Thursday, December 26, 2013


Whole Foods Midtown. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.
Wow, 2013. This was quite the year as far as years go, amiright? While last year's "BEST YEAR EVER" recap was relatively easy to put together - everything that happened rather thoughtfully happened in easily-identifiable themes - this year was kind of schizoid. The echo chamber got even more echoey. There was more news with more people covering it, making it even more difficult to keep track of everything as it all started to sound like so much white noise.

In the end though, trends that have been developing for years now continued to grow and evolve. New places opened and old places closed, while others still rebranded. Some things got everyone talking, though what they said often came across as hive mind shoutiness. While some people will debate what the best new restaurants were, to me the interesting question to ask is, what were the biggest things that happened in food this year? Here's my answer.

#1 Whole Foods opened.
Fucking deal with it. This was huge. This was huge for so many reasons. And this validated the "Detroit Renaissance" narrative in so many ways. This of course didn't stop people from whining about it and whining about how people were praising it and whining about people who were whining about praising it because that's just what you people do, but the fact that a grocery store opening incited so much "dialogue" and took over the Internet for interminable weeks (…months, YEARS) is all the proof I need that this was hands-down the biggest story of the year.

#2 Eastern Market got one bajillion dollars for its much-touted Shed 5 renovation.
I'm pretty sure it's going to be a 5-star luxury all-inclusive resort now? Or something? So the Shed 5 renovation has been in the works for some years and there has been a steady stream of foundation money flowing in to fund this or that part of it. Suffice it to say, by the time it's done it is going to be A.MAHZ.ING. Among its many features will be a pimp-ass community commercial kitchen, a 200-seat patio, an 18-hole golf course*, I can't even keep track of it all.

#3 Eastern Market is just fucking awesome.
The end. I mean, just, the fucking end. I keep nutting over this because here's the thing you may or may not realize: for all the buzz that Midtown and Corktown get, Eastern Market is the one district in Detroit that has the potential to be Detroit's definitive tourism draw, a singularly unique experience that travelers cannot easily replicate elsewhere, a place that is entirely walkable with a host of options for dining, drinking, shopping, exploring. High profile/much-buzzed-about restaurants, local artisan shops, local food vendors, scores of hand-made and ethnic items from soaps to spices, art galleries and artists studios (dozens! or at least a single dozen which is still a lot!), makerspaces, old-timey letterpress studios (TWO of them!), easy access to the Dequindre Cut greenway which will be further expanding and connecting to other city greenways, and and and SHED 5!!!! and so much more. Midtown is great, the DIA is pretty, it is completely feasible to walk from, say, Rodin to the Bronx in the middle of the night in the middle of winter (/sarcasm), Corktown is nice with its 12 bars along a mile-long stretch of Michigan Avenue and all the barren lots in between, yepyepyep all great. But Eastern Market is where its at. Next year Detroit City Distillery, Dave Mancini's Supino extension, and the restaurant currently known as Frontera all open, which will just further underscore this point.

The Stand. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

#4 A bunch of new places opened.
Here is a not-all-all-comprehensive but still meatier than most list of new places that opened in 2013 smattered all throughout greater metro Detroit. If I didn't include something, it is for no particular reason other than it didn't pop into my head. I'm not saying these are the "best" of 2013 because I just don't think that kind of designation is relevant in this market, for reasons.

51 North - a brewery/meadery/winery in Lake Orion
Aventura - a massive wine bar/tapas restaurant/lounge complex in A2 owned by the proprietor of Sava
Bagger Dave's - the one in Greektown, listed here because it's in Detroit and everything in Detroit is relevant
Beignets - food truck based in Hamtramck
Bigalora Ann Arbor - the third location of the casual Italian restaurant and pizzeria formerly known as Pizzeria Biga
Bistro Joe's - a fancy restaurant in the upper mezzanine of a grocery store in Birmingham, which works better than you might think
Brizola - fancy restaurant inside Greektown Casino
Buffalo Wild Wings - the one in Greektown, listed here because it's in Detroit and everything in Detroit is relevant
Cafe ML - Bill Roberts' latest in a Bloomfield
Carnaval Mexican - a casual take-out Mexican place, listed here because it's in Detroit and everything in Detroit is relevant
CAYA Smokehouse - upscale BBQ in Wolverine Lake
The Cheesecake Factory - listed only because it was apparently such a big deal (a line around the BLOCK, people - and it's 12 Oaks Mall so it's a big damn block)
Chelsea Alehouse - brewery in Chelsea, where Michigan's first-ever (now defunct) microbrewery opened in the '80s
Craft Work - newly opened in Detroit's West Village since I first put this post together, this is the latest from Hugh Yaro, co-owner of Ronin and Commonwealth
Detroit Institute of Bagels - Detroit's only bagel shop
Detroit Vegan Soul - Detroit's only vegan restaurant
Falling Down Beer Co. - brewpub in Warren known for elevated gastropub fare
Fenton Fire Hall - a historic renovation project in downtown Fenton from the folks that brought you Vinsetta Garage and Union Woodshop
Firebird Tavern - beautifully renovated space in Greektown from the owners of Pulse known for a craft beer and solid bar food
Grace of India - one of Detroit's only Indian places, a casual take-out place listed here because it's in Detroit and everything in Detroit is relevant
Great Lakes Culinary Center - not really a restaurant but a big, beautiful events space, rentable commercial kitchen, and demonstration center in Southfield
Griffin Claw - new brewery and distillery in Birmingham from the folks at Big Rock
The Grindhouse - Corridor Sausage Co's food truck
Huerto - upscale Mexican in a Bloomfield
Isalita - upscale Mexican in A2
Jefferson House - ambitious contemporary American menu inside the Crowne Plaza Detroit
La Feria - Spanish tapas in design-forward space in Midtown
La Palma - a fast and casual Lebanese take-out and dine-in place in Midtown listed here because it's in Detroit and everything in Detroit is relevant
Luxe - second location in a Pointe
Macabee's - generic American menu, listed here because it's in Detroit and everything in Detroit is relevant
Marais - upscale French cuisine in a Pointe
Market North End - I'm actually not even sure. Birmingham I think?
Meeting House - contemporary American in Rochester
Melt - gelato, coffee and candy in Midtown, listed here because it's in Detroit and everything in Detroit is relevant
MEX - upscale Mexican in a Bloomfield
Midtown Grille - generic American menu, listed here because it's in Detroit and everything in Detroit is relevant
Monk Beer Bar - the Belgianier little brother of Belgish Bastone in downtown Royal Oak, located in the space that was previously Cafe Habana
Moo Cluck Moo - burger and milkshake joint that made headlines for un-fast-food ingredients and paying employees $15/hour in Dearborn Heights; second location also opened in Canton
Old German - in the basement of the Grizz in A2
Ottava Via - contemporary Italian restaurant and pizzeria in Corktown from the Mercury Burger Bar people
Patagonia Parilladas - an Argentine steakhouse in Southwest
Public House - sliders, milkshakes, fried foods and cocktails in Ferndale from the people behind Imperial
Red Crown - historic renovation, craft cocktails, house-smoked BBQ and upscale Southern food in a Pointe
Republica - a surprisingly fun little spot in Berkley with emphasis on Michigan craft beer
(revolver) - a pop-up that stays popped up in Hamtramck
Rock City Eatery - Eastern European meets American cuisine with contemporary spin in a rocked-out space in Hamtramck
Schramm's Mead - a lovely tasting room with excellent small plates in Ferndale
SkyBar and Lounge - the menu and drink list fail to impress, but the 33rd-floor view of downtown Detroit does not
Smoke Street - BBQ in downtown Milford in the old Five Lakes Grill/Cinco Lagos space
The Stand - Chef Paul Grosz's latest in Birmingham (and it's phenomenal)
Trattoria Pizzeria Da Luigi - possibly just called "Da Luigi" now, this is Italian food and wood-fired pizza in downtown Royal Oak from the former owner of Sangria
Thomas Magee's Sporting House and Whiskey Bar - handsome new bar in EASTERN MARKET
Two James Spirits  - gorgeous tasting room in Corktown
Vellum - a (not sure what to say here) restaurant in Ann Arbor

