Archive for the tag “Detroit”

Montreal Smoked Meat – Can’t Beat Pete’s!

Typically when I travel for business, I don’t have much time to really enjoy touring the cities I’m in. This trip was no different.

On Monday I flew from Milwaukee through Detroit to Montreal, arriving at 1:30AM. I flew out of Montreal through Detroit to Cleveland on Tuesday afternoon. I left Cleveland for Miamisburg on Wednesday afternoon and left Miamisburg to stop in Cincinnati on Thursday before flying out to Milwaukee on Thursday evening. There was not much time to see anything but the inside of airports and rental cars, folks! I was fortunate enough to have a meeting less than five miles from my parents’ house, so I did get a chance to say hi to them while staying overnight at “home”.

Map

At least in Montreal we had time to stop for a local lunch prior to heading back to the airport. My colleague loves Smoke Meat Pete’s because of the food, and because of the live blues music they have in the evenings.

Outside

Since this was a lunch stop, no live music, but still plenty (I mean plenty!) of good smoked meat! (it was tough to get a photo of the stage because of the sunny glare coming in through the windows, but here it is…)

Bnad

In case you’re not familiar with it, smoked meat is a type of kosher-style deli meat product made by salting and curing beef brisket with spice, either “lean” (my preference) or regular and served as a platter or on a sandwich. I had asked the man behind the counter suggest his favorite menu item for me – whoops! He had “recently decided to become a vegetarian” (an interesting choice for working at a joint known for its meat!), so he couldn’t make a personal recommendation. Fail.

However, he did recommend the “Pete’s Special” which is a smoked meat sandwich with yellow mustard, french fries (frites) and cole slaw (salade de patates – vinegar based). It was a LOT of food, and it wasn’t healthy (evenly “lean cut”), but it was a tasty indulgence. (much like a REALLY GOOD corned beef deli sandwich is)

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The meat was thicker than I thought it would be for “lean cut”, but I forgave it because of the flavor! It’s also one of those sandwiches that has to be (at least partially) eaten with a fork.

And, those fries… so good! Real cut potatoes, perfectly fried to heavenly perfection!

As any great joint has, here is the ever-present “neon sign”!

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And, for good measure… great press for Smoke Meat Pete’s

Lord of the fries

I’ve seen smoked meat spots in the US, but admittedly have not tried it. If you’ve had smoked meat, in Montreal, or elsewhere, did you enjoy it? How do you think it stacks up to US style deli meat? Please comment below!

Cheers!

Ker

 

My Favorite Dining Experiences of 2013…

I wrote about my favorite experiences of 2012 last year, and it has been fun to go back and revisit some of them periodically.  So…I thought I’d make another list for 2013 – the first full year of “She Ordered What?”.

First, let me say that 2013 has been a fantastic year!  I left a job that, to put it nicely, was un-fulfilling, moved to Milwaukee (a city that I am LOVING!), am working for a supervisor I respect – and like, and have coworkers I enjoy (so much so that we opted to spend time together after the holiday party this year).  I am living in downtown Milwaukee, and am thoroughly enjoying metropolitan living (as are my (now 13-year-old) dogs!). I am also traveling a bit more again, allowing for some interesting dining experiences.  For me, change has been very good!

So…I started compiling my top 5 choices of 2013, but the list quickly grew beyond five.  I’ll list my “top 5” and a few honorable mentions – which provided great memories with a bunch of friends and colleagues.

5) Melt Bar and Grilled: This is a bit of a cheat, as I actually posted this on December 28, 2012.  However, I think Melt deserves a mention since the sandwich was so very good!  Full of carbs and comfort, the “Mom’s Meatloaf” grilled cheese was excellent, and very filling!  I did end up having the second half of the sandwich for lunch the next day – and I ate it cold.  It was really delicious as a cold leftover!  I’d also like to thank Melt Bar and Grilled for posting a link to my blog on their website.  I really appreciate the additional traffic!  I’m looking forward to hitting up Melt when I make it back to Ohio next year.

