Thursday, May 30, 2013

[HOT LIST] Burgers

iBurger. All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

May is National Burger Month. While summer for some means trying to squeeze their pasty white Midwestern blubber butt into last year's bikini only to find that winter has not been kind to them, some of us (hi) have made (an uneasy) peace with the fact that maybe bikini season stopped for us a few years back, and this summer isn't looking much better. There is a certain freedom in realizing you're not Kate Upton, and with that freedom comes the ability to go on the summer #burgercleanse. (Use that hashtag on Instagram plz; trying to make it a thing.)

Perhaps you'll recall when just last week I noted that Detroit is still very much a meat and potatoes town. That being established, you can go ahead and assume that we know our way around a beef patty.  Now, you know all the old familiars -- the ones that have been written up in national publications, the ones that people will Instagram with words like "yum" and people will comment with "want" and "I love that place!" I'm talking about places like Red Coat Tavern and Miller's. Then there's the burger elite -- which, to just go ahead and reference myself again, I already covered them last week -- Vinsetta Garage, Roast, and burger n00b Monk. Iron Chef Michael Symon is also looking to expand his B Spot Burgers into the metro Detroit market, probably because we are a bunch of fat asses. Bottom line? We know some damn burgers.

For the purposes of making this list manageable, chains and fine(r) dining restaurants that serve burgers have been excluded. This is all bar burgers, diners, and straight burger joints. I've also ruled out sliders (sorry Green Dot) because that is a separate list. Also, I am a burger purist: while I concede the notion that burgers can be all dressed up and fancified for the betterment of burger enjoyment, I prefer to experience my burgers in their natural state -- beef, cheese, bun. Nothing more. All assessments have been made based on purely the plain old burger. (With cheese. Because it HAS to have cheese.)

#1 East Side Tavern Mt. Clemens
There is an episode of How I Met Your Mother in which Marshall spends the entire episode on a quest to find the Manhattan burger that changed his life. A burger of such superior quality, that was so much more than JUST a burger but an experience, that it had become legen-waitforit... in Marshall's mind. A burger so transcendent that no other burger could ever live up to its impossibly high standard. A burger that is almost cultural mythos. The burger at East Side Tavern is that burger. But don't take my word for it. Take my word for it.

#2 The Bronx Bar Detroit
Take a giant burger the size of your head and throw it on a sizzling flat-top grill with all of its other burger friends in plain view of the bar (so close, in fact, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the burgers occasionally get seasoned with Jameson's). Then take a giant ciabatta bun, slather it in butter, and throw it on the grill too. For good measure, add a couple of slices of melty American cheese -- which, and I know I'm going to catch some flack for this, in my own very much experienced burger experience is THE superior cheese for burgers -- and a giant pickle on the side. And there you have the Bronx Bar burger. Simple. Magical. It's the burger you just can't quit.

The Emory. 

#3 The Emory Ferndale
The Emory's burgers are something of a local legend. It just goes to show that the secret to a great burger is all in the beef, and theirs comes from Eastern Market's Fairway Packing. (Note: For those who are not familiar with Fairway, their burgers are consistently the best in the business. Any restaurant that serves them is automatically among the top in town.) The big fluffy buns come from Royal Oak bakery Hermann's. And the best part? A burger and fries will cost you only $5 on Tuesdays, and the Emory also rocks a brutal beer list to go with your beef.

From @eatitdetroit Instagram feed.
#4 Good Burger Dearborn
Dearborn is not lacking for good burgers. People still love the shit out of Miller's. There's also Howell's, which some say has the better bar burger. Moo Cluck Moo just opened in Dearborn Heights and is looking to be a game-changer. But I have seen the future, and in this future gas station food is the new trendy pedestrian blue collar IT food that "foodies" will flock to. And it starts at Good Burger. Located inside a BP gas station on Ford Road just a few blocks off of I-94, Good Burger is perhaps the most efficiently-named restaurant in metro Detroit. Because you will leave saying, "Damn, that WAS a good burger." Everything is made fresh in-house -- condiments are made from scratch, fries and onion rings are hand-cut; grilled-to-order burgers are never frozen and served on either a pretzel roll or brioche bun sourced from local bakeries, and the meat itself is expertly seasoned. I told you my rule about eating burgers plain? With this one you won't even WANT to dilute the flavor with any other frippery. Burgers are served with perfectly-crispy (and made to order) seasoned shoestring fries, and they also deliver.

