Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina

>> Sunday, May 5, 2013

We decided to check out the "new" Wolfgang's at the MGM for Detroit Restaurant Week.  Scarlet, Master P, Hot Rod (HR) and I are so lucky to be joined by The Greek, who has peeped his eyeball out from his hibernation cave and saw it was time to awake.  If anyone has wondered where he has been, you only need to know that out of 10 million players of whatever-video-game-that-is, he has ranked in the top 5,000.  What a wonderful use of your precious time.  
We had super-duper high hopes for tonight, as we had so loved the previous wolfgang establishment.  But, as you can already see by the abysmal 1 1/2 D rating above, we were sorely dissappointed.  We nicknamed our waiter "the angry waiter" because he just did not seem to be a happy person, and did not seem to enjoy his choice in vocation.  
The atmosphere...is much like what used to be Saltwater (see our posting previously).  Yet, they removed some of the glitz, unfortunately.  And some of the light bulbs were burnt out.  It looks like they just don't care as much around here. 
The food started off well enough with the bread basket, which was decent, but not extraordinary.  The hummus was "eh" ok.  I'm getting tired of hummus served with bread baskets.  Everyone seems to be doing this lately, so now it just seems unoriginal. Also, this is an Italian restaurant, and we are confused on the appropriateness of hummus.  Maybe I'm wrong, please feel free to correct me on the origins of hummus. The foccacia would have been better had it been warm, as the onions on top had turned slimy when cold.  

Master P was very disappointing in the portion size for the Tuscan Bean soup.  This bowl is deceiving.  The amount of soup you see below is barely a ladle full.  Although I have come to discover you will not get full size portions during restaurant week. I want to disagree with this practice, because if you are trying to win over new customers, they may assume your portion sizes are always this small.   However, I did order my soup off the regular menu.  I choose the spring garlic soup.  I was also unimpressed and the soup was definitely not worth the $9.        

Scarlet enjoyed the caprese salad, which astutely used roasted tomatoes instead of fresh...good sub for this time of year. HR also enjoyed the Caesar salad.  However, both HR and her were greatly disappointed with the pizza.  Hello....this IS a pizzeria..it's on the front sign!  The crust on one was "gooey" in the middle.  The sauce tasted exactly as if you had opened a can of tomato paste and spread it on.  The Italian sausage pizza states on the menu it contains "roasted garlic" and you cannot taste even a hint of garlic.  Do not waste your money on pizza here.  I have had infinitely better pizza at a dozen places:  Green Zone, Pizza Papalis, City Kitchen (try the spinach artichoke dip pizza), Supino's, Bommarito's, Mama Rosa's, Papa Romanos, MiChicago, Como's, Green Lantern, Buddy's, Cloverleaf....I could go on. 

For my entree, I have the anglotti with english peas and goat cheese.  The portion was very small for $20.  Again, the picture here is deceiving.  This is a small portion.  The anglotti were skillfully made, but not all that flavorful.  The sauce was too salty.  The description included "asparagus".  This had literally about 1/4 stalk of asparagus sliced thin..probably less than that.  I really cannot say much good about this. I'm not a huge stickler for portion size, but if you are going to go small...it better pack a ton of oomph for twenty bucks.

Master P had the salmon off the Restaurant Week menu, and said it was "ok, just fine".  He isn't always big on flowery description.

The Greek has the spicy sausage pasta, and I will say this was probably the best dish of the evening.

 I didn't mention the cocktails earlier.  The menu is creative and the drinks were decent, but not extraordinary.  But they lost points when I requested a vodka beverage, and received Gin.  But better Gin than nothing at all....which is what Scarlet received when requesting a second libation.  

Master P ordered the cheesecake off the DRW menu.  It was extremely boring, bland, and disappointing.  This was like something you could have at Denny's or Ram's Horn (clack-clack).  Where...oh, where....are the days of Wolfgang Puck's extraordinary chocolate souffle with homemade fifty-bean vanilla ice cream???  

Scarlet was surprised that at some point during the meal the "angry waiter" literally threw a fork at her place setting from about three feet away.  With no comment.  As if this is normal.  Scarlet thinks Wolfgang should be ashamed to put his name on this place.  It is a woeful decent past the pit of mediocrity in comparison with previous Wolfgang Puck Grill (see our previous posting). 
We all agree that we would never come back or recommend it to anyone.  Most gave it a score of "1", but I think Master P feels bad for the place and gives it a "2".  I'll give it a 1.5 just to be generous.  I'll average it to that also. 