#5 EVERYONE came here, again.
Only this time the locals weren't quite so tickled with it. (It was only a matter of time.) Eddie Huang set a new bar of Detroit-backlash-baiting by first Saying All the Right Things then pissing on a lamp post in the middle of a street. And then there was that whole Bourdain thing.

#6 More shit to open next year.
OHMYGOD IT'S LIKE IT JUST WON'T STOP!!!!!! On deck for next year: Dave Mancini's new place next to Supino, Andy Hollyday's new place in Midtown called Selden Street, Top of the Pontch inside the Crowne Plaza, two new Bucharest Grills (one is a production spot), a second Russell Street Deli (it's called something else, idk), Detroit City Distillery in Eastern Market, the restaurant currently known as Frontera (it will be called something else by the time it opens), a permanent space for Guns + Butter (but oh, will the magic still be there if it's no longer limited and exclusive?), Craft Work in West Village (kind of sort of open already but not really?), another new spot in Ferndale from the folks at Imperial, that BBQ place on 9 Mile that's supposed to be opening in the old AJ's space, Whiskey Disco and something else new at the old Oslo, Kuhnhenn's second location and major production space, Atwater Brewery's new brewpub in a Pointe as well as their MASSIVE NEW PRODUCTION SPACE IN CORKTOWN ACROSS FROM MUDGIE'S which they've been very cagey about announcing and still no one from the Atwater camp has gone on the record about it, Maurice Williams' new spots The Addison and Restaurant 55, Atlas Global Bistro maybe possibly reopening downtown, Alley Wine in Midtown, that douchey-sounding new place in Royal Oak replacing Sangria (but the chef is awesome!), Michael Symon's B Spot Burgers (several locations in the works), Batch Brewing in Corktown, Rubbed in Corktown, Gold Cash Gold in Corktown (not only is this actually still happening, but I'm told they also have a chef), a Chez Chloe food truck, those two restaurants on the ground floor of the Broderick ("Still happening," I'm told), those two restaurants inside the GAR building ("Still happening," is rumored), Cafe con Leche's second location in New Center, and I'm sure many more I missed.

Cultural Living Room. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

#7 Re-boots continued to be hot. 
They were hot in 2011. Hotter still in 2012. And in 2013 they were…well, probably equally as hot as in 2012, but still pretty hot.

Bella Piatti - Bella Piatti in Birmingham got a new owner and a whole new old world Italian menu to go with it.
Bigalora - Pizzeria Biga had to re-name itself Bigalora in order to go forward with trademarking so they can continue opening more and more locations, but worry not, this didn't affect the restaurants at all (aside from some expected menu tweaking that comes with streamlining a new concept).
Cultural Living Room - The Kresge Court inside the DIA got a whole new look and concept, making it a great place to stop for lunch, for meetings, for reading, or whatever.
Craft - Cinq became Commune and Commune became Craft, but it's still in the basement of Bastone, now with a retro '70s look.
Lock + Key - the PDR at Oxford Inn got a new look and concept thanks to a TV show that does such things.
Forest Grill - Forest Grill is going after the "casual dining" dollars by ditching the white tablecloths and introducing a burger menu.
Red Crown - Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park is now under new ownership and management, making it effectively a new restaurant.
Rodin - Rodin recently lost their opening chef and is undergoing a slight change in concept; the new menu is thematically similar but with all new items less geared towards sit-down fine dining and more geared towards chilling at the bar.
Tallulah - Tallulah in Birmingham is now under new ownership and management, making it effectively a new restaurant. For those of you keeping score, yes, it would appear former proprietor of Bella Piatti, Red Crown, and Tallulah Mindy Lopus has entirely left the restaurant biz, but not the food and beverage biz - her next project is Detroit Wine School.
Torino - Looks like Torino's ongoing identity crisis finally paid off with a new chef and a very buzzy tasting menu that changes weekly.
Treat Dreams - Treat Dreams in Ferndale significantly expanded their space this year, and have also expanded their offerings to include coffee and donuts in the morning - and their Wicked Donuts are already being met with rave reviews.

PS, will Opus One ever reopen? I do not know but it has now been closed for over a year now.

