Went and saw a “rock and roll band” at Bostonz

I guess you would have to know Boston’s songs to get that super punny and creative title. Look it up if you didn’t the reference. Yesterday was St. Patty’s day and Omar’s sons band was playing at Bostonz Bar and Grill in Eastpointe. They were playing early, but we felt we were up for some day drinking. We checked out the menu prior to heading out as we always do, and were surprised to see a fairly large menu and preliminary reviews were pretty positive. We decided that as this was our “cheat” day we would enjoy some of their offerings.

The bar was a little “rougher” than we expected and our thoughts of a delicious dinner were questionable. We decided to get some appetizers and snack while we enjoyed our Guinness Beers and watched the band. We decided to call an audible and eat dinner at Green Lantern (which we have reviewed and LOVE). So for snacks, we chose to order what they called their delicious fries, which were described as “skinny and delicious, just think McDonalds” and a combo platter which consisted of chicken tenders, chicken wings and cheese sticks.

The fries must have changed since the website was last updated, as the fries that came out were very unexciting. Average fries, cooked in probably aged oil and served slightly salted. The chicken tenders were pretty good, seemed to be homemade but needed a bit more flavor. The cheese sticks may have been homemade, as they had that floury taste that comes with some homemade cheese sticks. The chicken wings came out completely naked and although  they brought out some ranch, they were embarrassingly under-dressed.

The beer was cold, the band was good and the waitress rocked it, even though she said it was her first day. She was friendly and attentive. The owner even gave us a free Guinness t-shirt as we ordered the first Guinness of the day (apparently more of a bud light/MGD kinda place). We probably would not intentionally head out just to visit this establishment, but if Omar’s sons band played again, that would be fine. Probably though, just sticking to the cold beer and entertainment.

We did head to Green Lantern after with our friends Steve and Mary who came out to support the band. If you want a review of Green Lantern again its simple, great pizza (remember the pools of grease)?, great salad, cold beer, great subs and yummy bacon. You can read all about it HERE.

To summarize, don’t be afraid of Bostonz, we had a great time and go to Green Lantern. Go now. Nom nom nom.



Did I Mention I Love Johnny Cakes Cafe?

Jamie stopped over and we have a mom/daughter morning and we went to breakfast. I suggested Johnny Cakes. I haven’t been there for a while and last time it was so good. You probably read our previous blog about Johnny Cakes. Sorry, I feel like it needed a second review. Wait, are you the ONLY one who hasn’t read that post? No worries, you can read it HERE.

The place was jumping as usual. People just line up for this place. We grabbed a couple seats at the bar to avoid a long wait. As usual, the menu was vast and eclectic. Jamie was intrigued by the fruity pebbles french toast that was the daily special but boy, it just seemed too sweet. After pondering the menu, Jamie opted for the plain pancakes, as after all she rationed, they had better do those well!

I decided to get a breakfast that gave me the allusion that I was sticking to my diet, as it did have some healthy ingredients. I ordered the Florentine Eggs Benedict, perfectly poached eggs on a bed of spinach and tomato, covered with a perfect hollandaise sauce atop a fresh english muffin. Paired with a small bowl of fresh melon and grapes. It was delicious and different than any eggs benedict I have ever had. Very good and would definitely order again.

What I noticed this time, since I was sitting at the bar, was the fresh orange juice squeezing machine.  So cool, a see through machine with wheels and cogs that take whole oranges and continuously squeeze fresh juice for the happy diners. Although as i mentioned previously, the cost is a bit more than other restaurants, with an average of $10/meal and $3.5o for a small juice, it is for sure worth it.

Did I mention that you should try Johnny Cakes?


The Luck of the Irish (Craft) has Run Out

Omar and I began hearing about a local pub our friends started frequenting and had great things to say about. Irish Craft on Mound, just South of 16. We were apprehensive at first due to the multiple reincarnations of the restaurant. Previously Rosie O’Gradys, and many other failing restaurant/bars we didn’t have a lot of confidence in its success.