Red Smoke

April 2013.
Tonight Scarlet and I head for adventure in Greektown.  We join our friends Lyndy and Ronnie, who are new guest stars.  I had high hopes for Red Smoke, as Lyndy has been coming here for a long time and loves it.  I have not been too happy with other local BBQ places lately (except the new Red Crown..see posting).  I have been especially unimpressed by Rub Bbq Pub lately.  So I'm hoping Red Smoke will be my friends new favorite so I will not be forced to go to Rub any longer.

Lyndy insists we try the skillet jalapeno cornbread to start...saying it is better in the skillet than the muffins that come with the meals.  We slather this with butter, and it is fabulous.  A win for me.  Although, as local cornbread goes, my picks in order are currently:  Red Crown, Local, and then this Red Smoke bit.  

Between the four of us, we sample the carolina back ribs, beef brisket (pulled and sliced), the fried catfish, the greens, the mac and cheese and the green beans. Here, as in many other local BBQ joints, you have a variety of sauces on the table.  The Redsmoke sauce is the spiciest, and the cherry is sweet.  My favorite is a combo of the cherry and the roasted poblano. The sauces are great, and I do believe I like them better than Rub's or Slows.   The greens were very good.  The mac & cheese was pretty good, but still not as good as St. Cece's or even Red Crown.  

Our service was great.  The atmosphere was cozier than Rub or Slows.  I liked it better than both.  Our scores averaged a 4...great food, atmosphere and service.  I wouldn't hesitate to stop here if you are in Greektown or just craving some decent bbq.  



>> Sunday, April 7, 2013


Master P and I visited Local in Ferndale on St. Patty's Day for an early dinner.  Having had been over-served on Saturday, he was not up for much on Sunday.  I talked him into dinner and a movie.  Scarlet and I had been to Local once, and I was itching to get back.  Unfortunately, I did not take any photos on this visit, but nonetheless, I really wanted to post a mention for this place. 
** It is my FAVORITE place in all of SE Mich as of this post! **
Ferndale is so lucky to have Local.  I am in love with the décor, the menu and the food.  I love the wood-burning fire smell.  So homey.  I love what I call "farmhouse chic" décor.  I'm in love with the Michigan artwork.  I'm in love with the creative cocktail menu (which is not online).  I have never been disappointed with the cocktails.  They are creative and delicious.  They have a nice selection of Michigan beers as well.  Local prides themselves on their mission, vision and goals...check out the website.  This quote sums up why the food is so phenomenal: 
" Food and supplies to be sourced with the highest priority on quality, locality, sustainability and craftsmanship." 

This day I have the fried green tomatoes (again) which  are served with pepper jam and goat cheese. The crispy coating is perfect.  This is (as I mentioned before) one my current favorite bites in Detroit.  I also have the mac & cheese with candied bacon..carbs be damned!  Absolute perfection.  Master P and I also ask for extra corn muffins, which are tiny and perfect served with a citrus butter.  Master P enjoys a scallop special off-menu.  He was very pleased. 

I have read about the chef's table.  Up to eight people with a special menu in the heart of the kitchen.  I've been trying to figure out what I want to do for my birthday this year...it's a milestone.  Maybe dinner here at the chef's table would be a nice start.

Ferndale is hopping, and I'm excited to see the new businesses in the making, such as
secreto and Schramm's Mead.  I'm trying not to be too sad that I moved to GPP.  Ferndale success is great for my rental property...I just need to come visit more often!



Red Crown

>> Sunday, March 17, 2013

On Friday, March 15th, we had the joy of checking out the hot new spot in Grosse Pointe Park.  I had such high hopes for Red  Crown and eagerly awaited its opening.  It did not disappoint as you can see by the average score of 4.5 above. 
In restarting the adventure, I have decided to let every new guest pick their own nickname, it is so much more fun!  So tonight, joining Master P and I, we have Lovey, JD, Kitty and Chad.  
First off, I adore the decor.  Mindy Lopus (Owner) did a fantastic job turning the old standard oil station into something so trendy yet cozy and warm.  I love the use of edison bulbs throughout.  I was also surprised at how big it was inside, as it appears so tiny from the outside.  I'm really looking forward to the warm weather when it appears the garage doors will open to a small patio area.  Perfection!

