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Detroit Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


ChocoKitty
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Do you live on the east side....are you willing to drive further westward? Here are some of my favorites that are a good value for the $$$ in the greater Detroit area:

Union Street in Detroit (New Center Area)

V. Gonella's sub shop in Dearborn (on Outer Drive near Pelham)

Al Ameer (Middle Eastern) in Dearborn (almost at the Detroit city line on Warren)

New Yasmeen Bakery (Middle Eastern) in Dearborn

I've eaten Steve's Backroom Middle Eastern food that is sold at Hiller's, and it is very good.

Mom

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One place not mentioned so far that fits your description (though a bit of a hike from the Metro area proper) is Ayse's Cafe in Ann Arbor. Ayse herself will serve you fabulous homemade Turkish food. The prices are very reasonable, and it's definitely out of the ordinary.

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"Also in the "off-the-beaten-path" type places...if you are ever on the West side of Detroit, Schoolcraft college, well known for their Culinary program, does a lunch service tuesday through friday that will blow your mind, led by CMC Dan Huglier and serving quality food at prices that will blow your mind...they seat at 11:45, 12, and 12:15, your best bet is to call ahead. (the dessert selection from the pastry shop is incredible, and if I remember correctly, you get your choice for something like $1.95)"

Haven't tried American Harvest for lunch yet. The menu (which I always stop to check out any time I'm driving by on Haggerty) looks interesting. I'm...a bit hesitant with regard to AH based on what I find to be "strange" service there. Example: the other day, I went in on a Tuesday afternoon before one of their scheduled bi-weekly ethnic dinners, wanting to see the menu (the theme for the night was Mexican, as evidenced by the sign greeting people at the door). I told the host on duty that I wanted to know what the menu was so that I could get an idea of what they'd be serving that night. He went, was gone for *several minutes*, and returned to tell me that the menu would be "Mexican" that night. I remained composed and asked to see the *actual menu for that night*. He complied and I was satisfied. This is not the first time I've had strange service there, though.

I will admit that the desserts look fantastic. At $1.95, they'd qualify as bargain-basement to me, as well.

"Also for a nicer dinner at still reasonable prices (all entrees below $20 last time I checked) is Fiddleheads on 13 mile just east of Greenfield. New chef Tim Voss has been making some changes at this restaurant so look for new things if you have been there before...."

Never have. It's one of those "Always drive by, never try" places for me. I should, probably, but it's not very high on the to-try list. You think I should move it higher in the (pun intended) food chain?

"The Onion Roll Deli on Woodward just north of 11 mile is famous in the area for their Ruben's, but for my buck I offer two alternatives to my most favorite sandwich...O'Hara's is located on 10 mile road West of Gratiot and is a bar...but a bar that is so well known for their Rubens I find it hard to believe they actually have a bar clientele that doesn't come just to eat! Also a top in my Ruben list is the Bread Basket, a tiny place located on 8 mile road between Telegraph and Grand River...Found out about this place a few years ago and was so highly recommended that I went to search it out from St Clair Shores (Warning: both of the above places require a hearty appetite as the serve a truly formidable sandwich!)"

Ooooooo, careful there. I take my deli sandwiches (particularly corned beef on rye with Russian dressing and cole slaw) very, very, *VERY* seriously, so let's not make any recommendations that can't live up to the hype, shall we? To me, the high water mark/standard for deli sandwiches comes from the Stage Deli in West Bloomfield on Orchard Lake Road south of Maple. It's an eye-buggingly expensive sandwich at about $11 (I KNOW! I KNOW! Calm down, I'll explain...), but it is, by far, the best I've ever had. The best idea, however, is to go to the satellite Stage Deli's (they're called Goldberg's Stage Deli, I think) at a couple of local malls (such as Somerset Collection in Troy) wherein this same sandwich only runs about $7, and it's the *exact same sandwich*. Same ingredients, same size, same everything. Much more appealing to me, not just because of the value, but because eating at the Stage in West Bloomfield is almost always a patience-testing experience with the service there. Their service *stinks*, for the most part. Fantastic food, exorbitant prices, and crappy service do not mesh with me. The satellites will continue to be the destinations for me, thankyouverymuch.

The Bread Basket Deli also came highly recommended to me, and I went expecting a truly great sandwich. When I got it home, I was dead-shocked: the person who recommended the place to me was someone I trusted, and I have never, ever trusted them for a restaurant recommendation since. To me, the most important thing a deli sandwich needs to get right is the *meat*. The sandwich I got from the BBD had what I can only call "The Most Flavorless Corned Beef I've Ever Endeavored To Eat In My Life." If the meat isn't good, the sandwich (as well as the establishment) is a total loss. I've never been back.

