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Dearborn recs

Antonio's Cucina Italiana is very good for adults and kids alike. A little more expensive than Panera, but still a good value. Dearborn Hts and Dearborn locations.
http://antoniosrestaurants.com

Mar 22, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

ISO Lamb ribs dtw

Hassan Bros. Meats at the SW corner of Dequindre and Long Lake. Enjoy!

Mar 19, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Good vegetarian - Cleveland?

Thank you. We ended up a little short on time, so my vegetarian friend ran thru the awesome indoor tunnel under the Cav's arena, over to Tower City Center (big food court), while I held off and ate at B-Spot in the arena. Wish I had made a reservation at Chinato across the street (surprise) from the arena. Next time we'll check out the other places you guys mentioned, maybe for brunch on the morning after.

Mar 10, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Good vegetarian - Cleveland?

Driving from Detroit to Cavaliers game tonight. Need rec for Cleveland restaurant having some good vegetarian options. TIA !

Mar 07, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Gateway Deli (Southfield MI)

The Carrying of a Concealed Weapon.

Mar 02, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Victory Smokehouse.  Yup.   Warren [DTW]

Another barbecue review.  Yawn.

But, since Warren lost about its only barbecue places* when both Rub and Red, Hot & Blue closed, I’m going to go ahead and push one on you.  (*Yes, Lazybones delivers to Warren, but they are located in Roseville, so just stick with me here.)

The Victory Inn at Mound and 12 Mile is a bar and grill which has been around since the closing of WWII (hence, the name), and at least since the seventies has primarily been catering to UAW guys who work in office buildings and are obsessed with hunting toys.  To the proprietors’ credit, they raised one of the NFL’s great offensive linemen while operating the bar, a boy who is considered one of the key blockers for O.J. Simpson during the greatest rushing 14-game season ever (the original 2,000+ yards, year). 

If I don’t yet have you hooked, let me also add that a little over a year ago, a couple entrepreneurs rented some space in the parking lot behind Victory Inn and welded together two 40 foot sea containers to make a rustic “barbecue annex.”  For whatever reason, that permanent looking annex only operates on Fridays and Saturday’s from11am to 8pm.

Though the independent entrepreneurs (calling themselves “Victory Smokehouse”) claim to have an advanced-design smoking contraption, it does seem to be lacking in one feature:  a vent.  All the smoke just wafts into the slicing and wrapping area.  Perhaps this explains why the poor guys can only bear to work two days per week at the facility?  Dear Guys:  I want you to add a vent so that you will not get respiratory disease and so that you can stay open seven days per week.  From the bottom of my heart.

Finally to the food.  I ordered pulled pork, “brisket,” and cheddar kielbasa.  I also tried to order smoked pork belly (whoa!), but they were out.  Darn, gotta go back.  Okay, the pulled pork did not grab my attention.  The portion was the most generous of all, and it was moist (arguably over-brined/watery).  Many people will like this pulled pork, particularly on a sandwich.  Still, it struck me as boring for whatever reason, fair or unfair. 

The brisket was a bait and switch.  It was tri tip, not brisket.  I should have been offended by the misrepresentation, particularly since I love brisket.  But, the tri tip was super interesting and new to me.  Just, wow!  Really tender, without needing to be heated and broken down for hours and hours.  Almost medium, rather than well done (as required by brisket).  Practically like a well-marbled smoked prime rib.  Serendipity. 

Next was the custom-made cheddar kielbasa.  Victory smoked the heck out of it, to the point where the fat liquefied and the casing became chestnut-colored and delicately brittle.  I loved it.  Oh, but a warning:  all three meats, much to my surprise (rightly or naively), had been slathered in a mild tomato barbecue sauce!!!!!  The mellow sauce turned out okay for me, but I was a bit horrified when I got home and first opened my boxes to see a bath of thin, candied-apple looking sauce.

