sensitive to students’ dietary needs by putting a McDonald’s right there in the student center.)

Thankfully Midtown offers a ton of grub on the cheap, and it’s actually pretty good stuff. There’s a little something for everyone – jocks and hipsters, vegans and meatatarians – that will please the needs of a more demanding palate while also keeping within a college budget. (Meaning: you’ll still have plenty of beer money leftover.) WSU and CCS students and all you post-grad twenty-somethings still clinging to your college glory days by hanging around in campus bars and discussing linguistics while doing shots because you’re just not ready to face the real world yet, rejoice! Here is your Hot List.

#1 The Bronx Bar (4476 2nd Ave.)
Although they may hold the unofficial title as Midtown’s hipster headquarters, this majestic little dive bar, found in the heart of the university district, is just as much a haven for the scholarly set. It’s a prime location for posting-up, not only because their sandwiches are cheap and massive, but they also have WiFi, (for studying Facebook homework) AND a Bloody Mary bar on the weekends! For those who prefer not to risk mixing homework with booze, great news, you’ll be able to give their cheap beer and Jamo shots all the attention they deserve. The recent addition of a “patio” (which is really just an outdoor smoking lounge) now allows daylight to seep in … still not sure if that’s an improvement (so much bright light makes day drinking hard), but as fun as the Bronx is around midnight, shooting the shit with Charlene during the day is a Detroit rite of passage. Big-ass burgers, cheap booze, student-friendly atmosphere, friendly serv… well, you get served anyway (eventually); this is what makes the Bronx the shit.

Chili cheese fries at Honest?John's. Photo from Flickr.
#2 Honest?Johns (488 Selden)
Located on Seldon between Second and Cass, this ugly duckling has great breakfast, great burgers and great beer. The laid-back wait staff, dark atmosphere, and total locals vibe (along with America’s Number 1 Jukebox) all set the tone for an ideal chill spot. Along with the menu’s healthy and not-so-healthy (*cough* Mac + Cheese Wedges *cough*) options, you’ll find the board of weekly food and drink specials mounted among their collection of witty neon signs proclaiming such sage insight as “Sobriety Sucks” and “Men Lie.” Whether you’re strolling through for a quick lunch, a drunken post-bar gorge session (that’s right, their kitchen is open until 2am), or a much-needed omelet to remedy Sunday morning’s hangover, expect to leave with a full belly and plenty of change to spare.

#3 Lefty’s Lounge (5440 Cass Ave.)
While this joint is pretty much the polar opposite of what was formerly noted as being a “hipster headquarters,” Lefty’s Lounge is the epitome of classic college sports bars. Their menu includes all the deep-fried finger-foods one would hope to scoff down at a sports bar, but their pizza is the real homerun. It’s cheesy, appropriately greasy, and the sauce to crust ratio is on point. Aside from the delight that this piping hot pie may bestow upon your taste buds, its low price makes it all the more happy. As part of their happy hour, which runs Monday through Friday from 11am to 7pm, personal two-topping pizzas are only $5.99, along with cheap pints, pitchers, well drinks, and Long Islands. This promised land of cheap eats is conveniently located at the base of the Belcrest Apartments, almost exactly between Wayne State and CCS. They also have trivia on Wednesdays, karaoke on Fridays, and a ballpark count of ten big-screen TVs, making it virtually impossible to miss a game no matter where you are in the room. Lefty’s might not have dining precedence with many of Midtown’s student body (considering that hipsters and sports bars don’t exactly go hand in hand), but anyone who would sincerely dispute the awesomeness of cheap pizza and booze … what, are you new here or something?

#4 Cass Cafe (4620 Cass Ave.)
You’re in college. You want to show people how smart and cultured and refined and learned you are. Cass Café, just a brisk walk over from the WSU campus at Cass and Prentis, is the place to do that, and on the cheap. On the walls are works from local artists, a restaurant/bar-cum-gallery that has been doing it since before it was cool, and on the menu is a wide variety of items from their honey sriracha wings to a host of vegetarian and vegan options. While a place of this seeming caliber might seem to be too expensive, rest assured it is situated well within the ranks of Midtown’s affordable chow-houses. If you want to be all smart-seeming without hanging out in the library (and, let’s face it, no one is going to see you being all smart there), this is the place to be. AND they have WiFi. For, you know, reading the Economist.

