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DETROIT: Corktown Vintage

3 Mar

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With temperatures firmly in the double digits we leave the confines of the indoors to see what’s happening in Corktown. New businesses are opening at a rapid rate in Detroit, many of them in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood. Located west of downtown, Corktown was best known as the home of old Tiger Stadium, many predicted the neighborhood wouldn’t survive the loss of the ball park; the results are quite the opposite. Slow’s Bar B Q was the catalyst followed by Astro, Sugar House, Mudgies, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Motor City Wine, Two James, well, you get the idea….. Historic streets are lined with Victorian era buildings and homes; it’s the hot spot to grab a meal, craft cocktail, beer or a cup of coffee and do a little shopping.  

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Eldorado General Store is tucked into an attractive red brick building on Michigan Ave. A sandwich board out front alerts potential customers of the shops location. Inside a virtual smorgasbord of vintage goods awaits. A fantastic crystal chandelier clings to the tin ceiling; sunlight sparkles off the facets, a large American flag is draped behind the counter, a deer head mount guards the front door.  Beautiful clothing, jewelry and accessories are artfully arranged in the space, today there’s a lovely display of fur hats and muffs straight out of an Audrey Hepburn movie. Mod-patterned coffee cups and glass pieces from the 70’s are among the many home goods, trinkets and handcrafted items fill tabletops. Each time we come the shop is filled with different merchandise—one of the things I love about vintage stores. Owner, Erin is a pleasure to talk with, be sure and say hello when you stop in.

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Xavier’s 20th Century Furniture is a bit further down Michigan Ave, we’ve been coming to the shop for many years now and always look forward to seeing his latest finds. As soon as we step in Kris points out a gorgeous wood room divider along the left wall, a variety of tables, chairs and a desk bear the name of famous designers such as McCobb, Knoll, Eames, Herman Miller and George Nelson. Mid-Century design is as fresh and appealing today as it was then. Throughout the shop we see an assortment of pieces from machine-age Art Deco  to vintage lunchboxes, American pottery and glassware from Italy and Scandinavia. Coffee servers, tureens, waffle irons and toasters are crowded into the kitchen area, the old glass Pyrex percolator reminds me of my childhood.  Nothing we have to bring home today, but there’s always next time!

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Hello Records occupies a tiny space in a building on the corner of Bagley and Trumbull, it you’re into vinyl, check it out. It’s Saturday and it seems record collectors are out in full force, well-organized bins, boxes, crates and drawers are stuffed with vintage recordings. Records spin on the house turntable, tunes from the 60’s and 70’s fill the air as we browse through albums. We are not collectors but really enjoy the cover art, album names, and groups we’ve never heard of, Bagpipe Blues anyone? Cool old record cases are available for purchase, great photos cover the walls, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Genres include soul, funk, jazz and rock, new arrivals have a section to themselves. Over in Jazz the cover of Bob James “H” features a hot dog topped with mustard, reminding us it’s time for lunch.

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St CeCe’s is right across Bagley, we cross the street and duck inside. The former home of Baile Coraigh, all of the beautiful wood paneling, stained glass, lamps and huge stone fireplace remain. The from-scratch kitchen has developed a loyal following as is evident today by the crowd that fills booths and tables. The restaurant features rotating artwork, the pieces currently on display are great. On Tuesday’s guest chefs come in and take over the kitchen, it’s always something new and different. Today we order off the house menu, we get our order in before another big group arrives, there’s something for everyone, meat eaters and vegetarians alike. We start with a house salad, a nice variety of greens and a tasty dressing, the Glazed Tempeh Wrap is stuffed with cucumber, carrot, sunflower sprouts, kim chi and cilantro, really tasty. The Shitake Sliders are yummy; shitake mushrooms topped with gooey melted Gruyere and a nice sauce. Since we ate so healthy we decide to treat ourselves to a beer, and we know just the place!

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Batch Brewing Company, winner of the 2013 Hatch Detroit contest, opened to rave reviews in February. It’s just before 4 pm, we are one of three or four other cars in the parking lot, we reach the door as it is unlocked, communal tables are empty at this early hour, we head straight to the bar. Taking the end two stools we are greeted immediately by one of the owners, we chat a little bit, he asks us what we like, then hands us a couple of samples. Each is unique, flavorful, refreshing, after little debate we make our selections: Way 2 Biggie (a Barleywine IPA) and the Obscure Reference Imperial Stout. Goblets are filled and slid across to us, though completely different, both are excellent. The building has a modern industrial feel to it, it’s a wide open space, strings of clear, round lights follow metal ceiling beams, with picnic table-like seating it almost feels like a patio. Behind the counter, large stainless steel vats contain the small batch brews, chalk boards announce the days selections.

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Orders are placed up at the bar, we have the best seat in the house, goblets and mason jars are filled with beer, colors range from gold to red to nearly black. Food orders are placed, numbers are handed out and food is brought directly to the customer, everything looks delicious. We spy Bread Pudding with Rum sauce on the menu and can’t resist. It arrives steaming hot, moist and smothered in sauce, it’s fantastic! By now the place is near capacity, with no available seating we relinquish ours to a couple standing nearby. Great service, exceptional beer and wonderful food, I can see what all the fuss is about!

DETROIT: It’s always something…..

2 Dec

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It’s that time of year again; maker’s fairs, artists markets, arts and crafts shows fill the weekend calendars. Talented folks present ideas, products and services to the public, gathered in unique venues across the urban landscape. Today we are attending the 2nd Annual HLDYMRKT, a DIY Holiday Craft Market held in an old industrial building on Christopher, off Conant just south of Jos Campau; it’s certainly off the beaten path! For us, seeing the building itself is as much of a treat as what’s going on inside. The building is owned by Andy Didorosi of the Detroit Bus Company; when we saw the buses parked in the lot, we knew we were in the right place. Signs on hot pink poster board lead us to the entrance; let’s check it out.

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Inside we are greeted by the scent of  gua bao, Asian buns stuffed with tasty fillings from the San Street food cart, shoppers carry steaming cups of coffee from Red Hook and nibble on treats from Pinwheel Bakery. The space is long and narrow, daylight fills the room, rows of vendors await us. The group gathered today are independent small businesses; some have a brick and mortar location, others do not. As we stroll the aisles we are excited to see a lot of things we’ve never seen before; Pot & Box offers a DIY terrarium bar, they are also selling crocheted cacti in tiny pots that look exactly like the real thing. I still send hand written notes and cards, I love checking out paper goods, Snow & Ivy has some great designs, I’m stocking up. SWEET has a variety of, well, sweets, artisan marshmallows being the main draw; vanilla bean, double chocolate, banana bourbon caramel and mango picante are just a few of the flavors; the snowflake s’mores look delicious. Vintage clothes from Jenstyle Vintage hang on racks, fabric items such as stuffed animals, hot and cold packs, hand-dyed pillows and tea towels make nice gifts. Beards are in, so are men’s grooming products such as beard oil, pomade, mustache wax, combs and brushes. Detroit is represented in a number of t-shirt designs and posters. The terrariums from Leadhead Glass are stunning, each is made from reclaimed raw materials from abandoned and deconstructed homes in Detroit, pretty cool! 

