Friday, June 28, 2013

[EID Preview] The Jefferson House + Urban Cellars

All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

The Crowne Plaza Pontchartrain Hotel will open in Detroit next month, and with it a new upscale restaurant and bar on the lobby level. Which you can read all about from me here in Model D. (And there's more about the hotel itself here.)

Executive Chef Justin Vaiciunas, who is overseeing the whole food and beverage program at the Pontch, recently gave me a preview of some menu items. Vaiciunas, whom I have previously (and perhaps clairvoyantly) named one of metro Detroit's up-and-coming chefs, left Detroit briefly last winter to work in a high-profile ski resort out west, but is now back with his cutting-edge American fusion cuisine with a particular mindfulness towards presentation and a dash of molecular gastronomy technique. His goal is to nail down a "best restaurant" title for the Jefferson House in its first year. Based on the look of these dishes alone, he certainly stands a shot.

Jefferson House dining room.
Shaved prosciutto salad with mascarpone cheese, truffle oil and pear jus. 
The Beggar's Purse pasta in wild mushroom cream sauce.
The bar at Urban Cellars.
Roasted airline chicken with tableside-smoked BBQ sauce, potato salad and yellow beans.
The roasted airline chicken presentation. 
Tomato caprese with espresso-infused balsamic, basil oil, and fresh mozzarella.

For more photos, check out the Flickr set here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

[HOT LIST] Cocktails

Dave Kwiatkowski of the Sugar House. All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

It goes without saying that the BEST best places in metro Detroit to get a craft cocktail are Roast, the Oakland, and the Sugar House (which was just named one of the best bars in America by Playboy). But as the trend has grown over the last couple of years - so much so that Michigan Radio recently took notice and ran a state-wide poll looking for Michigan's best craft cocktail bar, and Michigan State University has their own Artisan Distilling Program (the Master Distiller of Death's Door is a graduate of this program) - an ever-increasing number of bars and restaurants are getting with the craft cocktail program. And not in the half-assed way they did before (changing the name of their martini menu to "craft cocktails," yet keeping all the same candy-flavored vodka drinks) - this time it's in earnest. Top-shelf spirits (think bourbons, gins, and boutique liqueurs), fresh-squeezed juices, and house-made bitters and infusions separate the men from the martinis. What a difference two years make, eh? These are some of the best places to get some (aside from Roast, the Oakland, and the Sugar House, of course).

#1 Pizzeria Biga Royal Oak, Southfield, Ann Arbor (opening soon)
Pizza and craft cocktails? Absolutely, when the pizza in question is made by James Beard award-nominated chef Luciano del Signore (along with house-made charcuterie) and the cocktails by some of the best local bartenders in the business. Biga's beverage program in general is a thing of excellence, with proper dues given to its Italian inspiration in its selection of Italian beers, wines, and liqueurs. They also have a great selection of craft beers and have recently started hosting beer dinners. As for cocktails, they have a full selection of classic craft cocktails as well as some of their own creations.

Red Crown. 
#2 Red Crown Grosse Pointe Park
Turns out, Grosse Pointers are a bunch of booze-hounds. (This probably surprises no one who is familiar with Grosse Pointers and their lifestyles.) Mixologist Thomas Phillips, a self-described liquor nerd, leads the bar's cocktail program, which includes a mix of classic cocktails and his own creations, which he changes seasonally. The renovated historic gas station in Grosse Pointe Park opened earlier this year and was an instant hit with the community that has been woefully underserved in their demand for drink. This summer, enjoy their expansive, beautifully-landscaped patio with a cold cocktail and some smoked meat and Southern-style comfort food.

#3 The Last Word Ann Arbor
The Last Word takes its name from the classic cocktail of the same name, which is fitting for this Prohibition-era craft cocktail bar. This place is all about the booze, and be sure to shop in for Whiskey Wednesdays when they serve Scotch (SCOTCH SCOTCH SCOTCHY SCOTCH), bourbon and rye half-off. It's a classy joint in a college town, and their cocktails are on point.

#4 Bailout Productions Detroit
We all know that Roast is one of the best places to go for a craft cocktail, and that's because of the talent behind the bar. Bailout Productions has its roots in Roast, where founders Travis Fourmont (who now works at Great Lakes Wine and Spirits) and Joe Robinson (still holding down the happy hour fort) both worked. They now team up for pop-up bar events at places like Green Dot Stables and the currently-uninhabited Rhino Club in Harmonie Park, and bring their full cocktailing skills along with some friends – like chef Andy Hollyday, who recently left his post at Roast to work on opening his own restaurant in Midtown. They've got more events planned for this summer, so be sure to follow them on Facebook for updates on their upcoming pop-ups.