#5 Harmonie Garden Cafe (4704 Anthony Wayne Dr.)
Stop everything. Go here. Their falafels are the bomb-diddy-bomb-diggity. They don’t serve booze, but they do serve massive plates of Mediterranean deliciousness and these crisp little heaven-balls are the way to go. Or anything else for that matter. And also, ridiculously cheap. It’s frumpy and a tad dumpy, but if you’ve made it this far in your schooling you know you should never judge a book by its cover or a restaurant by its awning.

Bubbling under Jet’s Pizza, Motor City Brewing Works, Sgt. Pepperoni’s, The Potato Place, Circa 1890 Saloon, Seva, Woodbridge Pub

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

[NEWS BITES] Valentine goes beyond vodka; let's all hit the hospital for dinner; major changes at Hour Detroit; more

The Valentine Distillery will be releasing their new Liberator Gin in just a few weeks and will also be releasing a whiskey in early 2013. The name "Liberator" is in keeping with the the company's all-Michigan, vintage branding: the Liberator B-24 bomber was made at the Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti during WWII, and owner Rifino Valentine even has an old Liberator propeller that will soon be going up in the tasting room to celebrate the new launch. The gin and whiskey are currently available in the tasting room only and join the label's signature vodka, which was recently awarded 94 points by Anthony Dias Blue, editor-in-chief of The Tasting Panel magazine (in addition to all the other awards it has racked up in the last three years), as well as the newer White Blossom elderflower vodka.

Pete's Place in Ferndale served its last dinners on Sunday evening. News media hasn't been able to shed any light on the reasons why, instead simply rehashing the announcement made on the website and Facebook page. At this time the reasons for the closure have not been made public, nor is it known if owner Pete has any plans on opening another restaurant in the future.

Pretty soon, we're all going to be hanging out at the hospital for dinner. The Root Restaurant is currently finalizing a deal with Henry Ford Hospital to serve their Michigan grass-fed burger and all house-made accoutrements in the cafeteria at the West Bloomfield location. The Root will be joining the ranks of Pizzeria Biga and Avalon International Breads, who both have satellite outlets within the Henry Ford Health System (Biga is also in West Bloomfield; Avalon is in Detroit). For several years now Henry Ford has been working hard to transform their food culture and bring healthier food to health care not just for patients but for all staff and visitors. They are aiming to be a leader in promoting local food systems (particularly at the West Bloomfield location, which recently hired a resident farmer, the well-respected Michelle Lutz, to grow organic produce in its greenhouse).

In major media news, powerhouse editor Rebecca Powers has left Hour Detroit after 14 years. She has not shared her reasons for leaving or her future plans with media members or former staff. The speculation happening in my head is running RAMPANT. Also, Rebecca, should you happen to read this, take me with you! Stay in touch! Good luck! You are amazing! I'm not worthy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

The Free Press is positioning Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe as a David v. Goliath grocery store war. Maybe we could just have two nice grocery stores instead? [Freep]

Here is more on Dave Gilbert's new place called Marais in Grosse Pointe Park opening next spring (and apparently he and his wife were lured over there by the same developers who got Mindy Lopus interested). [Freep]

Someone might do something at some point in the former Agave space? Also, could this be the LAST empty building in Midtown? (LOL, I know, that's totally not true, just trying to underscore the point of how preposterous it seems that with all of Midtown's buzzy-buzz-buzz that this place in such a primo spot has remained empty for so long.) [Curbed Detroit]

And also, the space that was once home to Thistle Coffeehouse will now be a hookah lounge. That is until next year when the landlord realizes it's profitable and decides to hike up rent and charge the tenants for his back-owed taxes (allegedly). If it ever opens at all, that is (allegedly).  [Curbed Detroit]

John Hantz and Detroit's White Knight: A Tale of Two Rich White Guys Buying a Whole City. [Deadline]

Flavor Flav's Chicken and Ribs is now open in Sterling Heights! EEEEEEE!! [EID / FFCR FB]

