O solo meal-no

Cantoro is a name I had heard often. Everyone who goes to their location in Plymouth swears that their Italian food is some of the best. Jen and I went to the new Troy location last night. We were able to secure a reservation and sat outside. Now this is the old Tremonti restaurant behind the San Marino club. The ambiance and atmosphere is very nice here. It is upscale and fancy but honestly not too pricey.

Their menu is limited, which for me is fine because this is the type of Italian food I like, You know, not Olive Garden. However, for my beautiful wife, a menu where lots of the items have octopus, calamari, mushrooms and veal is not gonna work for her. I however, love all those things.  So lets go over our experience step by step.

I ordered a martini with 3 anchovy stuffed olives. I got a martini with 5. Not gonna complain about that. Jen however, asked the waiter if they could make a raspberry Mojito, he said yes. He brought her nothing of the kind. First there was no raspberry in it at all. Heck, not even red or pink but appeared to be a regular Mojito. Jen said that it tasted like Rum with a splash of Sprite and a mint leaf tossed in. This is not a Mojito! The mint leaves should be muddled with either simple syrup or real cane sugar. One would think that the waiter would have said we cant do raspberry but will a regular Mojito do?

We heard the portions were large so we ordered a few apps while we waited for Jens pasta dish. I ordered the carpaccio which I loved but alas Jen would not try. I also ordered the spicy octopus in tomato sauce appetizer which I also really liked. Jen and I split the calamari salad. I asked for the calamari to be grilled instead of fried. Jen said she would just eat around the squid. I never had grilled calamari before, I had always either had fried or sauteed. Although it was a bit salty, I loved it. the actually salad itself was a let down. The greens on it were very wilted as if it had been dressed hours before and the dressing lacked a certain punch.  Jen makes grilled salmon atop her homemade dressed salad often and not only doesn’t it wilt, it tastes infinitely better.

Jens pasta dish was Strozzapretti alla Barese which is basically a rotini like pasta with ground Italian sausage and rapini. Not really too exciting, but the waiter in all fairness told her that it really wouldn’t be. I should also mention, that the bread served was very good but Jen would have preferred it served warm. The pasta entree was large and we took half of it home and ate it for breakfast this morning.

Overall, I would like to go back and sit outside again and have some calamari and a couple drinks. It will be a hard sell to get my wife to join me though, because she had such high hopes that came crashing down rather quickly.

Beer up on a Roof

Just because Sedona has one of the largest beer selections around, I have to talk about the beer again. I recently went back to Sedona Taphouse and sat on their new rooftop area. Ladies be careful, the roof has a soft floor that is totally unexpected. If you are in high heels as I was, be wary. You walk along, on hard tile when squish! You feel like you are walking on a gymnastics mat. I almost twisted an ankle, but luckily I averted a really embarrassing accident.

I met my business development group there, we have a happy hour meeting 2x a month and alternate between Big Beaver corridor locations. I ordered a flight of beers, why would you not? A beer is like $8 and so is a flight. A no brainer for me since I like variety.

My flight and reviews:

Scotch Barrel-Aged S’more Stout – a Stout-Imperial/Double by Perrin Brewing Company. A whopping 10.8% apv. This beer is brewed with real marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate, aged in scotch barrels to they say “impart a slightly smokey, fresh toasted over a campfire flavor.” To me, this beer was less like a s’more and more like drinking a campfire. The smokey flavor was over powering and just crushed any hints of marshmallow, graham or chocolate. It was similar in flavor to Bonfire Brown by Saugatuk Brewing Company, another beer I was not a fan of.

Neapolitan Milk Stout (Nitro) – A Stout-Mike/Sweet with 6% apv. by Saugatuk Brewing Company. Now this beer I love and have tried before at Ale Mary’s in Royal Oak. You can read that full review HERE. This beer is like Neapolitan Ice Cream in a glass. You can taste the subtle flavors of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. Drinking it, I felt like Violet Beauregard in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory eating her full meal gum, “here comes dessert, it is a blueberry pie…”

Passionfruit Mango Fruitsicle – a Fruit Beer by Odd Side Ales with 4.5% apv. One of the lighter beers on my flight, this beer weaved subtle overtones of passionfruit and mango making it a fun, easy sipping beer for a hot summers night. The fruit did not overwhelm the beer or make it feel more like a sour beer, but was just enough to make a crazy refreshing beer.