Our first visit was a welcomed surprise! The burgers were fresh, tasty and really lived up to the “best burger in Detroit” rating they claimed they achieved. The fries, although still battered were better than most. Onion Rings crispy and flavorful, not too greasy. I ordered potato skins, rarely anyone does those well, but we were pleased to find they were cooked well, lots of cheese, fresh crispy bacon and green onions. Not the typical “yesterdays leftover baked potatoes reheated with some greasy cheese and bacon bits” that other local venues have to offer. The beer menu is extensive, with multiple craft offerings including IPA’s, stouts, lagers and porters. Most recently Omar tried the Rochester Mills Blueberry Pancake Milkshake Stout, 5.25% apv, this alternate version of the standard Milkshake Stout has all the characteristics of the classic, with aromas of blueberry and a bready, creamy almost pancake flavor. The blueberry seemed more pronounced in aroma rather than taste, but an interesting accompaniment to the classic. Although Omar enjoyed his beer, he will stick to the classic in the future.

Follow up visits to this bar brought still enjoyable experiences, with us branching out trying new burgers, French Onion Soup, chicken tenders (which you could tell were made fresh), wraps and more. We were never really disappointed.

We then discovered that Wednesday Nights they hosted a “Jeopardy” style trivia that we really enjoyed playing. On Wednesday nights Irish Craft got to be our “go to” place for date night where we could play trivia, grab a cold beer and have a nice night out.

We started a “healthier” eating lifestyle January 1st. For those opting for healthier fare we found that Irish Craft was not an easy place to eat well. The salads were mediocre and the rest of the menu was laden with carbs, cheeses and fat. Spitting Fajitas is really your best option, and at the time they were ok.

However, the quality of Irish Craft has gone down significantly. I don’t know what happened. A change in management? Lowering quality to increase revenue? Whatever the reason, they have made some very bad changes. Trivia on Wednesdays has been cancelled with no explanation, which is surprising because they only people there on Wednesdays were there just for trivia. The food quality has noticeably declined. The burgers are just ok now and tend to be overcooked and dry. Fries are no longer included, with soggy stale chips now substituting. The potato skins which were once cooked so well, now were under cooked and hard, with melted cheese, soggy, fatty, bacon and sorely lacking green onion. They have removed items from their menu like the French Onion soup. They have added a pizza menu which we have not tried. Sides like stuffed mushrooms, chicken tenders and onion rings which before were clearly made from scratch are now pre-made and bought in bulk and sadly dropped in the fryer. Looking for a nice fresh salad? You no longer will find that here. If you enjoy bagged salad with some chopped up lunchmeat from yesterdays sandwiches and some shredded cheese, then this is the place for you. The beer offerings are still vast, and served iced cold. The beer is really the only thing now that they have going for them.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and there was 3 patrons. Omar and I and some random dude at the bar, that clearly was friends with the bartender. I get that it wasn’t prime time, but that amount of people on a Saturday was not only sad but very telling. Do yourself a favor, and go somewhere else. I would have told you to go last year, but oh what a difference a year makes.

Used our Brain at Tavern on the Main

Valentines Day, how romantic. Wine, flowers, candy, fine dining. STOP! Valentines Day this year was on a Wednesday. The last thing I wanted to do was fight crowds to go some fancy dinner that we didn’t even feel like. Wednesday nights you can usually find us playing trivia at a local pub by our house which I won’t mention. We called said local pub who informed us that trivia wouldn’t happen that night or any other. Humm… interesting development. I searched the two local live trivia sites we frequent, Quizzo and Sporacle and found a local place that had trivia that night.