The Wurst Bar's Thanksgiving Brat made the Serious Eats list of top Thanksgiving-themed hot dogs across the country. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce ... oh it's all there. And it's on a bun. [Serious Eats]

Chicago is dumb. Get some Malort here at Green Dot Stables where the people, parking and prices are better. [Wall Street Journal]

Detroit's precious jewels are made more precious with regional cooperation. And yet City Council as an entity regardless of which bodies comprise it never seems to fucking learn. [Deadline]

Hogger's in Berkley closed. [Ferndale Patch]

So these exist. [Detroit News]

Also these. [EID FB]

And then it was Thanksgiving and I didn't do anything for three days and it was awesome and now this week sucks already.

Oh except for this: for this week's Sunday edition, the Free Press once again re-discovers Corktown (heard in my head: "Ohmygod you guys, Corktown!"). The important thing to take from this story is that the Two James Spirits distillery will be opening in Corktown next spring. [Freep]

Sunday, November 25, 2012

[Real Detroit Weekly] Six Drink Slam: Imperial

Ring of Fire. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

Imperial, the L.A. hipster crustpunk biker rockabilly whisky bar and taco shack in Ferndale, is pretty much one of our new favorite places ever. Tacos? Good. Beer? Good. Booze? GOOD. To prepare for this round of Six Drink Slam, we laid down a basecoat of their house-made biscuits and chorizo gravy during their recently-launched Sunday brunch. What's that you say about Sunday Funday? We bet ours was funner than yours.

Uno Mas
"Uno mas" means "one more" in Spanish, and is the thing to say when you're at the bar and your friends are trying to drag you out or you're trying to convince yourself to leave because it's Tuesday and you still have to work the next three mornings. "Uno mas!" When you make that "just one more" promise to yourself, all is well in the world and time has no meaning and morning won't come early. This is that in drink form. Made with reposado tequila, cucumber, agave, Cointreau and lime, this one makes it easy to get a case of the just-one-mores.

Ring of Fire
Johnny Cash is something of a mascot at Imperial. Johnny Cash wrote a song called "Ring of Fire." "Ring of Fire" was used in a hemorrhoid commercial. Do you see where I'm going with this? "I'm afraid that drink is going to rip me a new hole," commented a co-slammer. He wasn't wrong, but we took one for the RDW team so that we could have money to buy some of that really nice, soft Charmin toilet paper with the aloe vera lotion. Imperial's Ring of Fire is made with their house-made habanero-orange infused tequila and grapefruit. In case you're not good with analogies, it's fairly fucking spicy.

Lavender Sidecar
Ooooh, bourbon! That's a good thing to chase habanero tequila with. As much as Imperial has that whole Mexi-Cali thing going on and so far we've been all about tequila, their L.A. rockabilly hipster roots are on display with their equally impressive selection of brown liquors. The Lavender Sidecar is made with bourbon, beautiful bourbon, Cointreau, house lavender honey syrup, and lemon. It tastes like tea! But with BOURBON.

Sunset Strip
Going a little off-menu, co-owner Jeff King brought us a Sunset Strip, one of their fall special drinks made with Limoncello, hard cider and house saffron syrup. Another co-slammer laid claim to this one pretty quickly, sucking it down while forcing the rest of us to soldier through the Ring of Fire offset by the Lavendar Sidecar. "It's light and refreshing and tastes like lemonade!" Asshole.

Pucker up for a kiss from lady Louisa! Which is more like a punch. That you don't even realize happened until it's too late. This is the one vodka drink on their menu and is made with their house-infused rosemary mango vodka, St. Germaine and lemon. Served in a martini glass, it certainly LOOKS the most foo-foo of the bunch. But vodka is just as strong as bourbon and this thing is straight booze. Actually, pretty much all of these are straight booze. "These are all, like, REALLY strong," observed a cohort. Indeed.

Detroit Tart
Made with silver tequila, tart cherry juice and lime with a sugar salt rim, it's hard to say what might be distinctly "Detroit" about this, but it's delicious so why quibble. For the record, THIS is the most foo-foo drink on the menu. Which should really just go to show you that there really aren't any foo-foo drinks here. Imperial is a place for drinking professionals.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

[HOT LIST] Biscuits and gravy

The Hillbilly Bennie at Mae's.

