The Hilltop Has Aye’s

Jen and I decided to try Parker’s Hilltop Brewery in Clarkston on Saturday night. We had heard many good things about it and the reviews were always stellar. We were not sure how the visit was going to be because when we called to make a reservation they said that they were not taking any reservations. Jen asked the person on the phone why can’t we reserve a table, the website says you take reservations? The person told Jen that yes, they do take reservations, but not tonight because they expect the restaurant to be busy. Huh? Anyway, we were not going to be deterred by this dumb answer.

When Jen and I arrived, we were impressed by its spaciousness and rustic appeal. Some of the walls are ordained with pictures of Michigan music icons like Bob Seger, Diana Ross and Alice Cooper, etc. We sat down at the bar and were met by a very affable young man named Sean.  He brought us our waters while we looked at their beer list. Jen and I could not decide so we each ordered a flight of beers. Our flights were the same except for one choice. We both agreed that the Pirates Porter and Sleeping Monkey were great choices. Jen had a Mr. Hockey Irish Red which was also quite tasty. We both determined that the Ry-no Head Belgian Ale was just okay and the FNG American Stout with its extra hoppiness was not to our liking. Look, we try and we want to like IPA’s but we just don’t their just too bitter and lack the robust roasted maltiness of porters and stouts. Overall, the beer is good but unfortunately it is limited and half the choices are IPA’s.

We were hungry so we decided to split prime rib and a prosciutto and arugula pizza. The prime rib dinner came with mashed potatoes and broccoli but Jen and I upgraded to different sides. We opted for mac and cheese and fries. The fries were just okay nothing special and even though Jen really liked the mac and cheese it didn’t blow me away. But that’s not unusual for me, I am someone who can take or leave mac and cheese. Now the prime rib was cooked perfectly at medium rare and bursting with meaty goodness. Please people do not go beyond medium rare when you order good cuts of meat if you want it well done just eat Salisbury steak.

The pizza was phenomenal, salty, garlicky and beyond savory. Wow what a good choice. As we sat at the bar, we watched group after group of people come. Like I said, the place is big but does fill up fast. My advice, if you like good beer and good food, go to Parker’s Hilltop. But go early and save us two seats at the end of the bar cuz we are going back.

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.

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.

OOOh Weee Loui’s!!

Took a trip out at the last minute to Loui’s Pizza. Omar and I were craving some deep dish pizza and a cold beer.  Now Loui’s in the past has disappointed us with beer selection, carrying the standard pedestrian fare, but this night surprised us, the waitress rattled off the beer selection, to which we replied, “that’s it??” and she said, “oh, and we have some milkshake something”. Our hearts jumped, could it be our coveted Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout? She ran off to check, and to our surprise returned with two ice cold Milkshake Stouts.  Our evening has just jumped up a notch!

Now I know Loui’s pizza has always been good, but I don’t remember the antipasto salad being as good as it was.  I somethings prefer Buddy’s Pizza over Loui’s simply for the salad, but tonight also surprised me.  The salad was delicious!  Not sure if I was starving, or it was exceptionally good, but tonight’s salad surpassed by far my expectations.

The Pizza is, by far, one of the best deep dish pizza’s in the area.  Now Green Lantern has zero competition for the traditional round, but for deep dish I have to put Loui’s as number 1.  Unlike Buddy’s, whose crust I actually prefer, Loui’s does not skimp on the toppings.  Our meat lovers pizza had ample portions of hamburger, pepperoni, sausage, ham and bacon. Literally a carnivore’s paradise.  The cheese draped the pizza in a warm blanket of deliciousness.

I seriously had one piece of pizza and got so full.  The crust is so deep, and toppings so filling it is hard to eat two!!

Also at Loui’s I am always bumping into people I know. This night was no different. We bumped into our good friends Kevin and Sherry Cole who also has a last minute pizza craving and know right where to go!!

We highly recommend Loui’s, but if you go, call us!! Nomm Nomm Nomm!!