Standby Detroit

Standby Detroit

Sunday we saw our first opera, Cyrano, at the Detroit Opera House.  It was fabulous!  The sets were so intricate along with the costumes, and the performers sang like I’ve never heard before.  The story is a sad classic, and even though it was in Italian, I was riveted from start to finish.  It was also the final performance for long time Detroit Opera House artistic director David DiChiera, so that was something really special to see.

Opera Orchestra

David DiChiera's Curtain Call

Because the opera and the festivities surrounding the artistic director lasted nearly three and a half hours, we knew we wanted to grab dinner instead of coming home and cooking, so we met up with another couple at Standby.  We were late because the opera ran late, but the couple were already settled into our table.  We felt so bad but they said it was no problem.

I’ll tell you the first thing that bothered me about Standby: they don’t answer their phone.  Ever.  This is rather frustrating, especially when you are like me and like to ask questions and know what’s on the menu.  There is one online, but it was not the correct menu.

Chickpea Battered Cauliflower

Still, the restaurant is in a very nice alley with art on the walls and lights strung across it.  It’s a place I’d be happy to hang out.  The restaurant was small, loud, and bustling.  We settled into our table and ordered drinks.  A bacon old fashioned for Dad, a Midleton Cup with Irish whiskey, Pimms, mandarin, allspice, cucumber, ginger, mint, and nutmeg.  It was super refreshing and looked awesome with a cucumber ribbon floating in the glass.  I had La Joya, a strong, medicinal drink with San Luis, chartreuse, sherry, and hopped grapefruit bitters.  It was so flavorful!

Then it came time for food.  The other couple ordered the fried cauliflower as an appetizer while they were waiting for us, and I ordered it with our entrees.  It’s a really unique dish in which the cauliflower is coated in chickpea batter with paprika and honey.  Everyone loved the dish but me.  I really wanted to love it, but there was just something about the flavor that I didn’t love.

Brussels Sprouts with Cashews and Fried Potato

Mom and Dad both had the cheeseburgers.  Dad got bacon on his, apparently he had a serious bacon craving.  The burger is the star of the menu with a custom blend patty, American cheese, pickled red onion, lettuce, and black pepper aioli on a sesame seed bun.  It was pretty freaking fabulous and arrived to the table steaming hot.

The fries were another story.  They were rather cold, brown, and not crispy on the outside, tender on the inside like we all want from awesome fries.

Wagyu Strip Steak

The other couple and I both ordered the Wagyu strip steak which comes with a house salad and the brussels sprouts.  I don’t typically order steak out because I am always disappointed, but this did not disappoint one bit.  The fatty steak was cooked to perfection and perfectly balanced with the fresh salad.  At $30 this may be the best steak, particularly for the money, in the area.

The Brussels sprouts were a huge hit too.  The crunchy cashew and fried potato chunks really stood out.  They should serve those fried potatoes with burger instead of the fries – a total world of difference.

Custard Time Wild Cherry Sundae

The desserts didn’t interest us, so after walking around town for a bit, we headed for Custard Time in Northville for some soft serve.  The small serving was literally the best way to end a great meal and an even better day.

Standby's Alley

Voyager Ferndale

Voyager Ferndale

The weather is nice outside, which means it’s time to venture out and try all the new restaurants.  Ferndale is becoming one of my favorite places to head with Mom for an impromptu dinner.  Voyager is located in a slightly off the beaten path warehouse style building and is one of the newest additions to the dining scene.

The restaurant is lively, noisy, and bright.  I loved the brightness of it.  So many restaurants are dark, so dark sometimes you can barely see your food, but not Voyager.  I felt happy just being in there.

Voyager Ferndale

Voyager Ferndale

The waitress was nice and brought my fun, colorful mai tai quickly.  It was a good drink, but maybe a little strong for my taste, and not quite as refreshing as I anticipated.  This was my first experience with a mai tai, though, so maybe I just didn’t know what to expect.

After ordering, we were warned that food would come out as it was ready and in any order.  This is my pet peeve about restaurants.  It’s not hip and cool.  It’s annoying and signifies a lack of the ability of the kitchen to coordinate.  Basically, it’s an excuse, and I don’t like it.