Melt

4) AJ Bombers:  As I mentioned, I had been following AJ Bombers on Twitter ever since I read about their social media program a couple of years ago.  So…when I moved to Milwaukee, I was really excited to walk over and check the place out in person.  After all, the place promises “Happiness, with a side of burgers”.  Not only is the food far better than your average bar food (let’s face it, it’s NOT healthy!), but the Bloody Mary drinks are the best in town – I don’t care what WISN readers say!  Finally, the service is always outstanding – though I tend to favor being a customer of this girl.  😉

AJB

3) Braise: I was introduced to Braise through a local food blogger, Phi, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dining experience with her and another food blogger, Shanon.  The atmosphere is so cool.  This used to be a bowling alley, and the owners repurposed a lot of the old elements to create a unique and inviting space.  But, the food…is SO good!  The menu is changed up regularly to incorporate the best ingredients, and it’s not an overwhelmingly large menu so one doesn’t have to feel pressure to sift through pages of options, hoping to make the right decision.  I’ve been to Braise several times now, and in my opinion, any decision is a good one!  Also, Braise just opened a second floor bar/lounge area.  I’ll need to check that out!

Braise

2) Bacon Bros. Public House: Another locally sourced restaurant makes the list!  I have Yelp! to thank for introducing my friends and me to this hidden gem.   While visiting South Carolina to see my Clemson Tigers beat Boston College, we stumbled upon Bacon BrosThe food:  the meat is locally sourced, and spectacular, and the side dishes have a definite southern flair to them, but with a new twist.  The service was fantastic.  And, their motto is “Powered by Bacon”!  What’s not to love about this place?

BaconBros

and…the top “She Ordered What?” dining experience of 2013 was…

1) The Publican:  The fact that I drove ~90 miles each way to and from Chicago on a Tuesday night (in traffic and weather) could not even put a damper on this meal!  Our server, whom I mentioned a few times in the post, was very good – and he was totally on board to surprise us that evening.  The food was expertly prepared.  Again, The Publican is a restaurant that sources its ingredients locally – must love that!  All in all, the atmosphere, the service, the food, and the company (Chanda!) were top-notch.  I loved this place that is off the beaten path, so to speak, but may be home to the best meal I’ve had in Chicago (and I’ve had some REALLY good meals there!).  I highly recommend The Publican if you’re looking for an excellent dining experience.  The menu changes up frequently here as well, but here is the selection from which we had to choose.

Publican

Honorable mentions:

I kicked the year off by celebrating a dear friend’s birthday in Detroit.  I was able to meet some of her other wonderful friends, and we just had a fantastic time enjoying a city that tends to be “off-limits” after work or late at night. Detroit does indeed have some safe and fun spots to enjoy “after hours”.

I also enjoyed celebrating my own birthday with friends – in Massachusetts.  My friends gave me a perfectly balanced weekend.  We had fun “out on the town”, enjoyed chilling at home, oh, and we ran a 10K in the middle of it all!  I’m looking forward to seeing this crazy crew when we meet up for our other friends’ wedding in Memphis this February.

Finally, categorize this under the “last, but not least” header… I had some fun times traveling with my new coworkers this year.  We had some really fruitful business trips, but always seemed to sneak in a good meal or two! There was the “first meal in Nola”, the “marathon trip”,  the “French food in Montreal”, the “mussels in Brussels”, and the “pork in Paris”.  We’ve had other dining adventures, but not all warrant a “She Ordered What?” post.

I will say this, I’m grateful for the way my colleagues have embraced me, and I find it refreshing to enjoy having a meal and/or a drink (or two!) with my coworkers. It certainly makes work more enjoyable!

“She Ordered What?”: 2013 by the numbers:

I wrote 22 posts to contribute to the overall number of 83 posts. The readers and I have posted 221 comments to the blog.  There are over 1,800 “She Ordered What?” followers who viewed the blog almost 17,000 times.  And, from all over the world…83 countries, actually (led by the US, Canada and Singapore)!