Somewhere inside of me there is a fat girl just dying to get out. (She's been making some progress too, but more on that perhaps another time.) Biscuits and gravy are a relatively new discovery to me. Years ago the whole concept of biscuits slathered in sausage gravy and served like slop on a plate just didn't appeal to me and I refused to eat them. Then one day I said WTF and tried some and it was love at first clogged artery. (Turns out Southern-style food is pretty much my favorite.)

I exercised a little bit of leeway on this list. Though my preference lies with sausage in my gravy, there are some places making a fine veggie version; and while others have a form of biscuits and gravy on their menus under "bennies," I decided anything with a biscuit base and gravy on top counts.

Oh, and all of these places (at least in the top 5) make their own biscuits from scratch, which is very important in the biscuit/gravy quotient so that the biscuit has those slightly crispy edges (not all soft like Wonder white bread) and can hold up to a gravy soaking.

#1 Mae's (Pleasant Ridge)
Here it's called a Hillbilly Bennie, and it is the most wonderful and amazing thing you could possibly stuff in your taste hole. Fresh, flaky buttermilk biscuits topped with -- get this -- Southern fried chicken, poached eggs, sausage gravy, shredded cheddar and Frank's Red Hot. I hope your head just exploded because mine did the first time I had this.

#2 The Root (White Lake)
They don't usually do brunch. In fact since they opened in May 2011, they've hosted exactly one brunch -- on Black Friday. At this brunch they had biscuits and chorizo gravy, all made from scratch. It was phenomenal. (And spicy! I love spicy.) It was so phenomenal I begged (*whined) Executive Chef James Rigato to do it again this year. So he is. Please go, and enjoy.

#3 Imperial (Ferndale)
What luck would I have to happen to stumble in to Imperial in Ferndale early on a Sunday afternoon when they were testing out their new brunch menu! Behold: biscuits and spicy chorizo gravy topped with fried eggs and served with fresh fruit. If you want kick up the flavor of something (anything), put an egg on it. Try it with their Hair of the Dog special -- Bloody Mary, shot of tequila, smoky treat and a match. 'Cuz that's how they roll here.


#4 Mudgie's (Corktown)
Mostly known as a sandwich shop, Mudgie's also serves a Sunday brunch. (Which will maybe one day include booze?) The biscuits are Jesus Christ these could break your fucking teeth maybe not the best, but the gravy? *GASP* You know what? Skip the biscuits and eat this gravy like a delicious, hearty, slightly spicy stew. Loaded with spicy sausage and vegetables without any of that thickening agent non-flavor flavor, the gravy alone eats like a meal. Only at, you know, like 8 thousand million trillion times the calorie and fat gram count than, say, beef stew. Which is why it's better if you just don't count it.

#5 Russell St. Deli (Eastern Market)
They serve breakfast Monday through Friday but it is usually only on Saturdays when you'll see the biscuits and gravy special pop up. And Saturdays usually come with a ridic wait time (wait until winter when all the stroller jockeys stay home; much more navigable then). But if you see their biscuits and gravy on the special board, get them. Two big, beautiful biscuits served with a bowl of slightly spicy gravy, plus this place is Detroit bucket-lister so two birds, etc.

Honorable mention: PJ's Lager House. Their biscuits and gravy are vegan and damn tasty; you'll know it's not pork sausage, but you won't care.

Bubbling under Toasted Oak Grill + Market (Novi), Hudson Cafe (Detroit), The Fly Trap (Ferndale), Kate's Kitchen (Flat Rock), Sam's Ferndale Grill (Ferndale), Cadillac Square Diner (Detroit), Mr. Mike's Grill (Westland), Toast (Ferndale), Emagene's Biscuits and Gravy (Ecorse), Charlie's Restaurant (Madison Heights), Mel's Grill 2 (Clarkston), Clawson Grill (Clawson), One-Eyed Betty's (Ferndale), Hilton Road Cafe (Ferndale), Bob Evans (various locations)

Mudgie's on Urbanspoon

[NEWS BITES] Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. expands into Lake Orion; more

All this news of expansions and growing empires in recent months ... it's like, what recession two years ago, you know?