"Also notable: Cedar Gardens, located at 9 mile and Mack near the Shores Theater and the (in)famous Travis Burger serves Middle Eastern food that will blow away anything from Steve's Backroom, and they are in the same area. Across the street is a tiny place called Sy Thai Shores (to differentiate it from their location in Birmingham) that serves great Thai food, especially for the area in which it is located."

Sy Thai I've heard great things about, and want to try. My standby for great local Thai, Pi's Thai Cuisine of Hazel Park and Sterling Heights, are very good, but I've never heard a single bad thing about Sy Thai, so they must be doing something right.

I'm hardly a connoisseur in Middle Eastern food, but I'm learning to like more things as I go along. I'm rather...picky, I suppose is the word, when it comes down to it, about many of the sauces and spices that are used in ME food, but I think I'll give Steve's Backroom a try first, to see what happens. I'm awful careful in this type of cuisine, having been scared off by some truly lousy food at La Shish locally. Why anyone likes the food there is well beyond my level of understanding. I barely was able to be fed.

"Speaking of Middle Eastern food, there is a small place downtown called Byblos, I believe it to be on Palmer very near Wayne state that I recommend on the strength of the only meal I have had there, if anyone can comment further I would appreciate it..."

Again, I'm rather tentative on Middle Eastern food, but I'm always looking for a way to expand my horizons.

"Sorry for being so lengthy but I have to congratulate you on what may easily become my favorite thread on all of Egullet!"

Don't be sorry! I *need* these kinds of suggestions. This is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. I'm happy to provide what knowledge and recommendations I can to the local community, and would greatly appreciate finding some other hidden gems that don't involve an 18-year-old server named "Kimberly" coming to my table with a bunch of pin-on buttons on her shirt, sitting down next to me and when I ask her what she'd recommend on the menu, her pat response would be "Everything here is good!" "Kimberly" needs to get up outta my chair, and give me an honest opinion, or "Kimberly" is going to drive me to drink...elsewhere. ;)

Thank you so much for your well-thought-out and varied suggestions!

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"Do you live on the east side....are you willing to drive further westward?"

Actually, I live in Ferndale, which I don't consider to be "east side," but some might, I suppose. I'll put it this way: I'm willing to drive up to, say, 45 minutes one-way for really good food. I regularly make the trek to Eastpointe, the Corktown district of Detroit, the Brightmoor district of Detroit, Hazel Park, Novi, etc. I don't care much about driving...I love to drive! It's always nice to find a place worth driving to (RIP Ny's Thai Cafe in Novi...it's under new ownership now, and it's not *nearly* what it once was).

"Here are some of my favorites that are a good value for the $$$ in the greater Detroit area:

Union Street in Detroit (New Center Area)

V. Gonella's sub shop in Dearborn (on Outer Drive near Pelham)

Al Ameer (Middle Eastern) in Dearborn (almost at the Detroit city line on Warren)

New Yasmeen Bakery (Middle Eastern) in Dearborn"

Heard of Union Street, and that's on the list. Only problem I can foresee is parking, but c'est la vie. All of the others I'm not familiar with. Do they all serve meals, or are some just specialty foods, such as the bakery?

"I've eaten Steve's Backroom Middle Eastern food that is sold at Hiller's, and it is very good."

I'll be trying this place. I'll probably try a lamb ghalaba or something that's a good measuring stick to see how I like it. Also of great importance: the fatoosh (sorry if I'm botching the spelling of these types of foods, here) salad. I adore a nice fatoosh salad, and hold them in high regard.

Thanks for the ideas!

Edited by boagman (log)
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One place not mentioned so far that fits your description (though a bit of a hike from the Metro area proper) is Ayse's Cafe in Ann Arbor.  Ayse herself will serve you fabulous homemade Turkish food.  The prices are very reasonable, and it's definitely out of the ordinary.

Turkish food, eh? That's something I've never had the opportunity to try before, to my knowledge. Color me intrigued! Is this place downtown? Near the campus? The hospital? Easy-to-access? I know my way around A-Squared relatively well, and while I'm not there often, it'd be nice to try something like this.

Any particular recommendations off the menu?

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Ayse's is in a plaza on Plymouth Rd. (at Murfin, I think) immediately north of North Campus. I only ate there once while living in Ann Arbor, though I knew people who went regularly.

Since you live in Ferndale, you probably know about these places, which I've mentioned on other threads. I've got two very young kids so nowadays when we eat out it has to be close, cheap, and kid-friendly. We sometimes end up at Christine's Cuisine in Ferndale, Frittata in Clawson, or Cafe Muse in downtown Royal Oak. The latter two are breakfast and lunch-only. None are that "off-the-beaten path" in that the newspapers have reviewed them, and Christine's even makes the Detroit News' "Outstanding Bargains" list.

