Tag Archives: Eastern Market

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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DETROIT: Gallery Hopping Eastern Market

16 Nov

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Things are moving quickly in Detroit these days; Pop-up businesses are popping up all over. Temporary shops open in a building or space that has been vacant or forgotten; the lease is short-term anywhere from a day to a month; restaurants, bakeries and retail all give it a go. Today we are checking out Cafe Con Leche del Este in the Lafayette Park neighborhood. Being regular patrons of Cafe con Leche in southwest Detroit, we were anxious to see what Jordi’s new space had to offer. We are big fans of the architecture of the neighborhood; designed by Mies van der Rohe in the early 1960’s, it was an urban renewal project consisting of townhouses, highrises and a shopping center adjacent to a 19 acre public park. Some storefronts in the shopping center have been vacant for years; densely populated, area residents have been longing for a local coffee shop where they could grab their morning cup of joe, or hang out with friends over a cubano. The project came together with a combined effort from the community; the furniture was donated by neighbors and friends, the bold yellow curtain dividing the space was made by the local knitting club, someone even loaned the large fluorescent MIES sign that hangs in the front window. The space is fabulous; the front wall, all glass. Inside the walls are painted charcoal grey, bursts of color in orange and yellow bring the place to life. The coffee menu has something for everyone from a basic pour-over to specialty drinks. We ordered at the counter and then took a look around. The furniture is ultra cool modern, the artwork Spanish-influenced, the coffee, delicious! Kris was feeling daring so he chose La Lumbre del Diablo (the devil’s fire), made with espresso, Habanero, cinnamon, honey and milk it is excellent, not too much heat, and an excellent combination of flavors. I had the Don Bigote, espresso, chipolte, chocolate and milk, I can’t wait to have another! The shop is only here till December 8th, so stop by soon.

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In the mood to do a little browsing, we drove north and landed in Eastern Market. Our first stop was Red Bull House of Art on Winder street, we were there for the Detroit Design Fest, but wanted to have another look without the crowds. A chalkboard on the sidewalk informs us the gallery is open, a low metal sign introduces us to the House of Art, the windowless steel door is imposing. Inside, the main floor is studio space for the next eight artists who will be featured in the upcoming exhibit. We walk around the studios, turpentine scents the air. The work of each artist is vastly different, incomplete pieces are intriguing. We descend the stairs to the gallery, the artwork a stark contrast to the bright white walls.  I remember many of the pieces, others I am seeing for the first time; panels featuring the name and background of each artist hang on the wall, benches encourage you to sit and ponder. We took one more look around before heading out, looking forward to the next exhibit.

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Over on the service drive of the Fisher Freeway is a collective of arts designers and musicians called Michigan-Artisans. You may recognize the building, it was the home of Germack for many, many years before they moved to Russell St. The gallery features high quality products from Michigan artists; photography, jewelry, clothing, glass, you name it, music too. The boutique was busy with shoppers, though I hate to admit it, the holidays will be here before we know it. The selection of items is huge, prices are good and range from a few dollars to a few hundred. Displays are eye-pleasing and draw you from one to the other. Many objects feature the mitten state; bags and purses are decorated with the upper and lower peninsulas, T-shirts feature local sayings, the Detroit skyline graces multiple pieces. 

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Deeper into the market district is Signal-Return Press on Division Street, make it a point to stop in. The store is a combination retail store and workshop featuring traditional (old-fashioned) forms of printing. We used to come to this building when it was the Johanson-Charles Gallery, it has undergone an extensive renovation leaving the space bright and airy; structural beams are a sunny yellow, giving the white ceiling and walls a warm glow. House printed posters hang everywhere, they are gorgeous, there is no mistaking this for some laser-printed image. Antique-looking hand-crank presses rest in the open workshop area, we ask permission to get a closer look, they remind us of something we have seen in Greenfield Village or other historical museums. Yet, here they are rolling out beautiful modern images created with letterpress and typesetting techniques, all done by young people! Posters and cards are  for sale, or take a workshop and make your own. 