#8 Pop-ups popped harder.
Last year I said pop-ups would eat themselves. They didn't. Instead, they popped harder.
Guns + Butter emerged as the real star, getting featured on That Bourdain Show and then going international with events in L.A., Singapore and Dubai. A brick and mortar location is in the works for 2014. (revolver) is basically a permanent restaurant pop-up, featuring new chefs every weekend with pre-sold prix fixe dinners with two seating times nightly. MotorCity Wine and St. Cece's Pub embraced the pop-up mania and started hosting popular weekly events featuring different guest "pop-ups," in effect acting as restaurant incubators. And unlikely spaces like Shinola and Salt + Cedar hosted pop-up dinners, as well as random arts spaces and not-yet-open restaurants. More economic growth corp-organized pop-ups in Jefferson Chalmers and the Avenue of Fashion demonstrated the model's potential for long-term economic development in targeted neighborhoods. We also saw a few pop-ups go permanent, including Always Brewing Detroit and Coffee and (_____) (though Coffee and (_____) will temporarily close Jan. 6 until sometime this spring as they secure their Certificate of Occupancy to go full-fledged permanent).

La Feria. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

#9 Hatch alum rocked this year.
Rock City Eatery, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Detroit Vegan Soul, La Feria, and Anthology Coffee all opened permanent locations this year. Next year we should see HenriettaHaus Coffee Roasters and Batch Brewing open in their permanent homes. Which just goes to show, everyone "wins" in this competition, even if it's not the $50,000 grand prize.

#10 Caffeine fiends won the most. 
Good or at least serviceable, there are more places to get a decent cup of coffee now than ever before in Detroit. There's Anthology Coffee and Detroit Institute of Bagels in Corktown, Always Brewing Detroit in Grandmont Rosedale, Coffee and (____) in Jefferson Chalmers, the Roasting Plant and Urban Bean Company downtown, the completely renovated Stella Good Coffee in New Center, multiple new Great Lakes Coffee outlets throughout metro Detroit (including, most recently, Ford Field), plus a second retail location for Avalon still in theory happening (next year?). Also, tea started to strike your fancy, with local tea companies Joseph Wesley and Eli Tea Company available at some of these independent cafes and generally gaining "steam." (lol)

Rock City Eatery. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

#11 Good food, good design.
For the third year in a row, your eyeballs didn't have to suffer for the sake of your tastebuds. Restaurateurs continued to show a strong cognizance of the importance of aesthetics, with thoughtfully-designed spaces that continued to emphasize reclaimed materials and flourishes from local artisans. Check out Fenton Fire Hall, La Feria, MEX, Ottava Via, Public House, Red Crown, Rock City Eatery, The Stand, Stella Good Coffee, Two James Spirits, and Urban Bean Co. Even pop-ups showed a high-minded level of design, working in collaboration with the AIA Detroit on beautiful, if temporary, spaces.
Two James Distillery. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

#12 Booze. Always booze. 
This was a BIG year for booze news. Craft beer continued its soaring growth and in metro Detroit we saw plenty of new places open, including Griffin Claw, Falling Down, and 51 North, with Batch Brewing, a second location for Kuhnhenn, and second and third locations for Atwater in the works for 2014. Artisan spirits made a flying leap into popular consciousness as increasingly more breweries started distilling, established distillers like Valentine and New Holland increased their product lines with nationally-recognized products, and the first licensed distillery in the city of Detroit since Prohibition - Two James - opened. Next year Griffin Claw will be in full-bore distilling mode with a separate cocktail bar attached to the brewery, and Detroit City Distillery will open in Eastern Market.

Craft ciders also grew, though they haven't quite yet popped in the mainstream the same way beer and spirits have. Many area cider mills are now making their own hard ciders, and Virtue Cider's Sidra de Nava is bringing national attention to Michigan's craft cider scene.

Use of cans continues to grow as a popular packaging method, and next year even giants like Bell's and Founders are jumping on. Griffin Claw, Right Brain, and Rochester Mills also released their products to the retail market this year, and they're only available in cans. Even Vander Mill ciders are distributed in cans. Because replacing bottling lines and creating packaging systems can be prohibitively expensive, a lot of this canning growth can be attributed to Michigan Mobile Canning, which has helped a lot of these products get to the retail market.

And then there was mead. I wrote a LOT about mead this year (the collected knowledge dump is here), and from all of this I can tell you one thing with certainty: meads are going to explode in coming years, and Michigan, specifically metro Detroit, more specifically Ferndale, will be at the heart of it. Merds from all over the world will flock here to visit the birthplace of B. Nektar and Schramm's. To briefly sum up, B. Nektar is now available in about half of the states in the country and has a brand-new brewing license to continue to expand their product offerings. Schramm's Mead is now open, making one of the top meads in the country from the guy who wrote the book on it. Once Kuhnhenn's production facility in Clinton Township is up and running they're going to be pumping out mead in crazy quantities. And you really might as well learn to be down with the meadness because it's not going away.

Also in news, Greenbush, Odd Side Ales, Right Brain, Rochester Mills, and Griffin Claw all started distributing this year. And new to the Michigan market was Oskar Blues, the Bruery, Green Flash, and Evil Twin.

Coors Light Sky Deck.
#13 And some other crap.
Grocery stores got fancier and will likely continue to do so. Rooftop patios became a thing - see the Coors Light Sky Deck and the stop/start of whatever it was called on the roof of the Music Hall. Urban beach bars also became a thing thanks to Danny Gillyberts and his Quirky Quicken Kaskading Kiddie Pool and Beach Bar. In general, patios just got better. Sports picked up the "local" mantle, with Comerica Park, Ford Field, the Joe Louis Arena, and the Palace all putting newfound emphasis on local foods and local craft beer (though Ford Field does it best). And while we certainly saw a bit of a slow-down in street food (our net gain of food trucks this year was, like, two), metro Detroiters spoke loud and clear that they want to keep the street in their street food when the ill-conceived Food Truck Cafe closed after just two months in business. (A sub shop is set to open in its place.)

*I'm kidding about that. Or am I????

Thursday, December 19, 2013

[Metromode] Metro Detroit's Jerky Boys


The state of Michigan has exactly two seasons: construction and hunting. With the orange barrels behind us and the orange vests in full force, Michigan's army of outdoorsmen arm themselves with all the essentials – and that includes Michigan-made jerky.