#5 iBurger Dearborn
It would seem that metro Detroit's REAL cheeseburger paradise is Dearborn. Dearborn is just great. I love Dearborn. Have I told you how much I love Dearborn? Such a cultural mish-mosh and I LOVE that. Black people, white people, Arab people, Mexican people -- if you want diversity, it's all in Dearborn, and it's actually properly integrated instead of the street-by-street segregation you find in other "diverse" cities. Now, with a large population of ethnic Arab Muslims, this also means that you'll find a lot of halal restaurants. They're not all Mediterranean, either. You'll find halal Mexican, halal Italian, halal fried chicken, halal pizza, halal sushi. America! Bless you melting pot, and bless you fatass Midwestern eating habits and cultural assimilation. iBurger is a halal burger joint, and, you know, maybe it's because Muslims don't eat pork and can therefore put ALL of their energy into the beef (even the bacon is beef) instead of being distracted by the temptations of pig parts, but damn this is a tasty burger. Read more about it here. They also serve raw juices and ice cream. Raw juices at a burger joint (and they're not talking about the burgers, though those are plenty juicy too). Don't you just freaking LOVE that?

Bubbling under The Detroiter Bar (Detroit), One-Eyed Betty's (Ferndale), Red Hawk (Ann Arbor), the Avenue Pub (Wayne), Cutter's (Eastern Market), McShane's Pub (Corktown), Rosie O'Grady's (Ferndale), Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger (Ann Arbor), Nemo's (Corktown), Mae's (Pleasant Ridge), Greenwich Pub (Detroit), Sidetrack (Ypsilanti), Clubhouse BFD (Rochester), Jay's Stuffed Burgers (Plymouth), Honest John's (Midtown), Doyle's Tavern (Plymouth), Brownie's on the Lake (St. Clair Shores)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

St. Cece's Pub is slowly inching towards full-time lunch service. We're now up to Thursday through Saturday 11am-5pm! [St. Cece's FB]

Mae's is now serving Bloody Mary's and mimosas! [Mae's FB]

But Bella Piatti is not. Birmingham says, "This aggression will not stand" to new owners of Bella Piatti, currently seeking a liquor license transfer but denied due to their own operational history of MLCC violations. [Downtown Publications]

Michigan's growing spirits industry is helping boost craft culture culture. Or vice versa. Or both. We're dealing with a chicken/egg kind of situation here. [Michigan Radio]

More expansion news for Atwater Brewery. [Model D]

In case you missed it:
~Here is your Movement guide to restaurants and bars within walking distance of Hart Plaza. [EID]
~Another post-pop-up success story: Always Brewing Detroit will open permanently in their previous winter pop-up location in Grandmont Rosedale later this month. [Model D]
~"Meat tastes like murder, and murder tastes f@#%ing good" - so says Denis Leary, and so says this week's feature in Metromode. [Metromode]

Prediction: gas station food will be the new food trucks. As in, an offshoot variety of restaurant previously dismissed based on the nature of its location/identity (roach coaches, GAS STATION FOOD) now being embraced by "#foodies" as the new adventurous culinary frontier. Won't this be fun. Maybe there could even be a #tweetup. !!!! #gasstationfoodies [Detroit News]

This one blows my mind. A collection of "food trucks" under one roof that are not in fact mobile can just go ahead and be called a food court, what with "truck" sort of being the operative word there. At some point, things stop being trucks. Is this meta? I don't even know. [Berkley Patch]

Sweet Potato Sensations has been in business since 1987 on Detroit's Northwest side. Read about this second-generation family-owned business in Urban Innovation Exchange. [UIX]

August 13 is confirmed as opening day of Michigan's first The Cheesecake Factory. Let's start planning! [Crain's]

Guess which city has one of the best baseball stadiums for craft beer??? (Hint: IT'S IN THE NAME OF THIS FACEBOOK BLOG.) [Daily Meal]