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We seem to be meandering from district to district, we find ourselves in Greektown with growling stomachs. We heard a new restaurant was opening; we’re in luck, a front row parking space and an open sign. Somehow, over the years, Greek restaurants have become the minority in what was once an entirely Grecian area, Santorini  is bringing  Greece back in a beautiful way. The former Mosiac has undergone a complete make-over; a pair of statues flank the entrance, once inside we find ourselves on what appears to be the deck of a yacht. The floors are polished hardwood, brick walls are white-washed, scenes straight out of Santorini make us feel we are sailing past enchanted villages on the island, it’s so pretty. The menu stretches from traditional to more daring Greek dishes, if you can’t pronounce it, just point. We went the appetizer route and ordered several dishes; yes, we had the flaming cheese, and you know what? It was excellent. In fact, everything we had was, from the bread to the vegetarian grape leaves. It’s good to see some Greek back in Greektown.

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DETROIT: Something Old Is Something New….

28 Aug


It was a gorgeous Saturday in August, it had been too long since we’d been to Eastern Market; consistently a bevy of activity, there is always something new to see. As we approached  from Gratiot we were greeted by vibrant, amazing new graffiti; time to stop and get some pics. While we were warmed up, why not take a stroll and see what else we can find… The artwork is fabulous, cool, clever and comical; I love the bright colors and attention to detail.  The Detroit Beautification Project brings in artists from around the world; word is Flying Fortress and Nychos are responsible for these beauties. There’s even a marriage proposal to Tizzie from Tommy; looks like she said yes (x 1000) !!





We hadn’t been to DeVries & Co (formerly R Hirt) since the ownership change within the family. This three-story building has been standing on Market Street since 1893, I have to say it has never looked better; front windows have been opened up, the inside spruced up. Gone is the clutter; shelves are well-organized, lighting is bright, aisles easy to walk through, the traditionally long line for cheese remains. You can purchase oatmeal from Ireland and pasta from Italy, vinegar, sauces, cutting boards, spatulas, you name it.  Browsing the main floor I was happy to discover a Michigan products section; Faygo, McClures, BetterMade, and an unexpected surprise: Great Lakes Tea and Spice. The shop has always been known as a retail cheese store; the extensive variety attracting shoppers from all over. We stood and watched as connoisseurs made their selections, tasting each before deciding which to take home. Next time I need to bring a cooler so I too can partake in the fun.  


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A couple of doors down is the Eastern Market Seafood Co; walk in the door, the aroma of cooked sausage permeates the air. Benches sit front and center; hungry shoppers sit elbow to elbow noshing on 3 sausage pita sandwiches. Don’t be confused by the large number of folks consuming the infamous Old World Sandwich. Yep, this is a seafood place that is known as much for its sausage as its seafood. Cold cases run down one length of the store and across the back; they contain a wide variety of fresh and frozen seafood. 3 lb bags of  frozen shrimp in an array of sizes, crab legs, and lobster are offered at low prices, salmon fillets and whole trout are packed on ice. Packages of dried pasta, BBQ sauce, large containers of oil and hot sauce are also available.

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Next door you will find the Cost Plus Wine shop. Tall categorized shelves line the walls; reds, whites and rose’s have made their way from Canada, Spain, France and Italy. I like looking at the bottles themselves; labels vary from traditional to clever, as do names. Staff members are helpful, friendly and knowledgeable; tell them what you like and they will choose the perfect bottle for you. Prices are reasonable, below retail I’m guessing. Beer drinkers have their own special area near the front window; ales, wheats, lagers and stouts both local and imported. Bottles come in six packs or larger individual sizes. Planning a special dinner? You could stop in at DeVries for some amazing cheese, pick up a couple of lobster tails at the seafood shop, then add a wonderful bottle of wine. You can even add a nice bunch of grapes or fresh strawberries and how about a crusty baguette from Avalon, all available right there in the market.Speaking of the market, we walked back up the street to take a walk through ourselves; we passed an artist displaying colorful paintings, a selection of Detroit themed T-shirts and a live statue who was silver from head to toe. I love coming here, you never know what you’re gonna see, but you can be assured it’s gonna be good!