We headed to Tavern on the Main, in Clawson, on Main Street (duh!). We were not expecting much. Expecting a small bar-type atmosphere with a limited bar menu. What we found though was a nice surprise. The restaurant has two separate dining areas. The first in the front part of the restaurant, and the second through a door into an area where the bar was. The set up was a bit odd, but maybe families like to avoid the bar area? The entire place is very stylish, and well maintained. Clean, cute, welcoming the place had it all. Greek owned, has a very Greek inspired menu, and the management (and owner) were so helpful and friendly. We made our way to the bar area to settle in for some trivia. The place was hopping. I didn’t know, wish I did we could make reservations, but the staff was very accommodating in trying to get us a seat. Two seats opened up at the bar, so we opted to just sit there.  The bartender was immediately attentive and friendly. Answering questions and offering samples of the beers on draft.

We both ordered the Olympus Salad. A traditional Greek with slices of Gyro meat. The salad was large, fresh, ample amount of meat and warm pita bread to accompany. The salad was delicious. A far cry from the bagged salad swill that we received from the other local-trivia placed that I did not mention. I am sorry beer lovers, we are remiss and I forgot the name of the beer we drank. It was a draft stout that we had never heard of. My bad. Will follow up next time with a beer review. The trivia was fun, although we were up against not only a bunch of big teams but very smart ones as well. Our two “man” team has to really work to keep up with the combined intellect of a 8-10 person team, but we held our own and even managed to score third place and won a gift certificate for our next visit, which there most certainly will be!

Looking forward to warmer weather, makes me want to note that this place even has a charming looking patio out front for your outdoor dining enjoyment.

Overall a great experience. I even told Omar after a trip to the beautiful bathroom “I kinda love this place”. We will be back. Look for us on a Wednesday playing trivia, eating salad and enjoying a cold (they were cold) draft beer.

I Couldn’t Have Done it, I Was at the Alibi!

Omar and I were heading to a fundraiser for a friend way out in Leonard, MI. Basically take Rochester Road for a very long time. We decided to stop for a quick bite and a beer before we headed out and decided to try, or should I say re-try the Alibi in Troy. A Troy historical restaurant, its known as being one of the longest serving restaurants in the Troy area. Starting as a country fried chicken establishment in 1927, serving diners out of a small house on that property, the restaurant has maintained its appeal and morphed over the years, changing owners and menu items but maintaining its family owned appeal and has now become one of the pizza restaurants in the area.

The restaurant underwent some remodeling in 2015, adding a nice outdoor patio and some updates to the interior.  The place is very homey, with a two sided fireplace, cozy seating and warm ambient lighting. We ordered a few things so we could sample the menu. I was craving the turkey reuben, but Omar suggested the burger. As they claimed to have the “best burger in town” I was willing to give it a try. We also ordered a pizza with pepperoni and a nice cold lager. My apologies, as I am writing these blogs a bit late due to our crazy busy lives lately, I forgot the specific beer we ordered, I know, unacceptable!

Let’s talk about the good, the Meh and the Ugly. Ok, there was nothing ugly. So I guess lets talk about the good, the great and the meh. The Good, was the pizza. The pizza was really good. Did it rival Green Lantern? Probably not, but it was a darn good try. The sauce was flavorful, the crust had the right amount of crunch and chew, and the cheese was plentiful. The pepperoni had those curled crispy edges that did rival Green Lantern, although Green Lantern’s pepperoni is slightly thicker with a bigger grease pool in the center (mmmm…. grease pool). The great? Maybe it was because we hadn’t enjoyed a beer for a while, but the beer was exceptionally cold and really hit the spot. The meh? The burger. The burger was surprisingly small and was very similar to that backyard burger that dad always overcooked and put on his special grilled partially burned wonder bun. The burger was seasoned well, but very overcooked, and basically amazingly pedestrian. The fries were the super popular “battered fries” and were awful. No point whatsoever in wasting a single calorie on them.

Would we go back? Yes, under a few conditions. Only for the pizza and the beer and only if we were either in the area or meeting friends. If we are looking to just get a great pizza, and craving round, then we will just go to Green Lantern.