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Some friends tell us we need to go next door and check out the Fowling Alley……Wait, what??  We’re curious what the buzz is all about so we head over. First, let me say, the space is huge; 34,000 sq ft huge! At first it’s hard to comprehend; to our left is a series of “alley’s”, wooden platforms sit on the floor, bowling pins are set up on one end and a football rests near by, the area is sort of enclosed by nets and fencing. To the right is a mile-long bar, ok, it’s not really a mile long, but you get the picture; tall stools are pulled up to the bar awaiting their first customers, the top is constructed from old bowling lanes, clever. Far in the back a gigantic American flag acts as a backdrop for a stage platform, the rest of the square footage is filled in with industrial-size spools acting as tables in the soon-to-be biergarten……it’s a lot to take in! The building itself is nearly 100 years old, the ceiling a combination of metal beams with a saw-tooth skylight roof; light filters through green panels. After doing some reading I discovered this was home to the Gear Grinding Machine Co. in 1925, Dana Corp purchased the building after the war, it was then known as the Con-Vel Division Plant where the Rzeppa constant velocity u-joint was manufactured; gotta love that Detroit history.

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People are busy with tasks as they get ready to open for business, the owner, Chris Hutt is nice enough to explain what’s going on and most importantly, what FOWLING is. Chris actually invented the sport himself along with a few friends; a combination of horseshoes, bowling and football, he guarantees it’s a good time. Two arrangements of 10 bowling pins are set up on flat boards 48 ft apart from each other, fowlers take turns throwing a football from their board to the opposition’s board, each trying to knock down their opponents pins first…. sounds fun to me!  From fowling to live music, cocktails and mystery beer, The Fowling Warehouse promises to be a good time. Keep checking their Facebook page for the opening.

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There is no shortage of delicious food in Hamtramck, but today we had our mind set on a particular place, Rubbed, a sandwich and charcuterie shop on Michigan Ave. The small but quaint dining spot offers a tasty variety of cured and preserved meats, cheeses and accouterments available on a sandwich or charcuterie board; it smells amazing when you walk in the door. The interior has a retro feel; wood floor, vintage globe lights, an assortment of table and chairs, make the completely open space feel homey. Shelves by the counter are stacked with preserved vegetables, Rubbed t-shirts and old license plates. A chalkboard menu is placed near the register, we walk over and begin the decision-making process. Soup and sandwich sound good, we place our order and have a seat by the front windows overlooking all of the activities on Michigan Avenue.

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We help ourselves to cucumber water and look around, charcuterie board menus are written on plain brown paper near the counter, they all sound delicious; meats, cheeses, breads, pickles, olives, nuts…..Our food arrives, it looks and smells wonderful. I dip into the steaming hot bowl of mushroom soup, well seasoned, packed with mushrooms and a fair amount of bacon, it’s delectable. Kris stabs a potato from the dill and red skin salad and nods his head in approval. The Little Italy sandwich is huge, certainly big enough for two, it comes wrapped in butchers paper and cut in half. The bread is the perfect combo of crisp and tender, stacked with capicola, mortadella, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, banana peppers and mayo it is quite a mouthful, a scrumptious one at that.We eat until we have polished off every last crumb, the meal yummy and satisfying. Be sure and check out their monthly dinner series, maybe we’ll see ya there! Rubbed is now closed but be sure and check out Ima, the new restaurant in the space.

DETROIT: West Village

28 Oct

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It’s a gorgeous Autumn day; the kind that lures you outdoors with brilliant colors, mild temperatures, piles of fallen leaves. This late in October we are reminded that days like this are limited, there is a sense of urgency to get out and enjoy every last one. It’s hard to find a prettier, more charming neighborhood than West Village at this time of year; beautiful historic homes, mature trees, shops and cafes, all quite walkable. Bordered by Jefferson and Kercheval, Parker and Seyburn, the neighborhood is a perfect mix of single family homes, luxury apartments and small businesses. Let’s go for a walk.

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Near the corner of Kercheval and Parker stands Parker Street Market; opened since April, it was an immediately hit with the community. It’s a step back in time to when every neighborhood had a corner store; a place where you could grab milk, bread, lettuce, chips, baked goods and a cup of coffee. Today’s version carries organic produce, raw juice, Michigan made products and local honey. The cute little storefront is flanked by potted mums, large front windows afford us a view of the tasty treats that await us inside. The interior is a work in progress, as more items are added there is cause to change and rearrange. The tin ceiling is ornate, the floor, dark wood, shelves and coolers line the walls. Sister Pie has been busy stocking shelves with Salted Maple Pie, Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies and a tray of shortbread. Bottles of Drought  juice fill a small refrigerator, ready-made salads, wraps, Calder milk, local pickles and produce stuff a cooler. Dry beans, French baguette, chocolate bars, Dave’s Sweet Tooth Toffee, tea, salsa, jam and bags of coffee from Populace tempt shoppers. French lava cakes, ice cream sandwiches and veggie burgers await purchase in a small freezer, if you’re hungry you’re sure to find a fix here. We purchase our shortbread cookies and we’re off.

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After much anticipation The Red Hook coffee shop opened on Agnes Street earlier this month. Serving Stumptown Coffee, fresh-baked goods from Pinwheel Bakery and Zingerman’s, neighbors wonder how they ever got along without the cafe. Gold letters spell out The Red Hook on the front window, inside, coffee perfumes the air, pastries are arranged on brown paper that covers the counter. The space is bright; walls are off-white, light-colored wood makes up the built-in seating, sunlight drenches the space. I order a dark roast, Kris chooses cold brew, service is super friendly, the coffee is really good; cups in hand we’re out the door. Steps away, the door to Tarot & Tea stands open, we wander inside. The shop has a peaceful, elegant feel to it; silky cloths cover tables, a couple of chandeliers light the room, a frilly framed mirror hangs on the wall; near the back is a reading room behind heavy drapes. The shop offers goods and services; you can relax with a cup of organic tea, have a tarot card or spiritual reading, pick up a unique gift. We browse through the store looking at lovely items such as vintage jewelry and clothing, tea, herbs, crystals, candles, oils and body products. A steady stream of pedestrians wander in and out; open less than a month, people are just discovering the boutique.