(Looking at that list, I see several other places that I take the kids to every now and then: Albano's Cafe and also Zumba in downtown Royal Oak, Anita's Kitchen in Troy, and Grand Azteca in Madison Heights. I'd probably rank them in that order, and I wouldn't say any are worth a long drive, though from Ferndale, why not.)

Edited by Leonard Kim (log)
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being from ferndale you probably already know about bangkok cafe on 9 mile... doesn't look like much but definitely my favorite thai food in the city.

the redcoat tavern on woodward & 13 mile has fantastic burgers and onion rings but the service is usually average to poor.

berkley breakfast house on coolidge n. of 11 mile is a really nice neighborhood breakfast restaurant....

giorgios restaurant on greenfield and lincoln is another great value. looks like a hole in the wall diner but serves hearty portions of pasta and a nice filet with zip sauce.

speaking of filet with zip sauce mario's at 2nd & john r is another great value. that's all i can think of for now... nice thread!

Edited by san (log)

Sandy Levine
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Great topic.

I second the recommendations for Zumba and Fiddleheads (although I'm ont sure the latter fits the "under $15 category, including drink and tip").

I love Nippon Grille in Berkley for the area's BEST sushi at some of the lowest prices I've seen anywhere; Antonio's in Sterling Heights for wonderful homemade pastas, soups, desserts, etc.; Mr. Kabob in Berkley for very fresh Middle Eastern food. This one is really off the beaten path -- it's inside a gas station. There are a few tables you can eat at, but it's more of a take-out joint.

Just last week I went to Dakota Inn Rathskeller, which has been around forever, for the first time. I'm not much into German food, but if you like bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, pickled vegs, etc. (not to mention German beer) this is a good place with a wacky atmosphere.

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Never have. It's one of those "Always drive by, never try" places for me. I should, probably, but it's not very high on the to-try list. You think I should move it higher in the (pun intended) food chain?

I would recommend moving it up. I can't vouch for the new menu since Tim Voss arrived because the last time I went was the same week he joined the staff and the menu was the same as before, but I'd bet it will be just as good or better. I've been to Fiddleheads many times in the past few years and have always had good food and service. I think it's a great bargain considering the quality of food they serve. The only down side is a fairly limited wine list, but you can always find something decent and prices are reasonable.

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"being from ferndale you probably already know about bangkok cafe on 9 mile... doesn't look like much but definitely my favorite thai food in the city."

For Pad Thai, yes, absolutely. Theirs is certainly a fave of mine. However, everything else on their menu is what I'll tell people is "functional for food." Aside from their Pad Thai, everything else they serve is quite forgettable. May I recommend that you try out Pi's Thai Cuisine in Hazel Park, on the corner of John R and I-696? You won't be disappointed...do be careful, though: their spice level is just plain *mean* to those expecting the typical easy-breezy fare at medium spice. Work your way up, and you'll be fine.

"the redcoat tavern on woodward & 13 mile has fantastic burgers and onion rings but the service is usually average to poor."

Ah, the Redcoat, my stomping grounds. They have what I consider to be the best burger in the Detroit area (possibly tied with Miller's Bar in Dearborn), though I haven't had the onion rings. I'll spot you that the service by the waitresses can be pretty spotty, yes, but in fairness to them, they're often so hair-pullingly busy that it's hard to expect much more from them other than "Take order...eventually deliver food." Hoping for beverage refills is, yes, an optimistic view. I honestly prefer to sit at the bar and order from Brent, their longtime 'tender. He's quite attentive, and he's a whirling dervish of motion. No problem with tipping him pretty well.

Never had the onion rings there, though they look relatively good. For onion rings, I prefer Scotty Simpson's Fish and Chips at Fenkell and Lahser in Detroit, where I've never had better fish and chips or onion rings. Ever. E-V-E-R. I cannot recommend this place more highly than I do.

"berkley breakfast house on coolidge n. of 11 mile is a really nice neighborhood breakfast restaurant...."

Which is something I rarely do: go out for breakfast. When I do, it's usually at this little hole-in-the-wall place in Roseville called Lori's Cafe, and all I ever order is bacon and eggs with hashbrowns and toast. It's basic fare, but I'm not a really big adventurer at breakfast, and they *always* get it right and it's *always* piping hot. Here's an example of how non-adventurous I am at breakfast: if I order a no-cheese western omelette, I'm really going nuts. ;) Sad, but true. I like simpler fare in the morning. Maple syrup is a bane to me.

"giorgios restaurant on greenfield and lincoln is another great value. looks like a hole in the wall diner but serves hearty portions of pasta and a nice filet with zip sauce."

Not familiar with Giorgio's at all. I'll have to keep that in mind.