Finally were the sides.  All were okay.  Not great.  They took an industrial can of pork and beans and stirred in a very generous portion of leftover pulled pork.  Fine.  Did the trick.  I personally felt the mac and cheese had very nice flavor, but I would expect others to debate the dish’s virtue.  Lastly was the homemade coleslaw.  Edible.  Some will like it.  At least it was an original recipe. 

Some time I want to try one of their sandwiches, which purportedly come on a homemade bun.  If next time is at the dinner hour, though, I’m going for the smoked pork belly, and maybe beef ribs (beef!).  Yup, I urge you to give these guys a try some Friday or Saturday if you live in, or close to, Warren.  You can also eat there at the inn and catch a game on the TVs, but I’d recommend you not deliver any minor door dings while in the parking lot or anything that could be construed as a politically-tinged statement while squeezed into the dining area, as it is a rather crusty crowd.

www.victorysmokehouse.com

Feb 27, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

2Booli (Troy) happy hour report [DTW]

Happy Hours are for cheapskates (and, I suppose, also for meeting professional singles getting off work).  Usually the Happy Hour (HH) food items are special concoctions of garbage purporting to uphold the quality of the general menu while crashing way short (Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, for instance…gag).  Being cheap, myself, I can never resist falling for the trick.  My favorites—or bests of the worsts—are Ronin (R.O.), Bigalora (R.O.), Kona Grill (Troy), Northern Lakes* (Troy), Roast (Detroit), and a couple others that just aren’t coming to mind. 

*I’ve waited several months for our beloved ConeyWithEverything to write her Lakes update, but will probably soon need to give up and write one myself.

I now need to augment my HH list.  2Booli of Troy (Rochester at Big Beaver…intersection from hell at rush hour) has a quality deal, particularly for those who lean towards heavy eating over heavy drinking.  Indeed, there are hardly any drink specials, but almost all the REGULAR appetizers are only $5 at HH, and they are good!  Definitely order the Appetizer Trio (generous portions of hommous, baba ghannouj, tabbouli and fresh bread), normally $9.79, but $5 at HH.  Meal in itself.  Also on offer for $5 are Falafel with tomatoes/radishes/lettuce/tahini/turnips/bread, as well as Beef Grape Leaves, and also Fried Kibbee, etc.. 

2Booli has upper echelon ambiance for a M.E. place, notwithstanding its cringe-worthy name.  Sure, some argue it is run by a food industry pro, rather than being family or artisan run, and that it is slightly “Americanized.”  Still, many of the recipes are so simple that they would be hard to ruin as long as honest effort and fresh ingredients are used.  Which, they truly are.  The social scene is no Kona Grill (king meat market for aspiring suburban Detroit yuppies), but 2Booli’s food prices and healthfulness are very good.

http://2booli.com/

Feb 15, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Need a rec within (Macomb MI area) reasonable distance to this:

Not a lot of good options. I'd go to Bad Brad's, even if I weren't in the mood for smoked meat. Pretty good all-around place.
http://m.badbradsbbq.net/

Feb 15, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Chennai, India - Classic dinner at Jamavar

Just wanted to comment to you klyeoh that your reports are fantastic. I can't wait to try some of these places in March. Thank you!

Feb 12, 2015
VTB in India & South Asia
1

Oysters on the half shell, DTW

I'm not a big oyster guy, but it seems the latest newsworthy places for oysters are Plymouth's Sardine Room ($1ea@h.h.) and Birmingham's Bistro Joe's ($29/doz...hey, it's BHam).
For the record, I too adore Clarkston Union, and they've been serving oysters for 17+years, so I'm sure they got it figured out, too.

Feb 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

What are the hot restaurants in Ann Arbor these days?

I love Jolly Pumpkin beer. Wild living yeast with a sour organic taste. Real beer. Haven't tried the food but the menu looked good. (couldn't get my guests to stay there with me for the food...we all ended up at Heidelberg, which was eh, okay.)

