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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).

1 day ago
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Detroit restaurant, warehouse district: remember the name?

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

Jul 28, 2015
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

New: El Guanaco Taqueria @ 139 Fourteen Mile, Clawson, MI

They relocated the original restaurant just around the corner from where it was. Now on Livernois just north of Maple. Yum. The Clawson location is an additional one, which happens to be almost across the street from Mojave Cantina (which serves edible "Mexican" food in a fun setting).

May 06, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Nice Modern Creamery, Madison Hts. [DTW]

My diet and pocketbook won't let me eat "Nicecream" every week, but I wish it were so. Inside the Biggby's Coffee shop on John R at 13 Mile some guys are leasing the back area to sell made-to-order ice cream. And, no, the wait isn't long, because they chill the custard by squirting liquid nitrogen into it. It's fun and the people are nice. I think one of the guys works in the kitchen at Bacco or something, and then moonlights at Nice. Don't quote me on that. At least check out the website.
http://www.nicemodern.com/menu-1.html
Really good, and you can see what is going into it. As a spokeslady might say, "smooth and decadent." The only one I didn't love was a flavor of the day which had finely crumbled cookie in it, because the crumbs froze into what felt to my tongue like ice crystals.

Apr 29, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes

Gangnam Chicken, Royal Oak [DTW]

Went with a friend this eve and tried the Tofu Kimchi Bokkeum (fried pork belly). Not cheap ($15.95), and I can't say whether or not it is "authentic," but it was FANTASTIC! Damn.
How can this place be so empty these days? It sets itself apart from the 95% of silly places in Royal Oak, and deserves better.

Apr 29, 2015
VTB in Great Lakes