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Thank you again for your support and readership.  As I mentioned last year, if you would like to write a guest post, please let me know.  I enjoy sharing others’ experiences as well!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2014!

Cheers!

Ker

A Farewell “Toast” with Great Friends!

Some of you (friends and family) may know that I am planning to relocate from the greater Detroit area to the greater Milwaukee area soon. I’ve accepted a fantastic new position, and I’m really excited about this new opportunity. At the same time, I’m bummed to be leaving some really great friends behind in MI. I know that we’ll end up meeting up somewhere – MI, Chicago, Milwaukee, or some other “road trip” location TBD. But, that still means I won’t get to see these friends as frequently as I’d like. 😦

That said, two of my closest friends here in Michigan (whom I’ve written about before – here, here, here, and here, and who wrote a guest post for me) invited me to brunch this morning. We were to meet at Toast in Ferndale at 11AM this morning. I arrived a bit early and gave my name to the hostess – twice, as she neglected to write it down the first time (and it turns out, the second time too).

After Bryan and Jessi arrived, we caught up a bit outside of the restaurant. It was a rainy morning, but it was still warm enough to stand outside. We waited for 30 minutes before Bryan’s name, not mine, was called. The hostess simply dismissed the fact that my name had never been added to the list. I had been there for ~45 minutes at that point, and was not impressed by the “service” thus far, but was famished and ready to eat! Whatever. Moving on…

Once inside, we were promptly greeted and had our drinks delivered. Then, we were swiftly ignored for several minutes. Again, the service…not impressive.

Once the server came back to take our order, we couldn’t rattle off our choices quickly enough! I started by proclaiming that I couldn’t decide between the breakfast burrito , a standard on the menu, and a special item: Thai style Eggs Benny. The combination of flavors just sounded divine to me, but I also love a good breakfast burrito!

Breakfast menu Toast.

Breakfast menu Toast. It’s an “eye chart”, but you get the gist! The breakfast burrito consists of

Thai_Eggs_Benny

The server quickly responded that the special is fantastic, so the special was what I would have. Jessi ordered the standard Eggs Benny, and Bryan ordered a custom omelet – both with grits. The server ended up choosing home fries for me, though I would have welcomed the opportunity to have grits again!

We continued to catch up while waiting for our meals. Considering how crowded the restaurant was, they didn’t take too long to be delivered.

Thai style Eggs Benny at Toast.

Thai style Eggs Benny at Toast.

And, when I bit into my Thai style Eggs Benny, I knew I had made a good choice. The coconut biscuits had a subtle flavor, but were a cool compliment to the (semi) spicy red chili Hollandaise. I love having spinach on my breakfast foods, and it worked really well in this dish. And, the grilled shrimp (3 of them) gave another bit of much-needed morning protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.

I’m not usually a fan of potato chunks at breakfast. I prefer hash browns. However, the potatoes had a nice flavor to them, and I enjoyed several bites.

Home fries at Toast.

Home fries at Toast.

Bryan and Jessi had been to Toast before, and based on their prior experiences, we had we had talked about having brunch here before. I was glad we finally made good on that plan!

I was quite pleased with my breakfast, as was Jessi with hers. But, Bryan was disappointed with his, and from my view, rightfully so. His eggs were not tasty (they looked overcooked to me), and he said the chicken apple sausage lacked any apple flavor.

Sadly, even our attempts to cheer him up didn’t work. He didn’t really share the enthusiasm about mine or Jessi’s meals when we shared a bit with him. The Hollandaise fell short in his opinion (and he is an informed foodie!). He did admit that the red chili flavor was the upside of my dish (I agree!).

It was a bummer that his food wasn’t very good, since he and Jessi had always had fabulous experiences at Toast before. And, Toast’s reputation is quite good! Still, Jessi and I continued to dig into our meals!

My personal biggest disappointment with our brunch experience was with the lackluster service. Despite that, having leisurely brunch together at a new place (for me!) was a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning.

