Roast

1 03 2009
  • 1128 Washington Boulevard
  • Detroit, MI 48226
  • (313) 961-2500
  • Website
  • Menu
Michael Symons Roast in downtown Detroit.

Michael Symon's Roast in downtown Detroit.

Finally!  The present I’ve been looking forward to.  When I told J I bought her tickets to a concert in Windsor, she suggested going to Roast for dinner.  Her treat.  I was so excited when I read an article that Iron Chef Michael Symon was opening a Detroit restaurant and when I saw the menu for it, I knew I had to go.

Roast is in downtown Detroit on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in the recently restored Westin Book-Cadillac hotel.  The restaurant is on the bottom floor of the Washington Boulevard side.  There is an entrance from the hotel, but there’s also a set of doors next to the hotel’s main entrance that lead directly into the restaurant.

We surprisingly found parking at a meter about a block away.  Had we not, the choices looked to be very limited.  I think I saw a self park on Michigan Avenue next to the hotel.  There’s also a valet service if that’s more your thing. 

We arrived at about 5:45 for a 6:15 reservation.  We checked in with the matre’d figuring we were going to have to wait, but they actually seated us right away.  Roast has a couple huge dining rooms.  They are street level with huge windows looking out into downtown Detroit.  The space is covered with dark, subdued colors with pops of light.  From the dining room, you can see into the kitchen and you can watch the “Roast Beast of the Day” being slow roasted on a spit.  We didn’t sit in the dining room.  Instead, we were seated in the bar area which actually worked out really well.  Read the rest of this entry »





RiverHouse Inn

21 02 2009
  • 310 W. Grand River Avenue 
  • Williamston, MI 48895
  • (517) 655-4300
  • No Known Website
  • Menu 
The Riverhouse Inn on Grand River Avenue in Williamston

The Riverhouse Inn on Grand River Avenue in Williamston

Back in January, I made reservations for Valentine’s Day at the RiverHouse Inn in Williamston. It’s a place that I have been wanting to eat at since it opened late last summer. It just looked like a neat place. Our Valentine’s plans changed a couple times and we ended up back in Chicago after having to cancel a trip to Dayton.  I told J as we were heading to Hot Chocolate (review HERE) on Chicago’s north side that I actually had reservations for a place in Michigan that I canceled.  It worked out for the best.  We loved our dinner in Chicago and the lunch menu at RiverHouse Inn was actually more our style, so our first weekend back in Lansing in quite some time, we decided to brave a snow storm and head to Williamston for lunch.

The RiverHouse Inn is a gorgeous old house that sits on the banks of the Red Cedar River on the west side of Williamston.  The building was actually built in 1929 and for 77 years, it was a private residence.  The current owners of the building planned to remodel the place into a bed and breakfast, but that never really happened.  Instead, they opened a restaurant.  The inside of the building still looks like a house.  When you walk through the front door, you come to a hostess station in a hallway between two rooms.  The sign said “please seat yourself” so we started looking for the best place to sit.  There were no people in the two rooms you can see when you walk in, but I could kind of see a staircase that led down to a bar area.  I figured that was the best place to go since there would at least be a bartender who could see we were there.

We headed through what was probably an old living room or dining room that had just a couple tables in it on our way to the bar.  Every table in the house is in a pretty intimate setting.  It’s really hard to describe the ambiance.  It looks like they used the existing layout instead of trying to open everything up and only keep load bearing walls.  The place just had a charm that you can’t get from a new building. Read the rest of this entry »





Mindy’s Hot Chocolate – Chicago, IL

13 02 2009
  • 1747 N. Damen Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60647
  • (773) 489-1747
  • Website
  • Menu
Mindys Hot Chocolate on Chicagos north side.

Mindy's Hot Chocolate on Chicago's north side.

Valentine’s Day came a day early for J and I.  We have other commitments tomorrow, so we decided to get reservations for a restaurant in Chicago we had heard good things about.  When I called at ten this morning to see if we could get a table, the response I got was, “Ooooh…I don’t know.  Hang on a sec.”  Turns out, the only opening they had was at 5:30 which is when they open.  I told them we’d take it.

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is locate on Damen Avenue in the north side’s Bucktown Neighborhood.  Coming from the south suburbs during rush hour was a little bit of a challenge.  It’s only twenty miles, but with rush hour traffic, it took a little over an hour.  Once we got to the neighborhood, we then had to find a spot to park.  The only options are valet or finding a spot at a meter on the street.  We actually got pretty lucky and found a spot on the corner just about a block away.

We walked in to Hot Chocolate and were met by a hostess who showed us to our table.  The restaurant is fairly small with a bench along the back wall that acts as a seat for about ten tables.  There are also a handful of four tops, a bar, a small waiting/lounge area and one table near the kitchen for larger groups.  We were seated along the wall and the tables were really crammed in there.  It was alright at first because there was no one sitting on either side of us, but once the tables around us were filled, it was like we were all eating together.  There was just a matter of inches between the tables.  Read the rest of this entry »





One Sixty Four North – Kankakee, IL

5 02 2009
  • 164 N. Schuyler Avenue
  • Kankakee, IL 60901
  • (815) 936-0164
  • Website
  • Menu
One Sixty Four North in downtown Kankakee, IL

One Sixty Four North in downtown Kankakee, IL

Whenever I go to my parents house, I run into the problem of “where do we eat today?”    There’s not a lot of options in a town of 750 people.  The closest “big town” is Kankakee a half hour to the north.  J and I tossed around a couple options, but then I decided I was going to make dinner for my brother and dad tonight since my mom and sister-in-law were working.  In order to do that, I had to find a grocery store…again, a half hour to the north.  Since we were going anyway, I told J we’d just eat in Kankakee. 

