Afternoon Delight; Campus Martius, Fountain Bistro, Chez Zara

2 Aug

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From time to time everybody should be a tourist in their own town, you’ll be amazed at what you discover. Campus Martius Park opened downtown at the intersection of Woodward and Michigan Ave in 2004, immediately people flocked to it. I just love coming to this space, the fountain is probably the biggest attraction and can be seen from any location in the park. The large square granite basin sits centrally in the park, water gently cascades down the interior walls as jets of water arc from the corners. The interior of the fountain is composed of a smaller elevated granite square where water can shoot as high as 100 feet into the air. Jets of water dance to different patterns, visitors sit along the side or pull up chairs to watch the display, it is a favorite location for photos too. The fountain runs year round and provides a stunning background for the annual Detroit Christmas tree. 

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There are many places to sit and watch the activities of the day; small round metal tables and chairs are available throughout the park area, do you want your umbrella up or down? The Michigan Soldiers and Sailors monument is here too, it was moved to the park and made into a fountain; have a seat on one of the benches carved right into the stone and watch the birds delight in the running water. The western edge of the park is bordered by granite water walls; let the sound of the running water enchant you as you relish the perennial gardens. Immediately east is Cadillac Square park, at the far end is the ornately carved Bagley Memorial Fountain. Bocci anyone? How about Petanque? Similar to Bocci, both are played in Cadillac Square, and are very interesting to watch. Whether you are new to Detroit or not Campus Martius is the perfect gathering spot.

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Fountain Bistro re-opened in July and is a welcome addition to Campus Martius. Everything about it is new; from it’s sleek contemporary interior, outdoor patio and menu, to the recently acquired liquor license. We decided to have lunch there and check the place out. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming, our waiter informed us that it was Happy Hour (Mon-Fri 2-7pm) and that all appetizers were half-off, domestic beer was $2.50, and wine was $3.00 a glass, yeah! The French-inspired menu has a lot to choose from, and it all sounds good; we narrowed it down to three. The Lamb Sliders, topped with homemade yogurt sauce that has a little kick to it, were delicious. The house salad was huge, for $4.00 we didn’t expect something that large; tossed in house made dressing it was tasty and not over-dressed. Sandwiches come with fries or a small house salad, we ordered the BLTA (applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado) served on a tender croissant it was entirely flavorful, the fries were good too. For $3.00 I ordered a glass of the house Cabernet Sauvignon, it was quite nice and a fair portion too. We really enjoyed our experience there and will be sure to come back. Next time you are in the city looking for someplace new to eat, or just have cocktails, stop in!

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Operating out of the historic Kresge Building on Woodward is Chez Zara. This tiny storefront coffee shop serves Lavazza espresso from Italy. Their menu consists of the usual coffee drinks; Cafe au Lait, Mocha, Cappuccino, and Caramel Macchiato, etc. But when you come here you must order the house specialty: Nutella Latte! The current heat wave does not put me in the mood for a hot drink, so when we were deciding what to order Kris asked if they could make the Nutella Latte as a Frappe,” sure”, said the outgoing woman behind the counter. While our drink was being made we had the opportunity to speak with the crew of three and had a nice conversation about all the positives coming out of Detroit these days. When done our frappe was placed on the counter looking all chocolatey and shake like, I couldn’t wait to have a taste so I pushed in the straw and took a sip……sensational!  It was blended perfectly, no big chunks of ice clogging the straw, creamy chocolate taste with a hint of hazlenut, a Nutella lovers dream come true. Seriously, this is probably the best frozen type coffee drink I have ever had. I’d be willing to bet whether you had it hot, on ice, or blended as we did you would love it. 

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NOTE: Chez Zara no longer operates out of this location. You can visit them in their new permanent home in the M@dison Building on Broadway, click on their link above for details!

One Response to “Afternoon Delight; Campus Martius, Fountain Bistro, Chez Zara”

  1. Don Sherman August 5, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    There is some amazing history and stories to be shared about the history of this great place in the heart of the City of Detroit. The Detroit News has a section on line that shares a photo history of this great space going back to the early days when the roads were covered with horse drawn wagons and the space was used as a military field. The space was a “camp” of sorts…. for military exercises. Fast forward to days of current… this space was revived by the Detroit 300 group. This visionary group of business leaders re invented this space to become what it is today.
    My friend and local artist…. Herb Babcock…. is the sculptor who created the glass and steel icons that can be found at the north end of the park. He is a wonderfully creative man who also teaches sculpting at the Detroit Center for Creative studies. My favorite component to the park is the Soldiers and Sailors statue at the south end of the park. There is so much happening with this work…. each time I visit there is something new I missed from the prior visit.

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