I’m going to miss having the opportunity to catch up with these two on a regular basis. Distance (aka: absence) will make the heart grow fonder – and will increase our already over-the-top texting conversations! Thanks for a lovely morning of catching up over brunch.

Love you two!

Ker, aka: Cupcake 🙂

Three different experiences… breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Greater Detroit area.

After having dinner with some fantastic colleagues last week, I realized that there were two other local posts I hadn’t yet written.  One was about breakfast in Northville, and the other was about lunch in Farmington Hills.  So, I decided to write a post documenting all three meals at different restaurants nearby.

Part 1:

My breakfast post takes me back to my favorite time of year – college football season!  Last October, I was invited to attend the UofM game versus Illinois.

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This was my fourth or fifth time at The Big House, but it was my first time doing a proper tailgate (and in freezing cold weather!).  The morning started with a generous host simply refusing to take “no thank you” as my answer to his offer of a morning beverage.  So…I started with this:

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I was careful not to drink too much that day, even starting with a beer at about 11AM.  Once we left his house, our group headed into downtown Northville for breakfast at a local fave – Rebecca’s Family Diner.

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 photo (24)Rebecca’s is a casual, noisy, energetic, and simply cool place.  By all accounts, it’s a great diner, so I decided to just allow our server to choose my meal.  She came back with a hearty breakfast burrito – which totally hit the spot!

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No need for anything else (there were veggies, potatoes, meat and cheese in the sandwich).  I was full just from the sandwich!

We spent a few hours tailgating in the parking lot.  I was able to meet up with an old friend of mine (tall, good-looking dude), instantly starting the rumor mill.  I swear men are worse than women when it comes to gossiping!

And, then…we (and a hundred and ten thousand or so others) watched the Wolverines utterly embarrass Illinois.  All in all, a very fun day!

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Part 2:

Speaking of fun days, last weekend, I had a girls’ day out with two coworkers from Masco Cabinetry.  The plan was to get pedicures (them, not me), head to Plum Market, and then grab lunch before we all went on to finish our weekends at home.

We had a great time exploring the market.  Neither Jess nor I had been before, and Danielle just knew that two people who appreciate food as much as Jess and I do  would enjoy this place.  And, we did!  Beautiful produce, organic meat, excellent wine selection, gluten-free everything, a large selection of Papyrus cards, outstanding service, and fresh flowers (2 dozen roses for $8.99!).

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This is a place to go for supplementary groceries, not your full list, as it’s a bit pricey.

After hitting the market, and catching up over pedicures (and the most insane massage chairs I’ve ever seen!), Danielle took us to one of her favorite Chinese restaurants.  You know that age-old rule…if an ethnic restaurant is full of ethnic patrons, it’s probably very good?  Well, the crowd gave me confidence that Danielle had chosen a great spot by taking us to Hong Hua in Farmington Hills.

You can look at the menu and see that it’s pretty standard for a Chinese restaurant.  I wasn’t craving anything in particular, so I asked our server to choose her favorite dish for me.  Two funny things happened next:  1) Danielle looked at me like I had three heads!, and 2) our server asked me if spicy was okay – to which I replied “Sure!”.  Our server responded with a big grin (basically saying…girl, you’re in TROUBLE!).  Jess looked at me and actually said that…you’re in trouble, Ker.

We started off with Wonton Soup.  Then, I was delivered the Shrimp in Szechuan Style.

photo (27)While it did have a kick to it (lots of red chili peppers), it wasn’t terribly spicy.  In fact, it was quite good!  I didn’t finish the meal – as you can see, it’s huge!  But, that wasn’t because it wasn’t tasty.  The three of us walked out of Hong Hua quite satisfied.  Jess even took home a few things for her husband, Bryan, who was at home watching all of our dogs.