Up in the U.P. homemade jerky is a way of life, made fresh in-house at every gas station and roadside convenience store along U.S. Route 2. In metro Detroit, the art of dried, cured meat (outside of jerky's fancy cousin charcuterie) is a bit less ubiquitous, but one family is keeping the tradition alive and well, and they've built a loyal following worldwide.

Read more.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

[HOT LIST] Your EID Holiday Shopping Guide

Two James Spirits. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

There's one week until Christmas - time to start shopping!!! Allow me to make it easy on you: buy them booze. Why? Because everyone likes booze. (Except people who don't drink. Don't buy them booze. But everyone else likes booze.) Here's a few (several!) ideas for booze-themed gifts to give this holiday season.

Schramm's Made in Michigan basket.
#1 Buy them booze baskets
Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a basket full of booze. Schramm's Mead in Ferndale is offering two different gift baskets in $40 and $60 price points. The larger basket features all items made in Michigan. 8 Degrees Plato in Ferndale has customizable gift buckets (as in ice buckets), which you can choose to stock full of craft beer and any combination of artisan foods, beer stemware, beer-themed gift items like beer bottle cap jewelry made by a local artist, beer books, and more.

Merchant's Fine Wine in Dearborn is making customized gift baskets from their extensive assortment of imported and craft beers, as well as wine, coffee, tea, chocolates, cheese and sausage, and whatever else they carry (which I don't  really know because I never make it past the beer section…it's a big store!). The Wine Garden in St. Clair Shores also has customizable gift baskets which can include anything from their selection of craft beer (they pay extra close attention to the Belgians) as well as their large selection of wines, their custom-built cigar humidor, and their exceptional selection of whiskeys and bourbons (one of the best in the state - get your George Dickel bottles there right now, and nowhere else).

Specialty meads from Superior Lakes at the Wine Garden.
#2 Buy them straight-up booze
Alcohol is the perfect holiday gift for those you don't know what to buy. It says, "I don't really know what you like, but I know you like to drink." Michigan's craft booze scene - beer, mead, cider, spirits, even wine (yes, wine counts) - has been exploding in recent years, and, as is typically the case with fast-growing industries, this has been the biggest year yet. This holiday season, give the gift that says you're thoughtful, you support the local economy, and you also have taste.

While Founders and Bell's get all the accolades from the chest-thumpers on Beer Advocate and the media outlets that troll them for their listicles, the reality is New Holland's Dragon's Milk is probably the best bourbon barrel aged stout being made in our state. (SHHHHHHHHHH, DON'T TELL ANYONE.) But don't take my word for it. (No but really, do.)

Valentine Distilling in Ferndale now has two vodkas, a gin, and a whiskey on store shelves, but stop by the distillery itself to pick up some of their barrel-aged gin, an extra-special gift for spirits connoisseurs. Or give them a taste of Detroit history with a bottle from Two James Spirits, the first licensed distillery in the city of Detroit since before Prohibition. The bottles alone are pieces of art. Plus they come with booze in them.

Heed the mead with a little something special (as in, special release) from Schramm's, B. Nektar, Superior Lakes, or Kuhnhenn. Or brave the crowds at Kuhnhenn this weekend for their special Winter Solstice bottle release - all the big, burly beers and meaty meads their rapid fans wait all year for. It's kind of a big deal.

Craft Box + custom buckets from 8 Degrees.
#3 Buy them booze subscriptions
What's better than the gift of booze? The gift of booze 12 times. 8 Degrees Plato now offers a monthly "Craft Box" club membership. With a one-time membership fee of a whopping $5, members get access to a monthly Craft Box selection featuring craft beers, ciders, artisan foods, and beer-themed goodies. The boxes are $45 each month.

Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown now offers BWC (beer - wine - coffee) clubs. Sign up for a monthly subscription for beer ($25), wine ($40), coffee ($30), or all three ($85), all of the exceptional quality and quirky caliber you've come to expect from the folks at IFAD. Email to get signed up, or to sign someone else up.

#5 Buy them books about booze
First, buy the two books I was somewhat involved with: Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing and Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider's Guide to Detroit. Both are amazing. Because they in some way involve me.

Aside from those, also pick up the newly-released Detroit's Historic Eastern Market, written by Eastern Market's vice president of business development Randall Fogelman and writer Lisa Rush. This book is part of the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing.

Also newly-released is Michigan's Best Beer Guide, a comprehensive guide to all of Michigan's breweries and brewpubs. (But with how fast this industry is growing, it won't be comprehensive for long.)

#6 Buy them furniture made out of booze barrels
DEAR FRIENDS, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BUY FOR ME, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING. New Holland (I LOVE YOU GUYS) has started re-purposing their used barrels into crafty furniture pieces - with a special emphasis on Dragon's Milk, MICHIGAN'S BEST BBA STOUT BUT DON'T TELL ANYONE BECAUSE THEN IT WILL BE RUINED. The BarrelWorks Project shop is now live.

#7 Buy them booze clothing and accessories
Got a man who likes his ties as much as he likes his whiskey? BAM - whiskey ties. Detroit tie lab and international sensation Cyberoptix has whiskey and beer-themed ties. Order them online or pick up the whiskey tie at the Emerald, an independently-owned store inside the Park Shelton in Midtown. Hugh in Midtown has all sorts of crystal beerware, cocktail accoutrements, and vintage ice buckets, but I'm particularly partial to the tiki mugs, because tiki mugs.

#8 Buy them booze-infused foods and mixers
Speaking of Hugh, they are the first retail outlet to carry Wolf Moon, a local partnership with McClure's Pickles producing artisan cocktail mixers. Just add booze! (For that, see #2.) Read more about Wolf Moon here. And speaking of McClure's, it's still the best damn Bloody Mary mix on the market, the end. Always good for gifts with a nice bottle of vodka. (Or gin! Tequila even, like Blue Nectar, another Michigan-made product.) And speaking of mixers! Order a hand-crafted seasonal syrup (or six) from Voigt's Soda House, available for pick-up in store or delivery (for orders over $50). For sodas. But really for cocktails.