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We stroll down Parker towards Jefferson, I love this time of year, the dark green grass a marked contrast to colorful leaves. Well-kept houses are big and bigger, each a different architectural style. Kris likes the variety of porches, some with room for two chairs, others mimic the piazza’s found in old southern homes. Mature trees surround Queen Anne’s, Tudor’s, Mediterranean and Georgian Revival’s; pumpkins dot porches and landscapes. Entrances make a statement; leaded glass, lanterns, arches and carved wood are stunning. West Village is just west of Indian Village (hence the name…) I remember being told many of these homes were built for the children of the wealthy families that resided in Indian Village. Most houses are three stories, brick and stone are the materials of choice, multiple chimneys shoot up from rooftops, columns are popular too. Speaking of columns, The Colonial is a massive gray brick apartment building that looms on the corner of Parker and Lafayette; towering columns stretch from the first story to the third, massive balconies hang from the upper floors, rounded steps lead to the front doors. The building is a least a half-block long, it is divided into 6 units, each about 2,000 square feet. We are lucky enough to have been inside, let me tell you, it’s splendid!

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Making our way to Seyburn we pass tall brick apartment buildings, built at a time when money wasn’t an issue, design details like carved stone, tiles, balconies and lots of unique shaped windows are common. We have been in several of the apartments for open houses, they’re huge, complete with multiple fireplaces, richly detailed plaster, best of all they’re quiet.  A corner house constructed of large stones on the bottom and wood shingles on the top still has a covered entrance from where the carriage would stop and let the family into the house; cars were not common when many of these beauties were constructed. A fancy yellow Dutch Colonial catches our eye, originally (1896), this was the home of Julius Melcher, a notable Detroit sculptor. The centerpiece is, of course, the ornately carved gable, which Melcher did himself. Nearby, another house uses large stones, the huge porch  accessible through wide arches, it reminds me of a lodge. Of course there are the turrets, what is it about a home with turrets that I find so appealing? We walk and walk, stopping here and there to study a particular structure, churches, doorways, capitols, tile roofs, sculptures and facades.

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There is an energy of renewal going on in West Village, the newest example being Paramita Sound on Van Dyke, a brand new record shop that opened over the weekend. Stationed inside an old house Paramita offers new, used and re-issued vinyl records—yes, I said records! We had a chance to talk with the founder Andrey Douthard, he told us besides records, the shop has a listening lounge for in-store performances, the shop will offer beer, listening stations and a chance to listen before you buy, cool! As we head back over to Agnes, we pass the West Village Bark Park, a dog and his owner bask in the afternoon sun. The Parkstone has been a West Village landmark for decades, we pop in to have a look. The lobby remains old school, a round table rests below a chandelier in the center of the space, to the right is the desk, rows of wooden cubbies hold residents daily mail. To the left is a lounge area, through delicate iron gates wide planks make up the floor, plaster molding surrounds the ceiling, a piano sits quietly, a massive fireplace fills the far wall, chairs and couches make up several seating arrangements, just like the old days. 

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At last 4:00 has arrived, that’s when Craft Work, a new restaurant and bar on the first floor of the Parkstone, starts serving for the day. If you are a long-time Detroiter, you may remember the space from when it was the Harlequin Cafe, and for a very short time Coffee and (____) popped up in the space. We are delighted when we get inside and see little has changed; the beautiful woodwork looks freshly polished, built-in shelves hold volumes of books, photos, mementos. The terazzo floor remains, simple globe lights illuminate the room. Stools line long communal tables, this is the bar area, the dining room opens later, we are here for the Happy Hour. For now we are the only patrons, our server is cheerful and knowledgeable about the menu. We place our order, the server returns quickly with Kris’s cocktail, a Lemon Drop, I am tempted by the sugared rim.

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As we wait for our meal, folks start to trickle in, it’s Friday and everybody is anxious to kick off the weekend. First out is the Crab Dip, a delicious combination of spinach, artichokes, crab, mascarpone and spices; the pile of sliced baguette disappears rapidly. The cheeseburger arrives wrapped partially in white paper accompanied by thinly cut fries, the menu listed ‘cheeseburger’ so we’re not sure how it’s dressed. We each grab a half, take a big bite and enjoy the burger. I couldn’t tell you what kind of sauce or seasoning they use, just that it’s scrumptious, as are the shoestring fries, a friend has joined us, she’s savoring a fish taco. Taking our time, we finish our food and drinks, happy to be back in such a handsome, quaint place. What a perfect way to end the afternoon!

DETROIT: Far East Southwest ??

2 Sep

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Today we are in East Southwest Detroit; the tiny section of Mexicantown east of I 75. I need a few things from the store so our first stop is Honey Bee Market . There are so many things I like about shopping here: the space is brightly lit, pinatas fill the top shelves surrounding the aisles, produce is fresh, colorful; my favorite thing, of course, is the guacamole. As soon as I step in the door, tubs of guac, pico and salsa are being chilled on ice, bowls of chips are plentiful, allowing one to sample freely. If you can walk away without a bag of chips and a container of dip, you have much more willpower than I! Avocados and tomatoes are piled high next to tomatillos and jalapenos, in case you’d like to make your own tasty dip. The first section is venduras frescas-fresh vegetables, along with everyday items, you will find a huge assortment of peppers, varieties of cactus pieces and yucca root; it’s all so appealing. Cheese is next; it’s fun to try a different kind from time to time, haven’t found one yet that isn’t tasty. Corn chips come in blue, salted or unsalted, the list of tortillas is long; flour, corn, crunchy, soft, in a multitude of sizes. Thirsty? How about some coconut or cactus water? If you’re looking for something fruity try a juice or nectar from Jumex or a Jarritos Mexican soda; hibiscus, strawberry and tamarindo are just some of the thirst quenching flavors.

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Signs hanging from the ceiling are written in Spanish and English, brings back a little of my high school Spanish; funny how some things stay with you. The meat counter is huge; beef, chicken, pork, marinated or plain. The chorizo is made from scratch using a secret family recipe; try it in tacos instead of ground beef-yum! The store is filled with Central American ingredients; beans, mole, dried peppers, unique spices…..this aisle smells so good. Much of the packaging is written in Spanish, many have their own characters affiliated with the product; a cute little bear adorns cookie and snack wrappers. Prepared foods are available for take-out or you can eat at one of the picnic tables in front of the store, they also carry items from Michigan’s own Calder Dairy including ice cream and the most incredibly delicious chocolate milk you will ever drink…….just sayin’.  I check my list before we check out to make sure I have everything; we’re good to go.

