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Trip Report - Traverse City, Kalkaska, Leland, Fenton, Ann Arbor, Port Clinton

BTW, I did hear back from Martha's Leelanau Table (at 1am... rough life), and it sounds worth a try:
"Hi (vtb), Yes the price changed this year. It is a prix fixe dinner with 3 courses. It includes choice of entree, soup or salad and dessert. A typical menu is fresh whitefish from Carlson's in Leland, or a 6 oz sirloin with smokey bacon bourbon sauce. I usually have the steak and a fish or a chicken dish. It is from 5-6 PM which is why it is considered an early bird type menu. I hope you can join us for dinner some night. I am open this weekend through Labor day and then will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays after that. Thanks for your inquiry. Martha"

1 day ago
VTB in Great Lakes

Trip Report - Traverse City, Kalkaska, Leland, Fenton, Ann Arbor, Port Clinton

Weekend before Labor Day I arrived in Grand Traverse Resort—in Acme, an eastern suburb of TC—at 9pm but was too stubborn to eat in the hotel. Probably should have gone around the corner to the relatively new McGees 72 (across from a giant Meijer under construction—sorry Tom’s Market), but opted to head further east to nearby Elk Rapids to try Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen (same owners as Red Mesa Grill). Fun place with great fresh bread/cornbread. They know how to dry fry shrimp, as well. But, the roux in the etouffee had the consistency of glue paste. The whitefish was acceptable. Would go back if I were in Elk Rapids at eatin’ time, else not.

Skipped breakfast the next day and hit Georgina’s for an early lunch. $14.50 taco combo, for which I specified the pork option. Pic is attached but it doesn’t do justice to the gargantuan size! Will spec fish filling next time, regardless of the $3 total upcharge. The pork indeed needed their “Nicaraguan” (habanero?) optional, free salsa side. Good quality ingredients overall. Loved the cracked rice side, but didn’t personally adore the sweetened black beans. My kid’s adult order burger patty was dwarfed by the bun, but when I stole a bite I learned that at least the flavor was superb. Would certainly go back, but not if I had to stand in a line to do so. Note that there now is like four “taquerias” (not “Mexican American Restaurants,” if the signs can be trusted) in Traverse City. I’ll also try a couple of those other taquerias but probably will end up doubling back to Georgina’s. My wife (unfairly?) forbids our family from testing any Asian food in northern Michigan, so Georgina’s = Latin American only, to me.

Speaking of which, my wife wanted to be treated on Saturday eve, but we were by then realizing that TC is a big cash hemorrhage. Pasta entrees at Trattoria Stella promised an affordable splurge, never minding that I’ve thus far avoided it over apprehension about ghosts from its past century sanatorium heritage. And, I knew that if wife were to deduce the building history, she would have pulled us out of the place mid-meal, given her superstitiousness. Fortunately, as a non-native speaker, she didn’t understand when chatty locals offered her historical background while we were in the waiting area, referring to the place as “the old state hospital.” Anyway, the complex, which is just off downtown, is being gentrified into a MUST-visit stop. Gotta walk around it and peruse the Left Foot Charley cider/winery place, Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery, the coffee place, the (yes) taqueria, the Black Star Farms tasting bar, Pepe Nero, the cheesecake place, etc., etc.. “You haven’t really been to TC, otherwise.”

Trattoria Stella has an amazing vibe. Super professional staff but casual atmosphere. Northern Italian dishes. Some homemade cheeses, and hyper particular about cheese in general. Up on all kinds of offal, for those into that hip stuff. Pig brain and pig testicle, etc., etc.. I’ll pass. I had a 6oz (budget) glass of local Pinot Noir from Villa Mari vineyard. It was light but enjoyable. After so much searching, have I finally found a local wine maker which doesn’t disappoint? Maybe, but I’m anxious to learn of the stores’ bottle prices. My kid’s $12 generously portioned pizza was a winner, primarily based on the heavenly cheeses used. Wife had duck pasta and I had the Bolognese. These were good, though both of us said, “I’m convinced that this place has lived up to our sky-high expectations, but it’s unfortunate that I didn’t order X (something different that had also been tempting me).” Also got the pate board, which had nice chutneys, etc., though the liver in the pate had been whipped with a copious quantity of cream and, as such, tasted more of a savory mousse. Maybe that is how they do it in Milan? Will keep working my way thru the enthralling menu over time. During a non-peak eve, I’d follow Wahooty’s advice and do a non-committal expedition thru the menu while crashing the bar area with no reservation. Scout others’ plates for what looks good to you. This place is a big winner, but you have to do at least a little ‘picking and choosing,’ to optimize your experience.