Ah, filet. Never, in all the time that I've been eating, have I had a good filet. It seems that no one, and I mean absolutely *no one*, will allow the flavor of the meat to make the biggest statement. They all want to spice it, or zip-sauce it, or whatever. My kingdom for a steak house that can make my a filet that I'd enjoy. Really. Until then, I'll be quite happy with a porterhouse, T-Bone, or ribeye.

"speaking of filet with zip sauce mario's at 2nd & john r is another great value. that's all i can think of for now... nice thread"!

Glad you like it...it's meant to be shared. Mario's at 2nd and John R...what city?

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"Great topic."

Glad to hear it...and I'm even more grateful for the ideas.

"I second the recommendations for Zumba and Fiddleheads (although I'm ont sure the latter fits the "under $15 category, including drink and tip"). "

True Confessions time: I don't care for Zumba. I've tried it a few times, and their food just isn't enough to draw me. Yes, it's great that they have their own non-pay parking lot (a rarity in Royal Oak), but the food is relatively bland, and for what you get, the quality-to-portion and quality-to-price ratio are both far too low in my book. It's the type of place that relies more on its location than its fare, which bugs me. Ergo, I haven't been there for years.

"I love Nippon Grille in Berkley for the area's BEST sushi at some of the lowest prices I've seen anywhere;"

Better than Noble Fish in Clawson?

"Antonio's in Sterling Heights for wonderful homemade pastas, soups, desserts, etc.;"

I'll think about this one. Anyone else notice that you can't throw a rock in this town without breaking the window of some Italian restaurant?

"Mr. Kabob in Berkley for very fresh Middle Eastern food. This one is really off the beaten path -- it's inside a gas station. There are a few tables you can eat at, but it's more of a take-out joint."

This one intrigues me not just for its location, but anyone with the wherewithall to call themselves "Mr. Kabob" cracks a smile from me.

"Just last week I went to Dakota Inn Rathskeller, which has been around forever, for the first time. I'm not much into German food, but if you like bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, pickled vegs, etc. (not to mention German beer) this is a good place with a wacky atmosphere."

Which doesn't sound like something I'd be into. C'est la vie. You can't be into every type of cuisine, and German food is something that I actually avoided while I was in Germany a couple of years ago. I'm sure that they do it well, but it's just not my thing.

If you like Polish food, have you tried the Polish Village Cafe on Yemens in Hamtramck? Get the fried pork chops, and start out with their dill pickle soup. All of that (with a bread basket) will set you back about $8. There's some hit-and-miss things (the potatoes and veggies aren't anything of consequence), but the pork chops themselves are *wonderful*, and the dill pickle soup is great, too. I get it every time.

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"I would recommend moving it up. I can't vouch for the new menu since Tim Voss arrived because the last time I went was the same week he joined the staff and the menu was the same as before, but I'd bet it will be just as good or better. I've been to Fiddleheads many times in the past few years and have always had good food and service. I think it's a great bargain considering the quality of food they serve. The only down side is a fairly limited wine list, but you can always find something decent and prices are reasonable."

Bah. Wine list, shmine list. Couldn't care less, as I've never liked wine. As often as I've tried it, and *wanted* to like it, it just doesn't do it for me. If they can make a passable amaretto sour, I'm fine with that. ;)

From what I've heard, I probably would surpass the $20 border at Fiddleheads, though, putting it above the targeted range. Still, I'll have to drop by and peruse the menu a bit, and see what they're trying to pull off, cuisine-wise. Bonus points awarded for little things like pastry chefs who know what they're doing, and all that.

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Not having the means or time to systematically try out different sushi places, we've always fallen back on Noble Fish, so I'd be interested in reading about better alternatives as well.

I work at Beaumont, and we regularly get takeout from Mr. Kabob. It's good, but again I don't know that I'd make a point of trying it if you had closer Middle Eastern alternatives, which is, I guess, a potential problem with a lot of these places.

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Do you live on the east side....are you willing to drive further westward? Here are some of my favorites that are a good value for the $$$ in the greater Detroit area:

Union Street in Detroit (New Center Area)

V. Gonella's sub shop in Dearborn (on Outer Drive near Pelham)

Al Ameer (Middle Eastern) in Dearborn (almost at the Detroit city line on Warren)

New Yasmeen Bakery (Middle Eastern) in Dearborn

Don't take this the wrong way, I LOVE Union Street, I had one of my favorite meals of all time there, but let me say this...

Last time I was there I took my girlfriend after she got out of class at WSU. After paying for the parking in the lot that is next to the restaurant (closest available parking and $5 to boot) we went in and asked for the warmest table in the house as she was quite cold from walking across the campus for parking situations. They sat us NEXT TO THE FRONT DOOR. We then proceeded to pay around $85 for an appetizer, two entrees, and a single beer each. As much as I love this place I think that it would cost $15 just to go have a beer there by the time you are done with parking, etc.