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Looking at all that good food has given us quite an appetite, Mexican Village is just down the street, sounds good doesn’t it? This is the oldest Mexican restaurant in Mexicantown, it definitely caters to area visitors. Inside, a beamed stucco ceiling, archways and wrought iron sconces and chandeliers are intended to put one in the mindset of Mexico; it’s lovely. The space is large, yet charming; murals and sizable paintings fill the walls, there are several dining areas in addition to banquet rooms. As we are led to our seat servers carry trays of chips and salsa to surrounding tables, the menu is vast, filled with mouth-watering selections. The best way to try a bit of everything is a combination plate; once our order is taken, we have to restrain ourselves so we don’t fill up on chips and salsa; not an easy task. Food arrives quickly, the village combination comes with 2 beef tacos; one flour, one corn, a chicken flauta, bean tostada and cheese enchilada. We also asked for a tamale, rice and beans. Everything is tasty; we both agree we like the cheese enchilada the best.

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There’s a neighborhood market right next door: Algo Especial Supermercado; we take a peek inside. There’s a little bit of everything tucked into the narrow space; souvenir-type items, trinkets, produce and tortillas greet us near the door, along with festive pinatas that hang from the ceiling. Up a couple of steps, a small area is host to CD’s and DVD’s by Mexican artists, lovely, authentic costumes hang from a rack, American and Mexican flags are side by side. Just a little further you’ll find the meat counter, household items and the noteworthy tamale counter; be sure and take a few home. We walk back to the front passing tons of loose spices and teas, many I have never seen before. It’s always a fun adventure when exploring another culture!

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Until recently, Detroit hadn’t distilled a drop of spirits since prohibition; next we are stopping in at the city’s newest vodka producer, Our/Detroit Partners Kate Bordine and Sara Aldridge have teamed up with Pernod Ricard Vodka, who supplies the recipe and distillery. The all-female-owned and operated end of the business is in charge of sales, marketing and most importantly production. This is global vodka made by local partners, using local ingredients, giving the spirit a unique taste from city to city. In Detroit, cocktails are created using products from local businesses such as Mc Clure’s, Mc Clary Bros. and Wolf Moon Mixers; it never ceases to amaze me the way in which the business community here supports one another!

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The building itself was formerly the Bagley Billiard Center, it sat vacant for a number of years before its current incarnation as distillery and tasting room. Fresh white paint and a cool mural by Ndubisi Okoye covering one side of the structure peak the curiosity of passersby; many peer in the front windows to see what’s going on inside. The decor is simple and elegant in black and white, art is the work of local artists. The tasting room has a chill vibe, shelves are filled with bottles of vodka and mixers, a well-placed window affords patrons a view of the working distillery. We sit at the counter, glancing at the menu, it doesn’t take long to decide, I’m having a vodka tonic with lime and Kris is having Summer in the City, a refreshing combination of vodka, lemonade, blueberry-nutmeg simple syrup and a splash of sparkling soda; it tastes even better than it sounds. The drink menu is seasonal, it will change quarterly; can’t wait to try out Autumn’s offerings!

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DETROIT: Eastern Market….Sunday

30 Jun

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Sunday’s were made for relaxing, taking it slow, easy. It’s a day to sleep in, enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, go shopping  just for fun. If that sounds good to you, we have just the place for you to spend a Sunday: Eastern Market. That’s right, since the beginning of June, sheds 2 and 3 are home to the new Sunday Street Market; let’s have a look. 

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Parking is a cinch compared to your average Saturday; we are in front of Germack Coffee, perfect, we grab a cup to go, cross Russell Street and begin to browse the market. Shed 2 is open-air; a cute vintage trailer with pink and green stripes is parked just inside the entrance, a swimsuit hangs from the open door, scarves hang from a line on the side. A table in front holds old hats, suitcases and other funky items, the set-up is great, like an outdoor vintage store. Across the way an artisan has set up shop, Two Stix 5 Stones sells handmade knits and accessories; her shawls are gorgeous. We take our time strolling past various booths, there’s a nice mix of antiques, handmades and vintage; a mannequin wears a cool old STP jacket, photographs of iconic Detroit buildings are transferred onto pieces of wood, a large jewelry case holds rows of antique rings. Rehash By Amy has taken ordinary light fixtures, given them a whimsical paint job and converted them to solar power, what a great idea! They would look fabulous hanging above a porch or deck. Across the way we spot a grouping of antique signs; Coke, beer and old street signs are all for sale along with a parking meter, you never know what you may find.

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There are a few different T-shirt makers, another booth has a wide selection of items from automotive pieces to the old aprons the newsboys used to wear. On my right I notice an old delivery truck that has been converted into a boutique; step up into the make-shift store, clothing hangs from a rack on the right, accessories are on the left, very clever! Making our way to Shed 3 we pass The Detroit Pop Shop, flavors include chocolate peanut butter banana, blueberry lemonade and cucumber lime basil;  by the number of people eating them, I’d say they’re pretty popular. Shed 3 is completely enclosed, a large Shinola clock hangs from a post, food trucks are serving up lunch, there’s even a gelato truck. A few vendors are selling fresh fruits and veggies, another is selling flowers; dahlias are eye-catching in peachy-pink, scarlet and lavender, zinnias are blooming in bold red, yellow and orange. Live music is being played in the distance, sounds like a xylophone, buskers perform throughout the market. Looks like the Sunday Street Market is a hit!

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The Eastern Market area is also known for its vast array of graffiti, it’s fun to drive up and down the streets looking for new pieces. Right on Russell St a huge mural covers the front and side of Wholesale Produce Distributors; done in shades of turquoise and purple on a tan background, a slew of characters from a guy in a hat, to a shark, are in action. Take the time to really absorb it, the detail and expressions are fabulous! I still favor the grazing cow on the side of Eastern Market Cold Storage, it’s like he’s watching over everybody while he eats—-we are his entertainment. There’s another cool one over on Division, the Greenbriar Foods and Corridor Sausage building; it’s a great scene with a cool cast of characters. Throughout the area you can find wild colors, groovy settings and hip creatures on anything from a building to a dumpster or a roll-up door. We did stop to check the progress on the expansion of the Dequindre Cut, currently running from the riverfront to Gratiot, when the next phase is completed it will continue all the way to Mack; look for it to be completed sometime after Labor Day. 