No Need to Hide From Hyde Park

If you are up to date on our blog, and I expect that you are, you will know that actual Valentines Day for us was spent playing trivia. If you are one of the few who didn’t read that post, you can enjoy HERE. We decided to celebrate a day of romance a few days later at Hyde Park in Birmingham. We first saw Hyde Park when we happened to be in Birmingham for other reasons. The place was intriguing, nestled in a strip, near the Birmingham Theater, boasting prime steaks and seafood. We checked out their online menu and although the menu didn’t have prices listed (your first sign that it is going to be a pricey night) we decided to splurge and try it out.

We made reservations in advance, for a very early dinner as we wanted to beat the dinner rush. We are finding more and more that we seem to be becoming those crotchety old people who want to eat early so they don’t have to deal with the masses of annoying people. We are enjoying the spoils of “early bird specials”. Those old people are on to something! I must say although we are eating like old people, we are still super young at heart and still pretty hot. LOL

We started our dining adventure with cocktails, Omar ordering his classic Tanqueray Martini, up, with 3 anchovy stuffed olives. I stuck with my classic Tanqueray and Tonic, with just the right squeeze of lime.

We were pleased to be offered a complimentary amuse bouche, which is a fancy french word that translates as “uber fancy food served very tiny.” Actually it translates as “mouth amuser”, designed as a small bite to show off the chef’s skill in blending and creating flavor profiles and is typically served before your order is taken. The manager brought a small sampling of their crispy tuna sushi roll, with an avocado crema. I am not a sushi lover and try to steer clear of raw fish, but this one bite was delicious.

As we haven’t been eating as much as before, we decided to split an entree and get some accompaniments. I ordered a Caesar Salad that I assumed I would be splitting with Omar and French Onion Soup. Omar ordered the calamari and our entree to split was the bone-in, 36 day, dry aged 26 oz behemoth bone in ribeye with boardwalk fries.

The Caesar Salad was ok. The lettuce was fresh, with nice shaved Parmesan but I felt the dressing lacked that certain tang that Caesar dressing needs. You can order anchovy on the side and as much as I hate anchovy, I need a tiny bit in my dressing that was missing if you didn’t request it.

The French Onion Soup was good, not great and definitely not the best I ever had. It wasn’t packed with flavor or onions, but was far from inedible, but far from delicious.

The calamari was excellent, light, not greasy, and surprising crispy even though it was in a Thai sweet hot chili sauce, along with cherry peppers, carrots, green onions and nuts.

The steak and fries arrived, a plate of which looked like a Fred Flintstone Brontosaurus Steak, and tiny fries, nestled carefully in a paper cone, salted to perfection. The aged steak, cooked a perfect medium rare, was tasty, but honestly I don’t see the difference with an aged steak or a brand spanking new steak. The flavors are supposed to deepen, the enzymes in the meat are supposed to break down fibers, making the steak more tender, but to me, it just tasted like an everyday steak. Good, but not blow me away amazing. Frankly, Omar and I get these massive Cowboy Ribeyes from Sams Club, grill them at home and they are just as good. The fries though, were amazing. They do fries right. Small Pomme Frites, cooked to perfection, salty with interesting aoilis to dip. We opted against desert, although they brought to a nearby table a stacked carrot cake that appeared to be at least 7 layers and looked so decadent and delicious.

The waitstaff was incredibly attentive, from the manager, to the waiter, to the person filling our water to the bus staff. A fine dining experience, with exceptional service. The ambiance is cozy, with white table clothes, wood and stone walls, deep rich paint colors and walls of aged bottles of wine.

We enjoyed our evening, felt very well taken care of by staff, but were simply not blown away with the food. Sometimes I feel we are getting too snobbish with our reviews, but we feel it is our duty to give people good, honest reviews. We would recommend Hyde Park, and would return, but probably wouldn’t splurge for the aged steak.

First there was UNO, then there was Due.

