Traffic Jam and Snug

>> Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29th. www.trafficjamdetroit.com
We miss The Greek tonight, he is in Washington D.C. for the Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
Traffic Jam and Snug, est. 1965, is a classic in Detroit. It is totally unique as it houses a bakery, brewery and Michigan's smallest licensed dairy. The Snug, no longer in operation, was a ice cream parlor for the women and children who were not allowed in the bar area at the time. This was for the men to have their pint in peace! We get lucky this evening and stumble upon owner Carolyn Howard, who gives us a behind the scenes tour! This place is huge. The kitchen/dairy/brewery areas are 10,000 square feet and the dining areas are also 10,000 square feet.
Scarlet and I both work in the food service industry where sanitation inspections are part of our job duties. I give TJ props for having a clean kitchen even with an impromptu unplanned tour. That say's a lot about a place. The vat where they make the cheese & beer is 500 gallons..it's huge, you could do a lap in it. They make 3 Michigan State Fair Blue Ribbon winning cheeses here: Cheddar, asiago and jack. This is one of the few places you get cheese made from raw, unpasteurized milk. The bakery is old-school cool, and they have had the same baker, Paul, for decades.
We start at the bar with beer and a cheese platter. We love the cheese, and I especially love the fig hazelnut compote. It also comes with a housemade dijon that is sharp and good. We try the Festivus, the pilsner and the weizenfest...all really good. We like the weizenfest the best.
The quote for the night is "help me, Elvis, I'm in a pickle!". Which is what they call the deep fried pickles. Coincidentally, Thad is wearing his Elvis glasses tonight...as his halloween costume. The fried pickles are good, but I feel I have to give a plug for the best fried pickles I've had, at the Brecon Grille in Saline.
Our server tonight is Brad. We like him, he gave good service and tolerated our shenanigans.
Scarlet, Thad and Lulu enjoy a bottle of Terra Andina Reserva 2008 Carmenere. I had to look up Carmenere. It is a wine, similar to a Malbec, which used to be popular in France. But the grapes are difficult to cultivate, so it has fallen out of favor. Now it is most widely produced in Chile.
We split a Greek salad, which was really good. The fried artichokes are a unique touch.
Greek Salad.
Master P and Thad both have the delmonico steak with twice baked potato and sauteed zucchini. They both enjoyed their dinners. Master P really loved the potato, which you can also get a la carte on the menu. I have the portabello mushroom soup and mac & cheese combo. The soup is a staple on the menu. I didn't much care for it, as it seemed to have globs of what I think was thickener or flour. The mac & cheese is decent, made with their cheddar and tiny shell pasta. Lulu and I both agree it is something like we would make on our stovetop at home.
Portabello mushroom soup and mac & cheese.
Lulu has the spinach lasagne. It is good, with a chunky marinara sauce. But she is so full at this point she can only have a few bites.
Scarlet has the lentil burger, with sweet potato fries. The burger is super moist, almost too moist. It is rather bland, and we wonder why not add some seasoning to the mix. Scarlet's exact description was "moist, cakey and bland". Strangely, the more condiments she put on it...the blander it stayed, like the patty actually sponged up any flavor! The fries are good, they are the ridge-cut chips. Thad regals us with a tale from his time in England where he had to eat lentils three meals a day. He is elusive on why or what he was actually doing there. A vow of poverty? Held captive by terrorists? Why did he have to eat only lentils three times a day? We will never know.
For dessert: Carlotta Chocolatta Ice Cream Cheesecake. Double chocolate cheesecake with coffee ice cream and house-made hot fudge sauce. Wow. The dessert menu is large here...you must save room for dessert!
The average rating among us is 3.5, but I took the liberty of bumping it to 4 D's (as you see at the top). The atmosphere and service was great. The food was hit or miss. Scarlet, however, did buy some baked goods and cheese to take home and has since said she wants to go back to do more shopping. I would also enjoy returning. I recommend the beer, the Greek salad, the cheese platter and dessert!
TJ's parking lot is shared with Motor City Brew Works. We have never been, so we check it out and sample their wares (read: Beers). We have yet another cheese platter (I swear Thad is never full). Their menu is full of gourmet pizza that I can't wait to come back and try.
Motor City Brew Works.
In the parking lot, is this awesome costume. Imagine this huge creature being worn by two people on a tandem bike!
This Friday we will be going to Pizza Papalis, the original in Greektown.

