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.

Hanging with the Ladies and Johnny Black

Met some old friends at Johnny Blacks Public House in Sterling Heights. Well, my friends weren’t old, well not older than I am (ugg). We all used to be neighbors what seems like a million years ago. It’s funny how you meet up with people you haven’t seen in a long time, and it seems like time never passed.

Johnny Blacks has a feel of an upscale sports type bar, with many TV’s, high top tables and an upscale menu. They even have a small outdoors area you can sit weather permitting.

The menu has a large selection of small plates, sliders, salads, appetizers (including loaded tots, my new favorite) and a full entree selection.

I ordered the sliders with fries and was a bit disappointed when the fries turned out to be those darn battered fries. At least these were seasoned. The sliders were fairly good, on mini bricohe buns. A bit dry though.

They had a fairly large beer selection. I opted for my go to Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, which I already told you all about, many times. ¬†ūüôā

Overall atmosphere is cheery, friendly and efficient service.  I would definitely go back again, and try something different. Like the loaded tots! A stand by local hangout to make one on your stops.

Killing Time at Sterling Bistro

So Omar and I had to kill some time while his daughter was at Lakeside Mall with her friends. ¬†Didn’t make a lot of sense to drive home and then drive all the way back. ¬†We decided to grab some dinner at the Sterling’s Bistro (in the Lakeside parking lot, next to the new Fuddruckers).

Now we had been here some time ago, pre-blog era. ¬†I honestly don’t remember much about the place, whether we thought it was good, or worth revisiting. ¬†Omar was recently here for a work event and was happy with his meal so we checked it out.

They have a rather upscale menu, with meatball lollipops, fried brussels sprouts, and crab and shrimp cake appetizers.

All of which we did not partake. Omar was looking for something on the lighter side, so he ordered volcano sushi.  It came out so pretty, it really was visually stunning.  Although not the best sushi Omar ever had, it was tasty and plentiful.

I ordered the strip steak, which was served with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies.  The steak was flavorful although the potatoes were a bit gummy.

Omar enjoyed his Tangueray Martini, up, with 3 anchovy stuffed olives.  I ordered a gin and tonic, to keep things simple.  Sorry, no beer review tonight.

Overall, we were happy with the service, the food and the ambiance. ¬†We will return, when it is convenient. ¬†Unfortunately it is one of those places that you can visit if you are in the area, but maybe wouldn’t seek out and drive a long way for. Good, not great. Frankly, writing this review weeks after the fact, and I forgot a lot about the dinner, which does say something.

When your palate needs a massage, go to La Saj!

On Friday, I took my Beautiful Jen to La Saj Lebanese Bistro.  We have been there a number of times and never had a bad experience.  We always order the family combo for two and take food home on every occasion.  Even before you place your drink order, the staff is placing hot fresh pita bread and garlic dip on your table. This dip is so garlicky and awesome there is no need to worry about vampires, ever!  Love it!  Next they bring salads, Tabbouleh, hummus and Babe Ghanoush,which is a creamy smoked eggplant dish.  Now just imagine all this food with the bread before our entree is out yet, we are already full.

The entree consists or rice pilaf, grilled veggies, shish kabob, kefta, chicken kabob, grape leaves, falafel and fried kibee.¬† A lot of food for 30 dollars, so much so, we eat it for lunch the following day.¬† For the most part dinner and service was nearly flawless except for the following:¬† The ¬†salad is good (my dad’s is way better) but needs more of the Bulgar wheat in it.¬† The grape leaves were kinda listless and flaccid. The taste was good but not exceptional and they needed to be firmer. All the meats were cooked to order and beyond flavorful as was the falafel and kibee.

For those of you who have not tried Mid-Eastern food, because you think its weird and can’t pronounce it, this place is very novice friendly and caters to the American palate. The food is great and plentiful and the service has always been good as well.¬† However, if your idea of great ethnic food is Taco Bell, then please stay away from La Saj because we will be more than glad to take your seats.