Part 3:

The third part of this post had a less satisfying outcome.  I had spent the last couple hours on Tuesday meeting with various designers from across Masco business units.  We were figuring out how to keep everyone connected after they returned to their respective locations (and their day jobs!).  It was a productive use of our time, and it was some of the most fun I’ve had at work recently.  When the meeting coordinator (my former boss) asked if I’d like to join them for dinner, I quickly agreed.

I arrived a bit later than everyone else since I had to stop at home to walk my dogs in what was becoming a nasty snowstorm.  When I arrived at our table, I didn’t even bother to peruse the menu.  We were at Ristorante Caio, an Italian restaurant in Dearborn, and I felt comfortable handing over a blog card and relying on our server’s recommendation.

Throughout the evening, we had energetic, and really funny, conversations.  However, the moment our plates were delivered, the conversation stopped and everyone dug right in!  What did Sarah choose for me?  A beautiful filet with a (rather large) house salad on the side.

Filet

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photo (31)The filet had great flavor to it. The Portobello mushrooms added a lot to the “best cut of meat” Ristorante Ciao serves (per Sarah and the chef).  The only problem I had with it was that the meat was way overcooked.  This beautiful filet was served well-done, and my stated preference on my card is medium-rare!  I did end up letting the server know, and I also left a good portion of the steak on my plate as further evidence.  I devoured the vegetables – the smashed potatoes were delicious!

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Despite being disappointed by the chef’s execution of my meal yet again, I really did have a lovely time with the group! And, Ristorante Ciao does have a beautiful setting.  It’s also close to home, and I’m sure I’ll give it another try.

And, there my friends, are three different experiences in the greater Detroit area.  What are your favorite breakfast, lunch or dinner spots?

I love it when a plan comes together! Celebrating in downtown Detroit…

Since the first day of this year, my friend Bryan has been secretly planning a big night out for his wife’s (Jess’s) birthday.  Two of Jess’s best friends were coming in from out of town to surprise her, and we had a lot to plan. There is a chain of Facebook messages that goes on for days discussing options and planning the evening.  During this process, I tapped into my local Detroit network.  I had input from one of my favorite local bloggers Detroit Moxie as well as a couple of coworkers.  After considering some places in Ferndale, Corktown, and other areas, we settled on a plan that allowed us to enjoy downtown Detroit.

First, we would meet for drinks and appetizers at Centaur Bar, and then we’d head over to Cliff Bell’s for dinner.  Both came highly recommended, and when I mentioned Cliff Bell’s, the immediate and unanimous feedback was that this is a phenomenal spot.  Great atmosphere, and spectacular food.  Their motto is “There’s only one Cliff Bell’s”, and that sums up the sentiment I had been hearing about the place.

After dinner, we had a list of local options, but we’d leave those decisions up to Jess.  By the way, through her powers of deduction, and a slip up or two by folks in the group, Jess figured out much of the plan.  It’s not easy to surprise that woman!

On Saturday, seven of us met up at Centaur Bar to kick the evening off. I arrived first and staked a claim on the sofas in the bar area.  The bar wasn’t very crowded yet, but I really liked the atmosphere. It’s a comfortable spot, with cool interior design, and lots of space to move.  Being the wild girl that I am, I started the evening off with an iced tea (not the Long Island kind, just the straight up caffeinated iced tea) while I waited for the others to arrive.  Folks, this was vile iced tea, but it did the job.

A few minutes later, Jess, Bryan, their friends and neighbors: Chad and Tracy, and the out-of-towners: Shannon and Brian arrived.  It was so fun to meet the folks I’d been messaging with for weeks. I had known from the messages that this would be a fun crew with whom to hang.

Shannon, Jess, Bryan and Brian enjoying a cocktail at Centaur Bar.

Shannon, Jess, Bryan and Brian enjoying a cocktail at Centaur Bar.

We spent a little over an hour chatting, telling stories, and generally getting to know each other before heading over to Cliff Bell’s for dinner.

**Note to readers: Centaur is a great spot, but the restrooms are in a very dark hallway. Make sure to bring your phone with you so you can find your way!