Feb 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

What are the hot restaurants in Ann Arbor these days?

Just to get the conversation started, and assuming you don't want to spend a fortune given that your son is just starting (congrats!) a long, expensive journey:

http://slurpingturtle.com/annarbor/

http://aventuraannarbor.com/#about
There are reviews of both in the CH archive.
Edit: looks like BTC beat me to it while I was typing.

Feb 08, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Revolver [DTW]

I'm told that Revolver customer norm is one that is respectfully/responsibly discrete and not flaunted on public sites. Getting an opaque empty glass will not be impossible.
Hey, please report back on how was your food! (Great and fun I hope)

Feb 05, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Any thoughts on Birmingham Restaurant Week? [Detroit]

May give me a chance to try Rugby Grille. If I do, I'd probably go for the hanger steak. http://www.birminghamrestaurantweek.o...

Bella Piatti, another interesting place, is only playing for lunch, and has boring options.
Obviously, Peabody's, Rojo and Fleming's are out of the question...

Feb 05, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Hosting curious visitors from Germany-- need special dinner ideas

Wow! I may have to invite them over twice. Sounds great you guys.

Jan 24, 2015
VTB in Home Cooking

Hosting curious visitors from Germany-- need special dinner ideas

I will be hosting an older couple visiting from Germany, for dinner.  Any ideas regarding what they may find interesting to eat while traveling in America (Michigan and Tennessee)?  I gather that they don't like spicy food, but otherwise I think the menu would be wide open.  Of course, rather than braising pork shank, or procuring special sausages like they may do at home, I'd like to serve something more "characteristic of the Americas."  They've in the past already had a Thanksgiving turkey meal and a Christmas prime rib, so those would be out.  Moreover, a few others will also be attending, so I would not want to go corn-fed filet mignon or Maine lobster, due to affordability.  Also, I don't currently have a smoker available for barbecue.

TIA !

Jan 24, 2015
VTB in Home Cooking

DTW: Sunday Brunch for 50 near Royal Oak

If anyone could easily handle 50, it would be O'Mara's. But, that place is not what young women consider to be "nice." It is more of a hockey jersey atmosphere. Food ain't bad (see old CH writeup). You would be treated like a valued customer. Imagine that.

I doubt Bigalora can squeeze in 50, but if they could, then that would be a winner, taste and trendiness wise.

Sweet Lorraine's is pretty big, but just presents twisty areas with smaller tables. Worth a shot. Very female friendly. Be sure to request a volume discount, because they are big on "high sticker; modest transaction price" schemes.

I'd also call Vinsetta Garage for a fun, non-traditional 11am brunchy affair, but it may be hard to reserve that much space on short notice, even though it has been done before. I'd also see whether Ferndale's Local Kitchen & Bar could handle fifty. Their website references a welcome to parties of 2-20. (50 is a stretch? )

Jan 20, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Motor City Meatball, Warren [DTW]

While a long time Warren resident, I was ashamed only of the restaurant offerings. Surely, as Michigan’s third biggest city (by population), Warren must have the fewest edible joints per capita of any place in the state, save only for some tiny cities having a zero in their numerator. No disrespect to Golden Harvest, Oasis, Chocolate Gallery and maybe Pilar’s, but is there really even ANYTHING beyond that???!!!

I must have seen fifty restaurants open, and they all were an iteration of the same old place--- a crap ‘family style’ hell hole serving microwaved liver and onions always originating from a single, nearby wholesale food service distributor. Featuring artificially colored, gel filled pies for dessert. What’s worse, is that this defines their EXOTIC (Greek) cuisine! Yes, in all, somewhere between outsourced prison food and Wyoming truck stop grub.

Recently, though, a place opened by Macomb Community College, at 13 Mile and Hayes. It claims to make food on premises. Fresh. Meat from carefully selected sources. Animals not pumped big with antibiotics.