A few doors down in the old lobotomy wing (sorry) is Pepe Nero’s. I’ll trust ak994, who gets out a lot more than I do, that it is maybe even better than Trattoria Stella, but I must say that the area I saw opened right onto the mall and appeared inferior to the atmosphere at Stella. I’m probably missing something. Will find out first hand, once I save up for another trip.

Stopped at Bayside Market, per HillsofBeverly, to pick up snacks for the next morning. Yes, solid place. How does it compare to Burritt’s, which advertises as if they would be a cut above Bayside? Anybody?

Noticed three different lots where food trucks were parked for business, including the multi-truck complex of The Little Fleet (Google it). Anything interesting going on there? And of course one can't swing a dead cat without hitting one of fourteen (literally) brew pubs. Where to start, I wouldn't know. Investigated trying the modest, Little Bohemia, for an early lunch, but the manager has such a bloody trail of conflicts on Yelp, that I just wanted to avoid the negativity. "You're a b*tch." "No, you're a b*tch." I get that reviewers can be unfair and that businesses have to fight and claw for a living, but this lady takes her rebuttals to another level.

After an OMG great tour of Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pierce Stocking route---get there early and have the park practically to yourself) and Glen Haven, we ended up at Leland to give a looksie in its "Fishtown" strip. Given Steve's experience at Blue Bird, we opted to have our late lunch at The Cove. Our low expectations were significantly over-performed. Excellent fried perch and french fries, and a solid burger, too. Our only mistake was ordering their signature bloody mary. It was okay, but cost $14.95--- that's more than a perch dinner! I should explain: It comes with a whole smoked smelt in it, for flavor. Please see my photo. The tomato soaked fish, left after imbibing, was itself pretty darn good, however gross that sounds. I'm only whining about the price and the mediocrity of the other ingredients, in this "CHUB-y Mary," as they call it. I should also point out that, for whatever reason, The Cove is supposed to be one of the top (only?) singles "hotspots" in the Leelanau Peninsula. The hostess was a model, so maybe that is this dive’s claim to fame? Finally, let me add that while a Google search might indicate that "Fishtown" is closed on weekends, this misleading info must be referring to the obscure museum off to the side, rather than to the cute little commercial strip, which is bustling on weekends. Interesting stop, but I wouldn't drive too much out of my way to see it a second time.

During all this driving I came across La Becasse. Cutely inviting but not yet serving. Bummer. And, wow, is this place way out in the boondocks. But, we’ll be back. So, we headed over to Sutton’s Bay, per Cw/E. Martha’s* Leelanau Table was not yet serving, either. (*not “Mary’s,” sorry Cw/E.) Bad timing by me. I had seen an ad about their $17 prix fixe earlybird dinners. Chatted with a lady setting tables and she said that the $17 is actually $19, but I didn’t ask her if that higher price still was restricted only to the earlybird hour of 5pm-6pm. Will update here if Martha replies to my followup email. These specials aren’t mentioned on their website. Again, we’ll be back.

Finally, I tried to poke my head into Sutton Bay’s 9 Bean Rows, but they are only open for brunch during Sundays (9am-2pm). I did stop by their farm a few miles away, which was very nicely kept. Village Inn is the sharpest looking place in town, but I’ll trust you guys that Martha’s and 9 Bean Rows are the hot spots. BTW, anybody try the nearby Hop Lot Brewing Co.? It looked really neat and popular.