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Sala Thai

>> Thursday, October 28, 2010

Friday, October 15th.
Both Master P and Scarlet join us tonight. We originally planned on going to the Layfayette location...but a fortuitous mix up takes us away from the strip mall location to the more lovely Russell Street location. It is in an old firehouse (circa 1888) and a much more interesting location, also the only location with a liquor license...whew...that was a close one!
Our server is Koin, and she is so sweet. She giggles a lot. We have Singha, which is proclaimed Thailand's finest beer! I wonder if it may be Thailand's only beer? But it is decent.
The Greek orders his routine Jack & Coke. Tell me how much Coke is in this recipe:
On to the sushi:
Yellowfin Tempura Roll, The Dancing Eel and Philadelphia Roll. Now, I'm spoiled on sushi. I feel I have finally earned the right to be able to condescend to inferior sushi. I now can brag I have a discerning palate. I've had excellent, and I've had BAD. I will give Sala Thai a firm middle of the road, it is decent.
Scarlet has the Tom Yum soup, which is somewhat like hot & sour soup and it is Yummy. For entrees: The Greek has the Sala Thai Duck (stir fry duck with mushroom, ginger, onion, garlic & brown thai sauce). He is disappointed that the duck is breaded. It was also rather dry. Half way thru his meal, he almost chips a tooth on what looks like a piece of porcelain! Scarlet has Kuoy Tiew Haeng, which is rice noodles with bean sprout, light brown sauce, green onion, crushed peanut and garlic (pic below):
I like her dish even better than my Pad Thai - which was decent. I would recommend the Kuoy Tiew Haeng if your a Pad Thai lover. Master P ordered his favorite Thai dish...pineapple fried rice. Lulu ordered the Sala Thai fried rice. Both of the fried rice dishes were good, ok. Again, I am spoiled and I need to say that the best Thai in southeastern Michigan: Sy Thai! If you love Thai fried rice, you must try the Sy's fried rice (it has a bit of yummy curry flavor). They don't have a website but you will find a Birmingham and a St. Claire Shores location. Ok, back to Sala Thai...I digress.
Sala Thai Duck
Thad orders Gaeng Paa with beef (hot curry, eggplant, string beans, bamboo shoots, coconut milk, etc etc). He orders it "on fire". En Fuego (oops...that is spanish?). He wants the hottest it can be made. Of course, it is sooo freakin hot. You don't mess with Thai food and heat! I didn't mention the rest of us ordered medium, which is perfect in my opinion. I love spicy food. I also did not mention that the rest of us (except Lulu, of course) had chicken in our entrees...and we were disappointed with it. I actually ended up picking around the chicken in my pad thai. It was sort of weird, I can't really put my finger on what the problem with the chicken was...we just do not recommend anything with the chicken.
And then the fat Ethiopian scratched his beard dandruff into the recycled rice bowl....(inside joke).
So, I didn't get our total, but the prices are on the online menu. Entrees are averaging around $8 each, so we had a cheap night!
As for the rating: Let's see....scary chicken and dry duck, a piece of porcelain in The Greek's Dish, but medium-decent sushi, yummy soup & delicious rice noodle dishes. I am giving Sala Thai a solid 3 D's. Again, I have to say....Sy Thai is the BEST Thai around these parts...I'll let you know if I find better!
This week, actually tomorrow, we will be going to Traffic Jam & Snug. Peace!

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Mario's

>> Saturday, October 2, 2010



Friday, October 1st.
Master P joins us tonight, as it is our (4th) wedding anniversary.
This place is near Wayne State campus. It is "unpretentious, old-school kind of cool" as the website states, not retro but real. I liked the feel of it right away. The place was busy at 7 but then thinned out alot by 8 or 9. There was a keyboard & lounge singer in the dining room and a small dance floor.

Our server was Hector. He brings us a relish/antipasto plate with shrimp cocktail as soon as we are seated. We also get complimentary melon with prosciutto. I ask Hector to recommend a bottle of wine in the $50 range and he brings a 2006 Wild Horse California merlot. We do not usually order merlot, but maybe we should start because we enjoyed this. I believe we had two bottles. For appetizer we order the escargot bourguigunonne (which seems more French than Italian?). This is my fourth time trying escargot, thanks to Thad who first ordered it at Compari's in Plymouth. I do not eat seafood, but escargot, depending on what they are cooking it in, are tasty. They are not chewy but tender. Master P & Lulu did not partake.


Escargot Bourguignonne

We were served a delicious salad, mixed tableside. It reminded us exactly of Roma Cafe's salad, which was one of the few things we enjoyed there. We reminisce about Dmitri slinging sweat on Lulu...she had flashbacks. Next, we were served a generous size bowl of the house minestrone which was perfect. Then a pasta course of gemelli with marinara. So many courses!

Entrees: I order the beef burgundy because some other friends of ours who frequent this joint says that is their specialty. Hector agrees, either that or a filet with the burgundy sauce. Master P orders the filet, medium, but with their "zip" sauce because if he eats a mushroom he will gag. Lulu orders the homemade spinach tagliatelle with tomato basil sauce. The Greek orders veal scaloppini marsala. Thad orders the "extra cut" 11 oz filet, medium rare.
Beef Burgundy...that's a lot of mushrooms!