SOLD! Sight unseen.

Okay, I went to Motor City Meatball Kitchen (MCBK) after having seen a Groupon deal, which I elected not to buy. Sure enough, I was greeted by the owner. She was nice, but she declined my overture to cut a deal without the Groupon middleman. Fair enough. The prices still are good, $7.95 for a house crafted, meaty pasta dinner entrée. The food is prepped by the customer order station, and what I saw looked good.

I selected the Carbonara Pork Meatball pasta dinner, and also the special on the board, which was a Swedish meatball entrée, thrown together for the purpose of thwarting a grouse from Y*lp. (go to Ikea, you big whiner.) They were okay, but not particularly tasty. I recommend neither.

Still, I will soon be back for the other offerings. The dishes at the counter look too good. And, the proposition of some nice person in Warren at least making an honest effort, is irresistible. Yes, maybe next time Arrabbiata beef meatballs (mildly spicy vine-ripened tomato sauce, olives, eggplant and fresh mozzarella), and a salad. For goodness sakes, please let this cute, wholesome, venture work!
http://www.mymeatballkitchen.com/menu...

Jan 19, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes
1

El Guanaco; Troy/DTW

Looks like he's not taking the bait. ;-)
I'm glad to say, though, that as of several months ago, he sounded good. But, for reasons known to him and not me, he just seemed ready to move on to other hobbies beyond the amateur food critic game that we still enjoy.

Jan 18, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Detroit Yea a Ramen House da Johnny Noodle King

Boy, I thought Green Dot Stables was in the barrens, but Johnny Noodle King (JNK) is even further off the path.  I guess someone has got to push the boundaries. 

Upon finally having found the place, I was very pleasantly surprised to see beer and sake served (I went before reading the above reviews, but just was too lazy to start a thread).  This alone would be a reason for choosing an eve at JNK over one at Ajishin, even though I’ll mention up front that I do like Ajishin's soups a bit more.  I find the people at JNK to be more of a breath of fresh air, too.  (Ajishin = U of M + Automotive Industry types = me = yawn.)

I had the Miso Ramen.  Broth is supposed to be key in the ramen universe.  I am not an expert on the good stuff, beyond just having had it a single time in Tokyo and having read the self-congratulatory Momofuku book.  (Thank goodness David Chang is not an in-law of mine, as family gatherings with him must be insufferable, beyond the food.)  I could probably have a hundred bowls and still not 'get it.'  Regardless, even if I were a broth expert, there is so much stuff in JNK’s soup, that I wouldn't have been able to really tell what liquid I was slurping, good or great or otherwise.  Chicken, corn, mushrooms, scallions, pea shoots, seaweed, fishcake, etc., etc.. 

I'll simply take peoples’ word for it that a lot of care went into JNK’s broth, and leave it at that.  The noodles clearly were perfectly cooked.  In fact, I'd be as curious to learn the noodles’ story as I would the broth.  Yum.

In summary, I had fun and left with a sense of admiration.  Next time I will try one of their wilder concoctions.  Wish this place were up in Oakland County.  I've said that too often, huh?

Jan 18, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

El Guanaco; Troy/DTW

RS's brain fade was 'pupusa', I'm pretty sure. :-) I really like this little place, too. Not many places to get Central American food in Oakland County. Embarrassingly, though, I do sometimes just get the Mexican platter#2. Location is Livernois just north of Maple, in Troy (by Priya). You'll be glad you went. I think goatgolfer may also have done a write up a couple years ago when it was in its former location around the corner.
https://m.facebook.com/elguanacotroy/...

Jan 17, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Michigan Spanish purveyors of food

Papa Joe's is about your best bet for jamon and canned fish from Spain, as well as shell fish. Though, you'll probably want to get your saffron from Penzey's.

Jan 17, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Fifty Years - DTW

Green Lantern? Damn!, I shoulda had that one. :-(

Jan 16, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Michigan Spanish purveyors of food

Hmmm, what items do you mostly buy?