Heading home we stopped again in TC and got a real fruit cherry shake at Don’s, because of your many recommendations. Nice, but just too sweet for me. Also stopped in Kalkaska’s Cherry Street Fruit Market per Steve. He must have been lucky to catch the end of cherry season and the peak varieties of peaches' season, because I had well missed them. Fortunately, apple season has started and green bean season is peaking. Good prices and fresh local offerings. Will do again. Thanks for the inspirations Steve, Elyssa and All ! PS-- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1019...

1 day ago
VTB in Great Lakes

Detroit's Most Anticipated New Restaurants and Bars, Fall 2015

I'm excited for Katoi, too. Also La Rondinella, except that my wife won't go on eves when E.M. will be dark and deserted. Beyond those, I'm pretty much too old and un-hip to be going around blowing the vibe at most of the other places on the list.
Regarding the bottom section "Other Metro Areas Tracked," I'd say I'm most pumped for Mabel Gray. And, because it is close to me (get ready to roll your eyes everyone), Woodpile BBQ Shack in Clawson. :-)

Aug 27, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

The Root - White Lake, MI- Detroit area

Anybody hear a decent guess as to when Mabel Gray will open? I can't gather much off their Facebook page (indication it could be a while).

Jul 31, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Detroit restaurant, warehouse district: remember the name?

You don't mean Abyssinia, the home cooked Ethiopian place do you?

Jul 28, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

new dumpling restaurant Ann Arbor/Ypsi area

I finally got to try this place, too. Thanks for the tip!

Very authentic, working class food. Please don't try the dumplings without dunking in the black vinegar. It is good vinegar, but not super expensive, so I don't know why they make you ask and, even then, bring so little that you have to ask for more.

The cha chiang noodle (or jia jiang mian) dish was very good, but next time I will ask for or buy more meat paste on the noodles.

The "burgers" were a nice break from the boiled dough overdose (yes, I was disgusted with me, too). These actually are not western or fusion items. They are a common, traditional Chinese street food item-- rou jia mo.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rou_j...

Looking forward to the spicy noodles next time. PS--people shouldn't come with low carb or gourmet on their minds. It's just a (mostly northern China) casual family style gut bomb, except that there is no beer to wash it down.
Thanks again Mich Mish. :-)

Jul 26, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes
1

Tried Estia Greek (Chipotle/Piada style resto) in Troy [DTW]

If I recall, the La Saj Troy will be at Crooks and Maplelawn (a half mile south of Recipes). They've been taking forever to open. Of course, some would say I've been taking forever to re-mulch our landscape beds.
Anyway, I'm guessing the Grand Opening will be early September. Can't wait!

Jul 25, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Tried Chickpea Kitchen (Chipotle/Piada style resto) in Sterling Heights [DTW]

Yeah, this is kind of on my way home from work, but I didn't know it existed. Thanks. ..I can't wait to check it out!

Jul 25, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Anybody tried Fresh Thyme in rochester hills [DTW]?

I was counting the days for this place to open. I had over-inflated expectations.

I was even planning to stop in on my way to work at 7am Wednesday, as the Grand Opening began. I figured I’d grab some good promotional freebies and quickly check it out, before I dutifully got on to my daily drudgery, in the corporate cubicle I share with others. Sadly, crowds of people had already been lining up since 3am to get at those freebies (I swear). Were they really that hungry? Gosh, I genuinely hope not.

Anywho, I skipped that action for the moment, but went back after work. What a zoo. Buddhist monks practically were flipping people off over parking spaces. I picked up some cheap cherries ($1.77/lb) and mini avocadoes ($0.88/lb) and stood in a long line for the privilege. Could have just gone to Meijer. Granted, the housewife diversity at Fresh Thyme made for slightly better people watching than the scenery at Meijer, so the queue time was slightly less aggravating.

On Thursday I went back and got some sausage (and other misc.). The sausage selection was great…tasty and cheap! But, while the butcher said the pork and poultry was raised without antibiotics, I’ve come to think he was misinformed. Anybody, please correct me if I’m wrong. I hate the abuse of antibiotics because I know it can promote resistant bacteria, and can enable livestock to be imprisoned and thrive in shameful environments. I’m not even sure that all those antibiotics don’t leave residues in my kid’s food. Dang it all.