You still have time to order some beer mustard, beer soap, and hop candy from Founders. Plus, Rock City Eatery will be selling bourbon/butterscotch/pecan and sweet potato whiskey pies (and two other flavors not boozey) on December 23 and 24, first-come first-serve. (He sold out within minutes on Thanksgiving so, you know. Can only make so many pies in that oven and spend so many hours not sleeping.)

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

Chocolate lava cakes from Chez Chloe. Don't you want to lick the screen? 

~Six hotshot young chefs in the same kitchen could be a recipe for disaster, but not at the first Young Guns dinner at The Root Restaurant + Bar. Here is my recap and the full menu from this event, which featured so much talent in one room it was unfair to all other rooms. [EID]

~Chloe Sabatier of Chez Chloé makes exactly one thing: traditional French chocolate lava cakes. A 23-year-old French transplant who moved to Detroit from Paris just six months ago, Chloe is astounded by the overwhelming response she has received after just two months of being open, and is already thinking about her growth plans (which include a food truck for next summer). [Model D]

~Restaurateur Maurice Wiggins, one of the opening partners of Hudson Cafe, plans to open the Addison (in the former location of Atlas Global Bistro) and Restaurant 55 next spring. [Model D]

~Hatch Detroit 2013 semifinalists Voigt's Soda House are now open through the end of the month in the Livernois Community Storefront. Stop by for a sandwich, soup, and old-fashioned soda and order some of their artisan syrups for the holidays! [EID]

~The final chapter in a series on independent grocers in the city of Detroit, this last piece for Model D looks at stores in Midtown, Lafayette Park, and the East Riverfront where you'll find an active mindfulness towards healthy and organic foods, greater selections of fine wine and craft beer, and increased focus on Michigan-made products. [Model D]

~Tacos will replace pizza at the staple college town booze store Marcus Market, which underwent a serious facelift earlier this year. ALLEY TACO opens mid-January. [EID]

~This guide in Model D highlights many of Detroit's top permanent retailers and art galleries offering unique holiday shopping opportunities. While no means comprehensive, this list highlights a wide range of local retailers, including many that just opened within the last year, including Shinola Store Detroit, Busted in Detroit, RedBull House of Art, Inner State Gallery, The Detroit Mercantile Co., Hugh, Pure Detroit, and loads more. [Model D]

~The Grille Midtown, ALLEY TACO, Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar, Delite Cafe and Deli … here's a quick look at was has opened recently and what's about to open. [Model D]

Detroit City Distillery is now 100% approved to operate and will now work on finishing their build-out in Eastern Market. [DCD FB]

Esquire names the shawarma at Bucharest Grill among the best late-night food in the country. [Esquire]

Get your coffee and whatnot fix at Coffee and (_____) 7 days a week now! [C+Blank FB]

Detroit in…Dubai? Yep: Guns + Butter continues to make its worldly rounds. [Gulf News]

Have you heard about Detroit's Dr. Sushi yet? He's going to be popping up a lot more around town in 2014. You're going to want to check him out. [Click on Detroit]

'Tis the season for tamales at Honey Bee Market! [HB FB]

The holidays are a busy time for companies like Pete's Chocolate Co., Mindo Chocolate Makers, and Sydney Boggs. [Detroit News]

Ouch. Michael Symon's Roast - Detroit has to close for two weeks to repair fire damages in the kitchen during peak holiday season. [Freep]

#saveblimpy [MLive]

Red Crown has a new owner, a new menu, and new hours. [Freep]

The new Smoke Street in Milford is getting some good reviews so far. The owner, Elia Nichols, is kind of a character, and also owns the E.G. Nick's chain and Highland House (located not far from Milford in Highland, with a carry-out space in the same plaza as The Root Restaurant + Bar in White Lake). This is what replaced Brian Polcyn's Cinco Lagos, previously the famed Five Lakes Grill that was rebranded when the economy tanked. [Freep]

Here is a list of new places that have opened in Detroit really really recently. [Thrillist]

~Jolly Pumpkin Brewery has announced their new cafe and taproom in Dexter! Null will showcase all of Northern United's brands, which also includes Civilized Spirits and North Peak Brewing Company. [Promote Michigan]

~Griffin Claw Brewing Company cans are now making their way to shelves. [Merchant's Fine Wine FB]

~Michigan's Best Beer Guide author writes about Detroit-area breweries for the Chicago Tribune, name-dropping everything from Atwater Brewery to Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. to Fort Street Brewery. And Traffic Jam + Snug and Falling Down Beer Company and MillKing It Productions and Griffin Claw Brewing Company and Rochester Mills Beer Co. Also Motor City Brew Tours. [Chicago Tribune]

~DRAFT Magazine names their top 25 beers of 2013. Not surprising: Founders Brewing Co. DOOM is on the list. Surprising: Wolverine Beer placed on the list? With something called Gulo Gulo India Pale Lager? That's one of the top 25 best beers of the year, apparently? Color me surprised, and congrats to them! [DRAFT]

~Paste Magazine named their 15 best winter beers, and that list includes Bell's Brewery, Inc.'s Winter White and New Holland Brewing Co.'s Cabin Fever. And some other really solid picks, too. [Paste Magazine]

~Grand Rapids and Lake Michigan's Gold Coast is the #1 travel destination for 2014 according to Lonely Planet (some other great picks on there as well, but none only 2.5 hours driving distance in our very own beautiful state). [Lonely Planet]

~"COLD AND LESS HOSPITABLE." Oops, I mean, yaaaaaaaaaaay someone said something nice about Detroit again, VALIDATION woooooooo. It's f-ing cold. [Fodor's]

~You know what would be way better right now? New Orleans. Oh hey, here's this thing I wrote. [Fox   News]

~California is such a vast, often incomprehensible state. It is the most agriculturally diverse state in the country, yet the people seem to be more at odds and internally conflicted over their own products and potential than anywhere else. As a whole, the state manages to be both trailblazing pioneer and two steps behind simultaneously. (Talking wine, farm-to-table food, craft beer, everything.) For you winos out there, here is a great interview with Jon Bonné, wine editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of The New California Wine, which touches on some of this. [LA Weekly]

~Some of these are actually kind of cool. Many of them are very SkyMall. But…who doesn't love SkyMall, amiright? [BuzzFeed]

~I feel like this could have been a lot worse for the restaurant in question. [Mashable]

[Model D] Restaurateur Maurice Wiggins to open The Addison, Restaurant 55 next spring

Red Velvet Pancakes at Hudson Cafe, a signature item and part of the opening menu with Wiggins on board.