Blood Orange Honey – A Pale Wheat Ale – American by Cheboygan Brewing Company with 5.7% apv.  Another light summer beer on my flight, this beer is infused with wildflower honey, blood orange zest and blood orange puree. A smooth beer with a sweet finish, has strong citrus aroma and a perfect mix in the beer making it another great summer beer.

Read our other reviews on Sedona for a full review of food and atmosphere. Overall a great place to go. My only complaint is the forced valet and lack of parking. Otherwise a solid choice for an evening out for you fellow beer lovers.

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?

  

I Won’t Tease – Our Review of Eddie V’s

I must apologize, this is a very late review dating from the summer. Eddie V’s opened on Metro Parkway in June 2017 and right away became a hot spot. There is complimentary valet parking, but if you don’t feel like surrendering your car or tipping you better arrive early. Jen and I have gone there a few times, usually at happy hour and like to sit at the bar. The bar area opens up to the outside and there is ample seating around the large oval shaped bar. The happy hour menu is extensive but will add up quickly. Jen and I saw our favorite bartender, Colin who we met when he worked at Bonefish in Troy. Colin is a master mixologist whom we feel makes better drinks than the other bartenders at Eddie V’s. Its not that the others aren’t good, it is just that Colin’s concoctions are always very consistent.

I have ordered their oysters on the half shell a few times and they did not disappoint always tasting fresh and juicy with the right amount of briny goodness.  The lobster wonton which I understand is no longer on the menu was incredible. Now what’s not incredible is the Carpetbagger. This appetizer, is two fried oysters with seared tenderloin and blue cheese with bread crumbs. Dry, flavorless way too much breadcrumbs no wonder the South going thru the Reconstruction hated them, they were right. Sorry couldn’t resist it, you history geeks out there will get it. Now back to the good. The crab fried rice is an incredible side dish that is big enough to split and despite being a bit too salty (at least according to my beautiful Jen) bursts with buttery crab flavor that will tantalize seafood lovers and dare I say people who say they are not fans of shellfish.

I must say of the 5 or so times we have gone there, we have only eaten dinner entrees once. I had an Alaskan halibut dish which was very enjoyable but quite pricey at $36. Jen had the 8oz filet, tender and tasty but not worth the $40. Look, I understand eating out is expensive, but when I shell out a lot of cash, I want to be blown away by the food and frankly I wasn’t.  I was however, blown away by the dark chocolate s’mores dessert. Yes that is as good as it sounds.

I do recommend you try Eddie V’s but sit at the bar on a nice sunny day with the sun and light breeze at your back. Its expensive, but overall an enjoyable experience and tell Colin we said hello.

Back to Sedona

Ah, back a Sedona Taphouse. I already told you about  the ambiance, the taps, the beer, the menu. Read HERE.

Did I mention That your sides are blues or greens? I had to ask what that was. Your choices are blue corn chips, or a green mixed side salad. OK, so that makes sense!!

I met up with a friend of mine, Mary, and Sedona Taphouse was a nice mid point to meet, and Mary had never been. You have to watch this place those, the menu is odd. The food is on the front page of the menu, and the back page looks like just wine and cocktails, but look carefully, and there is also more food in the bottom corner.  Under the martinis and dessert, lies small plates and sandwiches. That is where I found what I would be ordering that night. I opted for the Prime Rib Sandwich. Typically, I shy away from french dips, or steak sandwiches of any kind because they are usually tough and gristly. This sandwich however did not disappoint. Ordered sans mushrooms, the sandwich came with caramelized onions, fontina cheese, horseradish sauce on an artisan roll and served with natural au jus. Choice of blues or greens, I got greens. I think my only complaint here is the lack of fries, or dare I say tots? LOL. The food is good, ambiance pleasant and waitstaff friendly and efficient.

My flight:

Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Stout Scotland – Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout, abv 7.4% – This English Stout is dark, very dark and complex with hints of oak, chocolate and vanilla. Feel is light for a stout beer.

Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Brew – NY Imperial Stout – abv 11.5% – An American Double/Imperial Stout. The commercial description is “The Roman Empire had a certain “je ne sais quoi” – festive food culture, extravagant architecture, and spectacular live entertainment. Some might argue the Emperors were brutal, mad, and hungry for power, and the people vain when taking baths and working out all day. Listen – that’s still all part of the secret Imperial ingredient – keep it cool, clean, confident, arrogant, and flamboyant. Forza Imperiale.” This beer is strong, with overtones of almond, strong coffee and dark chocolate. Has a boozy edge to it, with a whiskey like kick. A good sipping beer but to heavy and too boozy to drink to much of.