This eve I went back yet again, but not for meat. I did check out their chicken salad for u-know-who. $6.99/LB. But, it didn’t look particularly appetizing. Sorry. Overall, the deli/bakery seemed value priced, and acceptable, but not awesome. There was not a “café.”

I got some yummy, nicely priced, washed/boxed baby salad greens, and fresh pico de gallo salsa and misc. items. They were squeezing fresh juices at a decent price. Tempting. There were a decent number of bulk items. Good smelling coffee. Olive oil barrels. Whatever. The dairy section was maybe even slightly better than Whole Foods, but the produce and meat sections were a bit smaller.

Fresh Thyme’s regular priced items seemed to be undercutting Whole Foods, but not by a mile (Granted, I didn’t do a scientific study). The promo prices presently are good, but I’m not sure whether those are an ongoing thing. Don’t expect much “local” or “unique,” produce wise. Fresh Thyme’s formula seems to be to sell the standard national brands such as Earthbound, Cascadian Farms, Horizon, etc., at prices just slightly below Whole Foods, but to also have good sales/coupons to induce traffic.

Speaking of which, I said to the cashier, “Wow, ‘Double Ad Wednesdays’ sounds great…I’m going to come back next week and buy some sweet $4 items using a $2 (2 x $1) double discount.” But, she slapped me back to reality by informing me that “double” means that on Wednesdays I can use coupons from the week just ending or from the week just starting, but no ONE discount amount gets doubled. Should I have known this? Am I just a Neanderthal dummy? Probably.

Anyway, overall the place fell short of my lofty expectations. But, I’ve been there three out of their first three open days, and I’ll be back within a couple more days. So, what should this tell me? I do tip my hat to the HR team. All employees seem enthusiastic. Maybe they get a health insurance benefit like the Whole Foods workers or something? In summary, any place that puts pressure on the evil, Texan Whole Foods monopoly, has to be a good thing.

Jul 24, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Fresco Wood Oven Pizzeria in Rochester Hills Mi-closed!?‽ [DTW]

IndyGirl, You have tried Supino's and Tomatoes Apizza, right? Not close to RH. But, just checking.

Jul 15, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Fresco Wood Oven Pizzeria in Rochester Hills Mi-closed!?‽ [DTW]

Cheer up IndyGirl, RH's supply-demand is just aligning back to its norm, and is pulling in an additional Hamlin Pub and Mr B's. 'Regression towards the mean,' if I correctly recall my Statistics 101 class from 1984 (ouch). A free bloomin' onion can be had when you order two jumbo Pepsi drinks. USA!, USA!, USA!

Jul 13, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Fresco Wood Oven Pizzeria in Rochester Hills Mi-closed!?‽ [DTW]

Nooooo! :-(

Jul 13, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Rehearsal Dinner around Rochester?

Yeah... Since your future daughter in law is involved (congrats, BTW!) and since Fresco specializes in pizza and is in a strip mall, it probably is too much of a stretch, however foodie-worthy. I'm just prejudiced against Kruse and Muer food.
Another idea in your direction would be the well regarded banquet specialists Da Francesco. Not a foodie paradise, but Italian Americans loyally swear by it for gatherings, and I mean loyally. It is more for the 40+y.o. clientele, but it's hard for anyone not to like the place. My wife always orders their seafood pasta.

If you could stand Middle Eastern, I'd recommend La Saj near Lakeside mall. The taboulli is fantastic and they have fresh bread and white tableclothes, etc..

Jul 06, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Rehearsal Dinner around Rochester?

How about Bad Brad's? Or, thinking outside the box, Fresco Pizzeria would be fun to rent out for the eve. They have more than just (great) pizza-- European-ish side dishes that are not common in Romeo.

Jul 06, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Rehearsal Dinner around Rochester?

I think the Clarkston Union would be a good call.