My baby, Allison, was starting Vet School in Illinois and had her “blue coat” ceremony, a ceremony to celebrate t he start of vet school and the students get their blue lab coats (yes, in vet school they are blue). As the ceremony was being held at the college, I decided to fly into Chicago and drive back with Jamie and Quinton (her now fiance’!)

Allison, her boyfriend Ashton and my niece Amber who also attends University of Illinois picked me up at the airport and we set out to enjoy a day in Chicago. We decided to maximize our day, and maximize what we could do, we opted for a bus tour of the city. It makes stops all over the city, you can get off at any stop and stay as long as you’d like, and simply just catch the next one. We made sure to stop at all the places that give out free gifts like Giradelli’s chocolates. For lunch, I wanted some traditional Chicago style pizza. I had heard of Pizzaria Uno, as everyone knows it is one of the landmark Chicago Pizza joints. (Not to be confused with Uno Pizza of Sterling Heights).

We knew the restaurant, which is fairly small surprisingly, would fill up quickly. We made our way over when it opened and snagged a cozy table on the small patio overlooking East Ohio Street.

We ordered a small deep dish, with spinach, onion and green pepper and a recommended side of garlic bread.  The bread was amazing, Warm, cheesy and had the best dipping sauce which was, I assumed, the pizza sauce, it was warm and full of flavor. After waiting patiently for our pizza (the deep dishes take some serious time to cook) it finally arrived. We were a bit worried that the 6 pieces would not be enough for the four of us, but as each piece was so thick, filled with so much cheese, we were more than stuffed.

Back on the bus and we enjoyed a day of strolling through the streets of Chicago, visiting the bean, walking to the fountain and window shopping. An overall great day, amazing weather and I was able to truly explore a city that I had previously only breezed through. The day was fun, great food, great company, great sites!

I would highly recommend a stop at Pizzaria Uno, or its new sister restaurant, right down the street, Pizzaria Due.

Took the Hooligans to Houlihan’s

Allison had her blue coat ceremony today, with Jamie, Quinton, Amber and myself in attendance. The ceremony was held at the I-Hotel and it only made sense to dine at the hotels restaurant, Houlihans. The restaurant, I assumed to be along the lines of of a Bennigan’s, Chili’s or other pedestrian style chain restaurant, I wasn’t setting my expectations high. The restaurant did have a lovely outdoor dining area, and as it was a beautiful August day, so that’s where we chose to sit. The menu was eclectic, and more “gourmet” than I expected.

We started our adventure with Parmesan Frites, and if you know me at all, you will know that tiny, crispy fries, with a variety of different aoilis are my weakness. The fries did not disappoint. Thin, crisp, covered in a buttery Parmesan, with chipotle aioli, tangy tomato & garlic parmesan dipping sauces. They were delicious.

We set in to order our entrees. I ordered Chipotle Chicken Nachos, Nachos with all the fixins and a chipotle-cheese sauce. Quinton chose the Korean chicken, with gochujang (a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented red chili sauce), charred pineapple brown rice, pineapple relish and garlic green beans. Amber ordered a chicken breast, stuffed with garlic-herb cream cheese, veggies, and a huge pile of mashed potatoes. Ashton opted for the Southern California Fish Tacos, which were panko-breaded North Atlantic cod, with a chipotle mayo, napa cabbage, honey cumin dressing, and sour cream. Allison, to whom we were celebrating, ordered a french dip along with more of those delicious french fries.

The food was really good, but a bit on the pricey side. Averaging about $12 an entree, it is a bit more expensive that local restaurants around here, but the food was good, and the service was exceptional. The most unusual thing we had was the pineapple infused brown rice that came with Quinton’s entree. The pineapple made the rice dish more sweet than savory, but still an interesting compliment of the spicy Korean Chicken. The ambiance of the patio was nice and we enjoyed a nice evening. I would recommend a stop if you are even in the area. Not sure why you may find yourself in the burbs of Champaign-Urbana in the shadow of the University of Illinois, but if you are, stop into Houlihans,

Went to the Dog House

Lunch was difficult in Chicago. I was so conflicted, being torn between Pizzaria Uno, which we opted for (and you can read HERE) and Portillo’s, Chicago’s famous hot dog joint. How excited was I that when we arrived back in Champaign-Urbana that they opened a new location right there in town!! Deep dish Chicago style pizza and Chicago style hot dogs all in the same day? Yes please!

