Feeling Jolly at the Jolly Pumpkin

We went to lunch at the (newer) Jolly Pumpkin in Royal Oak for lunch. Sad, I know, going to a brewery on lunch when we can’t enjoy the beer, but I have to say the food was good. Jolly Pumpkin is a chain brewery with locations across Michigan and in Chicago.

They have unusual offerings such as Baked Feta, popcorn cauliflower and interesting salads. As I am on this new eating healthy “thing” I opted for the Farro and Brussels salad. For those that do not know Farro is a combination of various grains of species of wheat. It tastes “puffed” almost like you would imagine a sugar smack from childhood. I like to say if brown rice and barley had a baby, it might be Farro. It is an interesting flavor and texture, and does well hot, or chilled in salad.

This salad was a heaping mound of shaved Brussel Sprouts, chopped Kale, Farro, dried cranberries, feta cheese, roasted almonds with a whole grain mustard vinaigrette. I added chicken since I wanted some protein. The salad was good and filling as I could only eat about half. My only complaint, the price. Adding the chicken, sticking with water to drink and adding tip put me at almost $20 for lunch. Pricey when you didn’t even get a beverage.

I was going to order the turkey melt and I wanted those tiny pomme fritte fries that I love, but I abstained. Others around me ordered, so I snagged a fry. The Parmesan truffle fries were amazing. Hot, just the right amount of crisp and salt. Buttery Parmesan and just a hint of truffle. The turkey melt looked and was described as delicious, with smoked gouda, arugala, tomatoes and a dried cranberry mayo. All melted into the most perfect looking crisp farmers bread. Ugg. Yeah my salad was great blah blah.

I found our waiter to be very underwhelming. Zero personality. One of our guests didn’t get her salad due to them forgetting to order it. No real apologies, at least not from him. There was another waitress who was working hard to make up for his inadequacies.

I would go back, but next time at night when I can drink. The beer menu however looked very heavy with sour beers and IPA’s. Even the neighboring restaurant in the basement (where Bastone Brewery now solely resides) is not laden with stouts or porters.

So go, be Jolly. Drink beer. Grab a burger. A great place to nosh if in Royal Oak.

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.

Riding on the Metro Bar

Omar and I, after what was an extremely painful “talent” show (I won’t say where, out of respect, but it was brutal) needed a beer and fast. We were also hungry as it was now about 9 p.m. and we haven’t eaten. We stopped in on a whim to the Metro Bar and Grill on Ryan and 12 Mile Road. We have drove by a lot, and reviews were pretty good so we popped in.

Beer selection was very limited. I ordered a fat tire on draft, which turns out was a mistake.  The beer was warm, and tasted like the lines were dirty (ugg).  Omar’s beer was fine, or so he said.

The burgers are really hyped here.  Reviews say they are really good so of course, Omar ordered a burger and fries.  I saw a “slim Jim” on the menu and the waitress assured me it was really good, so I ordered. Why not? Decided to get a little crazy.

Omar’s burger was good and cooked well. The fries crisp and very hot. It came with “Metro Mayo” which may have not been anything more than mayo with reconstituted dried onions, and some seasoning, but man, it was good!  Even dipping the fries into it.

My slim Jim was really good. Very similar to Big Boys. Funny, I said to Omar “this is good like Big Boys, but just doesn’t have that seeded bun” when I realized the bun was indeed seeded, just for what ever reason, turned inside out before the sandwich was “pressed”.  I don’t remember Slim Jim’s of the past being squashed like a squirrel on a busy highway, but they sure are now. And this sandwich sure mimicked that.

We were wrapping up our meal when the waitress said, “don’t leave yet, we are just starting Karaoke, are you brave enough to sing?” Haha she doesn’t know me very well does she?? Well I GUESS I could be persuaded!  Omar, who is now one of the biggest Karaoke junkies I know was up for  the challenge as well.  I ordered another beer, a pedestrian Labatts, in a bottle this time though, and it was cold and refreshing!

After I rocked Jolene and My Baby Loves Me Just The Way That I Am (dedicated to my honey of course) and Omar rocked out Whipping Post and Love Without End, Amen we decided to pack it in for the night. It was a work night after all.

We will go back for sure.  Close to home, good food and karaoke every night!! What else could you ask for?

Fat Head and Fat Belly

Cleveland: Dinner Saturday

After our day cruise, we opted to take a side trip to another brewery right outside the city.  We headed to Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, about a 20 minute drive from the hotel.

Oh man, we hit the jackpot for beer selection.  They had probably over 20 different kinds of micro brewed beers ranging from Hoppy IPAs to Seasonal Spiced Ales.  All beers available as a 4 oz. sample ranging from 1.50-2.50 per selection so that is what we opted for.  Omar and I, having similar beer tastes, ordered the same samples.

Which were:

The Battle Ax Baltic Porter: Smooth and Rich, with chocolate overtones and a a complexity of flavors including dark dried fruits, licorice and molasses.  8.6 abv.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch: This was surprisingly subtle, with a hint of sweetness, vanilla and cinnamon. They call it their breakfast in a glass. Sweet malt and bready flavor. 7.8% abv.

Chocolate Vanilla Porter: 6% abv, had chocolate, coffee, caramel and roasted flavors. Madagascar Vanilla beans and Belgian Dark Chocolate give this brew its elegant flavor.

Black Knight Schwarzbier: A dark black lager with dark roasted flavors. 5.5% abv.

The food was really good. HUGE and I mean huge portions. I highly suggest splitting something.  Omar ordered the “Thick Rick” burger.  Two, yes 2, 8 oz. patties, american cheese, bacon, lettuce, mayo and tomato with a big slice of onion.  Came with fresh cut fries o’plenty.

I ordered the Smoked prime rib dip sandwich with prime rib sliced thin, and grilled with onions, topped with provolone cheese & horseradish sauce. Au Jus on the side. It was served on a tasty sub bun, but way to large for me to even attempt to eat.  A handful of homemade potato chips accompanied the sandwich, which were cooked very well.

Overall, a fabulous experience.  We even commented that was it us, just choosing the most stellar restaurants to eat in, or did Cleveland just have a much better food selection than Detroit? So far, we have made FABULOUS choices! More to follow…