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Looking at food always makes me hungry, besides, it was time for lunch. Back in late spring The Brooklyn Street Local opened on Michigan Ave in Corktown. This breakfast and lunch only diner uses local, organic ingredients and whole foods. The owners are two Toronto residents who decided to open a restaurant in Detroit and introduce us to poutine. The decor is simple; tile floor, black tables, wooden chairs and diner style lighting. The menu is typical breakfast and lunch fare: eggs, Quiche, pancakes, soup, sandwiches and burgers; the preparation is special. Items are house made whenever possible, high quality ingredients are always used. We went for the scrambled eggs, bacon, wheat toast and of course, the poutine. What is poutine you ask? A large serving of french fries are placed in a bowl, covered in gravy and topped off with cheese curds….. seriously, It’s good! We also had the scones, served with a side of jam and lemon curd they were delicious. The restaurant is becoming popular, I can see why.

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Our last stop for the day was a little out of the ordinary; a new novelty coffee-house in mid-town called Chou Anime. It’s kind of hard to describe, but I’ll give it a go. Now keep an open mind as you read and think fun. The cafe is modeled after the “maid cafes” that operate in Japan, sort of a silly modern twist on geisha. There are bunches of people who are into Japanese Manga (Manga are comic books) and anime (cartoons based on manga) and know all of the characters.  At such cafes you have maids (instead of ‘waitresses’); they dress in cutesy costumes with aprons, ruffles and bows, maybe a magic wand, and go by character names. Your maid will address you as ‘master’ or ‘my princess’; she will take your order, serve your food and beverages, and for a small fee ($2.00) she will sit at your table and play board games, cards or video games with you, really! The girls (oops, maids) are sweet, and seem to be having a great time. Tables are long and meant to be shared, there is a limited but decent menu; salads, sushi, wraps and instant udon, along with tea and Great Lakes Coffee, they even have desserts. So there we sat, taking it all in, fellow patrons having a bite to eat and enjoying the experience, some drink sugary concoctions out of bottles with a silver ball in the opening (much like my hamsters water bottle), and promising to come back soon. Our cupcakes arrived; one chocolate, one red velvet, both sporting strawberry pocky protruding from the top. Cakes were moist, excellent frosting piled high; our maid had decorated the plates with pictures and greetings using flavored syrups, all very cute. The retail part of the shop sells Hello Kitty items, Japanese imports, including pocky, and a selection of maid costumes, kimonos and anime posters. Walls are painted and decorated cheerful characters such as smiling cupcakes and happy cake slices. The whole point of the theme is to create a warm, fuzzy, happy feeling. So, if you’re in the mood for a treat that comes with a happy magic spell, you know where to find it!

UPDATE: I am sorry to report that as of October 2012 Chou Anime is no longer open.

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DETROIT: We got old stuff…..

4 Apr

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There’s something really fascinating about browsing through an antique shop. When I was growing up my parents would take me to flea markets and antique stores, I’d watch their faces light up at the sight of certain items, which often had a story to go with them.Through the years Kris and I have probably visited hundreds of different shops throughout the Midwest and beyond. We never tire of  the adventure of it; seeing the glasses we drank out of at my grandma’s house, the same cookie jar my favorite aunt had on the counter, the rocking chair that resembles the one my mother rocked me in, the bicycle he always wanted but his parents didn’t buy. Now we are the ones smiling and sharing a memory. I reluctantly admit, I have reached the age where I recognize far too many things. It still surprises me when I see things from my own childhood labeled as “antiques”. You never know what you will find, and that’s what makes it so much fun!

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Detroit has plenty great shops; our first stop was at Eastern Market Antiques right there in the market. This 2-story building has about 15,000 square feet of antique, vintage and retro items. Individual dealers each have a given amount of space to display their pieces; some are arranged as individual rooms while others have things arranged on shelves and tables. Furniture, artwork, and lighting are prevalent, funky pieces like a dryer chair, globes and typewriters join the mix. Vintage jewelry, hats, suitcases and dishes add to the variety. There’s something different each time we come, which keeps it interesting. You don’t have to be a collector to enjoy a visit an antique store.