Whitefish Sandwich

The crispy whitefish sandwich was the best thing we ate, certainly the best fish sandwich we’ve ever had, and one of the best things I’ve had in a restaurant.  First, it was steaming hot.  Then there was the perfect bread to fish to topping ratio with super crispy fish, bright slaw, and an intoxicating spice that was almost too much but really just enough.  The pickle didn’t hurt either.

After that the house salad was delivered.  I’m a salad girl and this one was really nice.  Beautifully presented it featured super fresh greens, tons of cheese, bright lemon zest, and a lovely green goddess style dressing.  My favorite part may have been the breadcrumbs, something I’ve never had on a salad but added great crunch.

Salad with Parmesan and Breadcrumbs

I tried the sweetbreads and scallops for my entrée.  I’d never had sweetbreads before and always wanted to try them, so this was my chance.  Again, the plate came out super hot, and the crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside sweetbreads were perfection.  I loved the scallops too; they almost melted in my mouth save for a few chewy bits which made me think they forgot to remove the foot.  The hollandaise was a bit of a disappointment since it really seemed more like mayonnaise.

The spring vegetable soup arrived last.  Again, it was so hot, the steam poured off of it, and it stayed hot quite awhile.  I’m guessing they warmed the bowl.  The cod dumplings weren’t our favorite, but the vegetables weren’t overcooked and the broth.  Oh, man, let’s talk about the broth.  It was rich and flavorful and supremely comforting.  All broth should taste like that forever and ever.

Spring Vegetable Soup

They only have one dessert, pineapple upside down cake, which has never been a favorite of ours, so we headed to Dairy Deluxe in Birmingham, a place I’ve been dying to try for a soft serve ice cream fix.  I can’t wait to go back.  I had vanilla with blueberry and Mom had vanilla with butterscotch and pecans.  Need I say more?

It was a super fun night and Voyager is a good restaurant with the potential to be a great one.  I’m sure they’re still getting their footing and tightening up a few things would go a long way.

Soft Serve Ice Cream

Foodie Night in Detroit

Foodie Night in Detroit

The Tower

I told you recently that I had just about the perfect day/night at the Bon Jovi concert.  I figured things like that only happen every now and then.  But it turns out, anything is possible, especially in nice weather.

Last weekend, Mom, Dad, and I met up with Dad’s boss and her husband, Jana and Steve, whom we have become friends with.  We had a blast with them last year at the Detroit Athletic Club and this most recent outing may have been even better.

The Ren Cen

We began our evening with dinner at the London Chop House.  It was popular back in the day, had been closed for a few decades, and was resurrected five years ago.  We hadn’t been and it sounded like the place to go.

Unfortunately, the service and food were far from the high expectations we all have when dining at a steakhouse with prices to match.  The most glaring errors were bones in Jana’s fish and Steve’s forgotten entrée.  That’s pretty unacceptable no matter where you dine.

London Chop House Fish

Too bad they left the bones when they filleted it :/

LCH Hamburger Steak

Dad was fine with his filet and sides of macaroni and cheese and a stingy portion of fries.  Mom’s entrée the Hamburger Steak was again, fine.  My food was probably the tastiest.  I ordered the tuna appetizer and fried Brussels sprouts.  You can never go wrong with Brussels!

Dessert was just as strange.  Housemade blueberry gelato had a strange nut/coconut thing going on that none of us liked, the crème brulee was not fully set and warm.  Dad’s carrot cake was the star of the whole evening.  I may have eaten more than my fair share.  Oops!

LCH Carrot Cake

Despite the odd food and service experiences, the company and conversation were great and more than made up for it.  I won’t be going back to the Chop House though.

From London Chop House, we walked to Bad Luck Bar.  I have been DYING to go to Bad Luck since it opened in December 2016.  It is known for pricey craft cocktails and is something totally different for the Detroit area.

Bad Luck Bar

Though the evening was a bit brisk, the walk was nice.  We made it a bit after our designated time and were thrilled the bar sat us anyway.  It is teeny tiny and has a speakeasy vibe.  We were presented with menus and given an amuse bouche: a warm pisco beverage with cinnamon and honey that was pretty much EVERYTHING!