Jul 06, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

168 Asian Mart ( Madison Heights)

Yes, definitely an upgrade. I do think the owner got pretty over stretched, though. I think he had to make compromises and outsource the bakery, barbecue, etc., to the first schlubs showing up with rent money. To borrow your term, I like it but I had high hopes for it to be even more. Maybe over time.
PS- if u order soupy or fried noodles from the lunch counter, be sure to specify the lo mein style noodle, "xian" noodle listed (but not spelled out) between the "thick noodle" and the "pho" listed in the soup section.

Jul 05, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes
1

Horseradish; the other Cash Crop? [DTW]

I feel the same frustration with horseradish. But, it has been less painful for me since my wife has stopped eating rare meat, and thus I almost never now make prime rib. Sorry, Fairway Meat Packing :-(
Regardless, Srodek's on Mound just south of M59 brags that their homemade (fresh) bottled horseradish will take one's breath away. I keep meaning to get over there and test it. Maybe I'll braise a chuck eye roast or something, so I have something on which to run my test?

Jun 23, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes
1

Jamaican Pot [DTW]

Wow, that looks good. Thanks for the tip. Not as far as I thought. Between Coolidge and Greenfield. Have you tried the goat curry?
Https://m.facebook.com/TheJamaicanPot...

Jun 21, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

You've been trying to avoid them, but they're COMING AFTER YOU! [DTW area]

Ha! Thanks for the warning and the giggle.
Food trucks (in return for a cut of the profits) are now allowed in my employer's parking lot. Fortunately, the selection has been better than Andiamo's.

Jun 16, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Tried Estia Greek (Chipotle/Piada style resto) in Troy [DTW]

Right across from Whole Foods, next to the Zoup, the yummy "New York City Pizza," and the Eco Nails (just say No to pedi's using formaldehyde and toluene, Girl!...truly, I'm not being sarcastic, because that stuff is dangerous, especially for the min wage people who have to breathe it 8hrs/day).

Regarding Sakura, I feel (w/limited data points) that their Japanese dishes are edible, though overpriced for the knockoff quality received. Will I be back? Yes. But only when I'm in a pinch and feeling rich. The service always comes with one frustration or another, yet it really is pretty nice inside. There are 20% off coupons floating around if you look hard, BTW. And, I'll not accuse them of small portion sizes. 

(Boy, would my wife and employer be pissed if either knew I was doing CH at1AM...Cheers.)

Jun 15, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Tried Estia Greek (Chipotle/Piada style resto) in Troy [DTW]

It’s a good year in Troy. Sakura Japanese Steakhouse opened, which at least serves a couple good Chinese dishes, given that the owners are the same from Golden Harvest. Punjab, as previously mentioned, is up on its feet, one of my favorite Middle Eastern places, La Saj, will soon open on Crooks, and perhaps the biggest prize is the soon to open Fresh Thyme grocery on Big Beaver at Rochester Rd.

Anyway, Estia Greek “street food” also opened last week (Maple at Coolidge). Once I can narrow-in on a couple specific dishes/toppings from the many that are on offer here, I think I’ll be really happy with this place. It is a takeoff on Troy’s Kalamata Greek Grill, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Like Chipotle, you start at the counter with a wrap, bowl or salad base, and then you walk down the line adding stuff, to say your gyro, like spreads (hummus, tzatziki, etc.), meats (roasted chicken, pork or gyro meat), and finally you go thru the wide selection of salad bar items like olives, beets, onions, peppers, feta, cucumbers spinach, etc., etc., and nice fresh dill. All for $6.50. The bread is grilled from dough while you wait, and is offered in white, whole wheat, multigrain, etc.. Gotta love that, right?

For a buck more, you can have a rice bowl instead of bread. The rice options also include wild rice or quinoa. The white rice was so-so. Before one of those aforementioned spreads and meats are added, a sauce is liberally used to moisten the rice (Greek tomato sauce, or oregano broth). The oregano broth was surprisingly nice. Once I had hit the rice with broth and tzatziki, followed by salad bar items such as beets and feta, I did, however, have a rather disgusting looking amalgam going (my wife’s opinion), with nobody to blame for the pile-on but my greedy, gluttonous self.