Greenbush Brewing Company Jeeze O’ Petes – MI – Dry Irish Stout abv 10.5% – Another chocolaty yummy beer (do you sense a trend?) with a smooth texture and minimal carbonation. Dark and drinkable. Like a good after dinner Irish Coffee.

Paw Paw Rye Anna – MI Barrel Aged Chocolate Stout** abv 7% – Stone Brewing Company’s Milk/Sweet Stout. The “Rye” barrel aging didn’t really come through on this beer, and had some cherry undertones I did not care for. Yep, definitely too much cherry for me.

**this beer is now retired

 

 

 

Mmm… Johnny Cakes

Omar and I decided to grab a quick breakfast before jumping into another home project.  It seems that’s all we have had a chance to do lately! We decided to try Johnny Cakes Cafe’, in Troy on John R just South of Long Lake.  I had read reviews quite some time ago about the great breakfast, but this was the first chance we had to check it out.

The menu has an eclectic offering of really different breakfasts.  And if your name is Johnny Cakes, you assume they have a large selection of pancakes, which they did not disappoint. Yes I know Johnny Cakes are cornbread, but “cakes” make you think pancakes, so…. ranging from Lucky Charms pancakes (the special of the day) to red velvet, oreo, futopia and more! An interesting collection of Eggs Benedict, “shillets” and crepes, this place was a foodies wonderland.

Our waitress, Vickie was friendly, attentive and offered great suggestions. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros, to which Vickie suggested I put the Ranchero sauce on the side because it was hot – and let me tell you, Vickie did not lie!! Wooo Baby that was spicy!  Crispy hash browns, topped with oozy cheddar cheese, topped with freshly grilled corn tortillas, more melted cheese, all topped with two perfectly cooked over easy eggs. You cut into the eggs and the warm yolks just pour onto the crispy tortilla, and with the hash browns, a touch (just a touch!) of the Ranchero Sauce, and a bit of the sour cream and guacamole, gives a bite brimming with savory deliciousness. It was truly  a symphony of flavors.

Omar ordered the “2 and 2”. 2 eggs any style and 2 pancakes, any flavor AND hashbrowns.  Omar decided to try the peanut butter and nutella (pictured below) and the Resee’s Peanut Butter Cup. What he didn’t know were the pancakes were the size of  your head, we expected two small side pancakes, we didn’t expect the works of art that was brought to the table.  Vickie apologized that the chef accidentally made the peanut butter and nutella as pecan and nutella, she profusely apologized as our actual order would take a bit longer and asked that we take the “mistake” so it didn’t go to waste, humm OK, twist our arms!!

I am not kidding when I said the pancakes were a work of art, and delicious too. They were a bit of a sweet overload for breakfast. Almost seemed like desert pancakes if there is such a thing!

We also had to order the “homemade corned beef hash” on the side. Don’t judge our piggishness. Omar and I are corned beef hash snobs, and after making our own for so long have a hard time finding anything more than canned dog food out, but I digress. This corned beef hash was most definitely homemade. Tasty, but in our opinion needed more corned beef, and maybe some onions. But definitely in the running for best corned beef from a restaurant.

Look at that pancake below! Swirls of peanut butter and nutella in an edible masterpiece!

Our suggestion – go to Johnny Cakes. TODAY. OMG you won’t be disappointed.  The meals are a bit expensive but well worth it.  Our bill for two was about $30 but we feasted. And had leftovers.

  

 

Sedona is a Beautiful Place This Time of Year!

Sedona Tap House opened on Big Beaver in Troy.  The place sounded great, promising a large variety of craft beers as well as cocktails and wine.  The beer list did not disappoint. Hundreds of beers available for the tasting, and tasting we did! We sat at the bar, and the restaurant offered a cheerful murmur and casual ambiance. The wall was lined with beer taps, and a large variety available by bottle. The menu was rather eclectic, with offerings such as goat cheese and tomato jam bruschetta.

We started the meal with Desert Fire Jalapenos, 4 halved jalapenos, stuffed with Stuffed with 4 different cheeses, wrapped in bacon wrapped with a chilled lime cilantro sauce. They were pretty good, but as with these “fancy” restaurants seemed scant on the plate.