IS SYLVIA RECTOR SLAGGING ON BACONFEST?????? Eh, can't actually say I disagree with her. Good story on Zingerman's Camp Bacon. [Freep]

SkyBar and Lounge (the ground floor portion) is remodeled and reopened, debuting their new Alpha stage in partnership with WDET. [Deadline / SkyBar FB]

Looks like the Oxford Inn will not go through with the country-western changes originally planned (and also looks like those plans were never quite as dramatic as it sounded). [Royal Oak Patch]

The Avenue of Fashion is getting some buzz this week ... among the many things happening here is a new neighborhood-focused Detroit SOUP. [Crain's]

And here is an excellent, thoughtfully-written story about what's happening at the Avenue of Fashion now, what's in store for the near future, and how this might be Detroit's next corridor to see major investment. [Model D]

Midtown's Whole Foods Market Detroit is a development plan 15 years in the making. [Freep]

And now, a history lesson from Curbed Detroit. We all know and love Eastern Market Corporation - but did you know there was once a Western Market? True story. We plowed it over for a highway. USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! [Curbed]

Many, many Michigan chefs were included in the 2013 Best Chefs America list including James from The Root Restaurant and Bar, Dave from Supino Pizzeria, Christian from Brizola, Paul from Cuisine, Brian from Forest Grill, Chris from The Rattlesnake, Luciano from Bacco Ristorante, Andy from Michael Symon's Roast - Detroit, Eve from Frita Batidos, Brandon from Grange Kitchen and Bar, Alex from Zingerman's Roadhouse, and soooooo many more. Congratulations to all of them! [Best Chefs America]

In other examples of national recognition for a Michigan chef ... sooooooo the chef at Vellum in Ann Arbor was nominated for Eater's Young Guns. Which is cool! Though I just idly and for no particular reason am curious as to what exactly the whole selection process entailed, which (if any) other Michigan chefs were nominated but not included, and whether Daniel Boulud actually took the time to travel to Ann Arbor and dine at the restaurant or if this whole thing was based on submitted bios selected from behind a Manhattan desk? Just out of professional journalistic curiosity. [Eater]

New winery, Hawthorne Vineyards, now open on Old Mission Peninsula! And so there were eight. Must go right now. Because....because. [Detroit News]


Japan is weird. [Death + Taxes]

The future is now. [Pizza Today]

Thrillist has an excellent selection of Arrested Development-themed drinks. Just don't let the vodka go bad -- that would be a huge mistake. [Thrillist]


Can we all agree that "beerfests" have jumped the Land Shark? [Palace Net]

Fox News names these your go-to summer BBQ beers; Founders Brewing Co. All Day IPA is among them. [Fox News]

Is Hopslam the best Imperial IPA IN THE WORLD? The fine folks at DRAFT Magazine think it's among them. [DRAFT]

PBR now costs the same as many craft beers (thanks to goddamn dirty hipsters). Which means now there is absolutely no excuse to drink any of this, unless of course it's your ONLY option *or* you're trying not to get hammered on a high ABV craft beer, which is the by and large majority of them (6%ABV does not a session beer make) ... No one wins here, guys. Can we hit the "reset" button and try this again, only do it right this time? #AMERICA #FUCKYEAH [HuffPo]

Buffalo Wild Wings will have a signature beer called "Game Changer" contract brewed by Redhook Ale Brewery. In that it is a pale ale clocking in at a respectable, session-appropriate ABV of 4.6%, it might ACTUALLY be a game changer. Ah, but Redhook is an AB-InBev brand now - let the hand-wringing begin! #America. [CNBC]

The Grey Lady says saisons might be the perfect summer beer. For a publication that only recently begrudgingly began to pay attention to craft beer, finally realizing that it was not in fact going away, they sure did nail this one. Jolly Pumpkin FTW! [NY Times]

Wonder who's going to contract brew the "Duff Beer." [BeerPulse]

Thursday, May 23, 2013

[Metromode] Where's the Beef in Metro Detroit? (and Lamb, Pork, and Duck)

Morrisey named one of his seminal albums Meat is Murder. Comedian Denis Leary took that one step further in his 1992 stand-up special No Cure for Cancer, saying, "Meat tastes like murder, and murder tastes f@#%ing good.