The chicken, lemon rice soup side dish was edible, as were the gyro meats and roasted pork (may be better when hot off the grill?), but the chicken was surprisingly good. Spanakopita also was on offer as a side dish…maybe I’ll get lucky one day and find moussaka offered, too! Either way, I’ll be back. The owner is friendly and there is enough on offer, once I figure things out, to concoct a pretty darn good meal for just $7 !

Jun 14, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Punjab Sweets & Indian Cuisine - Troy [DTW]

Neehee’s may never grab the opportunity to expand into the under-served* Indian food scene of Troy (*relative to the large Indian population). At least Punjab Farmington Hills has now taken the initiative to branch out. Sure, Punjab Sweets & Indian Cuisine might not stand out amongst the thick competition around its home base on Orchard Lake, but it is a very welcome new, take-out oriented, place for Troy. Located on the southwest corner of Long Lake at Livernois. Same general intersection as Thai Taste. Given that Neehee’s prices increased after it relocated to a more upscale location and its popularity further rose, Punjab’s prices now comparatively seem like a deal--- about $8 per entree.

Being a not remarkably charismatic, white guy, I did find the person/people working the phone and the counter to be a bit challenging, though I do think I will find them to be fine folks once we get to know one another (the young, handsome busboy certainly already was going out of his way to check on and ensure everyone was happy). In any event, the website and the mailer coupon led to numerous confusions, regarding at which of the two locations certain menu options are available and when, at each, the doors or buffet are open. Also, the mailer said Punjab is located on Long Lake at ROCHESETER Rd, which is a mile away from the real location, west of LIVERNOIS.

Getting on to the food…The family was very pleased when I got it home. The Masala Dosa was served with respectable chutneys and excellent sambhar dipping soup. Yum. I will reserve evaluation of the ample dosa, itself, in compliance with Sir Boagman’s decree regarding fresh-from-the-fire doughs/batters: “If not immediately consumed, then not shall one pass judgement (especially in the case of thin crust pizza).”

I also brought home chicken biryani. The meat was juicy. The rice seemed optimally cooked. I liked the flavor. Toasted onion was prominent, rightly or wrongly. Will get again. Maybe goat next time, and then returning to chicken.

The Bagara Baigan (eggplant in tamarind-coconut-sesame gravy) was very tasty, but it was too hot for me, and I go very hot. Wow…killer. Punjab doesn’t ask customers for heat preferences. You get it how it comes. I respect that. But, ouch. The vegetable masala over rice was quite good. Rich, but not overly oily; maybe a bit heavy on the cubed onion, but the fresh, tender okra was a big reward. I might try the vegetable korma (Navaratan) next time, but surely will have that sweet masala again.

OMG, I also saw someone eating large banana peppers stuffed with spiced potatoes, then battered and deep fried (mirchi pakoda), with chutney dipping sauces. These looked fantastic, but I already was well on the way to blowing out the diet allowances of me and wife. If you live or work (talkin’ to you CyE) in Troy, this joint is well worth a stop, every now and then!

Jun 06, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Homemade Flour Tortillas

May 30, 2015
VTB in Recipes

Anybody have the inside scoop as to when Katoi is opening? [DTW]

Thanks! Guess I'll go check out the A2 location in late June.

May 21, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Corny name- Bombay Wraps - but anybody tried? Canton, MI [DTW]

Got the picture I needed to investigate Bombay Wraps (BW) myself. My wife refused to make the long drive unless I promised her we’d also stop at Ikea, which is just up Ford Rd from BW. So, this one cost me.

Anyway, I bought the Groupon and tried four different dishes. Lamb Biryani, Bhel, Chicken Achaari wrap and Reshmi Chicken Tikka wrap. The wrapping is made of a fresh (daily) whole wheat paratha flatbread. It appears to have a lot of ghee or oil in the dough but otherwise seems healthy, and is tender and delicious.