We each ordered a drink after carefully going through the menu.  I had the Tower and loved every bit of it.  The complex flavors went together perfectly in this smooth cocktail.  I also tried Mom’s Past Lives, a tequila and rum based drink that was fruity and sweet and went down super easy.  Steve also had the Past Lives, Jana had an Old Fashioned, and Dad’s drink was something with citrus and good too, but I don’t remember what it was.

Past Lives

Past Lives

The Tower

The vibe of the bar was awesome, as were all the drinks and the people who work there.  They were knowledgeable, friendly, and happy to explain all about the bar and deal with our slightly tipsy attempts to set me up with one of the workers.  #sorrynotsorry – he was cute and nice … and not single 🙁

On our way to the bar, we passed the recently opened Shake Shack and joked about stopping on the way back to the restaurant to pick up our cars.  As we neared leaving the bar close to ten pm, it wasn’t a joke.  Not only did I FINALLY get to go to Bad Luck, but I FINALLY got to try Shake Shack.

Shake Shack

It’s so not like me to get a burger at 10 at night, but with our lackluster meal, we weren’t that full and it sounded fun.  I let go and went and it was awesome.  Shake Shack wasn’t very crowded, thankfully, and we pretty much walked right up.  Everyone there was so nice!

The fries were fine, though I bet the cheese fries might be better.  But the Shack Burger.  Let’s just talk about that Shack Burger.  It isn’t too big or too small and has just the right bun to meat to cheese ratio and the sauce is good and it’s all-natural, non-GMO, and it’s just great.  I’m not the kind of girl who eats a whole burger, but I would have eaten that one and hope to go back for another very soon.

Foodie Night in Detroit

We walked back to the restaurant for our cars and five and a half hours after our evening began, I didn’t want it to end.  It was an evening totally unlike me.  Yes, I love going to dinner, but not typically dinner and a bar and an almost midnight snack.  It felt good, like a preview of the life I want in the midst of times that are often stressful and disappointing.

Nights like that remind me that I am very lucky and I need to appreciate all I have.  They also remind me I need to keep fighting for my dreams and goals, because I can and will reach them.

Also, when can I go back to Bad Luck and Shake Shack????

Parc Detroit

Parc Detroit

Cold weather is just not my thing.  I know this and yet I wanted to go to Parc, one of Detroit’s newest and hottest restaurants, right in the beauty of Campus Martius.  And it was a cold night.  So cold walking into the restaurant and especially back to the car and even sometimes in the restaurant with the air from the windows that encase almost the entire building blowing on me.  I’m cold just thinking about it.  Oh, so cold.  Excuse me while I go turn up the heat.

Okay, I’m back.  Despite the cold weather and the fact that if it would have been sixty or seventy my night would have been that much better, Parc is a really fabulous addition to the area’s dining scene with some outstanding food.

Crab Pasta

The location is the draw to Parc.  We met up with some friends the night before they took down the Christmas tree steps outside of the restaurant.  The lights are beautiful, there’s a fire pit with that comforting scent, music plays, people abound.  It’s where you want to be.

Because of this, it would be easy for Parc to make food that was fine but nothing special.  They didn’t take the easy way out, though, with outstanding and unique food including some tableside presentations.

Shaved Vegetable Salad

The appetizers didn’t wow me (though I am intrigued by the charred burrata they flame at the table), but the pastas did, so we ordered the crab pasta to share.  It was a nice size and allowed everyone a decent taste.  It arrived at the table piping hot and the housemade pasta was perfectly coated in a rich sauce.  It is one of the best things I have ever eaten.  Truthfully, it didn’t even need the crab, though the fennel was a nice touch.

Main courses were up next.  I had the shaved vegetable salad which I devoured with the tangy mustard seeds and lemon vinaigrette.  All the vegetables were bright and fresh, though it was definitely a little light on the apple, as well as the quinoa and almonds, which I’m not even sure were present.

Pasta Carbonara

Wild Boar Pasta

Dad and one of our guests went with the pasta carbonara and wild boar Bolognese, respectively.  They liked them, but Dad admitted the crab pasta was the best.

Our other guest had the filet mignon, which she enjoyed, and Mom had one of the specials, a Wagyu strip steak, which was perhaps the best she’s ever had out.  It was so well marbled and presented with flavorful and pretty roasted vegetables.  Meat lovers can rejoice because they have tons of super nice meat specials and at least one is sure to suit your tastes if you are craving steak.