Maurice Wiggins, CEO of International Hospitality Group, has plans to open two new restaurants early next year.

The first is located inside the former location of Atlas Global Bistro at 3111 Woodward, and is called The Addison. The Addison is an upscale restaurant that will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily (though will likely open with just lunch and dinner to start) and happy hour Mondays through Fridays. Breakfast will include items like eggs benedict with crabmeat, while lunch and dinner menus will have steaks and seafood with vegetarian options for each meal. Renovation work is currently underway inside the space. Wiggins plans on opening this in March and hiring 20-25 people.

Read more.

[Model D] Restaurant round-up: what just opened and what's coming next

Delite Cafe + Deli, Hamtramck.

We love to write about food, and you love to read about it. So, since 2013 is closing with a flurry of food-related activity, more than we've even had the chance to cover, here's a quick look at places that have recently opened and places that are coming up next.

Read more.

Friday, December 13, 2013

[EID EVENTS] Friday the 13th through New Year's Eve


Evil Twin Brewing Tap Takeover at Great Lakes Coffee, Midtown, December 13
Now available in Michigan (!!!!!!), Evil Twin Brewing Company will take over five taps tonight at IFAD, with Yin Imperial Stout, Yang Imperial IPA, Hipster pale ale, Molotov Cocktail Triple IPA and Justin Blabaer Blueberry Berliner Weisse. Cans of Hipster and Bikini Beer 2.5% IPA also available.

Pop-Up Restaurant to Benefit the Children's Center, MidtownDecember 13
From the folks behind the Detroit Three, this event is a benefit for the Children's Center (held at the Children's Center) and features a five course menu by the accomplished Chef Brad Greenhill, plus beer and wine.

4th Annual Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar at Coffee and (____), Jefferson Chalmers, December 13-14
Now held over two days, enjoy edibles from a wide variety of local artisan producers and pick up some unique gifts for the holidays.

Michigan's Best Beer Guide Brewpub Book Tour, Ann Arbor + Metro Detroit, December 13-16
Michigan's Best Beer Guide, a guide to all of the breweries and brewpubs in our Great Beer State, is out and the author is taking it on tour with stops at Chelsea Alehouse, Arbor Brewing Company, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company, Dragonmead Microbrewery, and more over the next few days.


Holiday Ice Festival Featuring Sub Zero Super Heroes, Ferndale, December 14
There will be 50+ ice sculptures all throughout downtown Ferndale, plus a food truck rally and hot sauce social.

Rodin's One-Year Anniversary, MidtownDecember 14
Hosted by WDET's New Soul Sunday DJ Nick Austin and featuring a DJ set by Dwele. $10 at the door.

Vintage Etsy Brunch Trunk Show at Rodin, Midtown, December 15
Brunch, mimosas, and a highly curated vintage trunk show with secret stash items you won't find anywhere else.

Sundaylicious at MotorCity Wine, Corktown, December 15
Live music from a 10-piece band, plus a four-course menu from Jessie Knott, winner of the people's choice and the judges' runner-up in their recent chili cook-off.

Fourth Annual Rare Beer Auction at Jolly Pumpkin Brewery and Cafe, Ann Arbor, December 16
Sobrehumano Palena Ole, Biere de Mars Grand Reserve 2010, La Roja- Oval Label 2008, Lambic 2009, and Stone-Nogne-Jolly Pumpkin Collaboration 2010 are a few of the many beers being auctioned.


Monday Night Football at Griffin Claw Brewing Company, Birmingham, December 16
The Lions are playing a Monday night football game and apparently that's a big deal? Head to Griffin Claw for beer specials and a special tailgate menu.

Cooking with Edible WOW at Forest Grill, Birmingham, December 16
Forest Grill chefs Brian Polcyn and Nick Janutol will teach you how to make Coq au Vin, plus you'll get a full meal out of it.

Deck the Halls … With Wine at MotorCity Wine, Corktown, December 18-21
The fine folks at MCW will present 5-7 wines daily (TBD). Tickets are $10, no pre-sale - just come on in.

The Three Days of Winter Solstice at Kuhnhenn Brewing Company, WarrenDecember 19-21
The Winter Solstice is technically just the one day (Dec. 20), but the Kuhnhenn celebrations have expanded into three: the pre-party, the actual party, and the post-party bottle release. Hell, next year they'll even be able to spread the party out over two different locations. Beer.

Winter Soulstice, Eastern Market, December 20-21
Join Chef Brad Greenhill of Righteous Rojo and Joe Robinson of Bailout Productions for a special six-course menu with cocktail pairings. There are two seatings each night.

Detroit Santarchy, Detroit, December 21
A bunch of drunk Santas being bussed around different bars throughout the city is pretty much everything you need to know.


I'll update this continuously; remember, all of these events have limited capacity and WILL sell out, so make your decisions and reserve your spots quickly!

New Year's Eve at the Oakland, FerndaleDecember 31
Food from Corridor Sausage, Komodo Kitchen, Pinwheel Bakery, and more; booze by ALL OF THE BOOZE but especially Buffalo Trace, St-Germain, Campari, and more; something called "dusty shots," and highly discounted highly allocated spirits. $50 each; must purchase in advance.

New Year's Eve at the Sugar House, Corktown,  December 31
Live music, door prizes, drink specials, and a champagne toast at midnight. Select bar or table seat, and please purchase group tickets together to ensure you sit together. $75 each; must purchase in advance.

New Year's Eve menu at Local Kitchen + Bar, Ferndale, December 31
Five courses with a champagne toast, $60 per person.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

[EID Feature] Voigt's Soda House is open in the Livernois Community Storefront through the end of the year

All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.

2013 Hatch Detroit semifinalists Voigt's Soda House has popped up inside the Livernois Community Storefront on the Avenue of Fashion now through the end of the year.