#5 Sardine Room Plymouth
The much-buzzed-about Sardine Room in Plymouth just celebrated its one-year anniversary earlier this month. Known for their selection of fresh seafood (oysters, the oysters, especially the oysters) and elevated small plates, the Sardine Room also has an excellent selection of craft beer and craft cocktails. What with all of the oysters and the hot sauce and the lobster rolls (basically a lobster po'boy) and the shrimp and grits, the Sardine Room has a vaguely New Orleansean vibe, so it seems only fitting to sip on a Sazerac (the drink that originated in the Big Easy over 150 years ago) while you're here.

Bubbling under Valentine Distillery (Ferndale), Gastronomy (Southfield), Zingerman's Roadhouse (Ann Arbor), St. Cece's Pub (Corktown), Vellum (Ann Arbor), Great Lakes Coffee (Midtown), Union Woodshop (Clarkston), the Raven's Club (Ann Arbor), Imperial (Ferndale), the Bar at 327 Braun Court (Ann Arbor), the Laundry (Fenton), the Root (White Lake), Torino (Ferndale), Lena (Ann Arbor)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

[Model D] Kitchen Connect will help launch new triple-bottom-line food start-ups

FoodLab Detroit is a network of triple-bottom-line food businesses in Detroit, founded by Jess Daniel, a Local Economy Fellow at Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. FoodLab launched in 2011 and has become a significant resource for food start-ups in the city, a place where entrepreneurs can share information, resources, provide mutual support, and learn how to balance their triple-focus businesses.

One of the unique functions of FoodLab has been inadvertently performing is that of an informal connector between entrepreneurs and commercial kitchens in the city that will allow small start-up food businesses to use their space to make their products, a necessity for many of the food start-ups that aren't classified as cottage industry (the Cottage Food Law specifically excludes all items made with dairy and other products like salsa, pickles, and barbecue sauce) and for those that need more space than a home kitchen provides. From this emerging need for rentable commercial kitchen space, Kitchen Connect was born.

Read more.

[Model D] Detroit's first Downtown Farmers Market is open every Thursday

The Compuware urban garden Lafayette Greens is now home to the first-ever farmers market in downtown Detroit. Located on the site of the former Lafayette Building, which was demolished in 2010, the garden is a result of Peter Karmanos, Jr. – Compuware's co-founder and Executive Chairman and also a Master Gardener – working with the city of Detroit to transform the area into a greenspace.

Read more.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

Welp. Cheesecake Bistro is closed already (for "renovations;" reopening "soon"). Which surprises no one. Allegedly it's under new ownership and management, so let's hope they also have sense enough to give it a new name. [EID FB]

Campus Martius Park and Beach got its own bar and grille (check out photos here) as well as its own food vendors Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. [Crain's / Thrillist / D:hive]

Is The Sugar House one of the best bars in the country? Playboy says so. [Playboy]

And on the hottest sunniest most swelteringest day, let there be bottled iced coffee from the bestest People of the Bean, Anthology Coffee. [Anthology FB]

It's Monday so again, COFFEE. Always Brewing Detroit in Grandmont Rosedale is now open! Here's some photos. The grand opening is scheduled for July 19. [Curbed]

In case you missed it:
~If you follow me on Instagram (@eatitdetroit) then you already got a teaser of this...the biggest new development happening on the Avenue of Fashion will be a huge cafe/restaurant in a century-old barn, a yoga studio, a high-end retail shop, and will also have a fantastic courtyard for drinks and events. It will open in phases over the next few years, starting with the courtyard this summer. [Model D]
~Coffee and (_______) is now open in a beautifully renovated space on Jefferson. This is their second pop-up; find out more about pastry chef Angela Foster's plans and why it's called (___). Also check out the Kung-Food dinner there this and every Friday through July 9. [Model D]

This event is Saturday! With ME! Have you bought your tickets yet? This is also kind of a second-anniversary party-thing too, because I haven't had time to put together a real one. So it's this. Official Detroit Food Experience + EID 2-Year Anniversary! Join me! [Det Bus Co]

So, who makes Michigan's best burger? The results from are in...and will probably surprise you. [MLive]

And since we have burgers on the brain, Crain's Detroit Business's Nathan Skid talks to Iron Chef Michael Symon about his plans to open B Spot Burgers in the D. [Crain's]

Woodward Whiskey, the latest from Valentine Distilling Co., is now available! (And it's good, guys. Much like the Liberator Gin.) [Promote Michigan]