The drink menu is creative...I must say by far the most creative cocktails in all of GP or maybe even the east side.  Unfortunately, I don't think they have posted the menu online yet.  I won't remember much of the creative ingredients without being able to reference the menu, sorry!  But, I will tell you the Cherchez la Femme is absolutely lovely...tastes almost like a cosmo but more "floral" made with Valentine Vodka (always a fav), St. Germaine (my other fav) and creme de violette (something new!) I also really like the El Diablo, which is my new favorite version of a margarita.  The Moscow Mule is served in awesome copper mugs (which I refrained from slipping into Lovey's purse).  The PBR is served in a paper bag-how cool is that?
Onto the food:  I can tell you that it seems to me this place is all about the BBQ, although there is more variety on the menu.  I cannot find a description on-line, but a friend told me that the "little red smoker" set up they use at this joint is very unique.  I wish I could find more about it....
For apps, we had the onion rings and the pretzel sticks.  Both very good.  The pretzels were served hot out of the oven with a cheese dip...yummy.  And the onion rings have a slight curry in the batter, so different, but it worked really well.  I recommend both the apps highly.  JD was quite upset when Lovey declared the onion rings "better than Marge's".  JD is a die-hard Marge's fan and even the Crown wasn't going to change this.
We pretty much sampled all the BBQ entrees available between the six of us.  There was absolutely no complaints.  I have to speak only for myself: having sampled many local bbq places (Slows, Lockharts, Rub Pub...) these ribs I had beats them all by far.
There isn't alot of fancy sauce choices, but the sauce was perfect.  The green beans were "ok".  I also sampled the greens on both my visits.  The first day they were awesome, this night they were bland.  The cornbread:  I've been avoiding bread these days but this is going to be trouble.  I know everyone likes cornbread different ways.  This one is light and delicate with just a hint of sweetness.  Paired with the honey butter it is HEAVEN for this girl.  Dangerous.
My arm was twisted into sharing a piece of the pecan pie.  They bake their own desserts and are opening their own bakery next door (construction underway).  Lovey and I agreed this was the probably the best pecan pie we have ever tasted!

So overall, the score averaged 4.5, but I myself give it a 5 plus!  Also, our waitress, Stephanie, was great.  I do want to mention that during our wait for the table she was so gracious to Master P and I by offering us drinks and offering suggestions.  She gets an A+ in my book.
Thank you Ms. Lopus for bringing this gem to my neighborhood!  I'm so looking forward to the opening of the next places in what I'm calling "the new ferndale" area!
And Cheers to the new ADD!


Long time coming...

>> Friday, March 15, 2013

As you can see it has been over a year since our last (sad) posting.  Much has happened in MY past year, including finishing up my MBA at Wayne State, moving to Grosse Pointe Park and turning my Ferndale house into a rental.  Being so busy and occupied, the dinner group & blog suffered and died.  Well, I've been giving lots of thought to reviving it.

My dining partners rarely get together now, sadly.  I do see Scarlet on a regular basis, and Master P (probably because I'm married to him!)  The Greek has been in hibernation for the winter, but I do fully expect him to come out into the sunshine for the Orion Fest at Belle Isle in June!  www.orionmusicandmore.com  I'm so pumped.  If you love metal and Detroit, please watch the "line-up video" and try to NOT get excited.

I love love love Grosse Pointe Park for a myriad of reasons, but I do have to mention how much I miss the restaurants and libations in Ferndale.  GPP, as you may know or may have read in many yelp reviews of east side restaurants, is the pit of mediocre food.  I just do not fully understand why an area with many well-to-do residents is flush with dull restaurants.  I KNOW I am somewhat of a food snob...but come ON.  Honestly, the majority of the digs here offer run-of-the-mill bar food and plebeian   diner food.  Hear my plea:  there is VAST opportunity here for some creative restauranteurs!!  Ok, to be fair, I do like The Hill...high quality food but pricey.  And there are a handful of places I've yet to try, so I will mention them when I get to them.  City Kitchen is "Okay", nice place but doesn't blow me away.