Omar continued just with appetizers, opting for the Prince Edward Island Mussels which are prepared with Tomatoes, red onions, garlic and a lemon basil sauce. He said they were very good, and I would just have to take his word for it – blecch.

I ordered the Salmon Asparagus Salad which the menu describes as broiled Atlantic Salmon, organic greens, asparagus, feta, walnuts, tomatoes, dried cranberries. House made lemon balsamic vinaigrette. The salad was good, and plentiful enough. Salmon cooked well, and not fishy. An overall nice salad. But what really matters is the beer!

Beers on our flights included:

Ellison Tiramisu Coffee Stout 8% apv – a dark brown creamy stout, with aroma of vanilla, coffee, caramel, chocolate a bit of coconut and dark roasted malts. Very drinkable, not too heavy and overall very good.

Osker Blues Breckenridge Bourbon Barrel Aged Ted-Fidy 12.9% abv : Rich chocolates and vanilla, lots of malt. Oak and bourbon very dominant. Very full bodied with great “barrel” feel.

Cake Walk Vanilla Cream – Right Brain 3.8% abv – A light cream ale infused with vanilla bean. A very light, drinkable beer, similar to cream soda.

Saugatuk Barrel Aged Blueberry Maple 6% abv – Notes of berry and maple in this lighter stout beer. Blueberry takes a back seat to the maple, which isn’t my favorite. A very sweet beer.

Crankers Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Stout 8.4% apv – very dark, overtones of chocolate and a hint of fruit. A nice contrast of flavors and overall good beer.

Perrin Damil in Distress 10% apv – Looks similar to root beer, this Roggenbier style beer has sour smell, but overtones of malt and rum (as it is a rum barrel beer) easy drinking.

Odd Side Ales Mango IPA 6% apv – ok, an IPA and you know I wouldn’t normally order this, but sounded intriguing with the mango. A sweet start to the beer, has a bitter aftertaste that is indicative of an IPA. Not my favorite, and wouldn’t order again.

The Brewery So Happens it’s Tuesday 14% apv – an American Double/Imperial Stout – dark and tasty, with hints of bourbon, molasses, vanilla, oak, chocolate and malt. Very boozy with the highest abv of the day.

Overall a great experience and would go again! Just use the app to make reservations, which gave is a table in no time, otherwise prepare for a long wait!

One Night in Bangkok

Took my birthday honey to Mon Jin Lau in Troy for his birthday.  We wanted a nice outdoor patio but the weather was so hot. This summer was unusually hot!! We were both feeling like Asian food so we headed to Mon Jin Lau.  This post is entitled “One Night in Bangkok” because that was the name of the two dangerous martini’s I had that night.  Just two, but boy was my head pounding the next day.

We started going to Mon Jin Lau recently. It had been years since I had been there. We found the food a step up from the carryout places around us.  My go to chinese take out, Ho Wah is just ok.  I wish we had more options near to us.  The manager at Ho Wah can be, well lets say, abrasive. Funny thing about Mon Jin Lau, no matter what day, what time we go, when they ask if we have a reservation, and we say no, the answer is ALWAYS the same, “ok, we have table, but only if you can be out by 7” or 8 or 9, depends on what time we get there.  They seem to always give us an hour, hour and a half.

For dinner, we split a few dishes. Egg rolls, chicken fried rice, Marco Polo lo mein and Mongolian beef, spicy.  The egg rolls were hot and crispy, with just the right amount of filling.  The chicken fried rice flavorful.  The Marco Polo lo mein is a bit of a disappointment.  With lobster, Chicken, Bean Sprouts, Snow Peas, Mushrooms, Bamboo Shoots, Water Chestnuts, Pan Fried Noodles you would think it would be bursting with flavor but it was underwhelming.  The Mongolian beef was tasty, but did not come with rice, presumably due to the crispy noodles in it.  I was happy to have the chicken fried rice.

As it was Omar’s birthday, Mon Jin Lau celebrates by making you wear a super creepy, probably cootie filled mask, and gives you a free sundae.  No singing, just the odd “out this mask on and we will take your picture” as you can see by our creepy mask pictures.