One Sixty Four North is on North Schuyler Street near the Paramount Theater in downtown Kankakee.  Growing up, there wasn’t much in this area.  The only thing we went downtown for was a movie.  Most of the people I know are not adventurous eaters.  They prefer their Applebees and Arby’s, so asking about a local establishment is sort of like talking in Greek.  I had asked a few people about One Sixty Four North and the answer I always got was “heard it was good, but too expensive for us to try.”  I checked out the menu on-line and it looked pretty reasonably priced to me. Read the rest of this entry »





The Cooks House

19 09 2008
  • 439 E. Front St.
  • Traverse City, MI 49686
  • (231) 946-8700
  • Website
  • Menu
The Cooks House near downtown Traverse City

The Cooks House near downtown Traverse City

7:30 AM is early.  Not for most people, but for J and me, anything before about 11 AM might as well be pre-dawn.  Why were we up so  early, you ask?  Our goal was to be on the road by 9:00 AM and in Traverse City by lunch.  Guess what?  We made it!  Out the door by 8:30 and in the Cherry Capitol by noon.  Our first stop was going to be lunch.  I had been scouting this one out for a while.  I noticed a blog on Good Food Hunting called From Behind the Stove.  The writer is a chef at a tiny restaurant near downtown Traverse City.  I knew if we ever made it north, The Cooks House would definitely be a stop.

So, we pull into downtown Traverse City just after noon.  I was a little worried because I kept reading about how great this place was and how it was starting to catch on with foodies.  Reservations are strongly recommended for dinner.  I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case with lunch.  The Cooks House is located just a few blocks from the main downtown business district on Front Street.  It’s a very inconspicuous building.  We actually drove by it without realizing it. We found a parking garage two blocks up then headed back the way we came on foot to seek out the shop. Read the rest of this entry »





The State Room

7 08 2008
  • 55 S. Harrison Rd.
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 432-4000
  • Website
  • Menu
The State Room located inside the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center near MSU

The State Room located inside the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center near MSU

This week marks the one year of anniversary of the date I finally grew a pair and asked my girlfriend out.  The anniversary is actually Saturday, but we’re going to be in Chicago for a wedding, so there won’t be a chance to have a anniversary dinner out somewhere.  Instead, I decided to ask her out to dinner tonight.  Our first date was also on a Thursday night (last year, the 9th was on Thursday).  That first date was pretty casual at a new spot along the Peoria riverfront.  I wanted to do things a little different tonight, so I chose The State Room.

The State Room is located inside the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on the campus of Michigan State University.  There’s no surface parking around the hotel, but there is a parking deck just off the side of the building.  The restaurant validates, so there is no charge to park as long as you eat dinner.  The parking structure is connected to the hotel by a skywalk which brings you into the conference area.  Down the long hallway and past the reception area, the State Room sits on the left side which would be closest to the corner of Michigan and Harrison. 

We were met at the door by a Maitre’d who asked if we had reservations.  I started sweating a little bit when he asked that.  I didn’t figure we’d need a reservation on a Thursday night.  I said no and he fiddled around a little bit looking at his table list.  He finally showed us to a table near the back of the room sort of near the kitchen and right on the wheelchair ramp that leads to the lower dining room. Read the rest of this entry »





Troppo

25 06 2008
  • 101 S. Washington Sq.Troppo
  • Lansing, MI 48933
  • (517) 371-4000
  • Website
  • Menu

My girlfriend had a meeting at City Hall this morning and I tagged along to help her out.  The meeting ended just before one o’clock and both of us were hungry, so we decided to try another downtown place.  After two bad experiences, we finally had a good one with The Firm (review HERE), so why not try again.  From City Hall, I could see the sign for Troppo and that’s been on my list of places to try.  We moved the car a little farther down Michigan Avenue and made our way in for lunch.

Troppo can be kind of intimidating for the casual diner.  There’s a massive sign on the upscale building on the corner of Michigan and Washington Sq clearly marking the establishment.  You walk into a lobby area before you run into the hostess.  Beyond the hostess stand and thru a curtain, you enter the main dining room.  The space is gorgeaus.  Red fabrics and a deep brown wood are highlighted by vintage photos of Lansing and small chandeliers.  We were seated near the windows which look out to the terrace which has a beautiful view of the Capitol.  From our table, the view was the roundabout and the Comerica Bank Building.  Interesting thing about that building is the writing carved into the stone.  It looks like it used to be the City National Bank and there’s a huge inscription claiming to be the oldest bank in Lansing. Read the rest of this entry »