Filet Mignon

The waitress, who with a waiter assisting her, was very nice, but did tell Mom that the side that came the steak was not much so which additional side did she want.  She ordered the Yukon gold wedges, which were awesome with the romesco and an aioli, but they also appeared on the bill.  It wasn’t a huge deal but slightly misleading.

One more nit-picky thing before we move onto dessert, oh dessert.  One of the gentlemen who answers the phone says “how may I service you?” when answering.  I definitely appreciate that he wants to be helpful, but this sounds weird, if not more than a little creepy.  How may I help you will definitely suffice.

Wagyu New York Strip

Now that we got that out of the way, for dessert they have baked Alaska.  I love that they have this old school treat and that they do it right.  It is flamed tableside – so cool!  The base is carrot cake and on top it is layered with carrot sorbet, cream cheese ice cream, and lemon buttermilk ice cream.  All of it is topped with an irresistibly gooey and melty marshmallow meringue.  Plus it is more than enough to share.

Parc is a great fine dining destination in a wonderful environment.  Plus, the food is fab.  Now I’ll just have to go back in the summer when I can remember more than how cold it was.

I’ll be back Friday with my fashion look and more about the atmosphere.

Flaming Carrot Cake Baked Alaska

Grey Ghost Detroit

Grey Ghost Detroit

Grey Ghost may have only been open for a couple months now, but the buzz surrounding it has been strong from the very beginning.  So strong in fact that Mom, Dad, and I had to meet our friends on a Sunday night because we couldn’t get Saturday reservations.

Luckily, it was a beautiful early November night and we headed out to downtown Detroit.  Parking was a bit of an issue and the restaurant wasn’t even packed, so I can imagine at other times it is almost impossible to park.

Once inside, the small restaurant had a welcoming vibe and our waiter Scott greeted us and was incredibly helpful throughout the meal.

Butternut Squash Salad

We ordered our cocktails (bourbon for me) and then some appetizers.  Our guests had been to Grey Ghost numerous times and fell in love with the butternut squash salad.  It is thinly sliced and layered with apple, pomegranate seeds, and green mole and garnished with mint.  The colors are so striking and it is a celebration of fall that reminded me once again how much I love mint in dishes.

I went in knowing I had to try the cheeseburger, but eating a whole one sounded like a lot.  So Mom, Dad, and I split it for an appetizer.  It was great with a soft bun and tons of melty cheese, though it’s not the best burger I have ever had.

New York Strip Steak

Entrees arrived before long.  The waiter informed me that they had a chocolate doughnut, so to be on the safe side, I shouldn’t eat anything from the fryer.  I really appreciated him being on top of my allergy, but it was definitely a bummer that I couldn’t try the fries or Mom’s steak since he forgot about the fried onions on top that were not listed on the menu.

Everyone raved about that steak.  It was cooked perfectly and seared so well.  One of our guests had the pork schnitzel which was super crispy and he said tasted just like schnitzel should.  The other guest had the scallops with panko breadcrumbs on one side.  They practically melted in your mouth and other than dessert (which we’ll get to in a moment) were my favorite bite of the evening.

Seared Sea Scallops

Sweet Potato Angolotti

Dad had the sweet potato agnolotti with grilled broccoli and enjoyed it greatly.  I had the whitefish salad.  It was a nice dish and was heartier than I imagined.  The flavors of mustard, dill, onions, and the irresistible creamy sauce mixed wonderfully.

Smoked Whitefish Salad

We also had the Brussels sprouts with chicken skin, that the waiter had the chef roast instead of fry and the shishito peppers with candied oxtail.  While I always love sprouts, the peppers surprised me in their extreme tastiness.

But let’s get to dessert.  The aforementioned doughnut was out of the question but the peanut butter and jelly sundae and kuri squash pie were not.  The sundae was very good.  I didn’t love the jam which read a little too sweet but I still can’t get over the perfection of the peanut butter ice cream.  It was silky smooth and tasted just like peanut butter.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream Sundae

And then there’s the pie.  Have you ever eaten something at a restaurant and wanted more?  And most of the time you tell yourself no.  you guys, I wanted another piece of pie and I ordered it.  My defense is that I’d had a crappy day (week, month, whatever – agents and Hollywood, ya know) and I knew I’d never have another chance to eat the pie.