All snarking aside (it happens occasionally), it's really quite amazing when you step back and look at what a difference two years have made, not just to the city but to greater metro Detroit as a whole. From a seemingly endless stream of bankruptcies and closures to new restaurants opening on a weekly basis and restaurateurs both seasoned and new to the game building empires, and businesses increasing their hours just to keep up with demand. But enough waxing poetic; here's news:

Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company's Institute for Advanced Drinking (IFAD, or #ifad for those of you who speak in hashtags) opened in Midtown in June, was featured in Food + Wine Magazine in September, opened a second outlet in Bloomfield Hills earlier this month, and is now working on a third location in Lake Orion. Is partner/face of IFAD James Cadariu on a roll? Yes, I think that's pretty safe to say.

Incidentally, no I do not work for them since a couple of people have asked and presumably more have wondered. I just think they're super-swell.

That being said, the O-IFAD ("original IFAD," that is) is now open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

And in other increased hours news, Local Kitchen + Bar, Rick Halberg's insta-hit in Ferndale that opened in August, is now open for lunch as of this week.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

Gathering supplies for nuclear holocaust. 
It pays to be a high-quality, organic bakery and these places are raking in the dough. The carbohydrate empires of Zingerman's to the west and Avalon to the east are both embarking on multi-million-dollar expansions. [Crain's]

Also expanding: Rub Pub BBQ, this time into Ann Arbor. And what most people won't know is that this is actually a third location for the company. The second is in Warren on the east side. You know, that geographically imprecise sprawling land mass east of John R. []

And let's not forget where you first heard news of Pizzeria Biga's expansion into A2 and the Root's second location in Howell. [EID]

Now open: Santorini Estiatorio in Greektown. Almost open: Acme Food Company in Hamtramck and the Buffalo Wild Wings in the Shitshow Corridor. [EID FB]

Also almost open in that geographically imprecise sprawling land mass east of John R: the Michigan By The Bottle tasting room, a partnership of six Michigan wineries that will be open for on-site tastings and events as well as retail sales. [MBTB FB]

Kowality, Kowalski, kaput. Kowalski Sausage Companies is closing up their four retail operations across metro Detroit and focusing solely on production and distribution. [Freep]

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! [Detroit Princess Riverboat FB]

Which of course means ... shopping! -_- [Hudson Cafe FB]

And drinking. [Holiday Cheer Garden Official]

Clarkston should just be renamed to "Union." Union, Michigan. This is the only way having three businesses with the word "Union" in the name in a town of only 900 people will make sense to me. So anyway, one of them has one of the 50 best cupcakes in the country. [The Daily Meal]

And in more arbitrary ranking lists, Supino Pizzeria ranks #1 for food in metro Detroit according to Zagat. Not to steal Dave Mancini's thunder but for what it's worth, these rankings are derived from user-generated survey reviews similar to Yelp or Urbanspoon. So before you question the other 9 on this list, and you will, ^that. [Freep]

In keeping with this pattern, the Sugar House's Heart of Darkness punch is featured in Tasting Table as one of the best cocktails of 2012. Get ready for a LOT of "best-of" lists, both local and national. In the words of Mortal Kombat's Shang Tsung, it has begun. [Tasting Table]

The Food Network filmed at Roma Cafe last week for a special about the oldest family-run Italian restaurants in America (Roma is Michigan's oldest). [EID FB]

Nate Skid talks to the OTHER Cooley brother about striking gold a second time in Corktown with Gold Cash Gold, a restaurant so far away from opening that you will have forgotten about this story entirely by then and will be happy to read about it all over again. [Crain's]

Ypsi's hippie tea beer Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea LLC is looking to expand and are trying to raise $60k via crowd-funding to get the equipment and space they need to increase production (this would include a cellar for barrel aging and a tasting room). Because it's just like, totally un-unity to get a $60,000 business loan. []

I've gathered from Facebook that people don't really have a firm grasp as to just how many things the FDA actually regulates, what their purpose as a federal agency actually is, and why it is in fact completely insane that energy drinks are not also regulated by them. I say this as someone who for the most part is against the all-encompassing reach of federal helicopter agencies as well as someone who really just doesn't feel 13 deaths are significant and also understands that there is probably a complete failure to prove a direct causality in any of these deaths which were most likely caused by pre-existing conditions merely exacerbated by the energy drinks. So, you know, wrap your head around THAT. [Deadline]