One thing I learned this week is that people get HEATED when it comes to discussions about allowing dogs in restaurants. [WILX]

Another thing I learned is that some people have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about when I refer to "session beers," but that doesn't stop them from commenting. Anyway, since session beers (DEFINED AS 4% ABV AND LOWER) are something the rest of the world has been doing well for centuries now (farmhouse ales and saisons and pilsners and kolsches and ESBs and traditional stouts and some wheat beers and so on, and not just "watered down" Budweiser, which is the American version and apparently the only other available option aside of XTREME beers), it's time for American brewers and beer bars alike to get the fuck with it already. If I can drink more in one sitting, I will spend more and stay longer. Good for you (beer bar owner and/or brewer) and good for me and good for the economy and good for America. [Red Eye]

Here's a great story on DROUGHT and the CEO, Crain's Detroit Business Twenty in Their 20s Cait James, in Metromode. [Metromode]

Restaurants are the new food trucks. [Metromode]

Meet the boys of Bailout Productions. [Model D]

Detroit's most popular patio is at Green Dot Stables, and it hasn't even opened yet. [GDS/EID FB]

Chef Luciano del Signore of Pizzeria Biga was featured in Pizza Today. [Pizza Today]

This wine country is only an hour away, very inexpensive and not yet run over with tourists. Sure, it's not Traverse City, but: all of the above. The wines are also very interesting and worth exploring (definitely not doing the same thing as the SE MI trail and certainly not the same as northern MI). [Windsor Star]

Fair Food Network is extending its Double Up Food Bucks program from farmers markets into three full-service grocery stores: Honey Bee Market, Metro Foodland, and Mike's Fresh Market. [Fair Food Network]

So you hear a lot about urban farming in Detroit. But what about the soil itself? [Model D]

Detroit Chocolat opened their first storefront on Lakeside Circle, a local chocolatier that uses and sells products from other Michigan makers like Kelly's Karamels and Germack Pistachio Co. This fourth-generation chocolatier spent a decade working for Morley. In the store you will also find products from The Popped Kernel, Cherry Republic, Better Made Snack Foods and Faygo Beverages Inc. [Macomb Daily]

Necessity is the mother of invention. This family turned unemployment into Aunt Nee's Taste of Mexico Salsa. [Metromode]

You guys, social media! This time Just Baked in Entrepreneur Magazine. [Entrepreneur]

The proposition of a new Red Wings arena (that has been reported and speculated on for forever now) has been approved by others based on its merits as a proposition and the fact that Mike Illitch has already gobbled up all the property. This $650 million sportstainment megaplex still needs county approval. You know, the same county that approved a massive jail at the entryway of downtown. [Detroit News]

Bring me more whiskey and rye! [BuzzFeed]

Ever wondered about the legality of carrying cheese on a plane? This is for you. [Wisconsin Food]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

[Real Detroit] Have Beer ... Got Food?

The chili cheese fries stuffed burger at Jay's Stuffed Burgers.

Every Beer Fest needs some good beer-soaking food to provide a solid basecoat for maximum beer consumption. At Detroit Summer Beer Fest, you get to enjoy some of the best beer drinkin' foods metro Detroit has to offer. From stuffed burgers to pizza pretzels, you can stuff your face as you attempt to drink it off.

Read more.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

[Model D] The first new major development on the Avenue of Fashion will include a restaurant, yoga studio

The old barn and soon-to-be restaurant and cafe.
With $1.7 million in beautification and streetscape upgrade investments on the way and a concentrated effort by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation to grow this district's retail presence, the Avenue of Fashion is poised to regain its former glory as Detroit's premiere shopping district.

There is one large-scale development project that has already captured the attention of residents in neighboring Green Acres, Sherwood Forest, University Commons, and Palmer Woods – all safe, vibrant communities full of people who have lived there for decades and want to see retail growth in their neighborhoods. This project is located at 19344 Livernois, just north of Seven Mile. and is overseen by Detroit-based designer and builder Chad Dickinson.

Read more.

[Model D] Coffee and (___) pops up for round two in Jefferson Chalmers

You might remember Coffee and (___) from its fall pop-up in West Village. Pastry Chef Angela Foster is back again with another pop-up, this time at June on Jefferson in the Jefferson-Chalmers commercial district through July 9.

Debuting last weekend during Jazzin' on Jefferson, Coffee and (___) was an immediate hit with the curious crowds. The impressive interior, featuring tables made of reclaimed wood and other salvaged and repurposed materials, was designed by volunteer architects from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Urban Priorities Committee in partnership with the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA). (This place will give some permanent storefronts pop-up envy.)