Though they didn't make it to the final four in the Hatch competition, owners Sarah Pavelko and Billy Shuman have been working on this concept for over two years now and continue to move forward in their efforts to open a soda and sandwich shop. They won first place in the TechTown Retail Bootcamp Showcase in November, which got them one month inside the Livernois Community Storefront rent-free through December.

After this pop-up ends, Voigt's will continue doing catering and special events. They are taking their time finding a permanent retail location, waiting for the right opportunity for their combination soup and sandwich spot, coffee shop, and old-fashioned soda parlor. Ideally they would like to be located in Capitol Park.

The pop-up coffee and soda shop is open Wednesdays through Sundays through the end of the month. (Click here for hours.) They are serving homemade soups and creative sandwiches along with their own trail mix, sweets from Treats by Angelique, and Better Made and McClure's chips. They also have a full espresso bar, but the real highlight here is their old-fashioned soda fountain drinks, for which the place is named.

They make all their own syrups from fresh, seasonal ingredients and their own homegrown herbs, then mix them with carbonated water and other items like vanilla ice cream and Angostura bitters. Seasonal syrup flavors include lavender lemon, cran-orange pomegranate, vanilla, Russian Tea (black tea, orange, cardamon), Hot Toddy (jasmine tea, lemon, honey), and Sinterklaus (cranberry shrub with cider vinegar). You can also purchase their syrups to take home and use in your own sodas, cocktails, or give as gifts. Order for pickup in-store; delivery is available for orders over $50. Syrups must be refrigerated and have a self life of 1-2 months.

Before voting started for the Hatch Detroit semifinalists, I interviewed Sarah about the concept behind Voigt's for Model D. Here is the Voigt's excerpt from that story about all 10 semifinalists:

Voigt's Soda House is a modern twist on the classic soda shop, featuring sodas and cocktails with homemade artisanal syrups made from seasonal ingredients and local herbs. With a particular mindfulness towards Detroit nostalgia – taking a trip downtown to Hudson's or visiting Stroh's and stopping for sodas and ice cream at their soda counters – Voigt's will have particular local appeal while also feeding the growing demand for locally-sourced homemade artisan products. Soda flavors will include things like peach Thai basil, cherry lime phosphate, and celery lime gin tonic. They will serve cocktails, food, and even "Detroit Coolers." (Vernor's is a Detroit product, after all.)

Voigt's was created by Sarah Pavelko and her husband Billy Shuman in their kitchen in Detroit's North End. Pavelko needed a way to use all of the herbs growing in her garden and started experimenting with syrups and cocktails. After considering more traditional concepts like a bar or coffee shop, they decided the soda shop concept was more unique. Named after Voigt Brewing Co., once the largest brewery in Michigan before Prohibition, the name pays homage to Detroit's history and one of the original urban planner families that helped shape the city we know now.

Co-owner Billy Shuman making a soda. 
Voigt's does not have a location but they are considering their home neighborhood of the North End, where they have lived for the last 10 years and where they hope to partner with neighborhood nonprofits to offer job training for local youth. With the money from Hatch, they would be able to purchase a liquor license and operate as a full cocktail bar. [NOTE: as they did not win the Hatch competition, this is no longer part of their business plan.] Otherwise Voigt's will open as a breakfast and lunch spot serving homemade sodas. Long-term they are looking to produce Voigt's own sodas and offer delivery of "adult care packages" filled with all the fixings for specialty cocktails (in lieu of flowers or fruit baskets for special occasions).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

[EID Features] Young Guns I at the Root recap

I'm not actually doing a "recap" in which I describe every single thing I ate course by course in excruciating detail and how it made me feel about myself. My official recap is that I went to this dinner in White Lake where there was so much talent in one room, it was unfair to all other rooms. There were the six chefs - James Rigato, Nick Janutol, Andy Hollyday Michael Barrera, Brennan Calnin, and Nikita Santches - but there were also some serious wine and cocktail gurus: Joe Robinson of Bailout Productions, Antoine Przekop of Great Lakes Wine and Spirits, and Sommelier Evan Barrett from the Plum Market wine team led by Master Sommelier and HBIC Madeline Triffon. Plus many more area chefs, booze hounds, food and wine writers, and restaurant owners who either came to help out the six stars of the evening or just came to eat. And a wonderful time was had by all.

There were a lot of intentions with this dinner, which you can read about in more detail in my interview with Chef James Rigato here, but one of the major highlights was the emphasis on collaboration. After the dinner, as the boys all kicked back with some beers and shot the shit with each other basking in a job well done, Jessi Patuano, Rigato's right-hand woman in the kitchen at the Root, came out and chatted with me for a bit. What really struck her was that strong sense of collaboration in the kitchen: here there were six hotshot young chefs and every last one of them checked his ego at the door. As soon as each one was done with their own course, they were right there on the line asking the next guy how they could help him - no ego, no showmanship, no solitary lone wolves, just total solidarity. And that was the whole point.

Here is the full menu from this event, including wine and cocktail pairings. To keep the element of surprise throughout the meal, the menus weren't presented until the end of the dinner, given to guests as a parting gift.

Tickets to the next event on February 23 go on sale at noon today. Get on it. This is an experience unlike any other in Michigan. [UPDATE: This event sold out in 21 minutes.]

And once again, below is the complete series of interviews I conducted with each participating chef leading up to this event. Give them a good read. These guys really put their hearts and souls into these answers and put so much more thought and effort into them than I ever could have asked for or expected. Afterwards, talking with chefs individually or with their girlfriends privately, I found out just how much of themselves they put into this and, you know, at the risk of sounding insincerely sentimental, it was touching. Many of these guys stayed up until 3a.m. after working 12+ hours, taking hours to make sure their answers were just right. This is all them, 100%. Metro Detroit's Young Guns. Nikki's Boys.

James Rigato, The Root
Nick Janutol, Forest Grill
Andy Hollyday, Selden Standard and Roast
Brennan Calnin, Imperial
Nikita Santches, Rock City Eatery
Michael Barrera, Streetside Seafood

[NEWS BITES] Alley Taco to open inside Marcus Market

Remember how Marcus Market went through a major exterior renovation earlier this year? Well, that's not the only thing that's changing at this staple Midtown store.