Homemade tagliatelle with tomato basil sauce.

We all enjoyed our food very much. All the entrees except Lulu's pasta came with a buttery potato and thin green beans cooked perfectly. The veal marsala had a delicious sauce. My beef burgundy was so good. The beef was falling apart tender, the sauce was luscious. I actually ate the entire plate, and that was a LOT. The Boy's filets were just fine. Lulu enjoyed her pasta.

We realized some way through our meal that the place is full of romantic couples trying to have intimate dinners, and we are LOUD. We laugh so much and so loud the keyboardist and singer have to make comments at us... Also, The Greek stands up and plays his faux "two turntables" during their performance, so the keyboardist starts making "scratching" noises....weekee weekee weekee. They also let The Greek yell out loudly as part of the performance for the rest of the night, you had to be there but I laughed so hard my stomach was sore. I believe I have mentioned before that loud & obnoxious is The Greek's trademark. Unfortunately we ruined the other couples quiet dinners, I thought for a minute they would ask us to leave.

For dessert: Creme brulee, chocolate lava cake and raspberry cheesecake. Each was divine. Cappuccino and espresso, of course...they served the lemon peel with Thad's espresso. I think we should start a campaign against this practice.

Total bill: $320 plus tip. We all agree on a 4 rating, except Lulu who gave them a 5! Thank you, Mario's, we had a GREAT time!


Mario's wall of famous customers...why didn't they want our picture for the wall?


Next week, since when we started this we agreed on a hiatus/home cooked meal every fourth week to save money - we all decide we want to do an apple orchard and drunken corn maze next Friday. Maybe we can find a haunted hay ride?



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Lockhart's BBQ

Friday September 24th. www.lockhartsbbq.com
The usual suspects: Thad, Lulu, The Greek, Master P and Scarlet. Scarlet, The Greek and I go to Inyo for pre-drinks...and talk to our favorite bartender, Eric. The Greek is engrossed in his work as he sits at another table and holds the entire Sprint network together with his single laptop....so dedicated to his work. At least he has recovered from his bad oyster experience from last week.
Thad decided he wanted to try Lockhart's over Slow's after reading an article about it. I must say the Lockhart's PR is great, I have seen them on TV morning shows and in print. Here we are at another restaurant that smells so strongly of MEAT and has meat hanging out for display...poor Lulu!
We have done our homework and read the reviews. Everyone says you must try the "burnt ends". We have those and the fried green beans. The burnt ends are yummy, with a kind of syrupy sweetness to them. The beans are crispy "tempura" type with a spicy sauce, very good. We have two bottles of wine, Red Diamond cab. sav. 2007 and Angelina California pinot noir...no complaints.
For entrees: Thad and Master P both order the Lockhart's special: Smoked brisket, 1/4 slab ribs, sausage (house-made) and pulled pork. Thad gets the ugly gumbo, the fried okra, greens and cornbread. Master P gets mac & cheese and deviled eggs. Thad LOVED his meal. Master P says it was "ok, pretty good for Michigan" when it comes to BBQ. He feels he has had "real" bbq in his travels. Thad loved his gumbo. It was ugly, as they say, but had good flavor.
The Greek orders the St. Louis ribs with cornbread and deviled eggs. He enjoyed his meal very much. No complaints at all. Lulu only eats salad and corn, but is happy with them. Scarlet orders the street tacos (made with blue corn tortillas and smoked pork) and I have to say I think these were the best thing at our table! I had the tamales (made with smoked brisket). They were decent, but I would recommend the street tacos if you want to go the tex-mex route here. I also ordered an extra side of the collards, but was disappointed. They seemed undercooked to me. I recommend Howe's Bayou in Ferndale for some excellent greens, FYI. Oh, and the mac & cheese here might as well come out of a box compared to Slow's mac & cheese. Seriously. I daydream about Slow's mac & cheese...
Lockhart's Special with extra side of gumbo and greens.
For dessert we have the lemon cake, the berry cobbler, the Dr. Pepper cake and piles of ice cream...the desserts were excellent. Total bill...ah....hmmmm looks like I forgot to record the total. But the prices are on the online menu so check it out! The ratings averaged out to be about 3.5. Lockhart's is in the heart of downtown Royal Oak, but we are old and boring and all go home...most of us have to work in the morning.
Lulu makes new rules, she wants to have yellow and red cards made to flag the players (us). You get two yellow cards before a red. Red is bad, you are banned...wow...that would be tragic. I think this is a soccer reference? I hope I can behave myself!
Next week we are going to Mario's in Detroit. Old school italian.

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