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It’s such a lovely day we are having lunch on the patio at Mercury Burger Bar on Michigan Ave. The space is really charming; picnic tables are right at home on the brick patio, gardens surround the fence line, nearest to us a goat made from a recycled Quaker State sign appears to be eating the flowers. A graffiti mural covers one wall, strings of lights criss-cross over head, I bet it’s a sweet place to hang out in the evening. While we wait for our food to arrive I notice many Boston Coolers and shakes being delivered to surrounding tables, mmmmm, they look good…… Before long our meal is set in front of us; the French Onion Burger is wonderful, the meat is tender and juicy, topped with crisp bacon, carmelized onion, Gruyère cheese and onion straws, makes you hungry doesn’t it? The Chicago Dog is done up right; mustard, relish, tomatoes, sport peppers, onions, pickle and celery salt packed into a poppy-seed bun. No meal would be complete without an order of Mercury’s hand-cut fries, the sea salt and black pepper are our favorite; the perfect amount of seasoning on incredibly fresh, just from the deep fryer fries…..yum!

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Vintage In The Metro

5 May

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Spring in the Detroit area can be tough; days can be chilly, windy and rainy, not exactly an invitation to spend time outdoors. Still, we have spent so much time indoors, we are antsy to just get out. Days like this, lunch and a little shopping get our mind off the weather and onto fun things. We are actually more the browsing type, our shopping trips usually lead us to great vintage shops, antique stores and flea markets; lots of looking and every once in a while, a great find we have to bring home.

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Our first stop is Vogue Vintage Surplus, a warehouse-type space on Wolcott St in Ferndale. This is nitty-gritty type shopping; it’s colder in the building than outside, items are everywhere, shelves are full of smaller pieces. An old dryer chair catches my eye as soon as we walk in the door, its sparkly blue vinyl is cool. There are so many things to look at I have to stop and really focus. A true treasures hunter’s emporium, goods are sorted as opposed to displayed, couches, end tables and large landscape scenes are huddled together. Used telephones span the decades from rotary dial to cordless, desks vary in size from single to multiple cubbies. Old trophies, a complete set of china, wacky knick knacks and an old wooden canoe make it fun to look around. The warehouse has everything a home needs, light fixtures, glassware, televisions, stoves and refrigerators; while some of it is antique or vintage other items are simply ‘used’. If you’re looking for a milk can, traffic light, a pair of wooden shoes from Holland a piano or an old radio, you know just where to go!

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Traveling up Woodward into Pleasant Ridge we park behind Vogue Vintage and enter through the back door. Once things have been gone through at the Surplus, the nicest items come here to be sold. Racks of vintage clothing are separated into men’s and women’s sections, pieces are in nice condition, funny how many of the styles are popular again today.

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 The shop has a fabulous array of lighting, everything from table lamps and pole lamps to sconces and hanging fixtures. Furniture and accessories are set up in vignettes, a living room here, a dining room there, all very swanky; it’s sometimes surprising how well mis-matched pieces go together. Along with traditional Mid-Century pieces there is a nice selection of 1960’s and 70’s; you know, shiny chrome, bright colors, bold designs, Lucite and yes, a sofa pit. With the impending arrival of summer, outdoor furniture, a super cool bbq, coolers and bicycles are timely items. From large pieces to small, hats to vintage games, posters to metal wall sculptures, they have an awesome selection. Vogue Vintage is now located at 2747 Hilton Rd Ferndale 48220

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Going shopping and out to lunch go hand in hand, there’s a cute little diner on the east side of Woodward called Mae’s. There’s an open parking spot right out front and no line, good timing by us. From 1959 to 2009 this tiny space operated as Anna’s Coffee Shop, in 2010 Sean and Jessica Mc Carthy re-opened the diner as Mae’s, it is Pleasant Ridge’s oldest restaurant, a bit of a landmark, you might say. There are two unoccupied turquoise and aluminum stools at the counter, we take a seat and begin studying the menu. Serving breakfast and lunch, most of the items are made in-house from scratch; biscuits and gravy, jam, baked goods and pancake batter are all made in the 7-foot wide kitchen, bread comes from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, chips are Better Made and the pop is Faygo and Vernors. We have a great view of the goings on; hot food comes through an opening in the kitchen, servers are busy taking orders, running the espresso machine, filling containers with jam, and delivering food. Ours arrives piping hot, the Mexicantown Skillet is two scrambled eggs sitting atop a combination of homefries, sausage, black beans, sautéed onions, jalapenos and pepper jack cheese. A side of 8 grain 3 seed toast and pico de gallo make this dish delicious. The Portland Special is a sandwich made up of Cap’n Crunch breaded chicken tenders (seriously), pepper jack cheese and hot sauce between grilled farm bread, a side of blue cheese dressing and a bag of chips complete the meal, yum! UPDATE Mae’s is now closed for business.

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There’s still more old stuff to see…… Moving on to Royal Oak, we stop in at Lost & Found Vintage; specializing mainly in clothing, the shop is laid out as a great little boutique with men’s items on the lower level and ladies on the upper. Mannequins are dressed in spring outfits, basket-type handbags and pastel scarves polish off the look. Old street signs top off a large wood cabinet that holds accessories and colored bottles. Downstairs a fellow can find everything he needs to be fashionable; denim jackets, plaid sports coats, silky ties and bowling shirts. The space is masculine with trunks, antlers, an old shoe shine chair and stylish hats. Upstairs is definitely girly; skirts, dresses, purses, sandals and hats. Merchandise is all good quality, many items are sure to bring a smile…..or an eye-roll as the case may be.

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Oddfellows Antiques is on 12 Mile in Berkley. The 9,000 sq ft  building was built in the 1920’s for, you guessed it, the Oddfellows. This is one of those antiques stores that divide the building up into smaller dealer spaces, there are nearly 50 here. Opened eight years ago, it is a favorite of locals and has been voted “Best of Hour Magazine” for the last three years. We enter on the lower level; lots of folks seem to have had the same idea as each aisle is busy with shoppers. You never know what you’ll find in a store like this as the variety of items is wide. Kris and I browse slowly through the shop, I see owls are back in vogue, Elvis never went out, glassware is abundant. Dealers sell a little bit of everything; great old tin signs, soda pop memorabilia, beautiful antique mirrors,tools, rugs, even a little bit of Mod from the 70’s. I love all the old glasses, each with its own purpose; juice, water, highball, martini anyone? There are things we remember from our grandparents homes and things our parents had too. All of these things create a link from the past to the present–maybe that’s the real draw, familiarity, fond memories, good times. 