Plus it was that good.  The crust was perfection with a flaky, crunchy texture.  I feel like there was something nutty in it, but I don’t know.  The filling was creamy and just slightly spiced and the whipped cream, oatmeal crumble, and rosemary on top made me fall head over heels in love.  I have never ever had a pie other than one I have made that I love so much and I doubt I will again.

There are plenty of reasons to check out Grey Ghost, but maybe their pie (in always changing flavors) is my favorite.

Toasted Oak Grill and Market

Toasted Oak Bar and Grill

We have been very lucky here in Michigan to have some lovely October days and nights.  A couple weeks ago on one such night, I just couldn’t stay home and inside, so Mom and I headed to Toasted Oak Bar and Grill in Novi, Michigan to sit outside for dinner.

I spent most of the day searching for a restaurant that still had an open patio.  Luckily, Toasted Oak did, because on an 80 degree, sunny, breezy warm October night, I wasn’t going to be cooped up inside a stuffy restaurant.

French Fries

I have heard about Toasted Oak for a while and wanted to try it, so I was excited to finally have the chance.

Like so many restaurants these days, they source as many local ingredients as possible with a farm to table philosophy and make pretty much everything on the menu from scratch.  What sets them apart is that instead of in a space somewhere in downtown Detroit, Toasted Oak is in a hotel adjacent to a mall in a suburb of Detroit.

The mall and hotel setting fell away as we sat on the evergreen enclosed patio, the sun setting and the building thankfully blocking most of the breeze.  Plus, we only got attacked by one bee, so I’m calling that a serious win.

Our waiter was nice and knowledgeable and presented us with cornbread.  It was warm and super moist with great flavor and the whipped butter along with it was nice as well.

Lobster Salad

The housemade kielbasa was our appetizer and favorite dish of the night.  The charred outside of the meat contrasted the tender, decadent interior and the mustard and potato salad accompaniments were delightful on their own.  We were so glad we tried this dish, as it isn’t something we would typically order.

Before long our entrees arrived.  Mom ordered one of the specials, a ribeye steak with potatoes, onions, bleu cheese, dried cherries, and a peppercorn crust.  It was cooked to perfection and melt in your mouth tender, something that can’t always be said of a ribeye.

Ribeye Steak

I ordered another special, a lobster salad.  I had had a craving for lobster so it was fate.  The perfectly cooked meat went so well with the last of the season local tomatoes, black radishes, some greens, and a bold dressing.  I devoured it, but was disappointed to find a few pieces of shell.  Kindly the manager did remove it from the bill.

Mom and Me

We also tried the French fries, because you know I can’t skip fries!  They were good but not great.  It would have been better had they been slightly less brown and crispier.  Still they stand up to most of the local fries I’ve tried.

The meal might not have been perfect, but the evening was.  We had such a nice time sitting outside and enjoyed our meal.  And really, you can’t ask for much more than that.

Wright and Company

Wright and Company Potato Chips

This summer has been one of many fun things including try lots of new and exciting restaurants.  As with anything, they have been a bit hit and miss.  Wright and Company was our latest adventure about a week and a half ago.

They don’t take reservations and have been known to have two hour waits, so Mom, Dad, and I met some friends there just after 4, when they open.  I’m pretty sure we were the first to arrive and were welcomed by smiling hostesses, waiters, and bartenders.

Wright and Company

The restaurant is on the second floor of a building not too far from Ford Field and Comerica Park, offering a nice view of the city.  The inside is also welcoming with a bar stocked with glimmering bottles and nice round booths facing the windows.

Our waiter approached and took our drink orders.  I always either order bottled water or bring my own when the restaurant doesn’t have it.  Say what you will, but in this era of lead being found in water all over the place, this is something I will not apologize for.  He brought a glass full of ice to go along with my water.  When I asked for a glass without ice, he walked three steps to the service station next to our booth, dumped the ice, and replaced the glass on the table.  I drank from the bottle.

Escarole Salad with Ricotta Salata

As for the cocktails themselves, we tried three different ones.  One with vodka, one with rum, one with bourbon, and all we could say about them was that they were incredibly strong.  We all enjoy a good cocktail and our guest actually coughed when she first tasted hers.