With all the love for vegetarians and vegans going around, it would seem like our carnivore friends are merely an afterthought. Vegetarians get their own cookbooks and whole recipe sections of cooking magazines dedicated solely to their lifestyle. So do the gluten-free folks, who are quite literally the one-percenters of the world, and yet have permeated mainstream eating. Vegans, they get their own lists and guides and books and TV shows and other special snowflake treatment. Not sure if someone is a vegan? Don't worry, they'll go out of their way to tell you.

Read more.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

[HOT LIST] Movement off-site food guide

Photo from the Official Movement Facebook page.

I get a lot of emails asking me for recommendations - places to eat that are new and cool, places to eat for an anniversary/birthday/special occasion, places to get married, places to sightsee. Etc. While I don't have time to respond to each and every one of these requests (seriously, I get a lot), I do try my best to answer as many as I can, particularly for people coming in from out of town (I get a lot of those, too).

Last weekend the social media coordinator for Beatport got in touch asking for some recommendations within walking distance of the Movement festival grounds while she was in town. She wanted beer bars, a beer store, and a place to get some of that oft-cited Detroit-style pizza that's been making some national waves lately. Which got me thinking: wouldn't it be nice if I had a list of places to go for ALL people coming into town for Movement? Even semi-local people who might not be as familiar with the area immediately surrounding the festival grounds?

Indeed it would. So here you go.

Note: this year, the boys of Bailout Productions invite you to take Refuge at the Rhino Bar. I recommend you do so.

#1 Foran's Grand Trunk Pub/MotorCity Wine Downtown
If it's beer you seek, to Foran's Grand Trunk Pub you should go. They were the first bar in Detroit to switch over to all Michigan craft taps and have a huge selection of craft beer by the bottle too. For Movement they usually have a few coordinating parties, plus they are also open for Saturday and Sunday brunch. *AND* they sell beer to go, *AND* they are all of five minutes walking distance from the festival grounds. Expect heavy Midwestern bar food: burgers, corned beef, deep fried pickles, deep fried pickle corned beef burgers (actually you would have to special request that, but they would totally do it), etc. Upstairs is MotorCity Wine, and this will be its last year in this location. Take advantage: yes it's a wine bar and as such they have a fantastic selection of wine, beer, cheese and charcuterie, but it's also a live music venue with events planned all Movement weekend. (Pro tip: Monday's "House Gallery" is free and goes on all day.)

Ribber at Bert's. Photo from @eatitdetroit Instagram feed.
#2 Eastern Market Eastern Market
Walkable for those who really enjoy walking (for everyone else, there's Uber), Eastern Market is pretty much the second-greatest thing about Detroit. The first greatest is the Riverfront, which, as a festival attendee, you are already familiar with (though if you need a break during the day, a jaunt down the RiverWalk and maybe even a guided bike tour with Wheelhouse Detroit -- they have special Movement tour packages for the weekend -- will offer some scenic solace). Eastern Market is quickly becoming Detroit's alternative arts district. Once home to many, many, many many manymanymany raves in the '90s (and maybe possibly this is occasionally still known to sometimes happen), Eastern Market is more legit with all the same grit. The Red Bull House of Art and the newly-opened Inner State Gallery both have Movement-partnered programming for the festival, while Supino Pizzeria, Russell Street Deli, and the market's Saturday food truck rallies and ribbers outside of Bert's Marketplace are all on the master Detroit bucket list.

#3 Niki's Pizza Bricktown
For Detroit-style pizza, another bucket-lister, the biggies really require you to have a car and drive a bit (Buddy's Pizza being THE biggie). However, Niki's Pizza in Greektown will give you a good Detroit-style deep dish fix, and they're open until 4am on weekends. There is a Greek version of their pizza with feta cheese, black olives and lamb, which is sort of an extra-Detroit version of the Detroit pizza since we have such a strong Greek culture here. I mean, it's in Greektown, you know? Loco Bar and Grill serves meh Meximerican food next door but is also open until 4am which makes all the difference.