Metro Detroiters are a bunch of fucking savages. Fat savages, at that. [DetNews]

In Beerie news, Founders will release four new beers in 2013 (maybe not NEW new though) and John Hall has stepped down as the CEO of Goose Island, which means craft beer drinkers are wringing their hands even harder than ever at AB InBev's buyout of the brand. [Beer Pulse / Chicagoist]

~And in Eat It GR, construction on the city's 130,000 square foot year-round indoor Downtown Market is well underway. This $30 million project is expected to draw about 500,000 visitors annually. Then the NY Times gets all, "OMG you guys, Grand Rapids is, like, awesome," because it totally is. [NY Times]

Friday, November 16, 2012

[HOT LIST] Wild game

Loon River Cafe.

In the tradition of important Opening Days in Michigan, November 15 was opening day for gun season (bow season started October 1, and I for one think anyone who is badass enough to use a bow and arrow instead of a graceless, brutish gun which lacks a certain finesse when compared to bows, deserve that extra month and a half lead time). It seems like such a great time to run a wild game hot list, but ay, here's the rub: it is illegal to sell or commercially serve Michigan white tail deer meat unless the meat itself has been inspected by the FDA at USDA-approved slaughterhouses, of which there are only five in the state of Michigan and not one processes deer meat. Other slaughterhouses can process deer meat but only for individual or charitable nonprofit organization consumption. When you do find venison on a menu somewhere, it is from red deer imported from outside of the United States and is very costly (which is why you very rarely see it).

That being said, despite trying to tie this in with opening day, there simply isn't a whole lot of venison to be had on most menus, and despite our abundant deer population, the venison you'll find in restaurants isn't from Michigan*. It isn't even from America. Sound ludicrous? Start a petition, call your state rep, do something about it. Here are some places that make the most of what we do have. (Rabbit and duck can go a long way to make up for what we lack in deer.)

#1 Grange Kitchen + Bar (Ann Arbor)
You guys, this place is just really fantastic. It's the best. For realsies. Crazy game meat isn't always a staple on the regular menu (which is really quite fine, since their Scotch eggs and duck poutine still are, and have you ever had fried pig's head? You should totally try it), but there are often specials and events where Chef Brandon Johns serves items like smoked goose, quail egg and rabbit. Oh, and he sources everything locally, even the shrimp. Yes, there is a shrimp farm in Michigan (the Root and COLORS also use it).

#2 The Wurst Bar (Ypsilanti)
No, I do not work for them. And while realistically I cannot be there as often as I'd like to be, what they're doing is still pretty special. Now, here's where my definition of "game" meat might get a little loose: is rattlesnake meat wild game? What about alligator? And if they are considered game meats, they certainly aren't local. But where else in metro Detroit will you find rattlesnake and alligator on a menu? Therefore, Wurst Bar wins. They also make sausages from rabbit and bison, so there you go.

#3 Loon River Cafe (Sterling Heights)
Not only do they have probably one of the largest selections of wild game on their regular menu, but they also regularly host special wild game dinners. In fact, there is one coming up on November 26 and another on December 17. Guinea fowl, elk, quail, goat, buffalo, boar ... in the words of Kirsten Dunst as Claudia, the child vampire in the 1994 borderline-camp classic Interview with the Vampire: I want some more. Chef Ray Hollingsworth doesn't get a lot of love being over there in a Best Western on the dreaded east side, but he's kind of a bad ass.

#4 The Moose Preserve Bar and Grill (Bloomfield Hills), Camp Ticonderoga (Troy), Deadwood Bar + Grill (Northville), Beaver Creek Tackle and Beer Co. (Westland)
All four are tied because, despite some slight variations, they have effectively the same menus (and the same owners). Get a buffalo burger; buffalo meatloaf; venison brochette; their signature "Road Kill Grill" with roast venison, semi-boneless broiled quail and wild boar sausage with Michigan game gravy; or opt for the "Wild Thang" appetizer with samples of their spicy venison sausage, rabbit ravioli, duck tenders, whitefish pate and BBQ buffalo balls.