The waiter suggested we each order two dishes, which we did.  However, the dishes were not presented in that way.  The potato chips came first, which was fine.  They were an excellent start to the meal and enough for everyone to share.  Not a bit greasy and loaded with white cheddar sauce and bacon, they are craveable.

It would have been nice for the remainder of the dishes to be presented as all the appetizers at once and all the entrees at once.  This, however, did not happen, much like at Republic.  They were presented in a haphazard manner, each set in the middle of the table with a sharing spoon.  While none of us minded sharing, this was not how we ordered out food.  I for example ordered the Escarole Salad with ricotta salata, stone fruit, and rhubarb vinaigrette.  The dressing was very good, though the salad felt like it was just missing something.  Dad ordered the sirloin steak with corn.  Though overcooked, it was a huge hit with all of us.  We were willing to share our dishes, but they were just that: our dishes.  However, they were presented as community food.

Sirloin Steak with Corn

This was an issue throughout the meal, though pretty much everything we ate was great if not outstanding.  The pork belly sliders on brioche with a Sriracha aioli were crispy, yet tender, and the flavors melded beautifully.  The heirloom tomatoes with burrata showcased the best of the season and the pesto totally popped.

The crisp Gulf shrimp with Thai chili sauce may have been the best dish of the night.  The shrimp were delicate and crispy, not at all fishy, and the sweet, tart, and spicy sauce is something I would happily put on just about anything.  Our guest also enjoyed the sea scallops, which were golden brown and presented with corn.

Crisp Gulf Shrimp with Thai Chili Sauce

We, along with our guests, ordered the eggplant cannelloni, despite the waiter’s warnings it was super eggplant-y.  However, the dish never arrived.  The waiter forgot to put it in, so he ordered it late and one arrived.  Apparently he still didn’t know we wanted two.  It was fine, but a bit of a shame as the dish was not at all eggplant forward and was delightful.  The tender pasta, the gooey cheese, the acidic tomatoes on top to cut through the richness.  Anyone and everyone should try this dish.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Burrata

It came time for dessert.  We tried the butterscotch pudding as well as the special, a semolina cake with blueberries and lemon curd.  The butterscotch pudding was a disappointment with an overwhelming artificial taste.  However, the blueberry cake more than made up for it.  It was balanced and a perfect celebration of summer.

In the end, it was a beautiful September night, we had great company, some fabulous food, and a wonderful overall time.  However, after wanting to go to Wright and Company for a couple years, I was disappointed in the service and pacing and presentation of the food.

Butterscotch Pudding

Blueberry Semolina Cake with Lemon Curd

Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails

Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails

Rainbow Trout

Over the past few years a plethora of trendy restaurants have popped up throughout Detroit.  With the buzz and rave reviews many of them have received, I have been trying to check as many as possible out, especially over the summer months.  Some are better than others.

Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails located near the Detroit Institute of Arts is by far the best.  By far.

Though Mom was hesitant to try it worried not everyone would find something to eat or be satisfied at the end of the meal, a hesitation that was only intensified by the need to put down a credit card at the time of making the reservation, we all left thrilled and eager to go back.

Burrata with cucumbers, tomatoes, balsamic, and prosciutto

Burrata

It was recently my parents’ thirtieth wedding anniversary (congratulations!), so we met up with some friends to celebrate.  It was a yucky rainy night, but we didn’t let that get us down.

The brightness of Chartreuse with the green painted walls is welcome amid the often dark dining destinations.  It is not very large and has high ceilings, so the noise is a factor but mostly adds to the fun vibe.  We were seated at a large, nice table, perfect for all the food we were about to order.

The only, literally only, bad thing I can say about the entire evening is that I ordered the Good Fortune cocktail.  It’s a great drink and I just loved the spiced infused Saint Germain along with the sake and lemon.  Even better, it came with a fortune attached to the drink with a tiny clothespin that I took home as a souvenir along with the menus printed with Happy Anniversary.  But the fortune was so dumb and had a grammar error.  Again this is the only bad thing I can say, but seriously, Chartreuse, up your fortune game.

Melon Salad

Melon Salad

We requested the complementary bread (be sure to do so), and though I am not a big bread eater anymore, I can tell you this bread with the homemade basil butter was outstanding.  I would put that butter on anything and everything.