 

DETROIT: Staycation…

7 Jan

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There’s not a better night’s sleep to be found than a night in the Raymond C Smith Carriage house at the Inn on Ferry Street. Upon waking we dress and walk the short distance to the main house of the Inn, the John Scott House; this is where guests check in and where breakfast and refreshments are served. The house itself is an orange brick Queen Ann with a wide front porch, built in 1886-87, original owner John Scott was a well-known architect. Scott’s firm, John Scott & Co. took in a young Albert Kahn (apparently he was everywhere!) as an apprentice, but let him go because he didn’t think Kahn had a future in the business–oops! The home, 84 E Ferry, resides on land that was originally part of the Ferry Seed Company, the property was later developed into an upper class neighborhood. Today the Inn consists of four restored Victorian homes and two carriage houses, close to museums, the DMC and Wayne State University.

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We enter the house through the back door, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee permeates the air, guests conversation creates a low hum. The breakfast area is lovely; walls are olive green, a fireplace of rectangular glazed tiles graces the back wall, ceiling and walls are accented with beautiful wood. We choose a table near a large window, morning light streams in. We hang our jackets on the chair backs, grab plates and fill them with items like scrambled eggs, waffles, fresh fruit, muffins and yogurt; there is also an assortment of coffee, tea and juices. As we eat, the Inns shuttle driver arrives, he is driving a group of guests downtown; the shuttle is free and will drop you off and pick you up within a 5-mile radius. When we have finished our breakfast I sip my coffee slowly as we decide how we will spend the rest of our day.

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The luggage is loaded and we have checked out. We walk to the end of the block, at the corner of Woodward and Kirby we step inside the Park Shelton. Built in 1926 as a residential hotel called The Wardell, it was named for Fred Wardell, founder of the Eureka Co. Interestingly enough, Kris’s mom and dad spent their honeymoon here back in the 1940’s, even more notable, Diego Rivera lived here while working on his mural at the DIA. The hotel was later bought by Sheraton and in the 1950’s renamed The Park Shelton Hotel; accommodations were luxurious, celebrities such as Bob Hope, George Burns, Gracie Allen and Raymond Burr were guests. In the 1970’s it became apartments, in 2004 the building was redeveloped into 227 luxury condos with retail and restaurants on the ground floor. The lobby has maintained its elegance with indoor fountains, rectangular columns capped in gold leaf, ornate plaster ceilings, dark marble accents and a gorgeous antique clock that hangs near the reception desk.

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Down the hall we wander into the Peacock Room, this is one of those pretty stores; gorgeous architecture and decor, clever displays, attractive merchandise for women featuring great hats, handbags, jewelry, clothing…… Everything a girl needs and then some! A few feet down, we duck into Goods LLC, mainly selling customized and Detroit-centric t-shirts, the shop also sells items from local artisans. Exiting through the Woodward door we proceed to Emerald, the newest of the shops in the Park Shelton, mainly a men’s store they have a wonderful selection of hats, gloves, scarves, ties, cuff links and shaving goods. The space is attractive, the chandelier came from an old theater downriver, it’s super cool, someone told me display cabinets came from the old downtown Hudsons. They have a nice selection of gift items and books too.

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After all that shopping we find ourselves hungry, lucky for us Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes is only a few steps away. Bright red walls are covered with French movie posters, the chalkboard menus of sweet and savory crepes have grown through the years. I order at the counter as Kris finds us a table, it seems this place is always busy. Owner Torya is behind the counter making crepes today, she makes it look so easy the way she spreads the batter, adds the filling and neatly folds each one. The Seine arrives first, a simple crepe with butter and sugar, to me there’s nothing better. The Dana is filled with chicken, Brie, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and herbs, it is delicious. We drop into 14 East next, serving gourmet coffee, tea and pastries it’s also a bit of an art gallery; furniture and decor are reminiscent of  Mid Century design. We order at the counter, cold brew coffee for Kris and a pour over for myself. 

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We are less than a block from the DIA, we decide to stop in and have a look. It’s Sunday, the museum is active with tours, drop-in workshops, drawing in the galleries and the Sunday Music Bar in Kresge Court. We observe visitors of all ages at easels creating pencil drawings with the assistance of artists. The Contemporary Art gallery  is one of our favorites, spanning the mid 20th century to present day, we find great American art from abstract painting to Pop Art. After a leisurely stroll through the building it is time to call it a day. It has been a fantastic weekend get-away, and we never had to leave our home town! 

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DETROIT: Midtown Chill….

8 Dec

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Have you ever noticed how something as simple as a cup of coffee or a glass of wine tastes so much better when you are in beautiful surroundings? And there’s nothing like a cozy public space to make you feel part of the local community. The new Living Room at the DIA accomplishes both of these things and more. As long-time members of the DIA we often find ourselves popping into the museum to check out a current exhibit or visit a favorite gallery. As a member or resident of Wayne, Oakland or Macomb county, admission is free, so you no longer need to set a whole day aside to explore the entire museum, you can drop in for an hour or an afternoon. The recent renovation of Kresge Court into Detroit’s grandest living room is just one more reason to visit this extraordinary building. Did you know the first Van Gogh painting to enter a US museum was Self Portrait (1887) right here at the DIA? 

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Today the sole purpose of our coming here is to have a coffee while sitting on a comfy leather sofa and do a little people watching. The space is wonderful! Originally an outdoor courtyard, the room is surrounded by elegant dark brick walls with inlaid carved stone designs, topiaries, greenery and wrought iron pergola put me in the mind of an English garden. Seating groups are spaced throughout the room, the furniture a mix of traditional and modern; power outlets are readily available. Tall wood library tables are installed with iPads, area rugs add warmth and complete the look. Here you can curl up with a good book while snacking on a cheese or chacuterie plate, meet friends for a beer or glass of wine, page through one of many art books available for your viewing pleasure while sipping a piping hot cup of Starbucks coffee. On Friday nights Tapas are served. If you’re looking for somewhere new to meet friends, do some work or just relax, this is the spot! 

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Our next destination is just a little way down Woodward, from now until December 28th the Detroit Artists Market (DAM) is hosting Art For The Holidays! 125 area artists have put their best creations on display for you to purchase as gifts for friends and family this holiday season. The gallery is festive, decked out in holiday lights strung from the ceiling, snacks and beverages are complimentary today. The elongated space is crowded with shoppers this afternoon. Unique items are arranged on pedestals, tables and shelves; glass pieces seem to glow under the halogen lights. The variety of the pieces is refreshing; clever items like original stuffed animal characters make me smile. There’s a colorful array of fiber articles, scarves and purses for every style, jewelry is plentiful. Photos, books and cards along with glass, ceramics, cool paintings and metal work make it easy to shop for even the most difficult to buy for. The gallery has terrific objects all year around, but I have to admit, this is my favorite time to visit.