Wednesday night they also have this club called “Shanghai Wednesdays”. They have some techno dj come in and the most unusual people start arriving.  Girls in tiny dresses and spiked heels and guys in open collared shirts, unbuttoned for their hair and chains to show.  I have not experienced this portion of the evening, but looking at the crowd, I don’t have the wardrobe for it.

We will go back, and we recommend you try it.  The food is decent. Price not too outrageous.  We give it 6 spoons up out of 10.

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Ye Old Detroit Burger Bar

Last Friday, Omar and I snuck out for a quick dinner, with a craving for a good burger and a new destination in mind, The Old Detroit Burger Bar, which took over the old Mr. B’s on Rochester Road in Troy. The website touts itself as “the best burger in town”. With a claim like that, we had to try it.
The walls of this restaurant are decorated with old pictures of iconic Detroit landmarks which tell a story of Detroit’s history along with widescreen TV’s and subtle lighting.
The menu incorporates many Michigan based companies, Vodka distilled from Ferndale, Beer from Kalamazoo and Birmingham, Faygo, Towne Club, wines from Traverse City, Better Made potato chips, Dearborn Brand and Wigley’s Meats.
The burgers come in baskets, branded with the company logo, juicy and delicious with a side of fries, waffle fries, onion rings or tater tots.
It was Wigley’s corned beef that first grabbed Omar’s attention. Omar ordered the “Ambassador” Burger. 1/2 lb perfectly cooked beef topped with Wigley’s corned beef, swiss cheese and Thousand Island Dressing. The burger was juicy, although Omar said could use a bit more seasoning.
I stuck with the standard Old Detroit Classic, a 1/2 lb Angus burger to which I added bacon and cheddar cheese. My burger was amaze-balls. Juicy, flavorful and huge!! I could only manage to eat half of the monster!!
Both Omar and I agreed that the sides were good, not great. I ordered the tater tots, because, really when do I ever eat tots? I expected them for some reason to be extraordinary. They were just tater tots. Nothing more, nothing less. Omar’s waffle fries were the same. Just your run of the mill waffle fries.
They had a decent selection of Michigan Beers. I ordered my usual Vanilla Java Porter. Cold and frosty as usual.
If you are feeling adventurous, try the I-75 burger. A 2 lb $25 burger topped with grilled onions and jalapenos. Finish the burger and you get your picture taken and placed on the “wall of fame”. As Omar and I didn’t want our picture to appear in the news with caption “gluttonous couple eats themselves to death” we did not order it.
We were sat quickly, our waitress was attentive and our beer and food came out very quick. Overall, a great experience and we will go back!! Forks up to this one!!

Joe Kools Not So Cool

It was my Dad’s birthday and my brother and I were taking my Dad out to dinner. Looking for somewhere close to home and we could get a beer we decided on Joe Kools. My original suggestion was Big Beaver Tavern and I was sadly surprised to find they closed. Not sure what happened to that restaurant.

Now Omar and I go to Joe Kools occasionally, but I honestly don’t know why. Although they have a large and eclectic beer selection, the food is usually mediocre and you are always bombarded with fruit flies. Never matters what season, or where you are sitting, you always have fruit flies buzzing around.

This night was no different. It took forever to get our waitress to even take our drink order. Once she finally came with our drinks, my nephews Root Beer, which came without ice, had a fruit fly floating in it. Pretty typical for Joe Kools. I drank about an inch of my beer before I saw the lovely red lip stick on the glass, which would have been ok if I was wearing lipstick. Gross. First rule of bar-keeping – check your glasses before you fill them. I don’t want other peoples lip prints on my glass.

It was almost impossible to get our waitress to bring us new drinks. I asked of they could spring for some ice for the Root Beer, but again came back sans ice. Guess their must be a terrible ice shortage that evening.

Our food was incredible. Incredible at just how underwhelming it was. I ordered a Avocado turkey wrap which I substituted with grilled chicken. It was supposed to come on white lawish bread, but they substituted wheat, which was dry and crumbly and made my sandwich completely fall apart. I could barely eat it, and it was somewhat inedible, so I just ate some of the insides.

My dads buffalo chicken wrap was pretty much the same, although he complained far less than I did. My brother said his tacos were ok, and my nephews chicken tender meal, well what can you say about a kids meal, it was deep fried mediocrity.

I really don’t know why we go back. Maybe it is about convenience. I am not sure how many fruit flies I have actually consumed in those visits, probably a lot. I think I will think twice about returning.