Before long the appetizers arrived.  Burrata with cucumbers, tomatoes, prosciutto, and balsamic.  A salad with cornbread croutons and vegetables from Recovery Park, a farm not too far from the restaurant.  Melon salad with stone fruit, peppers, bee pollen, and the best dressing ever.  We devoured them unable to say which was better.

We were debating ordering the eggplant hummus, so the waitress, Tricia, who was fabulous sent it out for the anniversary.  It was to die for!  The peppers on top added the perfect spice and the pesto rubbed naan bread is something I haven’t stopped thinking about for the past eleven days.

Short Ribs with Eggplant

Short Ribs

Also one of the food runners noticed me struggling to get at the dressing left in the melon salad with my fork.  He presented me with a spoon without even having to ask.  Now that is service!

The entrees arrived not too soon after.  The meal, in general, was paced incredibly well.  Dad and one of our guests both ordered the short ribs with eggplant and chicken and dumplings.  they enjoyed both, but Dad said the short ribs were his favorite.

Mom had the steak, a tender cut from the sirloin that melted in your mouth.  The onions, leeks, and green beans that accompanied it were tender and delightful.  Our other guest had the rainbow trout, golden and crispy on the outside and served with a Dijon cream that was to die for.

Steak with Onions and Leeks

Steak

I had the tomatoes with an egg yolk cream, corn, green beans, pesto, and little flowers on top.  I devoured it.  Though I tend to order salads and lighter dishes, this felt entrée worthy to me with the plate full of vegetables.  Just to round things out and because we seemed unable to stop ourselves from ordering anything, we tried the potatoes, which were red skinned, blue, and sweet, accompanied by cubes of crispy ham and colorful sauces whose flavor was as vibrant as their appearance.

Before dessert came (yes we made room for dessert), Tricia brought out a little tasting of chartreuse for each of us.  We really appreciated this.  It is something I have been curious about but would never order on my own.  It was super strong and had an anise flavor, but we all really enjoyed it.

Tomatoes with corn and egg yolk puree

Tomatoes

Then dessert came.  OMG!  Just thinking about it has my mouth watering all over again.  We had the vanilla pudding with basil gel on top, blueberries, and rosemary cookies.  It is the pudding dreams are made of, and though I don’t always love herbal desserts, the herbs here were used in moderation and didn’t overpower anything.

The tart cherry and nectarine cobbler came steaming hot out of the oven with whipped cream melting all over it.  The filling was fab, but it was that topping, softened just enough by the fruit and cream that kept me going back for bite after bite long after I was full.

Vanilla pudding with basil and blueberries

Vanilla pudding

If you are ever anywhere near Detroit, do yourself a favor and head to Chartreuse.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

Summer Night #FashionFriday

Summer Night #FashionFriday

All summer long I wanted to do one thing, well a lot of things, but one thing in particular.  I wanted to go to Townhouse in Birmingham and eat outside.  But every time I wanted to do this throughout the summer months, it was sweltering out and I decided not to die of heat exhaustion just to fulfill my summer bucket list.

So on the last day of August, the weather was perfect, seriously perfect, and I went to get my hair done so it was looking good, and Mom and I headed to Townhouse.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Townhouse Salad

We sat outside and it wasn’t even buggy.  Our waitress, Lily, greeted us kindly and before long we ordered the Vietnamese Spring Rolls for an appetizer – the perfect light and refreshing start to the meal.  Then Mom had the classic Townhouse burger (I stole some of it too), which is a thick patty with caramelized onions, melted white cheddar, and a buttery brioche bun – aka the perfect burger.  I built my own salad with the red onion vinaigrette and devoured it, loving the freshness.

Townhouse Burger

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Plus, that let me save room for dessert.  I have been dying to try their Cake Cake Cake, a funfetti masterpiece that dare I say is at least as good as Momofuku’s, if not better, and something I want to eat all the time.  We also tried the strawberry shortcake trifle, and loved it with the jammy strawberries and whipped cream.

Summer Night #FashionFriday

For our fun night out, I chose a casual cool outfit pairing my classic Victoria Beckham lbd with a fun Chanel pearl belt and bright blue wavy heel Christian Louboutins.  I was super comfortable and felt like I was sitting somewhere in California, all my dreams having come true, just loving life.  And really, that night, and many, many others this summer, I did just love life.