That being said, I told everyone I know that I fully expect the GP area to grow and become more "hip" as the younger people move here, which I believe is happening because of the unbeatable house prices for the area.  I do believe there is hope.  The Cotton family's plan for the Kercheval area (near Alter) is already well on it's way with the opening of Red Crown.
I had cocktails at the bar yesterday and am SO excited to have a quality creative establishment near my house.  I am having dinner there tonight with a small group, and plan on doing a full post review.  Btw I love Zach & Thomas at the bar, looking forward to a beautiful long-term relationship with my new fav bartenders.

So cheers to a new start on my blog, and I will follow with a list of my favorite new "bites" from the past year:

1)  Tacos at Imperial in Ferndale:   The tacos are amazing, the drinks are creative and everyone must try the hot dog.  I also recommend the Ring of Fire (habenaro infused tequila & grapefruit juice).  My true favorite is the corn, but you cannot eat this in public without looking like a mess.

2)  Green fried tomatoes at Local (also in Ferndale) :  Awesome place, cannot wait to go back.

3)  Sugar House:  have you seen their new drink menu?  Its gigantic.  I adore this joint.  Master P and I are using the decor as inspiration for our new basement bar, which we will then declare "the best bar in GP".

4)  Mac & Cheese at St. CeCe's:  Love the stained glass and dark wood.  This place is beautiful.  Creative dinner menu and drinks.  I also love the pickled cantaloupe and cheese trays.

5)  Beef Tenderloin at The Bedford:  This is a super exclusive invitation-only place.  You have to know someone.

6)  The California pizza at Green Zone Pizza (Grosse Pointe):  I get it with the red sauce in lieu of the oil.  Delish.

7)  Cheesy grits and biscuit with homemade jam at Mae's (Pleasant Ridge):  Voted best breakfast 2013 in Real Detroit.  Damn, I didn't want anyone else to know about my favorite breakfast spot.

8)  Sliders at Green Dot Stables:  I had the one with the fried chicken and maple syrup.  Yummy. Need to go back to this spot and sample more.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things.  I wanted to make a list of ten.  Oh well!  More to come.



Motor City Brew Works

>> Friday, February 3, 2012

**pics to be posted shortly**
December 9, 2011
Motor City Brew Works,  www.motorcitybeer.com

This is a fun little brewery that makes some popular Detroit beers such as Ghettoblaster and Motown Bohemian lager.  I have been wanting to return to try some of their gourmet pizzas.

I really enjoyed their "elixer fixers" in strawberry cucumber and lemon lavender, I recommend trying them.  They are so good, light and fizzy.

We try multiple pizzas and there is not a bad one in the bunch:  The Bronx Bomber, the Godfather, bbq chicken, maui wowie....see the complete menu on the website.  We also had the Fuego, and I'm giving it a separate mention because I love spicy food.  This is HOT, that's a warning.
We also like the salads very much and the cheese plates.
Some of the pizza crusts were slightly burnt, but not so bad that it bothered us.  The service was decent.
Total bill $143 plus tip, not bad for six people and drinks!
Our scores average a 4.


Mr Pauls Chophouse

November 11, 2011
Tonight we are Mr. R, Scarlet, The Greek, Master P and me.
Master P loves Mr. Pauls and has been trying to get us all out here to this strange part of Groesbeck for a while.  The restaurant is in a rather industrial section and pop's up out of nowhere somewhat.
What we love about this off-the-beaten path joint is it's old school vibe.
There is live piano, professional staff and a cozy atmosphere.
I highly recommend asking for a seat in the front room. The back room lacks the atmosphere and is very loud.

The number one best thing you MUST have here is the table-side caesar salad.  They create the dressing from scratch at your table and the guarantee it will be the best caesar you have ever had.  It's true.
PLEASE try this.

Our server tonight is Tracey, and she definitely goes into the top ten of our best servers ever.  We also enjoyed awesome bar service.

Our entrees were as follows:
Master P and I had the chateaubriand  for two.  It is carved tableside.  I actually found it simple and boring, but that is what some people like, I guess!
Scarlett had the crab legs, The Greek had the rack of lamb and alfredo noodles, Mr. R had the curry encrusted chicken.  They all loved the food.

The total bill was $332 plus tip.
We gave it an almost unanimous 5 rating.  Scarlet says, in spite of the plastic table clothes that was initially a minus for her.