Read more.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

McClure's has a new sweet and spicy pickle out, and it is only available at Whole Foods Midtown for now. This is a reason to brave the crowds, yes? (I've had it. It's awesome.) [McClure's]

A new microbrewery is coming to downtown Dearborn! This is how the west is won. [Dearborn Patch]

It's officially-official: DROUGHT will have a permanent home in Detroit at the new Shinola flagship store in Midtown, opening this summer. [Drought FB]

Turns the London Chop House is also totally metal, and Spin agrees with me on Guns + Butter. [Detroit News / Spin]

In case you missed it:
~The Cultural Living Room is now open to the public inside the DIA's Kresge Court. The design concept mixes modern and traditional, but why not just check out the pictures. [Model D / EID]
~June on Jefferson popped up during Jazzin' on Jefferson this weekend. Several stores are inhabiting newly-renovated storefronts in the Jefferson Chalmers commercial district, including Myra's Sweet Tooth and Goodwells Natural Foods. Also Coffee and (___), which was not originally reported because it was not originally listed on the website or mentioned in my interview. I'll make up for it, promise. [Model D]
~Just a Bit Eclectic is now open on Detroit's northwest side, selling vintage goods and antiques as well as teas from Detroit's INTU Specialty Tea and soups from Beautiful Soup. [Model D]
~HEY! Join me on June 29 for the Official Detroit Food Experience food tour with The Detroit Bus Company! We'll have house-made cheese and beer at Traffic Jam + Snug, have a picnic catered by Los Unicos taco truck and Mexicantown Bakery in Clark Park, and see how sausage gets made at Corridor Sausage Co.! [Detroit Bus Co]

Speaking of taco trucks, my first actual paid assignment as a freelance writer was a little over four years ago with Model D for a story about taco trucks in SW Detroit. So what I'm saying is, I did it before it was cool. Anyway here's this retro-chic story on SW taco trucks with a list of different vendors at the end and a sort of "white people guide to Mexican things." [Model D / Detroit News]

Apparently this was retro chic week! Hygrade Deli is "in" again, and now an unnamed national food network (though not necessarily THE Food Network) will be paying them a visit. [MLive]

And these places aren't trendy and won't be getting any fashionable food buzz anytime soon, but are worth checking out because they serve good food, the end. [Detroit News]

Attention all would-be mobile entrepreneurs: the MEDC has announced a new mobile start-up grant program of up to $10,000 for new or existing mobile businesses in order to boost Michigan's mobile food vending industry. There is also an additional grant of $10-50k for farmers markets at least four years old. [WILX]

The new Downtown Farmer's Market Detroit is held Thursdays at Lafayette Greens. (Hours will likely be changing as they figure out what times work best for customers.) [DFMD FB]

The Eastern Market Corporation Shed 5/Community Kitchen work was already happening so when the MEDC sent out this release earlier today I was a little confused, but maybe it's this particular $1mil grant that's new? And that's, like, a lot of money. So. YAAAAAAAAY! [Detroit News]

Michigan strawberries are in season! Here is a guide (with map) to U-Pick farms in metro Detroit. [Freep]

Sure, you know all the big name places to get ice cream around here ... but what about some of Detroit's lesser-known ice cream spots? Model D and Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider's Guide to Detroit dig deep on this one. [Model D]

File under: best headline in the history of Crain's Detroit Business. "Union Joints Rolling at DTE Energy Music Theatre." [Crain's]

Commune is now Craft. It's still the basement of Bastone, now with more beer. [Commune FB]

Burgers burgers burgers (that pay workers living wages). [ / Eyes on Windsor / Detroit News]

New steakhouse in St. Clair Shores, TBones Steak and Seafood, is overseen by former sous chef of SaltWater. Might be worth checking out? [Freep]

If Flavor Flav's Chicken + Ribs closes due to carbon monoxide leaks and no one notices because no one goes there, did it really happen at all? [TMZ]

Selma Cafe lives again in a new location! While no longer held in a private home, the brunch pop-up will happen in the common house of Sunward Cohousing on June 22. Brunch will be held on Saturday instead of Friday and hours will run later. Pretty much everything else remains the same. []

~Turns out I drink a lot because I'm a freakin' genius, THAT'S why. [MSN]

Poutine Queen
~I'm going to be spending some time in Canada this summer. In the interest of research, yes I will eat this. Even though it feels wrong, despite being a combination of two of my favorite things. [First We Fest]
~And here's 13 more. [The Grid]