Dress: Victoria Beckham // Belt: Chanel // Bag: Chanel // Shoes: Christian Louboutin // Sunglasses: Anna Karin Karlsson

Summer Night #FashionFriday

Republic Tavern

Republic Tavern

I have wanted to go to Republic since it opened.  It’s been critically acclaimed with a nose to tail and farm to table philosophy that is so popular with restaurants these days.  The menu seemed a bit different, but I was up for an adventure, as I so often am with restaurants these days.

It was a steamy (the car said it was 100 degrees), sunny day that I was so happy to be enjoying.  Republic is a very beautiful restaurant with the most comfortable chairs ever.  This is important since so many restaurants these days have hard metal chairs that leave us uncomfortable.

Lady Hemingway Cocktail

We were greeted by our friendly waiter and began the adventure.  I began with a Lady Hemingway cocktail (very appropriate, I thought) and it was gorgeous with a slice of grapefruit peel on top.  The scent was intoxicating and the flavor very balanced with rum, rhubarb liqueur, and grapefruit.  I loved it!

Then Mom, Dad, our two guests, Art and Jessica, and I ordered our appetizers and entrees.  Republic places emphasis on family style eating and we were warned that food may not come out together, even though we each ordered our own food with the intention to share a bit but not have a family style meal.

Republic Tavern

The appetizers were outstanding.  I was dying to try the roasted carrots and they did not disappoint one bit.  The carrots were still a bit crunchy but charred and very vinegary, which was great because I love vinegar.  They were served with pistachio pesto and cashew cream.  I would order this dish again and again.

The housemade challah bread with molasses butter was good, but not worth the $6 price tag.  This should be complementary on request.

Potato and Cabbage Pancake

The broccoli gratin was a hit as was the potato and cabbage pancake with housemade speck, a delicate salad, and even fresh currants.  The cherry and tomato salad with burrata was a hit as well, particularly the uber creamy cheese.  The hot dishes came out literally steaming too, something I always appreciate.

It wasn’t a big deal that the appetizers came out slightly apart from each other because we all had sharing plates and did enjoy tasting the dishes; plus the lag time was minimal.

Jamblaya

When it came to the entrees, this was a different story entirely.  Jessica’s jambalaya arrived first.  She loved it, but no one else at the table would know because this time we did not have sharing plates.  Mom and Dad’s strip steaks came out next.  They were a bit undercooked, but once refired a bit, delicious.  Art and I each ate some of their dishes with our fingers, cave man style!  The meat was ridiculously tender and the vibrant, almost spicy chimichurri totally hit the spot.  Housemade kimchi, sautéed rapini, and polenta with mushrooms made this a must order dish.

Art’s pork chop arrived next.  Despite the waiter’s warning it would arrive medium rare (yikes!) it was cooked through and dry.

So that left me.  Where was my entrée?  Jessica was done eating and it had been twenty or thirty minutes since her food arrived.  My duck breast finally came.  Though it was a bit salty for me, the meat melted in my mouth.  I love the beets and turnips that came with it as well as both the beet and fig puree.

Duck Breast with Beets

Dessert also arrived in a less that timely fashion with the s’mores (sans chocolate) coming first.  It looked a bit unassuming, but one taste made me melt.  Vanilla sang through in the ridiculously creamy dish.  I saved some for the carrot cake doughnuts that arrived next.  They were hot and crispy, coated in cinnamon sugar and even better with some of the s’mores melting on it.

Jessica’s housemade Superman ice cream came last, which makes no sense.  She loved it though we all noticed it was a bit icy.

S'more

Mom called the manager the next day to chat about the wait for dishes.  He was very nice and said it shouldn’t have happened.  He also said the pork chop had not been a hit.  All of the food was rather good, but I couldn’t put my finger quite on why I didn’t particularly enjoy my time at Republic.  I think it was all the waiting.  The manager said we should come back, let him know, and he would show us how awesome Republic can be.

And you know what, I am excited to take him up on that offer.  I also hope you will check out Republic because it has amazing food and is still figuring out how to work together as a kitchen.  None of us can be perfect, I suppose.

Republic Tavern

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