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We cut through Eastern Market on the way to our next stop. Passing through Shed 2, where the gourmet food vendors are located, we noticed a new booth: Ethel’s Edibles. On the table were beautifully packaged Gluten-Free goodies, oh, and bite-sized samples too. I had the Blondie, Kris the Pecan Dandy bar, one look at his face and I grabbed a sample of the Pecan Dandy for myself. It is absolutely the best pecan bar I have EVER had, seriously, you have to try one of these. I would also like to point out the Blondie was quite  incredible too. I can only imagine how happy those who eat gluten-free must be thanks to Ethel’s. With Pecan Dandy in hand we crossed Russell St to try out Germack’s new coffee shop. Residing in the space formerly occupied by Rafal Spice, the coffee shop is a great addition to the market. They did a marvelous job giving the space a real urban feel; brick walls, exposed beam ceiling, indirect lighting and concrete floors. The menu is posted on chalkboard slats: Drip Coffee, Espresso, French Press and Pour Over; all roasted in-house. We placed our order at the counter, glass containers offered sweet treats and a small variety of Detroit’s own Dutch Girl Donuts. While our drinks were prepared we wandered around the store, lots of yummy things on the shelves; from jams and spices to candy and sauces. We drank our delicious coffees seated at the counter watching foot traffic from the market come and go.   Next door is Germack’s new location where you can still purchase all your favorite products like pistachio’s, nut mixes and nut butters.

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Marketplace Antiques Gallery is an unassuming storefront on Gratiot just around the corner from the market. The outside gives little indication of what you will find inside; an incredible array of gorgeous antiques. The pieces here are in perfect to near perfect condition, the collection spans the last century. It’s almost like a museum, except you can actually purchase the items and enjoy them in your own home.  Walls are adorned with paintings, sconces and decorative mirrors. Ginger jars rest atop ornate buffets, art deco and Victorian pieces co-exist on a china cabinet shelf. Chandeliers, oriental rugs and an impressive collection of mid-century modern objects can be found here. It’s worth a visit just to have a look at such beautiful things.

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Jacoby’s German Biergarten has been around since 1904, so it seemed the obvious place to go after spending the day in antique shops. The restaurant stayed in the Jacoby family from 1904 to 1995, the current owner purchased it in 2006. Adorned with window boxes, the exterior of the building is charming; the large vertical  sign out front welcomes you. The inside doesn’t seem to have change much over the years; the original tin ceiling and woodwork give the place a bit of an old world feeling. Pictures of the Jacoby family and newspaper articles hang on the wall. The menu is mainly German dishes but also offers a nice sandwich selection. We ordered the Jaeger Schnitzle with sides of red cabbage,potato pancakes, sauerkraut, and spaetzle, all were very good. 

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We had one more store to visit, Detroit Antiques Mall located on the service drive of the Fisher Freeway. When you get to the door you will have to be buzzed in, once inside you are free to wander. Items here range from antique to quirky, they have a bit of everything. If you are looking for things like doorknobs and hinges, windows and doors, this is a great place to start. The second floor is devoted mostly to architectural salvage items. I love these kinds of stores because each time you come there is something new to see. Next time you’re in the mood to do a little window shopping check out one or all of these marvelous shops.


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.


DETROIT : Fall fun at Eastern Market

1 Nov

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No matter the season or what the weather is doing, to me any Saturday is perfect to go to Eastern Market. On our most recent visit the sky was light blue, colorful leaves were still clinging to trees and the market was decked out in Autumn’s glory. It was just a couple of days until Halloween and pumpkins were plentiful, from pie-sized to fully painted we had our pick. Huge bins were piled high with any variety of gourds or squash you could imagine. As we walked from shed to shed the sweet smell of apples filled the air; Gala, Fugi, Mutsu, Honeycrisp, and Pinata to name a few. Did you know Michigan grows more variety of apples than any other state? Baskets of them covered the table tops of individual vendors creating a sort of rainbow of apples.

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It is the end of the harvest in the Great Lakes State and here the yield was gathered and available for purchase; potatoes, peppers, red onions, and the last tomatoes of the season. It wouldn’t be fall without apple cider, would you like it hot or cold? Indian corn, pomegranates, and mass quantities of mums are a delight to see. Buskers perform in and out of sheds, the one-man-band was simply amazing playing several instruments and singing Detroit versions of  old Folk  songs. The somber notes of the saxophone player hung in the chilly air as passerby’s dropped money into his red-lined instrument case. Giant apples decorated by local artists stand in the center of aisles celebrating the fondness of this much appreciated fruit.Every weekend brings something new and it’s always a good time.