The walk over to Cliff Bell’s was short and easy, despite the fact that Google maps wanted to take us over the river and through the woods!

The restaurant has a cool history, and I knew that Jess would like the atmosphere and decor.  Now, it’s worth noting that Brian (the one that came in from out-of-town) and I very quickly found a rhythm with our verbal sparring and banter.  When I noticed that he was the one checking our party in with the hostess, I walked over to the stand and proceeded to give him a bit of a hard time.  Together, we totally cracked up the hostess.

Shortly thereafter, we were seated at a table right at the front of the restaurant, which was all good until we realized that half of our table was blasted with cold Detroit winter air every time the door opened.  The group of super troopers (especially Tracy!) managed to make it through the meal without freezing to death.  🙂

After ordering a round of drinks, we all perused our menus.  There were two things on the menu that I knew that I needed to avoid: the bacon-wrapped scallops and the maple-glazed duck.  Other than those two items, it looked like everything was going to be delicious.

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It’s also worth mentioning that Jess and Bryan have been incredibly supportive friends – in all aspects of life – but especially with respect to “She Ordered What?!?”.  They were talking up the blog earlier in the evening, and when we sat down, Brian (who was sitting next to me) started inquiring about whether I would be writing about this dinner.  He wanted to know when and why I started the blog, how servers generally respond, and about my experiences in general.  Then, he and the others watched me hand our server, Lailani, my blog card.  She took a minute to read the card and then said “okay” with a smile. She mentioned that she’s never received a card like that, and I think she enjoyed the opportunity to choose her favorite meal for someone.  The only question she asked is if I have a preference for seafood or “other proteins” – which I didn’t.

Quite a while later, after trying a couple of appetizers, we were served our dinners.  While the staff was all very pleasant, the service at Cliff Bell’s was pretty slow all night.

On the plate set before me sat the Roasted Wild Salmon dish.  It was beautifully plated.

Roasted Wild Salmon over spinach and Chevre ravioli with

Roasted Wild Salmon over spinach and Chevre ravioli with Cippolini onions and Buerre Rouge

The flavor of the dish was quite good, and when Lailani asked if she had steered me in a  good direction, I assured her that she had.

Then, I continued eating the salmon.  And, I discovered that the majority of it was completely undercooked.  It was raw, with a slimy texture, rendering it inedible.  I left a large chunk of fish on my plate, and everyone at the table could see that the cooks really messed this one up.

And, that is an important distinction for me.  My friends had accused me of lying to the server because I told her she had made a great choice.  I stand by that statement.  Lailani’s choice was a good one, but the chef’s execution of the dish fell way short.  This was not the server’s fault.

Overall, based on our experience last night, we all agreed that we’d go back to Cliff Bell’s for the atmosphere, but not necessarily for the food.

As we were finishing up at the table, the hostess came back and advised us that we’d each be billed a $10 cover charge if we were to stay much longer.  The live music was about to start, and although we had been there for a couple of hours, the staff intended to charge us a cover.  I was surprised by this.  Is that a standard practice?

We made our way toward the door and headed out to enjoy a couple more local spots.  First, we walked over to The Old Shillelagh in Greektown. About an hour later, after Shannon had been repeatedly bumped and beaten by a table full of drunk girls (the crowd was definitely a drinking crowd), we decided to head back toward Park Avenue.  Our final stop was the Town Pump Tavern.  In my opinion, this was the perfect place to end the evening.  It had a calm environment, lots of space, good music, and allowed us to chat and recap the night’s events before heading home.

I’m so glad we decided to enjoy downtown Detroit this weekend.  Aside from heading down for sporting events, and last year’s Gorilla Challenge, I hadn’t spent much time in the city.  Now I know that there are a variety of great places to hang out – just a few minutes from home!

**Another note to readers: Although it sounds like this was one big bar crawl, please note that we were a responsible group.  Those of us who were driving did not overindulge, and were careful to make good decisions.

Finally, I want to wish Jess a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Me and Jess.

Me and Jess.

Cheers!

Ker

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