The first Portillo’s opened as a hot dog stand known as “The Dog House”  in 1963 on North Avenue in Villa Park right in the heart of Chicago. Owner and founder Dick Portillo invested $1,100 into a 6′ x 12′ trailer without a bathroom or running water. To get the water he needed, he ran a 250 foot garden hose from a nearby building into the trailer.

In 1967 they renamed to “Portillos” and moved into their first building. 1983 they opened their first drive thru, and soon became known for their drive thru speed and efficiency. Now they boast over 50 locations all across the US.

All I know is I had to get me one of those dogs. The drive thru at this location was what looked to be a mile long, and the parking lot was packed. This location has become a favorite of the “fighting Ilini” and it is always packed with college students and families alike.

It is laid out sort of cafeteria style, where you place your order, move down the line, pick out your beverage, and move down to the cashier who gives you your “number”. You then proceed to patiently wait while order after order is carefully filled and delivered. Once I finally got my order, we sat down to enjoy our dogs. Chicago dogs are different than what we are used to here in Michigan. Get a Chicago-style hot dog with everything and it will includes mustard, relish, celery salt, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers piled onto a perfectly steamed poppy seed bun. Chicagoans call this “dragging the dog through the garden.”

The hot dog did not disappoint. It had everything a hot dog should. carefully steamed bun, crisp snap of the skin, and crunch of the pickle. Accompanying this masterpiece was krinkle cut fries, similar to Ore Ida, which I kinda have a weird love of. If you ever have gotten fries from White Castle, they are very similar.

All I can say is if you are in Chicago, visit Portillo’s. There is a location right in the heart of the city and if you opt for the tour bus like we did, it drops you off right in front. May I just say though, make sure you order everything you want the first time through. Going up later because you decided you wanted say, more fires, well that is a time consuming task. Get dog, get some fries. Get a second dog, because the lines get long. Enjoy and happy eating!

Remembering Our Beginning at Fillipis Wine Barrel

One of our first dates was at Filippa’s Wine Barrel in Shelby Township. Our first time there we cozied up in wrap around booth for 2, shared some appetizers, had a few drinks and had a really nice time. Not sure if it was the restaurant, or the great company we were sharing. Either way, we decided on a whim to go back again.

This day, July 2, 2017 was a warm beautiful summer day. We chose a table on the small patio out back. Now the patio is a much more casual setting than the white table clothed, candle lit tables inside. The tables are simple wrought iron mesh tables, and simple bistro style chairs. Simple umbrellas surrounded by lush greenery for privacy and an outdoor fully stocked bar.

We started our evening with a couple cocktails, enjoying conversation and the relaxing atmosphere of the patio. We both ordered the “house specialty” Prime Rib, along with Caesar salad and baked potato. The Caesar salad, was decent, lacking that extra tang from fresh anchovy and lemon, but good nonetheless. The prime rib was disappointing as both our meals were grossly overcooked. A prime rib cooked anymore than medium rare is simply a travesty. The baked potato was underwhelming as well, but in all seriousness, what do you expect from a baked potato with a bit of butter and dollop of sour cream.

When desert rolled around, as usual Omar and I were simply too full to order. At this point, a light rain started to fall. We decided to wrap up our dinner quickly before the sky opened up and soaked us.

Overall, Filippa’s Wine Barrel is a nice restaurant, the staff is always friendly and although our meal was overcooked that evening, we have had good food in the past.

If you have not visited this restaurant, it is worth a trip. Keep expectations at a minimum and enjoy the nice patio on a sunny summers day.