From what I've heard, I probably would surpass the $20 border at Fiddleheads, though, putting it above the targeted range. Still, I'll have to drop by and peruse the menu a bit, and see what they're trying to pull off, cuisine-wise. Bonus points awarded for little things like pastry chefs who know what they're doing, and all that.

As I currently work there, I can let you know that the menu hasn't changed extensively since 2 years ago...a few dishes are done slightly differently now but most of them stay the same, with the exeption, of course of the dessert menu.

Haven't tried American Harvest for lunch yet. The menu (which I always stop to check out any time I'm driving by on Haggerty) looks interesting. I'm...a bit hesitant with regard to AH based on what I find to be "strange" service there.

This is easily explained. The "servers" at the restaurant are first year culinary students, and for those of you who don't know what that means, most of them are pretty much afraid to tie their shoes without asking someone if they are doing it right. This could help explain the problem. Also with your inquiring about the Mexican dinner...Tuesday nights are, for those of you who are not familiar with the school, International Dinner nights. This is a seperate class who are in the school Monday and Tuesday and do service for a different country/ethnicity every week for 5 weeks, until another class takes over. The students that you see there during the day for the most part are not there during the evening, and as they are first year students and have not had the class yet, have no idea what is going on (see above)

As far as Steve's Backroom is concerned...

I do consider myself a lover of middle eastern food. I have worked for several Lebanese men and have had wonderful meals prepared by their wives and always search out middle eastern restaurants, especially in the summertime. I have eaten at Steve's original (and currently only) location twice and at their former place on the Nautical Mile several times. While I do appreciate that fact that I can go to most grocery stores and purchase their wonderful hummos, I have to say that hands down the Cedar Gardens has every dish that I have tried at both places beat. It is small, and the service is typically okay at best (I have found this to be common at most restaurants in this genre) but the food is o u t s t a n d i n g!

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strange as it sounds mr. kabob inside the gas station (can't remember the corner) in berkley is really good... i remember going there several times a few years ago. however, i consider the shish tawook sandwich from the pita cafe (locations at greenfield & 696 as well as in downtown birmingham) one of the greatest steals in the city... it's small (i usually eat 2 and once in awhile 3) and costs somewhere around $3. i moved to philadelphia from detroit about 6 months ago and that is the only reason i am still typing rather than driving there right now it sounds so good :sad:

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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"Ayse's is in a plaza on Plymouth Rd. (at Murfin, I think) immediately north of North Campus. I only ate there once while living in Ann Arbor, though I knew people who went regularly."

Well, it's something to think about when I'm out that way. I have a friend who lives in Saline, another in Dexter, etc. And I think that the only time I've ever had Turkish food was when I was in Germany. I'd be willing to try that again, especially knowing that it's a place where the owner actually *works*.

"Since you live in Ferndale, you probably know about these places, which I've mentioned on other threads. I've got two very young kids so nowadays when we eat out it has to be close, cheap, and kid-friendly."

Right, and that's the complete opposite of me. I'm single, no kids, and will drive for good food. That's okay, though, since you obviously know places local to you.

"We sometimes end up at Christine's Cuisine in Ferndale,"

Which I find pretty good. Certainly worth the prices they charge, which are quite reasonable.

"Frittata in Clawson,"

Not familiar with it. Mexican, I take it? Where in Clawson is it?

"or Cafe Muse in downtown Royal Oak. The latter two are breakfast and lunch-only. None are that "off-the-beaten path" in that the newspapers have reviewed them, and Christine's even makes the Detroit News' "Outstanding Bargains" list."

Well, off-the-beaten-path was really more to say "Things that most people might now know about." Places that are vested in the local community, care about their customers and food, and are generally restaurants that you feel good about spending your money at.

RIP R&J Coffee Shop in Royal Oak.

"(Looking at that list, I see several other places that I take the kids to every now and then: Albano's Cafe and also Zumba in downtown Royal Oak, Anita's Kitchen in Troy, and Grand Azteca in Madison Heights. I'd probably rank them in that order, and I wouldn't say any are worth a long drive, though from Ferndale, why not.)"

Haven't been to Albano's, don't much care for Zumba, Anita's is functional, and Grand Azteca, based on the experience my friends had at their new Warren location, I wouldn't go to on a bet. Here's a tip, restaurant owners of the world: in a US public restaurant, your servers should be able to both *speak* and *comprehend* the English language, as well as do simple math. From my friends' experience, that's asking far, *far* too much of Grand Azteca. I'll stick to El Comal in Detroit, or something of that ilk.

Edited by boagman (log)
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"Don't take this the wrong way, I LOVE Union Street, I had one of my favorite meals of all time there, but let me say this...