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The N’namdi Center for Contemporary Art is tucked away on E Forest in the Sugar Hill Arts District, we love this building. The fascade is limestone with gorgeous detail surrounding huge windows. The gallery showcases national and emerging local artists with a series of curated and juried exhibitions. The building also houses a performance art theater. The front room has raspberry colored walls, today it is set up like a living room; furniture is made of clocks, dozens of watch faces, lots of shells and beads, I wouldn’t dare sit on it! The main gallery is my favorite area; the ceiling is exposed beams, it looks like knotty pine, the wooden floor is silent as we walk. The current exhibit features large black-framed photographs, I feel as though I am looking directly into the subjects eyes. At the back of the space we enter a small enclosed gallery with nautical blue walls, brightly colored paintings line all four walls. We stop in often as there is always something new to see.

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We are off to try the latest restaurant to open in Midtown, La Feria, on Cass Ave. Serving hot (calientes) and cold (frias) tapas, the owners have brought a little bit of Spain to Detroit. Open from 11 to 3, and then again from 5 to 11, we settled on a late lunch to hopefully avoid a long wait. There are two empty tables, we help ourselves to the high-top in the front window, the late afternoon sun warms our backs as we glance at the menu. The place is lively, tables are filled with jovial customers passing dishes and catching up with one another. The ceiling is a deep blue, a red soffit adds a splash of color above the bar, a small chalkboard calls out today’s specials. Everything on the menu sounds delicious, our waitress is super friendly and helpful in our decision making. We start with a glass of house made red Sangria, be sure to have one yourself……First to arrive is the ensalada mixta: tender greens, cucumber, red onion, hard boiled eggs and Spanish olives, sprinkled with coarse salt. The tortilla Espanola is next, two triangular slices of cold Spanish omlette with fried potatoes and carmelized onion topped with roasted red pepper strips, mmmmmm, really good! The Sabor de Espana is a charcuterie board with exceptionally good meats, cheeses and charred bread, we had the small one and it was just right for the two of us. The food is outstanding, we look forward to eating our way through the entire menu!

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 After all the savory food, we are in a mood for something sweet, a new gelato shop called Melt opened just down the street and is creating quite a buzz in the neighborhood. Walking the short distance I take notice of the foot traffic on the block; folks are out walking their dogs, a bag of puppy chow slung over their shoulder, undoubtedly purchased from Cass Corridog. Young couples push baby carriages, college students bear the weight of heavy backpacks after a study session. Inside, the air is scented with the aroma of coffee and sugar, walls contrast in deep red and bright white, the counter is lined with cookies and treats. The gelato case is near the back, stainless steel compartments are piled high with multi-colored flavors; grapefruit sorbetto, roasted pistachio, autumn spice, and, our choice, bourbon caramel gingersnap–it tastes even better than it sounds! Our plastic cup is piled high with the creamy substance, we sit at a table overlooking the sidewalk, for a second I forget where I am. For as long as I can remember this is the Detroit I have been dreaming of; cute little shops, great restaurants, a neighborhood ice cream shop, pedestrians crowding the streets. I have to admit there were days I had my doubts, but I never lost my faith.

DETROIT: Let’s Go Shopping!

18 Aug

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With all of the media attention focused on the negative, the ugly and the bankruptcy, you may not be aware of the positive, the pretty and the growth going on these days in Detroit. Today we are going to give you a new perspective, just a little slice of the positive things happening in Detroit; we are headed to Midtown for some boutique shopping, Thai food, lovely streetscapes and an “American company dedicated to making things again in America”. Let’s get started! The Auburn Building is located on Cass Ave at the corner of Canfield, the structure features two stories of residential apartments above a ground floor that is home to design-focused shops and take-out, with plenty of metered parking right out front. We begin our shopping trip at Cass Corridog, owner Michelle has operated for the last two years as Woofbridge Feed and Supply out of Canine to Five, when the opportunity arose to move into her own space, she grabbed it. We are here on the shop’s opening day, large bags of dog food are standing at the back of the room, to the left a selection of toys and leashes hang on the wall. Gold toned walls and light wood make the 800 sq ft space feel warm and cozy. The shop sells a full line of pet care and nutrition products for dogs, cats, and even some fish supplies; the new larger space has also allowed for the addition of a pet bakery……lucky dogs!

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Next we wander into Nora, here you will find a pleasant assortment of items for the home, this is the kind of shop I love to browse. The room is bright and airy, walls and ceiling are pure white in contrast to the dark concrete floor. Large tables display colorful items such as serving dishes, pottery and glassware. Cubbies hold dishtowels, aprons and reusable shopping bags, funky clocks are perched on shelves, display cases feature unique Detroit jewelry. I walk around slowly, looking at everything, trying not to touch, pieces are both useful and attractive, much of it has a Scandinavian feel; the selection always changing. Selling top brands and good quality items, this store would be right at home in Somerset Mall or Birmingham.  It’s a great place to pick up a gift, Nora has cards too, they’ll even wrap the gift for you! Right next door is Hugh, if you are into “bachelor pad” style, fond of the 60’s or just like really cool stuff, you need to stop in. Hugh was actually the very first winner of the Hatch Detroit competition in 2011. The place is very swanky, in that Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra sort of way. Walls are richly colored in emerald-green and charcoal grey, floating shelves and cabinets are stained dark, the furniture has clean lines and feels somewhat masculine. Glass pieces are a mix of vintage and brand new; cocktail shakers, ice buckets, martini and wine glasses come in a variety of attractive shapes and sizes. Today a wooden cabinet is off to the side, when a fellow shopper inquires about it, Joe is on his feet, he begins to open doors and unfold shelves, in a few short minutes it has become a desk–gotta love that old-fashioned ingenuity. On the other side a collection of personal accessories such as shaving kits and flasks can be found. The only thing missing is a big old 1967  Imperial parked out front…… We stop in often as there is always something new to see.

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Time for a lunch break; we walk to the corner of the building and step inside Go! Sy Thai, the family owned restaurant has been operating in Birmingham since 1993, recently they opened a few new locations, we are going to give it a try. Standing at the counter we read the menu above, since both of us love Thai food, it is easy to choose. After our order is placed we take our cups to the pop machine, grab some silverware and napkins and wait for my name to be called. In no time our fresh roll and tofu tod are ready, each comes with its own dipping sauce, both are delicious. My name is called a second time, the drunken noodles wait for me at the counter. Sitting at the window overlooking Cass Ave, we watch as cars and pedestrians make their way about town, the drunken noodles are excellent, the texture perfect and just the right amount of heat, the portion is large, perfect for sharing. This is a great place to stop in for a quick meal or carry out.