Sweetwater wings. Photo from @eatitdetroit Instagram feed.
#4 Sweetwater Tavern Bricktown
Detroit's most famous wings are at Sweetwater Tavern, all of five minutes walking distance from the fest. All-natural Amish chickens (Amish chickens taste better! Because they're Amish!) delivered daily from Eastern Market are marinated for 24 hours and rubbed in their secret blend of spices and seasonings. Go there. Get wings. The end. The beer selection sucks but if you like ice cream drinks, try the hummer (it's got booze and is also a Detroit "thing").

#5 Roast Downtown
If you have time for a proper dinner, or really just want to experience the very best dining Detroit has to offer, hit up Roast in the Westin Book Cadillac. It's a Michael Symon restaurant and it is outstanding - excellent beer list (do be sure to try some Jolly Pumpkin, Michigan's all oak-aged Belgian-style sour beer producer -- also available at Foran's), excellent bites (the Roast burger, the sweetbreads, the marrow, the everything), excellent cocktails (I hold them personally responsible for two of the worst hangovers I've had in the last two years), excellent space. And not exceptionally expensive; you can totally share apps and walk out spending the same you would in any other bar. Just excellent, all around. 24grille in the same building is also very, very good, only slightly less very, very good than Roast. If you need some quiet time on Sunday, check out the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar at the Motor Bar on the second floor.

Bubbling under Greektown Casino (Greektown - Market District food court for fast, Brizola for fancy), the Detroiter Bar (Bricktown), SkyBar Lounge (Downtown), Golden Fleece (Greektown), Jacoby's German Biergarten (Bricktown), Lafayette Coney Island (Downtown), American Coney Island (Downtown), Tom's Oyster Bar (Riverfront), Greenwich Times Pub (Downtown), Fountain Bistro (Downtown), Pegasus (Greektown), Red Smoke (Greektown), Buffalo Wild Wings (Greektown), Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Greektown)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

[Model D] Always Brewing Detroit to open permanently in Grandmont Rosedale

When Amanda Brewington was a freshman at Michigan State University, she didn't know anyone else on campus. So she started hanging out at a local coffee shop that had an open mic on Thursdays. This coffeehouse was where she met most of her college friends, many of whom she is still close with.

This was the impetus behind her desire to open a coffeehouse in Detroit.

Read more.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

Behold: the saddest beer bar in the world. 

First things first: Yes, I am aware Eater is looking for a Detroit blogger. No, it will not be me. The reasons are simple:
(a) The pay. It's bad. REALLY bad.
(b) One year ago I didn't mind the pay being bad because I thought I really wanted to blog, about food, for a living, and this would give me a national platform to do so.
(c) In the past year I've found that I can have a very lucrative career as a freelancer covering a wide spread of topics, which means I really don't have time leftover to blog for practically free or just limit myself to food.
(d) Turns out I don't really like blogging, at least not from a professional standpoint. Well-researched pieces that take time and talent to craft -- yes. Being chained to a desk waiting for news to happen all day every day and the panicky rush to be FIRST when an announcement is made on Facebook or a press release goes out -- fuck no.
(e) Did I mention how bad the pay is? You would cry.
(f) I went down this road already with them last year when they offered me the job then decided EID was too much of a conflict and wanted me to shut 'er down. I built this brand from nothing and it is a strong brand and will continue to be, even with Eater here (perhaps even more so because they'll have no choice but to aggregate the shit out of me).
(g) I got that national platform thing taken care of now, so I'm good there too.
(h) Eater has a slightly different focus than EID -- with EID I like to really share and promote events. I like doing niche lists. I like in-depth features. I like first-person narration and positioning myself as both brand and personality. All of these things are outside Eater's wheelhouse. Similar, yet different, and I like mine better.
(i) Remember that comment about being chained to a desk all day waiting for news to happen? As a freelancer I have the enviable ability to work remotely from wherever I want, and if I plan my weeks out well enough I can take whole chunks of time off to travel and spend my days exploring things and living life. You know when you can't do that? When you are running a daily news-oriented blog with minimum post requirements and must ALWAYS BE FIRST. It's seriously stressful.
(j) I'm not a one-trick pony, and food isn't my only or even my primary interest. It's barely in my top 5. I like being able to write about travel, arts and culture, film, development, entrepreneurship, and all the other varying kinds of coverage that I do. Those are my interests. If I just focused on one very narrow thing, I would go out of my mind. Also, I want to get more into arts + culture, film, and travel. Taking on a daily food blog that makes a huge demand on my time and energy (for practically no pay) is not amenable to that plan.