Last time I was there I took my girlfriend after she got out of class at WSU. After paying for the parking in the lot that is next to the restaurant (closest available parking and $5 to boot) we went in and asked for the warmest table in the house as she was quite cold from walking across the campus for parking situations. They sat us NEXT TO THE FRONT DOOR. We then proceeded to pay around $85 for an appetizer, two entrees, and a single beer each. As much as I love this place I think that it would cost $15 just to go have a beer there by the time you are done with parking, etc."

Wow! Wowee-wow-wow! I mean, man...if I'm going to be spending that kind of cheddar, it had *better* be something special. Let's see: appetizer at $10 or so, two beers at $5 a piece ($10)...and the entrees are $32.50? A piece? Or is that tax and tip inclusive? Even so, that's relatively pricey. And to be cold while eating it after *expressly* asking to be warm? Yike.

"As I currently work there, I can let you know that the menu hasn't changed extensively since 2 years ago...a few dishes are done slightly differently now but most of them stay the same, with the exeption, of course of the dessert menu."

I've never been in, so I'll have to at least stop and see what's cooking, so to speak.

"This is easily explained. The "servers" at the restaurant are first year culinary students, and for those of you who don't know what that means,. This could help explain the problem. Also with your inquiring about the Mexican dinner...Tuesday nights are, for those of you who are not familiar with the school, International Dinner nights. This is a seperate class who are in the school Monday and Tuesday and do service for a different country/ethnicity every week for 5 weeks, until another class takes over. The students that you see there during the day for the most part are not there during the evening, and as they are first year students and have not had the class yet, have no idea what is going on (see above)"

Well, that certainly explains a bit. I knew they were culinary students at the college, but your statement that "most of them are pretty much afraid to tie their shoes without asking someone if they are doing it right," would certainly account for some of the strangeness I've come across. Some of them genuinely have that deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces, and asking simple questions appears to cause major consternation. I guess it's just been a while since I was a student in that regard. I'll have to be a bit more accepting, I guess. Hey: it's far better than them sitting down next to me, I suppose.

"As far as Steve's Backroom is concerned...

I do consider myself a lover of middle eastern food. I have worked for several Lebanese men and have had wonderful meals prepared by their wives and always search out middle eastern restaurants, especially in the summertime. I have eaten at Steve's original (and currently only) location twice and at their former place on the Nautical Mile several times. While I do appreciate that fact that I can go to most grocery stores and purchase their wonderful hummos, I have to say that hands down the Cedar Gardens has every dish that I have tried at both places beat. It is small, and the service is typically okay at best (I have found this to be common at most restaurants in this genre) but the food is o u t s t a n d i n g!"

Well, then, I'll have to try it. Again, though, I'm hardly a big fan of this type of cuisine. Who knows, though? Maybe I just haven't tried enough places, and the ones that I've tried have been subpar (die, La Shish...DIE!). It's a slow toe-dipping process for me, here, so in this particular case, slow and steady wins the race.

On the plus side, knowing that it's near the Shores theater gives me hope for this summer when the theater reopens. I went to a screening of "The Departed" there earlier this year just before the theater closed, and *loved* it. Not just the movie, but the atmosphere: hardly anyone there, no idiots talking during the movie, small-town feel. Sure, they didn't have the UBER STADIUM SEATING IN DOLBY SURROUND 4D-LUCASFILM MAGIC, but I don't require that. I'd just like to watch a movie in moviehouse where the people know how to be an *audience*.

Key to whether I'll like Cedar Gardens: their garlic sauce and their fatoosh salad. Must-haves. :)

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It seems like we basically agree. I mentioned Zumba, Anita's Kitchen, and Grand Azteca because they were on the Detroit News' "Outstanding Bargains" list and I was familiar with them (along with Christine's, which was a genuine recommendation, but then again, you knew about it.) Personally, I have to admit we eat at Qdoba more often than Zumba and that, other than a few "authentic" touches, Grand Azteca hardly seemed more distinguished than your typical area Tex-Mex place. And I'm sympathetic to your description of Anita's as "functional."

But, you might give Albano's a try. It's on Main St. in downtown Royal Oak.

Frittata is a breakfast/lunch place on Main St. between 13 and 14. A frittata is like an egg pie, the Italian version of the omelet, I understand, and it's their "specialty". Given your earlier comment on breakfast, perhaps it's not for you, but in general I recommend it. Service is just a shade slow, perhaps. Cafe Muse is the same kind of place in that I guess both try to be a little more sophisticated than your basic American breakfast or lunch. Both places are very small. And I find both places good for the price.

I guess my basic problem with Middle Eastern and/or Thai recs (and I guess that goes for other ethnic: Indian, Mexican, Chinese . . .) is that I myself don't find enough variation in quality as to make it worth seeking out anything beyond the closest place in your vicinity that's "good enough." (I don't like the La Shish branches in my area either, though.) For example, the closest generic Chinese restaurant to my house is King Wok which is in a strip mall on Campbell and 12 Mile. The thing is (and I'm about to lose all my food cred), I think it's quite good -- better than most generic, takeout Chinese places. So if I want generic, cheap Chinese, that's where I go. I know there are better places out there, but this place is more than good enough for me, so I have little motivation to venture further for food of this kind.

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Ferndale, eh? Have you been to Angel's Cafe? I haven't, but I've heard good things about it.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Ferndale, eh? Have you been to Angel's Cafe? I haven't, but I've heard good things about it.

I have, once, *years* ago. I say that not to belittle it or to say that it's in any way bad, but it's been so stinking long since I've popped in, I have no idea what it might be like now. When I was there, it was okay, but I remember the horseradish on the pork being too overpowering for my tastes. Keep in mind, though, that this was probably about 8-10 years ago.

I'm actually pretty gunshy when it comes to the Ferndale dining scene. I've not tried Assaggi, nor Via Nove, nor Josephine's, nor several other places along the 9 Mile strip. Unfortunately, Ferndale has changed (and appears to be continuing to change) into quite the little bar/college crowd destination, which is *so* not my scene. It seems that most any new place that wants into Ferndale wants, and quickly gets, a liquor license, and that bugs me about the municipality that I've lived in for around 35 years (I moved here when I was 6 months old).

Of the Ferndale eateries, Bangkok Cafe gets my business for their Pad Thai and occasionally for "functional food," I've tried the Indian place near the corner of Woodward and 9 Mile (left something to be desired), Christine's Cuisine is pretty good (bonus points for it being away from "The Scene" in Ferndale), Hong Kong 1 is quite good for generic Chinese (and they still have my favorite egg rolls in the area), and that's about it. There are a lot of places that I just have a hard time setting foot in because they seem to be overly concerned about the bar. Como's is a place that I find to be *really* overrated. I mean, unbelievably so. I appreciate their contribution to the area, but Como's for good food? Only if you plan on bringing said good food with you inside.

So anyway, Angel's could very well be quite good. I tend to avoid the 9 Mile strip, though I am tempted to get a group of friends to go to the Blue Nile for some Ethiopian food. I hear, however, that the Blue Nile's quality has gone down a good bit since its days in Detroit, and the price structure there, considering the nature of the fare, is what I find to be in eyebrow-raising territory.

Perhaps I'm just too picky, though.

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"It seems like we basically agree. I mentioned Zumba, Anita's Kitchen, and Grand Azteca because they were on the Detroit News' "Outstanding Bargains" list and I was familiar with them (along with Christine's, which was a genuine recommendation, but then again, you knew about it.) Personally, I have to admit we eat at Qdoba more often than Zumba and that, other than a few "authentic" touches, Grand Azteca hardly seemed more distinguished than your typical area Tex-Mex place. And I'm sympathetic to your description of Anita's as "functional.""

I actually prefer Chipotle to Qdoba, too, for what that's worth.

"But, you might give Albano's a try. It's on Main St. in downtown Royal Oak."

Is that the place right next door to Hermann's Bakery? I'm in Hermann's *all the time*! If that's the case (and really, I have no excuse since the women at the bakery have told me in the past that the place next door was good), I'll definitely have to give them a chance. BTW: Hermann's Bakery = really good baked goods, IMHO. Their sesame twist bread is a constant in our household, and a must-have for sandwiches.

"I guess my basic problem with Middle Eastern and/or Thai recs (and I guess that goes for other ethnic: Indian, Mexican, Chinese . . .) is that I myself don't find enough variation in quality as to make it worth seeking out anything beyond the closest place in your vicinity that's "good enough." (I don't like the La Shish branches in my area either, though.) For example, the closest generic Chinese restaurant to my house is King Wok which is in a strip mall on Campbell and 12 Mile. The thing is (and I'm about to lose all my food cred), I think it's quite good -- better than most generic, takeout Chinese places. So if I want generic, cheap Chinese, that's where I go. I know there are better places out there, but this place is more than good enough for me, so I have little motivation to venture further for food of this kind."

I sort of understand what you mean, especially with Chinese food. Thai I care a bit more about, and have tried enough to know what constitutes quality and ability, and what constitutes morons trying to pass off that they can cook. "Look! We're Asian! We must know how to cook Thai food!" There's a particular hole-in-the-wall Thai place up on Woodward near (or in) Birmingham that, were it to burn down, I'd grab a bag of marshmallows and race up the street to get there in time for roasting. It was *that* bad. And no, it's not Siam Spicy...that place is pretty good.