#5 Toasted Oak Grill + Market (Novi)
Now serving roast leg of Michigan white tail deer! It's better if you don't ask questions and just go. Duck and Great Lakes trout are also menu mainstays.

Bubbing under Roast (Detroit), Cuisine (Detroit), Big Rock Chop House (Birmingham), Due Venti (Clawson), Green Dot Stables (Corktown), the Root (White Lake), Cafe Muse (Royal Oak), Forrest Grill (Birmingham), Coach Insignia (Detroit), Atlas Global Bistro (Detroit), Cork Wine Pub (Pleasant Ridge), Bacco Ristorante (Southfield), Cafe Cortina (Farmington Hills), the Rattlesnake (Detroit)

*with a few "better not to ask" exceptions

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

[NEWS BITES] The Root opening second location in Howell; Pizzeria Biga opening third location in Ann Arbor

Both these haps are pretty hush-hush, but I have confirmation that Pizzeria Biga has started build-out on what will be their third location, this one in Ann Arbor. Proprietor Luciano del Signore always intended for Biga to expand into multiple locations and with Royal Oak already a hit, that ball of dough certainly seems to be rolling.

And in keeping with their tradition of choosing WTF locations in metro Detroit's BFE, the Root Restaurant will be opening a second location in Howell. An agreement has been reached but build-out has not yet started.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

UK vs US
Tomorrow night the Rattlesnake will be featured on the Detroit episode of Chef Race: UK vs US. Other stops on the BBC America's city your included Eastern Market and the Grosse Ile Yacht Club, but it was in the Snake's kitchen that the elimination challenge took place. Executive Chef Chris Franz even got to take part in the judging. The episode airs Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 10 p.m. on BBC America. [Rattlesnake Official]

Some major kind of filming is happening this week at Vinsetta Garage and Union Woodshop, but they have since scrubbed their Facebook accounts of all mention of it. Good thing I have a good memory (even if I do only ever skim things): Vinsetta and the Woodshop (or is it the Clarkston Union? again, I only ever skim things and for porkssake they both have the word "Union" in the name) will be featured in a new series on the Discovery Channel called "United States of Bacon." Filming is scheduled for this week. [hazy Facebook recollections]

Wolfgang Puck's new Pizzeria + Cucina inside the MGM Grand Detroit is very much open and very much awesome. The space, however, still looks exactly like Saltwater, though perhaps a bit less blingy. [EID FB]

Sometimes a pop-up is more than the sum of its parts. Cafe con Leche del Este is a coffeehouse, yes, but it is equally a community effort and a bit of a social experiment. With help from the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation's Revolve Detroit program and many others, this pop-up is both testing the waters and the theory that a community CAN build a business if there is enough demand and support. [Deadline]

And while you're there, try La Lumbre del Diablo. [Thrillist]

1917 American Bistro celebrated three years in business this weekend. [1917 FB]

Old people are the original hipsters. [Deadline]

A rising tide floats all boats in this retail desert that is Detroit. (Though it's a bit of a stretch to position Astro Coffee as a competitor of Sugar House and Slows.) [Det News]

Calder Dairy's egg nog is now available in stores. Oh yes, this is happening people. [EWOW FB]

And I did, too. [Pie-Sci FB]

This too. [EID FB]

Eat It GR
~It's Founders Brewing Co's quinceañera and there is much celebration to be had. [MLive]
~Mitten Brewing is now open and is very sports bar-meets-microbrewery. It's less douchey than it sounds: think more vintage sports memorabilia and less 42 flashing flat screen TVs visible from any point in the room. [Rapid Growth]
~Grand Rapids Brewing Co. is still on track for their Dec. 5 opening. [GRBC FB]
~Someone is living my dream life on Michigan's west coast. Her name is the Cheese Lady, and she recently opened her third location in Grand Rapids in addition to her Muskegon and Kalamazoo shops. [some blog]
~Want to buy a brewery? You can buy this one via Craigslist and have your very own Beer City USA-adjacent microbrewery. Provided you have half a mil. [MLive]