DETROIT: Lunch, Library & Leisure

2 Feb

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The first thing on our Friday agenda  was lunch at Supino Pizzeria in Eastern Market. We easily found street parking, and were relieved to find open seats available. This tiny space has a big reputation for excellent real Italian-style pizza. Order at the counter; selections are written on chalk boards. There are two varieties: Red, which comes with sauce and white which has no sauce. Choose from one of the many tempting selections such as The Supino with roasted garlic, black olives, chili oil, ricotta and mozzarella or the Bismark, it has fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and egg. There’s the always delicious Margherita: fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and Parmigiano  or our choice Primavera: tomatoes, artichoke, eggplant, onion, spinach and mozzarella.  Or create your own, pies come in two sizes, 12″ or 18″.

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We took a seat at a small table in the window and waited for our food to arrive. The space is set up in community fashion; long wooden tables encourage strangers to sit side by side and engage in conversation. It has a laid back, funky, market feel to it; black and white checkered floor, upside down wash tubs serve as light fixtures, large pieces of art work hang on the walls. The clientele runs the gamut from suburbanite and business professional to locals. Our salad arrived quickly, topped with homemade Lemon-Basil Citroneette, it was very tasty. The pizza followed shortly, the hand stretched dough took on more of a free form shape as opposed to the typical circle. Cut into four large slices, the crust has an initial crunch followed by a chewy deliciousness that only comes from great dough. The toppings are proportioned nicely, just enough of everything. It was mid afternoon and although the dining area had cleared out, there was still a steady stream of folks picking up a slice or a whole pizza to go. It can be crazy busy on market days, but they are open during the week too. Next time you’re in the mood for some really good pizza think Supino!

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The Main branch of the Detroit Public Library was built in 1921. Designed by Cass Gilbert in the early Italian Renaissance Style, this place is gorgeous!  The original entrance of this large stone building rests below beautiful archways that overlook Woodward Avenue. Once inside you will notice the richly painted ornate ceiling, tall columns  and stairways, this lets you know that it is an important building. To the right is the HYPE Teen Center, individuals sit at available computers, as groups of youngsters gather together to play a video game or just catch up on the days events. Many areas of the library have been updated such as this space, without disturbing the original integrity of the architecture. In this room you’ll find a fireplace with a stunning tile surround and above that the Pictoral Map Of Michigan by Frederick J Wiley completed in 1923. Within the mural you will find the two Latin Mottoes: Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice and Tamen Fit Surculus Arbor, which translate into “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you” the present motto of Michigan, and “The shoot at length becomes a tree” the motto of Michigan when still a territory.

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Next walk up to the third floor, pay attention to the detail in the ceiling on your way up; look carefully and you can find the seals of the City of Detroit, the state of Michigan, the United States and the University of Michigan, it’s absolutely amazing! On the third floor is Adam Strom Hall, here you will find another series of murals along the East and West walls. Whenever we come up here we like to take a seat on one of the benches to sit and stare for a while. Grand light fixtures strung from chains hang from the ceiling, stained glass windows are embellished with colorful scenes, ceiling panels glisten as light reflects off  gold-painted rosettes. It’s all very intricate and awe-inspiring. The murals tell the story from the days of Cadillac’s landing to the evolution of man’s mobility. Walk around the third floor hallways and take it all in, get a good look at the grand staircase murals. When your neck has had enough it’s time to move on and forward in time to the North and South wings that were added in 1963.

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Immediately you will recognize the clean lines and signature accents of Modern architecture. Here you will find large glass windows, brass railings in straight lines or circular patterns, wood panels and lush green plants. The space becomes bright, light and airy. In this section you will find the Burton Historical Collection. The emphasis here is placed on the history of Detroit and Michigan from the time of settlement in the 17th Century to the present. It also includes the Great Lakes area, New England, New France, the US and Canada.  The Burton collection is mind-boggling; from the Ernie Harwell Collection to the original manuscript of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among The Indians to original pictures, drawings and manuscripts donated to the library from Laura Ingalls Wilder, you could spend an entire day right here. If you’re researching your family tree chances are you’ll find information here they house church records of baptisms, marriages, deaths, records from the military, immigration, obituaries and land records. All materials are reference and cannot leave the reading room, so plan on spending some time here when you visit. If you’re looking for rare books, first editions, vintage postcards, maps or photographs, they have it all.  Be sure and step outside to view the incredible mosaics above the Cass entrance.

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Time for a little coffee break. We did a post earlier in the year on Chez Zara located on Woodward near Campus Martius, since that time they have closed that location and opened a kiosk’s in the lobby of the Chase Tower.  I have always liked the looks of this building; designed by Albert Kahn and built in 1959 it is definitely a great example of Modern Design. Purchased by Dan Gilbert in April of 2011 the building has undergone some sprucing up.  We came in through the Woodward entrance, the contrast between the white of the walls and bright paint colors is really eye-catching, it works with all the natural sunlight streaming in the windows. The first floor is being transformed into a bit of a public space; casual seating areas are arranged around the perimeter, funky modern furniture invites you to sit and relax. A wonderful collection of automotive themed artwork from paintings to sculptures was on display. We went straight to Chez Zara to order our drinks, I stuck with their signature Nutella Latte; you just can’t go wrong with that choice, rich espresso with a hint of hazelnut and chocolate, creamy, warm and sweet goodness from first sip to last. Kris had straight espresso. We took our beverages over to a nearby seating area with a table and chairs overlooking the street scene. What a nice way to kick back and enjoy a little leisure time.  Chez Zara is open Monday thru Friday for your coffee drinking pleasure.

UPDATE: Chez Zara has closed permanently.


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