We loved our wraps (comes with raita yogurt dipping sauce); though, to some, the grilled chicken/peppers/onions may be too reminiscent of a fajita. But, at least I think everyone would agree that the chicken does not seem like frozen pre-sliced breast meat. It seems like fresh chicken that has been sautéed with spices in a big batch, then sliced and returned to the sauce, to sit chilled until an order is made, at which time an individual portion is heated up on the griddle. Finally, a bit of Indian relish is added.

I was kind of hoping for a bunch of ridiculously rich, restaurant-style, reduced curry gravy to be inside, a la Zayeqa on Orchard Lake. But these wraps are a bit lighter, like an Indian mom might whip up at home for her kids’ lunches. And, since my family is not Indian, we were urged to order mild. Particularly after having recently returned from Southern India and since my kid slurps Sichuanese broth in gulps, it was a clear mistake on my part to defer to the server. I should have insisted on spicy across the board, and you probably should, too.

The lamb biryani also was nice. Frankly, at $11.99 on a styrofoam plate, it better have been nice. There were about six or seven 1” cubes of lamb. They had been stewed, so they were very moist and thus basmati rice stuck to them over the entire surface. Because I couldn’t get a good look at the coated lamb, I had muted expectations. But, these chunks turned out to be wonderful. The dish’s rice was sparsely spotted with curry leaves, cardamom pods, etc. Again, not a powerful showpiece. Just something that an adept mom would throw together for her family at home. In this case, I think the chef really was a mom, who’s kids may have been working the register. However, she was a rather charismatic woman who probably had a PhD or MD back in the old country, so I don’t want to paint too much of a “Bless her cute little heart,” kind of picture.

In any event, everyone there was super friendly to us. We were the only non-Indians among four or five families. If BW wasn’t such a long drive for me, I could definitely see stopping there once every couple weeks. But, given that it is a heck of a drive from Troy, and that sometimes when I go to Ikea I like to stop at Neehee’s or Best China, it may be quite a few months before I return. I hope they are still there (if not relocated to Troy!).

PS—BW makes these big spiced deep fried balls out of mashed potatoes + mashed chickpeas which look fantastic. That is, if you can deal with deep fried...

May 10, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Best Bread in Detroit Region

Thanks for the great tip!

May 09, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Vinotecca?-- Fool me thrice, then shame on me. Royal Oak [DTW]

I've long been critical of the promises unkept at Bastone. These professional food service investors also have an adjacent offshoot named Vinotecca, which shares the same crappy kitchen. I went there recently for a Happy Hour glass of wine. Good, and very nicely priced. No clowns elbowing me for space, either. Getting bored, I perused the half off Happy Hour menu:

A) Steak bruchetta with potobello, heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella and rosemary walnut oil - $5.
B) “Gourmet” beef sliders (2) with herbed goat cheese and house cured pancetta, plus “belgian style” frites - $4
C) Braised beef cheek empanadas with vegetable slaw - $6.50

Pretty tempting. But, based on past experiences (granted, from long ago) I resisted. Anybody actually try this place and find that it now is improved and genuinely good?

http://www.vinotecca.com/vt/dinner-menu

May 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Corny name- Bombay Wraps - but anybody tried? Canton, MI [DTW]

Bombay Wraps tells an enticing story, has attractive pictures and a yummy sounding menu. Great prices, too, especially with a Groupon, etc.. Anybody tried? It is a long drive for me. Why do they have to locate themselves right by Neehees??!! There are Indian food lovers all over. Spread the joy, geographically speaking. Arghhh.
http://bombay-wraps.weebly.com/galler...

May 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

The Root - White Lake, MI- Detroit area

Thank you for the tip RS. Armed with this new info, my sorry a** just looked for a brunch reservation at The Root, on Open Table, for this Sunday's Mother's Day. No dice. Menu looks good, as expected. Guess I'll have to go on another weekend. (pounding own forehead)

May 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Michigan meat..where to buy farm direct?

Back Forty Acres farm shut down more than a year ago, so there went my Tamworth pork source. It now looks like a long favorite Melo Farms, with their Berkshire hogs, is struggling and seeking support.
http://www.gofundme.com/melofarms

May 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes