Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

>> Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 27th. Grosse Pointe (Farms). www.dirtydogjazz.com.
Mrs. L and Mr. P both join us tonight. We feel they have earned a status one step above guest star, and now can be called a regular. Now they want real names! Therefore, from now on Mr. P is Master P. Mrs. L is Scarlet. Thad wants to change his name to Zorro. He also wanted to be Flash and Chaz... I say no, you choose your name and stick with it! (If you haven't already figured it out, we do not use our REAL names here, trying for a bit of anonymity).
The Dirty Dog works a little bit different than a normal restaurant. It is a live jazz show, and has seating times. For a Friday night, the times are 6 or 8:30. You must reserve ahead of time and pre-pay the non-refundable $10 pp cover charge. The Dirty Dog is Detroit Hour Magazine's 2010 Restaurant of the Year, read about it here:
So we take the 8:30 seating, I knew nobody would make it to Grosse Pointe by 6:00. It is a bit later than we normally eat, so Lulu, who proclaimed there wasn't anything on the online menu she wanted, ate beforehand. Master P and I arrive early and have a quick drink at a nearby restaurant, The Hill, www.thehillgrossepointe.com. I like the menu here also, we discuss coming back sometime, maybe not ADD, but some other day.
Our server was Abbey, and she was perfectly nice. We see signs throughout that state "please keep conversation to a minimum during performances". We stick a sign right on The Greek's place setting, since he is known to be extremely loud and obnoxious. It is his trademark. Side note: none of us care much for Jazz, so we would rather talk amongst ourselves. However, if you love jazz, this seems the place to be and the rest of the customers are really into it. It does take a long time to get our food orders in...We figured out they start at the front of the house and work their way back for food orders. We were all the way in the back. We order a bottle of '07 Silver Palm Cab. It was decent, we order a second bottle after the first. Master P is sticking to G& T's.
The Menu looks fabulous. We order ALOT of food. Tapas, soups, salads, entrees...lots. So here is the rundown.
Master P: Smoked tomato soup w/brie toast, scallops w/bacon (tapa) and Salmon entree that I do not see on the online menu. Scarlet: Heirloom tomato caprese salad, crab louie (tapa) and tuna tartar (tapa). The Greek: Lake trout entree (not on menu), scallops w/bacon and tuna tartar. Thad: Heirloom caprese, tiger tear beef (tapa), togarashi spiced big eye tuna (entree) and a side of foie gras. Lulu: absolutely nothing! Me: Smoked tomato soup w/brie toast, heirloom caprese and tiger tears beef tapa.
My take: The smoked tomato soup was good. This seems to be a staple at the DD and toted as something you must try. I thought the caprese was decent. The tiger tears beef had an overwhelming black pepper pronouncement. I like black pepper, but it was too much. I tried the tuna tartar, it was ok, but we all agreed it wasn't close to the tartar at Wolfgang Puck Grille. This one also would have benefited from some bread or crackers to spread it on...just eating any kind of tartar by the forkful seems strange to me. The scallops were loved by Master P and The Greek. I must agree, the bacon'y-truffle flavor was delicious. Mrs. L (oops...Scarlet) liked the Crab Louie the most from her selections. Thad ate all his food, although he DID say he wasn't going to like any of it immediately after ordering, like normal. He stated his entire meal was "subpar". Although he did clean his plate. Exception was the foie gras. We all agreed it was MUCH tastier than the foie at the rattlesnake club.
Heirloom tomato caprese salad.
Scallops with bacon.
For dessert, chocolate souffle and clementine sorbet. Master P wants the apple turnover. I'm dreaming of the chocolate souffle at Wolfgang Puck's....but this wasn't as good. It was decent, but didn't live up (nothing probably ever will...). The sorbet was pretty much untouched. The turnover was forgettable. They do not have a cappuccino machine! sacrilege!
Total bill: $399 plus tip.
The service over all was slow, and the meal did stretch out from 8:30 until almost 12... Lulu stated she felt like she "was in the Bermuda triangle and cannot get out...". She did not enjoy the Dirty Dog...see her blog: www.inlulusworld.blogspot.com.
The band was McKinfolk. They played an encore almost til the time we left, so if you love jazz, go for the later seating and hang out all night....
The average rating was 3.5 D's....so I left it 3.5 overall. Not so great for Restaurant of the Year...oh well....we ARE the best judges!
This coming Friday is the first year Royal Oak has Arts Beats & Eats....stolen away from Pontiac. Instead of dinner, I (we?) (somebody!) will likely be tasting many of Detroit area restaurants at once in Royal Oak. www.artsbeatseats.com Also listening to Saving Abel, Candlebox and Sponge.

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Fantasy Football and Taco Night at Pippi's

>> Monday, August 23, 2010

Friday, August 20th.

No fancy shmancy restaurant for me tonight. Mr. P is having his fantasy football draft at The Best Bar in Ferndale, so I volunteer to cook.... build-your-own taco bar. I make ground beef/chorizo combo and cook a pork roast all day until it's falling apart. I rubbed the pork (giggle) with a cinnamon-chile rub and after it is shredded add: taco seasoning and a few jalapenos (from my own garden). I also make chimichurri rice and cuban black beans (thank you Trader Joe's). We have about 20 guests, so I will not name them all! But I will give a special mention to Mr. I and The Mexican...we may be seeing more of them. The Mexican is married to Mrs. B...who I have known since 8th grade. Mrs. L did come yet again, and brought with her Mr. C and the largest bottle of 1800 I have ever seen.
I made "whole fruit" margaritas in the vita-mix...the football drafters loved them. If you have a vita-mix, you know how awesome it is!
The Greek, Thad, Lulu, Mrs. L, Mr. C and I go to Inyo for dessert (again). Thad orders the hot rock thing (again). I can't figure out how Thad always eats food at my house, claims to like it, then seems starving when he gets to Inyo. Anyway, Brooke is our waitress (again). We love her, she always picks out the best wines for us. We have a bottle of Toffre Hi Jas valle de uco mendoza (Argentina) and enjoy it very much.
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Tempura fried ice cream at Inyo
After we smash it to bits...the best way to eat it.
We also order some sort of apple spring rolls. And edamame. I don't know if I ever mentioned how much we love edamame. Especially The Greek. We order it wherever we can. Brooke cooks Thad's fish for him, which I think he is supposed to do himself. I think the only reason he orders this thing every time is so the lovely Brooke can stand near him and cater to him.
Brooke cooks Thad's yellowfin on the hot rock.
Woodward is crazy with the Dream Cruise. Anybody from out of the area that does not know what that is:www.woodwarddreamcruise.com. Anybody who loves classic cars will know...I think this is the biggest event in the country.
We wander up and down Woodward, looking for an outdoor table...but no luck. So we duck into Dino's, which is one of my favorite local hangouts. www.dinoslounge.com. There is horrible karaoke burning my ears. But we end up being entertained. Especially when Dino himself does a rendition of Metallica's Enter Sandman:
Dino.
He also plays air guitar with a barstool. I sign up Lulu and Mr. I (who was a dancing fool tonight) to sing "Baby Got Back" but that is when we decide to skip out. We end up at The Post until closing...And even Mr. P and The Mexican get out on the dance floor...a sure sign of too much alcohol. www.postbars.com.
This Friday, The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. I am looking forward to this one! I have wanted to go here for quite a while, and this year they are Detroit Hour magazine's Restaurant of the Year. That's a big deal 'round these parts. The menu online looks fabulous!

Addendum: I feel I didn't give the Dream Cruise enough billing or credit for my beloved Ferndale. The Woodward Dream Cruise originated in Ferndale in 1995. It is now the WORLD'S largest one-day automotive event, drawing 40,000 classic cars and 1.5 million people from around the world, from New Zealand, Japan and Russia...everywhere, according to the website. It really is a very big deal for the Detroit area.

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Flairs Mediterranean Fusion

>> Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 13th. Friday the 13th, oh, you did a number on me!
We go to Flairs because Thad suggested it. Apparently, Lulu and him had a dinner here not to long ago. Thad thought it was strange that day every other restaurant around was packed, but this place was empty. Same thing this night...Could this be a little secret, the new place nobody knows about? Mrs. L joins us this evening. Flairs does not have a website yet, the place has only been open a few months, I believe. It is in the spot of the previous Mezza Grille, which was the previous Italian Epicure. It is supposed to be a Middle East/Greek/Italian fusion (hence Mediterranean Fusion).
My first impression is good. The bar area is really nice. We are the only customers. Weird. Anyway, our server tonight is Marina. We love her. She was Thad & Lulu's server on their previous visit also, and remembers them. Marina is very funny and we are quite entertained. She has lots of rules though, like "you have ordered ENOUGH appetizers", or "don't fill up on bread!!" or "don't drink out of his glass, that's rude!". We jest, Marina, you need to relax and let us do our thang. We order red wine, as usual, and I fail to get the labels.....however, I honestly did not enjoy either of our choices. We order Appetizers: Hummus with pita, the Grilled Mediterranean Cheese, Armen Spicy Sujuk (lamb sausage), and the Myway steak bites....(Myway? like, medium rare?). The hummus was bland. The texture was nice and smooth, but it definitely needed more lemon and garlic, or salt, or Something! The fresh little pita rounds are so good, hot and freshly made. The cheese was something like saganaki, it was delicious, although Marina couldn't quite pronounce the exact type of cheese for us. The Sujuk is very good. The steak bites are mignon, yummy. They are accompanied by portobello chunks that have been sauteed in such a way...I was actually daydreaming about them the next day. I make little pita sandwiches with the cheese, steak and mushrooms...I fill up on this. That could have been, should have been my meal. We have house salad, which everyone loved, but I found forgettable.
This is where I take a bad turn. I decide to switch to vodka and order a martini...I let Marina make a concoction for me. Why, oh why, did I decide to started drinking martinis? I used to be able to hold my liquor quite well, but ever since I went on a health kick and stopped drinking regularly...I just keep forgetting that my tolerance isn't what it was. What possessed me? Did I have a bad day? I think so. But it got worse, as the rest of the night got blurry and I did not perform my duties very well! Case in point, this is the ONLY (anonymous) picture I took at the restaurant!
Seriously? This is the fish tank in the bar, and why do I seem to recall we named this fish??
Anyhoo, I did have the wherewithal to take notes on the entrees. I ordered the Beef au Bleu: Filet Mignon, medium rare, with chive butter, red pepper coulis and polenta. I know I was too full to eat the steak. I do remember however, that it definitely was more medium well. Oh well. Lulu orders the portobello marsala with spicy linguine and grilled asparagus. The Greek gets Arabia Lamb Chops with grilled tomato, onion and rice pilaf. Thad orders the "Cha Cha" sea bass (we make him do a dance when he says it...), with white wine, cherry tomatoes, capers, kalamatas and linguine. Mrs. L ordered the Opa Tilapia with kalamatas, capers, feta, lemon juice, rice and roasted tomatoes. I did not really glean much comment regarding the entrees, except for Mrs. L, who said her tilapia was overcooked and greasy. Thad said the spicy linguine is good, but the sea bass was "eatable" (I said edible? No, eatable). He suspected it was frozen, not fresh. I have to say the food is hit or miss here. Dessert was rice pudding, as Marina said it is the only thing that is freshly made. She said its wonderful. I thought it was rather bland, but I've never been a rice pudding fan. The Greek said it was authentic and good.
We wander over to the bar area after dinner. There is a DJ, but the place is still pretty empty, only one other large party for the evening. We make up dances, such as the "Paul Revere". We decide to head down the way to Gus O'Conners...luckily my friends forbid me from driving. I cannot give a total on our bill at Flairs, I think The Greek paid for it all?? Thanks! By the time we got across the way, I called for a ride home. I knew I would not be able to hang, and was feeling sick. Ugh, not a good night this time around. I'm giving Flairs an overall 3 rating. The service was great, the menu was interesting...but the food and wine were mediocre, although I really enjoyed the appetizers.
I had drunken notes scrawled in my notebook. First, i'm assuming is a quote from Thad, "Marina belongs in waitress heaven, not here in inferior-land". The second, only says "The first rule of fight club". I wonder where I was going with that one? There was also a conversation I recall about the "walwerine", half walrus, half wolverine. Look, I don't know what happens when we drink, our conversations turn into nonsense, ok?
Interestingly, when I came to pick up my truck from the restaurant parking lot around 10:00 the next evening, it was completely dark, empty and closed. On a Saturday night? I wonder if they had not had a large party reservation the night we were there, would they even have been open? I wonder what the future holds for Flairs...
Next Friday, I am hosting a fantasy football draft (ugh) and ping-pong tournament...So we will be having a home-cooked meal a la Pippi in Ferndale. It's also the first night of the Woodward Dream Cruise...so maybe we will wander around downtown after dinner.

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Wolfgang Puck Grille

>> Saturday, August 7, 2010

Located in the MGM casino.
Lulu, where are you??? For the first time, Lulu will not be joining us. But Mrs. L is happy to take her place. Maybe Lulu will tell us about her misfortune on her blog, it's a puppy tale. She really missed out this night, as she has been wanting to go to Wolfgang Puck Grille since way before ADD.
Tonight was the best night ADD has had so far, for many reasons. Most of all, we had star treatment at WPG. Finally a restaurant that takes notice when someone is writing notes about the food! Our server was Muhith (I hope I spelled it right). He was very professional. He brought our blog to the attention of management, and we were swarmed with service for the rest of the night.
Mrs. L and I start with cocktails, of course. She asks the bartender, Jill, to make the cucumber mojitos, but not too sweet. They are perfect. The bar area here is so swanky. Next time we come (oh wait, tumbleweeds...) we want to reserve one of the cool booths in the bar area, near the fire. Ok, I know we are never to return to the same place twice, but only on official ADD business. Off the record, we will be back!
The Greek has tonight been officially deemed the ADD sommelier. From now on, forever. Although he does not do such a great job tonight, and he usually limits his choices to pinot noir. Hmmm...why did we do this again? Anyhoo, we have a bottle of 2007 Benton Lane pinot noir, oregon. It's alright. Mrs. L picks a second bottle later on, another pinot, that was a tad better, but of course by that time I was too distracted by food to record the label.
Starters! We share: Sashimi Tuna Tartar, Calamari and the sweet corn soup. They all were amazing. We are already blown away by the food at this point. Me, I have never had calamari, but was adventurous and tried it tonight, I'm sure this was better than I will ever find again. The corn soup was delicious. Lulu would have loved it! We pass around the bowl and share like a big ole country family. The Tuna Tartar was incredible. The Greek attacked the remainder of it with gusto. Oh, I forgot to mention the bread basket with what we deemed "homemade Dorito's". Really, some sort of flatbread, but tasted just like Dorito to us. Also an interesting bread with baked-in kalamata olives, savory different.
We are given the option to order two salads and split them 4 ways, which was perfect. We order the caesar and the butter lettuce salad.
The caesar came with sides of whole anchovies. Thad eats them whole rather than distribute them in his salad....I do not think that was proper etiquette, Thad. The Greek names one of his anchovies, Bon-Chovi. Anyway, the salads were acceptable. I thought the butter lettuce salad was a tad too vinegary, but good overall. Then came a surprise! The executive chef, Marc Djozlija, prepares crabcakes for us! Hey, ADD is finally getting some star treatment. I am not a shellfish lover, but I eat this tiny crabcake. It's a small work of art. They are very good, of course. We are so happy!
Entrees: The Greek orders the maple glazed pork chop with creamed spinach, confit bacon and whole grain mustard. We all wanted to order this when Muhith tells us it is slow cooked for 24 hours. But, we cannot all order the same! Thad declared that he gets blown up by tweets when he doesn't go red meat for dinner. He let his fans down tonight by ordering the linguine with manila clams, crispy pancetta, garlic, oregano and chili flakes. Mrs. L gets the sauteed halibut, which is actually listed as swordfish on the website menu. I decide to piece together a meal by ordering the prime rib panini with a side of sweet potato fries and creamed spinach.
The star of the evening is that maple glazed pork...calling it a pork chop is sacrilege! If you go to WPG, you must order this! All of the entrees are excellent. Thad loves his linguine, the clams are cute little ones, and lots of them. Mrs. L enjoys the halibut, likes the zucchini puree it is served upon. The prime rib panini is predictable, but good with a house-made steak sauce. We absolutely love the food here, and deem it the best restaurant we have been to thus far. We have never received so much attention, we felt like celebrities! I even received a personal escort to the restroom. The Greek has his side of garlic mash stirred for him in intervals to keep them hot...I have never seen service like this. Executive Chef Marc comes to the table to greet us. We discuss Detroit and people who are part of the movement to reform, such as Phillip Cooley of Slow's BBQ http://slowsbarbq.com/. I appreciate the conversation as it reminds me of how much I want to get involved in making Detroit better, in whatever small way I can. Chef Marc, I am keeping your card on hand, please email us with restaurant suggestions!
Desserts: We are soooo full at this point. We decide on only one dessert for the 4 of us: The chocolate souffle. Oh. My. God. This is so f'ing good. Guanaja deep dark chocolate souffle, creme fraiche and chocolate sorbet.
But it gets even better. Thad loves sorbet and ice cream, but not so much the chocolate variety. I recall the house-made 50 bean vanilla ice cream listed on the menu and request a scoop for him. Best call ever. I take a bite, and the look on my face has Mrs. L calling bullshit. Oh no, we all try this and our jaws hit the floor. This ice cream deserves a whole new category by itself, alone. It's warm vanilla burnt-sugarish flavor is more than my amateur palate can even comprehend. Please, can I stock some of this in my freezer? Can you start selling it at my local Ferndale store?
Total bill: $360 plus tip. Not too bad for the best food ever. WPG gets a 5 for sure. I would readily break our rating system and give it a 10! Bravo!
After dinner we wander thru the slot machines to the big circular club/bar in the middle of the casino, U.Me.Drink. There is a DJ. We plant ourselves on a couch and drink until 2. The people watching from this vantage point is amazing. The casino attracts a wide variety of freaky people. Tons of entertainment. Not to mention the impromptu male stripper show that broke out right in front of us...I have never seen anything like it. Also, The Greek is greatly enjoying the privilege of smoking INSIDE a bar for a change.
Next week is undecided. Thad would like to go to a Mediterranean place in Novi, the Mezza Grille. I also mention how badly I have always wanted to go to The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grosse Pointe. We have not made it to South in Birmingham. And I'm wanting to bring everyone to Josephine's Creperie in Ferndale, or maybe Howe's Bayou (one of my favorites!). Oh, and Traffic Jam & Snug! Trust me, we will never NEVER run out of places to go! Tumbleweeds.

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