For me, Chinese is pretty generic unless you're going all out for the total ritzy experience of, say, Hong Hua in Farmington Hills on Orchard Lake Road. That's a completely other type of Chinese experience, though, and has to be taken as such. My local generic Chinese place, Hong Kong 1, does a good job with their Gai Kow, and most importantly, their egg rolls are *very* good, as is the plum sauce included with them. I wouldn't really drive out of my way to go there, though, so I understand your statement. You've lost no food cred with me.

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Oh, and just for reference, I stopped by the Weekday Cafe in Eastpointe yesterday and had some of their cream of broccoli soup. Fan-stinking-tastic. That's all I had, too. That was all I needed.

You should go. Really. :smile:

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"being from ferndale you probably already know about bangkok cafe on 9 mile... doesn't look like much but definitely my favorite thai food in the city."

For Pad Thai, yes, absolutely.  Theirs is certainly a fave of mine.  However, everything else on their menu is what I'll tell people is "functional for food."  Aside from their Pad Thai, everything else they serve is quite forgettable.  May I recommend that you try out Pi's Thai Cuisine in Hazel Park, on the corner of John R and I-696?  You won't be disappointed...do be careful, though:  their spice level is just plain *mean* to those expecting the typical easy-breezy fare at medium spice.  Work your way up, and you'll be fine.

I agree - the Pad Thai is what to order there. I also like the Tom Kha Gai soup. Especially for $1.15 a bowl!

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"being from ferndale you probably already know about bangkok cafe on 9 mile... doesn't look like much but definitely my favorite thai food in the city."

For Pad Thai, yes, absolutely.  Theirs is certainly a fave of mine.  However, everything else on their menu is what I'll tell people is "functional for food."  Aside from their Pad Thai, everything else they serve is quite forgettable.  May I recommend that you try out Pi's Thai Cuisine in Hazel Park, on the corner of John R and I-696?  You won't be disappointed...do be careful, though:  their spice level is just plain *mean* to those expecting the typical easy-breezy fare at medium spice.  Work your way up, and you'll be fine.

I agree - the Pad Thai is what to order there. I also like the Tom Kha Gai soup. Especially for $1.15 a bowl!

i usually judge thai restaurants by their fried rice, and i've found theirs to be my favorite

another 'off the beaten path' place that has become very well known is slows barbcue in detroit by the old tiger stadium.... nice to have great comfort food in a place that pays attention to the atmosphere of the restaurant as well.

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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My wife and I tried Crush tonight. It's on the southwest corner of Thirteen Mile Rd. and Southfield. It's fairly new and been getting quite a lot of press.

Here are the reviews:

Metro Times

http://www.metrotimes.com/guide/restaurant...ew.asp?id=10079

Detroit Free Press

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article...ENT08/701050407

I don't have much to add to the reviews. I had the chicken entree described in the Metro Times while my wife had the salmon mentioned in the Free Press. Both were pretty much as described. As mentioned in the reviews, bread must be paid for -- we opted for bruschetta which was a little oily for my taste, though the tomatoes were tasty. We also ordered what we thought would be an appetizer ("brown bag asparagus"), as it was in the menu column which our server (who went through a fairly detailed menu explanation) indicated was for appetizers, but arrived simultaneously with the entrees (leaving a slightly large gap between bread and everything else.)

I should note that they, as of last month or so, now accept reservations (formerly allowed only for parties of 6 or more, which might have contributed to the crowd of would-be diners described in the Free Press.) However, we were able to walk in for an early Thursday night dinner with no problem.

Wine by the glass comes in two sizes, "taste" and "glass" the former being about a 1/3 glass which is right for me (I like to taste wine with my food, but am kind of a lightweight and sometimes have trouble getting through a whole glass in the course of a meal.)

Somehow we got out under $70 though I would have expected, based on initial impression of the menu, to pay far more. I guess it's largely because of the "price structure" described in the Metro Times, where the entrees are actually rather moderately priced ($12.50 to, max, $24), even though you're paying quite a bit for bread, appetizer, wine, etc.

Overall, it was fine. It's not going to become a new favorite or regular destination for us, though it's worth trying for those who like to frequent restaurants like this.

It's interesting that there are now three somewhat comparable restaurants within a 1/2 mile or so of the 13 and Southfield intersection (Fiddleheads, Beverly Hills Grill, and now Crush.) Crush has the most striking room of the three. I haven't eaten enough at all three to get a real sense, but I guess I still like the food at Fiddleheads the best.

Oh, finally, Crush as an apparently no-strings-attached free rewards program. Once you've spent $250 at the restaurant, you get a $25 gift certificate. You apparently also get gift certificates for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Edited by Leonard Kim (log)
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