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Previously located on the corner of Cass and Willis, Source Booksellers has made the move to the Auburn Building. An independent, non-fiction bookstore Source features books on History, Culture, Health and Well Being. The selection is hand-picked, you can find books by and about women, the spiritual and metaphysical. The space is inviting, the terra-cotta colored floor gleams, walls are painted black, wooden shelves hold a multitude of volumes. Source offers free community activities such as Tai Chi and book talks, they also offer a small selection of world music and greeting cards. I can’t resist a good bookstore, this one has much to offer.

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Global Detroit Human is the next store on the block, owner Jill Drnek has brought together the Detroit designer community in a single storefront. The interior space has a great vibe, a mural takes up the left wall, free-standing clothing racks hold a variety of styles and sizes. Corrosive Clothing is well represented, selling a variety of men’s t-shirts, Six Luxe offers resort wear, Curves specializes in sizes 12-22, pieces from Homeslice Clothing and Lavinia are also available; I can’t resist checking out the purses and accessories. The pieces on the racks run from casual to evening, there is something for everyone.

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Last, but certainly not least is Shinola, located on Canfield near Traffic Jam. My how things change; the streetscape in that area has gone from non-existent to wow in a very short time. Shinola has been in the news a lot lately, and for good reason; their tag line is, Where American Is Made. Yes indeed, this is the first company in 40 years to build watches at scale in America, where in America? Why,  Detroit, of course. Pardon me while I gush, but I find it refreshing, exciting and high time somebody recognizes all that Detroit has to offer. Highly skilled workers are employed by the company to build fine watches right here in the historic (1928 Albert Kahn designed) Argonaut building within CCS. The retail shop is gorgeous! Beautiful, well made items include their signature watches, leather goods, clothing, journals and bicycles. Helpful sales clerks roam the floor, they are friendly and eager to answer questions. Items are displayed in an eye-pleasing way, small glass cases group things by color. The bicycles are assembled right here, you can even watch the process,  built one at a time, by hand,the finished product complete with leather seat and hand grips, even a bell if you’d like. Off to the side is a small juice bar offering organic cold-pressed juice for sale in glass bottles. Drought is a Plymouth based juice company owned and operated by the James sisters. Today they are doing a brisk business, some customers have a seat outdoors at the large community table, the juice is taken as a meal. The store itself is busy, lots of folks trying on watches, each says “Shinola Detroit” on the back.  I am surprised at the variety and the ability, no, the desire, to make it all in America. I love this quote from their website: “we know there’s not just history in Detroit, there is a future.” I can’t argue with that.

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Detroit: Out For The Evening

5 Jul

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We begin our evening in Eastern Market, we park in front of Cutter’s Bar & Grill and head inside, your stereotypical Detroit dive bar, good food, good times. The space is dark, I turn towards a television and let my eyes adjust, the Blues flows from a nearby speaker, the bartender tells us to sit anywhere we want. We take a high-top table in the bar area, surrounding conversation leads us to believe many of the patrons are regulars. Yellow paper menus are kept on the tables, we have a look. Burgers are the main feature here, the meat is fresh, never frozen, high quality and hand-pattied; you can get everything from a 4 oz slider to a full 1 pound burger. What catches my eye is the selection of “stuffed” burgers, I read the list of choices, they all sound good, but the 8 oz burger stuffed with pepper jack cheese and pepperoncini is definitely the winner. We wait for our food to arrive, the variety of music changes, some sing along, the restaurant is small and windowless giving no clue as to whether it is night or day. Our burger arrives in a basket along with a pile of hand-cut fries, I dress it up, cut it in half for us to share, and take a bite. The meat is perfectly cooked and tender, the cheese and pepper rings are  a tasty addition. The fries are delicious, there is no mistaking these for the typical frozen variety. When the burger is gone we linger long enough for Kris to finish his drink and then we are off; we have a party to go to!

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Detroit Mercantile on Russell Street is celebrating its 1st Anniversary and we’re invited. This is one of those shops where you just want to buy everything; each shelf, every display and item is presented in an attractive way. Each item, whether new or vintage is carefully chosen; the store specializes in goods Made in the USA, many are made in Michigan and even more are made right here in Detroit. A large american flag hangs from the back wall, on a nearby shelf I see a vintage roller skate, old Faygo pop cans and a beer stein from Stroh’s. There’s a huge variety of books, they all have something to do with the motor city, I find them stacked on an antique safe and on lovely old trunks. If you are in the market for a Detroit-centric T-shirt, look no further, they have many to choose from. From purses, jackets and Stormy Kromer hats to tins of Better Made chips, handmade chocolates and Germack gift baskets, the store has something for everyone.

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We proceed through the showroom into the warehouse, this area is reserved as rental space for parties, weddings and events such as tonight. Immediately in front of us on the floor a pair of acrobats are in the middle of their routine, in the distance a woman is sifting through guests on stilts. In the center of the room  a young woman is performing on the aerial ring, to the left a juggler takes turns throwing a set of three pins into the air; these would all be members of the Detroit Flyhouse Circus. The space is super cool;’ exposed brick and block walls, red ceiling beams and polished concrete floors. Folding chairs are scattered about the space, a cozy sitting area to the right includes a couch and comfy chairs. A representative from Civilized Vodka (Traverse City) is making drinks with Faygo soda pop, next to him they are serving up coffee made from Great Lakes coffee beans. Whole Foods has set up an amazing buffet of cheese, fruit, crackers and wraps, so much to taste! We wander about in the 5000 sq ft warehouse, a weathered car from an old amusement park ride sits off to one side. In the year that The Detroit Mercantile has been in business we have seen them grow from a small showroom, to a larger showroom with the added rental space. The owners started with a nice variety of goods and now carry everything from jewelry and leather goods to Carhart clothing and bicycles, I can’t wait to see what they do next!

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Before turning in for the evening we make one last stop; the Ghost Bar at the Whitney. We enter through the oversized wooden doors, this 1894 mansion turned restaurant is absolutely stunning! We go directly up the magnificent stairway, passing by elegant stained glass windows, to the third floor. The room is gorgeous; the unique barrel-vaulted ceiling is highlighted with narrow wooden beams, the original skylight is still in tact. We have ourselves a seat at one of the few round tables scattered about and order up cocktails. We sip our drinks surrounded by the elegance of days gone by.

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