In mid-January, Alley Taco will debut inside Marcus Market where the pizza once was. Sad for pizza, but happy for tacos! They will serve tacos, burritos, bowls and the like, plus delivery will be available. Want to get a preview taste? Check them out at Turntables: Tequila (Tuesdays) at Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown Tuesday nights (including tonight) starting at 5 p.m.

[Model D] Chez Chloe makes traditional French chocolate lava cakes perfect for the holidays

Lava cakes from Chez Chloe.

Chloe Sabatier of Chez Chloe makes exactly one thing: traditional French chocolate lava cakes. 

Chloe Sabatier.
Sabatier, a 23-year-old French transplant, moved to Detroit from Paris just six months ago after having spent some time here during the summer of 2012 visiting her boyfriend. During her first visit, she started testing out her Chez Chloe concept of traditional French chocolate lava cakes. She sold them at farmers markets in Birmingham and Royal Oak, and found that her American customers loved her lava cakes, and was also surprised to find that many people, upon hearing her French accent, felt an immediate affinity for her and wanted to share their own memories of trips to Paris with her. She loved the instant camaraderie she felt with her customers. By the middle of August she would have a huge line in front of her stand, but in September she had to return to Paris to finish her marketing and communications degree.

Read more.

[Model D] Our guide to select holiday shopping destinations

Tiki mugs at Hugh in Midtown. 

Last week we brought you a guide to pop-up retail happenings and events. It's such a handy list to clip and save (as if we still needed to do that) that we thought we'd re-run the story in this week's Development News column.

The guide below points you in the direction of many of Detroit's top permanent retailers and art galleries offering unique holiday shopping opportunities. While no means comprehensive, this list highlights a wide range of local retailers, including many that just opened within the last year.

Read more.

[Model D] Green Grocer: Finding fresh food in greater downtown

University Foods.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation's Green Grocer program exists to strengthen the over 80 independently-owned full-service grocery stores in the city of Detroit. This is the last in a series of stories that we began in October, focusing on Lafayette Park, East Riverfront and Midtown.

Read more.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Week We Ate (The EID Week in Review)

Just one of the preposterous things Americans did to food this year.

~Dearest readers, do yourself a favor and read this. All the way through. Beginning to end. And understand why James Rigato of The Root Restaurant and Bar is one of Nikki's Boys. Oh, I went and saved the best for last. [EID]
~If you missed the first Young Guns dinner…that sucks for you because it was totally awesome. But never fear! The next event has been announced, and tickets go on sale December 10. [EID]
~Pete's Chocolate Co. is hiring for the holidays and is looking to expanding into wholesale going into 2014. [Model D]
~Shop local this (and every!) holiday season at these temporary pop-ups and special retail events, including the Wheelhouse Detroit Bike Shop retail residency in Eastern Market Corporation, the Merry Market at The Detroit Mercantile Co., the Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar, 1701 Bespoke, Spielhaus Toys, and much more. [Model D]
~What's that, ANOTHER independent grocery store guide? Yup. Turns out, there's a lot of independent full-service grocery stores in Detroit. And this project isn't even comprehensive (nor is it done). This time I ended up in the geographic area I'm roughly calling "north central Detroit," which includes University Commons and stretches out in all directions from there. [Model D]
~Detroit Institute of Bagels is one of several small businesses in Corktown that have received a $50,000 grant from the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy fund. [Model D]

Here is a lovely story from Hour Detroit about Andrews on the Corner, a 95-year-old family-owned Detroit business that has weathered many a storm, including a disastrous real estate deal that wiped out most of the businesses in Rivertown. [Hour]

"Hash House Sunday" - aka brunch - is now happening every week at Public House. [PH FB]

Another friend on TV! Check out Alysa from Real Detroit Weekly on FOX 2 Detroit giving RDW's picks for Michigan-made gift items, including American Coney Island coney kits and cupcakes from Just Baked (both can be shipped anywhere in the country). [Fox]

I agree with Thrillist more often than not. Here is an example of more often, in which they name Jolly Pumpkin Brewery's Noel de Calabaza one of the best holiday beers on the market (extra props to the selection of Jewbelation, which is a ridiculous beer that is surprisingly drinkable at 17%ABV, and Evil Twin, because Evil Twin). [Thrillist]

As for this one, I'm about 70/30 on it. [Thrillist]

Nice little brief on Detroit's Beautiful Soup. [Model D]

Food startup Pierogi Gals began as a way of preserving a family tradition; now the demand is so high they don't have enough production space to keep up. You can find their variety of standard, specialty, and seasonal pierogi at farmers markets, Randazzo Fresh Market, and Holiday Market. [Metromode]

Two James Spirits was featured in Al Jazeera America. [AJA]

Here's a look inside the new Northern Lakes Seafood Company in Troy, as well as more future plans from The Epicurean Group. [Crain's]

You might not like corporate chain restaurants, but $11 million in economic development is nothing to sneer at. If you've driven down Big Beaver near Somerset lately, you might have noticed that shopping plazas are popping up like crazy, and all of them boasting new restaurants. This is why. [Crain's]

Fun new Vietnamese street food carry-out spot opening in A2 in January. [Concentrate]

An Ann Arbor server at Tios Mexican Cafe reaped the benefits of #tipsforjesus, which is apparently a group of people plopping down $1,000+++ tips on credit card receipts for unsuspecting servers all across America. [Gawker]

Great story in Hour Detroit about Cannelle Patisserie. [Hour]

Sweet Heather Anne makes the most beautiful cakes in metro Detroit. This holiday season, let them fulfill all of your cake needs, and check out this story about them from The Michigan Daily. [Michigan Daily]

Fancy hot dogs and froyo coming to Royal Oak. [Royal Oak Patch]

Looks like Cold Stone is giving Royal Oak the cold shoulder. *rimshot* [Royal Oak Patch]

Metro Detroit McDonald's employees went on strike last week for $15 an hour wages. [Freep]

~I'm just going to coast through the rest of this month with other people's end of year lists, because LISTS. And so, here is a list from Mashable of stupid shit Americans ate and freaked out over this year, because AMERICA. [Mashable]

~Some of these are spot-on. Others…well, you have to be a pretty insecure person to find the presence of a solo diner - who probably just doesn't want to be bothered with the existence of other people or is maybe just simply hungry and out and therefore decided to get food - so unnerving. [Thrillist]