So. I think I've covered everything. Thank you for the phone calls. The texts. The emails. The Facebook messages. The Facebook posts. The Tweets. I appreciate you all caring so much. But this is a position for a person in a very different place than I am professionally, and with different professional aspirations. That being said, I look forward to being aggregated the shit out of by Eater.

I wasn't going to do this little PSA, but honestly I'm getting sick of explaining myself over and over and over and over and over again. So: there^. Moving on!

Save the date: on June 29 I'm going to be doing a thing. Stay tuned. [EID]

So, what's this Detroit City Distillery all about? Find out the who, what, when and where here. [Crain's]

In case you missed it:
~Whole Foods Midtown will be unlike any other Whole Foods in the country. And yet people are still going to cry about it. [Model D]
~Anthology Coffee has found a new permanent home at Ponyride, and apparently I (and persons of media) did too good of a job hyping up the Guns + Butter dinner because now it's sold out and I can't go. DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM????????? [Model D]
~Drink with your dog. [Real Detroit]

Confirmed: Atlas Global Bistro is closing when their lease is up at the end of May. From the Freep: "...Silveri said Monday that, contrary to some reports, the restaurant is not moving to the former Agave space on Woodward." Mmmmmm-hm. Told you. Just you wait. They 'gun get Gilberted. [Freep]

Papa Joe's Gourmet Market to open ANOTHER new location downtown, this one in the Ren Cen and catering to office workers with prepared foods. When Detroit does something, we fucking DO IT. [Crain's]

Pure marketing! []

Meet the new Prohibition. Why ban something when you can just criminalize it to the point of effectively banning it? [Detroit News]

Read more about the food justice work being done at Food Lab. [Mode Shift]

Urban farming is building Brightmoor. [Freep]

Quickenstan will have its own outdoor markets this summer. [Curbed]

Blessed BE; Sunday markets are coming to Eastern Market Corporation next year, and they'll focus on all Michigan vendors! About time that other weekend day (you know, the other one of only two) got put to some actual use. Maybe this will spur other area businesses to follow suit. This city is like a fucking ghost town on Sundays. Seriously, doesn't everyone want a full weekend to do stuff? How do you nine-to-fivers manage? [MLive]

Charter One's Growing Communities Program is investing $160,000 in Eastern Market Corporation to strengthen Detroit’s local food economy, job creation efforts and small business development, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is contributing an additional $50,000! The Market, long known as a regional food hub, has transformed into an arts district, business incubator, and collaborative makerspace space just in the last two years, and will continue to evolve in that direction even more. EID ♥'s EM! [WXYZ]

Thrillist got Charley the Singing Hot Dog Man to taste-test some of the offerings at the newly-opened The Grindhouse Food Truck. The results are sausage-filled poems in pictures. [Thrillist]

Bikes. Beer. Community. It's the BBC (minus Doctor Who). Plus they're good for local businesses! [Mode Shift / Good]

I'm not quite feeling the excitement for this WORLD OF BEER national chain bar opening in A2. Last year in New Orleans I went to a place called "Beer Fest" on Bourbon Street that made all the same promises of many, many taps from around the world, etc. (Actually, there were two of them on Bourbon and I went to both.) These were two of the saddest bars I've ever been to in my life. I feel like World of Beer is going to be Ann Arbor's version of that. []

Michigan fruit growers are looking to be in much better shape this year than last. [Crain's]

The title of this story is "Hops Enthusiasts are Ruining Craft Beer for the Rest of Us." Is what I'm saying. [Slate]

At some point things stop being tacos. Also food. [USA Today]