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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

Best Middle Eastern in Dearborn area?

Cedarlands is good food at a good price (always in huge quantities). The quality isn't tip top, but many people still consider it their overall favorite. The bread is NOT fresh baked. I am kind of partial to Ollie's.
http://www.olliescuisine.com/
Al Ameer has good bread. As a foodie, I would recommend that you sneak out multiple times and bring back "snacks" for everyone at your host house. This will allow you to try many different places' dishes, while looking like a generous guest, as opposed to giving the impression that you are rejecting the host's game plan for food (if you are a smooth subversive). There seems to be no "one best" place. I think you have to try the features at multiple different places. Even if it means getting small meals back to back at three different places. And, save room for the wonderful desserts! !!

Dec 20, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Tried Mandaloun Bistro in Southfield today [DTW area]...

Wow, nice pics on their website. I want to take my wife and the little guy to split that $30 "MB" platter for two.
Thanks for the info.

Dec 19, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Pars Persian Restaurant Farmington Hills Update

Thanks for the read! Sadly, it will be a couple years before I'm back in Los Angeles, but for future reference, do you tout the Darya in Santa Ana or west LA -Santa Monica Blvd (they seem different)?

Dec 16, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

DTW- new Venezuelan restaurant-El Rey de las Arepas

Will try during Christmas break (& report back), thanks!!

Dec 10, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Breakfast in Plymouth, MI /DTW

Man, we now know our 'Go-To' person for all things Plymouth! Cool.

Dec 04, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Beans & Cornbread [Southfield/DTW]

It got me to make red beans and rice last night, and cornbread will be on offer tonight. Maybe I just need to get over there! (But I'm using up miscellaneous herbs, veggies and cornmeal ingredients leftover from Thanksgiving.)

Dec 01, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Vietnamese-Style Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Nov 22, 2014
VTB in Recipes

Vietnamese-Style Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Nov 22, 2014
VTB in Recipes

ISO Beef Tallow [DTW]

Thank you very much HoB. I really feel like I don't know what I should regarding eastern market butchers. Ronnie's sounds like a good lead, after the closer Hollywood and Meijer, of course.

Nov 21, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

ISO Beef Tallow [DTW]

Hi, Anybody know where I could buy a quart of beef tallow (meltable fat), preferably not super far from Troy (MI)? Would be willing to go to Eastern Market if necessary.TIA

Nov 21, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Tried Ottava Via for Detroit Restaurant Week...

Finally made it to Ottava Via.  Now that Corktown is hopping like crazy I felt a little more safe leaving my car parked on the side street by the restaurant.  Fun place and, even though they go for the “Italy is better than America” vibe, it still is not a bad place to catch a Detroit team game on the T.V.’s.

 

Per the above recommendation, I had to try the pork.  Thank you!  I decided to get the plate rather than the sandwich ($16 instead of $10).  The sandwich probably is the better deal, but I was very happy, regardless.  It was made by rubbing herbs (and a tapenade?) on a salted slab of Berkshire pork belly and then rolling it into a log and cooking it “confit” method.  I was pretty sure I knew what this meant, but I looked it up to be certain:  Slow cooked while submerged in its own rendered fat (never to exceed 185°F), then stored (preserved) under that fat at room temperature for days to months.  Interesting way to preserve meat.

Anyway, they pulled the log out from the fat and sliced me a one inch thick piece, five inches in diameter, crisped-up the outside under the broiler, and served it with a small arugula fennel salad, a few baby roasted red skin potatoes and a splash of jus.  Not quite a hungry man’s full meal, but for $16 of quality chow in a nice atmosphere, I call that a heck of a start.  

 

I also split a ten inch vegetarian pizza ($12).  It was quite nice—grilled asparagus, fresh mushroom, red peppers, capers, etc..  The only reason why Ottava Via’s pizza doesn’t stand out is because it faces stiffer competition in Detroit than does, say, their confit.  Tough going against the likes of Tomatoes Apizza, Biga, Supino’s, etc..   But, if you can make it between 3pm and 6pm on Mon & Tue you currently can get half off on all pizzas.  Nice!  On Wed Happy Hour they have half off on all small plates, such as garlic shrimp, arancini (yum!), calamari, etc..  Each weekday for HH they serve $4 craft cocktails, too.  Wish this place were closer to my suburban home…

Nov 16, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Looking for MILROYS style Fish and Chips in Detroit Area.

Always appreciate tips on the Specials. Thanks!

Nov 16, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Yard*Bird (BBQ); Keego Harbor; DTW

Thanks for the tips.  I left even more upbeat than you guys.  My perception (I don’t fully trust myself in this case*) is that Slows has slid downward a bit over the last few years.  So, based on only my first visit to Yardbird, I found it preferable to Slows. 

*As a point of reference, on the other hand, I found during my last visit to Lazybones that their Sides had improved, after originally being okay but later slipping into inedible territory until only recently.

 

I tried the brisket, pulled pork and sausage plate, and was thrilled with all three.  Did you guys pause at the smoker when coming in from the back parking lot?  What a scent!  I didn’t try the sauces, as I just wanted to savor those meats.  Will sample sauces next time. 

 

BTW, the servers are hip and funky and the manager was nice to me.  That being said, one server dropped a tray of glasses and another fell on floor (yikes).  Maybe it was slippery or coincidental, I don’t know.

 

The cornbread was excellently moist--- wish I could make it that way at home.  The mac and cheese was quality stuff, though I should warn parents that it may not be kid friendly, due to sharpness.  Maybe high character cheese in a béchamel sauce with an acidic touch of mustard or wine?  For a change of pace I also had fried green tomatoes which also were worthwhile. 

 

I was given a taste of the attractive-looking deep fried catfish.  The fish was moist and seemed fresh enough but the crisp batter was dark and strongly herbed/flavored (maybe even grated hard cheese in the batter?), seemingly by design;  however, I needed to soften the punch with big dollops of mild aioli. 

 

Looking forward to trying the chili next time. Just hope that is soon.

Nov 14, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes

Birthday dinner in Oakland County, MI

If you can still get the Groupon for Lelli's in Auburn Hills I'd definitely choose that old school steakhouse. Delicious and a bit of a nostalgic hoot.
http://touch.groupon.com/deals/lelli-s-4
(There are several detailed write ups already on this board.)

Nov 12, 2014
VTB in Great Lakes