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.

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.

Great Baraboo-boos

We were heading out to a show with our friends (and big shout out to fellow food and brew aficionados) Ray and Denise Jasion. As the place we were heading to (that shall remain nameless) has very expensive food and beer we opted to dine nearby at the Great Baraboo Brewing Company in Clinton Township. They have a nice patio, large menu, large beer selection and close by our destination, so seemed like a perfect place.

Now, this is not our first visit here. Omar and I have always had decent food and a decent experience.  Good, not great, but on a 80+ beautiful summer night we needed to be outside.  Our visit however, was indeed a boo-boo from the start.

First, we convinced Ray to join us in ordering a flight a beers. Great Baraboo has their own brews and well as a number of “guest” taps form around the area. Great Baraboo is going through some changes, so their beers are being cut back while they revamp their brewing process (at least that’s what the waitress told us). They had a good number of interesting guest taps so we decided on the sampler.  We thought and scrutinized our selections to get the right 6 beers, only to be told after we turned them in that “guest taps” were not allowed on the flights, sorry.  We then got to pick from the mere 6 beers they have, very IPA heavy, so we decided against that.  You may want to mention that in the menu!!

Omar ordered a guest tap – North Coast Brewing Company, Old Rasputin Nitro.  It was heavy, with a whopping 9.0 abv, and served in a tulip glass.  We expected raspberry overtones, but didn’t really get too strong a fruit vibe on this one.

I ordered a “Juniper” Ale whose name is escaping me. Also served in  tulip glass, aged in gin barrels, it was smooth and strong!

Ray ordered an Erik the Red, and the lady at the next table was ordering a simple pilsner, and our waitress kept mixing them up.  A red beer and a pilsner are not hard to tell apart. Our waitress however, was not the brightest star in the sky.

I decided to order the prime rib special. I know, its crazy to order prime rib at a place that isn’t known for that (like don’t order a burger at a Chinese restaurant, it will not be good).  But they had me at “garlic horseradish mashed potatoes”.  The food was served, sans Omar’s, who was waiting patiently for a while until the waitress said “did you hear they dropped your burger on the floor” like it was funny.

My prime rib, ordered medium rare did not have even the slightest hint of pink.  I usually never do it, but I sent it back.  Medium, ok I could have lived with, but well done? Geeze.  The second Prime rib was slightly better, maybe a medium well, but I was hungry and we had to leave.  The prime rib was still flavorful, the au jus tasty and the mashed potatoes did not disappoint. Hand smashed, skin on, with garlic and horseradish (not too much) and seasoned perfect.  Just fill my belly with these, really.

Omar finally got his burger.  Not so much as an apology from the manager for our overcooked and dropped food, or the mix ups of the beers.  C’est La Vie.  It is what it is.

Our adventures at our show I will keep to myself as I has free tickets and do not want to be petty. 🙂

Thanks to Paul and Val Leo for meeting us, and paying for our beers event though you shouldn’t have!!

Yeah the food was ok. Beer was cold, weather was great, show was mediocre, show pizza was an abomination, but it was nice to see friends we don’t see often. A good excuse for an evening out.