Jan 16, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Made it to Rumi in Farmington Hills for Persian

Wow. That's what I call details!
Seems like I better give Rumi another try sooner rather than later, because my initial impression was that Pars was a bit better. Maybe my take on the food was unfairly influenced by the atmosphere?

Jan 05, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Brunch buffet in Detroit

Shelby Twp area is out. Sure, they have some decent dinner places and some yummy value breakfast places, but nothing in your category.

Detroit has recently been progressing simply too far beyond my "expertise," so I'll need to just be quiet so as to not embarrass myself in this regard (as if I actually have some sense of shame).

But, if you hit a dead end, I'd like to suggest some tasteful, but MODEST, non buffet places for brunch-- Social Kitchen Birmingham, Beverly Hills Grill (BH), or Cafe Muse Royal Oak. These would sort of be "on your way."
PS-- what show are you going to see?

Jan 04, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Zehnder's in Frankenmuth for Christmas Dinner 2014!

Wow, as brooktroutchaser indicated-- thanks for the well done, informative report!! I could see myself checking it out one of these Christmases. Was the town extra decorated?

Dec 27, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

DTW "Jewmas" restaurant recommendation for two Shicksas

I didn't take Elyssa's advice to Mrs. Bridges, and indeed I got lectured when I called today at 4:45pm requesting a Christmas Eve dinner reservation. They said my family MAYBE could come at 9:30pm.

Thus, I ended up at East Lake in Troy, so as to get my 'Peking Duck two ways.' At $36, it was $5 or $10 cheaper than Hong Hua. The skin was very good and crispy and acceptably carved. The meat was a bit dry and bland (I suspect the bird had been completely prepared at a specialty place in Chicago or somewhere and then reheated and crisped up in house...just a wild guess). Served with wraps and scallions and pickled radish rather than cucumber. I'll give it a 7 or 7 minus. For reference, I gave the affordable places in Beijing an 8, while assuming that luxury places must be even better, such that 9s and 10s should be reserved for those, in the event I could ever try them.

The second way was a duck breast stir fry with garlic shoot chives. May not be everyone's cup of tea but I really liked it. Had that "breath of the wok" and the veggies were super fresh.

Actually, I also optioned up (+$8) for the duck carcass broth soup. Huge portion and light/healthy (fresh baby bok choy and tofu) but it didn't add much for me, personally. BTW, note that unlike Hong Hua, East Lake lacks a liquor license.

Well, all things considered, I'll surely do it again. But, I'd first like to give Hong Hua's duck a try (with apologies to Sir Boagman, who had a bad fish conflict there) to see whether it is better than East Lake, rather than simply being the equivalent. Merry Christmas friends!

Dec 24, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes
1

Russian Imperial Stout - DTW

Sounds like RedTop is on to something!
Hey, if you get pressed for time, though, you also can get a couple different Russian Imperial Stouts (RIS) at Meijer these days. Below is a link to ratings of various popular RISs. Of course, I'm prejudiced towards our region's RIS offerings-- Dark Horse, Bell's, Great Lakes, Founder's, etc.. I must say, though, that RIS is not particularly drinkable except to dudes who are REALLY hardcore. If I may, I'd suggest you also pick up a six pack of Bell's Two Hearted Ale, just in case--less harsh but still strong (alc by vol) and loaded with character. Note that Macomb Co also has a brewpub/microbrewery on Mound north of 13 Mile which is excellent, named Kuhnhenn (soon coming to Clinton Twp). They have RIS, but were not offering that particular one for take home, last time I checked.
http://www.beeradvocate.com/lists/sty...

Dec 23, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes
1

Russian Imperial Stout - DTW

Sorry... you mean a pint glass of it at a bar/microbrewery or a six pack at a store? Are you looking to try a local made version? Is it for cooking?

Dec 22, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes
1