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Besides the market itself, this area is also lined with produce and specialty food stores, antique shops, restaurants, and a great little boutique on Riopelle called Savvy Chic. Take a peek inside this charming home decor shop; there is always a wonderful candle scenting the air, items are placed in a thoughtful and pleasing way throughout the 2-room shop. There are pieces for entertaining at home, hostess gifts, unique jams, jewelry and scented soaps and lotions. There are pieces of furniture both new and repurposed, cards, and books. Take your time as you browse so you don’t miss anything, it’s a nice mix of old and new pieces.

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  bbbb 068                                                                                                                                                                                                                 We had built up our appetite walking around, so we stopped in at Vivio’s for lunch. The Vivio family has been feeding market-goers in this location for over 40 years. The first thing most folks think of when you mention Vivio’s Food and Spirits is a full pint of Bloody Mary served with a generous slice of dill pickle and a shot of beer along side it, and it’s easy to see why. I don’t think there was a single table that did not have at least one of their famous cocktails. The building itself has a homey feel to it, like when you were a kid and you’d visit you Aunts and Uncles for large family gatherings, The decor runs the gamut from vintage Budweiser and sports memorabilia to animal heads  and collectibles.  Stained glass lamps light the room along with a large stained glass piece over the bar. Service is quick and friendly even when there’s a crowd. We had the Pastrami Burger, one of their specialties; an Angus burger topped with pastrami and melted Swiss served on a baked pretzel roll with a side of McMahon’s Irish ale mustard, it makes for a nice combination of flavors, they give you a stack of fries along side, add some soup and there’s enough for two.


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                                                                                                    We had one more stop to make before heading home, Rocky Peanut on Russell. Established in 1969 in Historic Eastern Market this family business is known for, you guessed it, fresh roasted peanuts. They purchase their nuts directly from the growers  and then roast and season them in a number of different ways, each being fresh and delicious. Stop in and have a look around, besides nuts they sell many items in bulk; spices, dried fruit, grains, and baking supplies. The most popular section has to be the bulk candy area; from the old favorite Swedish fish, giant jaw breakers, Hershey kisses, to retro favorites like Bit-O-Honey, no wonder sweet-tooth’s flock here. Recently added is a section of specialty made in Michigan products, I highly recommend Brownwood Farms Cherry Honey Mustard; great for dipping pretzels, but you have to try it on a sandwich! Whether your looking for an old favorite like Bosco, or you need a pinch of that seldom used spice you can find it at Rocky’s.

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Gratiot Central Market, Roma Cafe, Germack, Mootown Creamery

15 Jun


Eastern Market is without a doubt one of my favorite places in Detroit! Three of my best-loved activities; gardening, cooking, and shopping are all represented here….extensively. At this location since 1891 it is the oldest and largest open-air Farmers Market in the US, so it will take a few posts to describe all of the great things to do in the Eastern Market District. Come on down and check it out!

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Today we’ll start at the south end at Gratiot Central Market. If you like meat, you will be in heaven. The main aisle-way is lined with vendors such as; Randy’s Sausage, Wigley’s Corned Beef, and Ronnies Meats displaying their finest cuts of meat, I have never seen so many ribs in one place. Of course they have T-bones and porterhouse,ground beef and chicken, but add to that list; chicken feet, goat,oxtail, salt pork, rabbit and tripe. Small shops sell BBQ supplies and seasonings,there’s take out food and a fish market too. I love the cheese shop, you can purchase items from Calder Dairy here, I have a tip for you: Buy the Chocolate Milk…….  If you like to barbecue bring along a cooler because you’ll want to stock up, prices are easy on the wallet. 

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Walking down the Fisher Fwy service drive we poked our heads into Art Effect Gallery, they were getting ready for their Grand Opening that same evening, looking forward to stopping in next time we’re at the Market. A little further down on the corner of the service drive and Russell St is the Germack company’s store. Germack is the oldest roaster of pistachio nuts in the US. If you have a thing for pistachios either red or natural you’ve hit the jackpot! They sell a large variety of nuts and seeds along with delicious snack mixes,we purchased the Asian ZenSation mix, mmmmmmm, definitely stop in.

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Busy Bee Hardware located on the corner of Gratiot and Russell since 1918 has been in the same family for three generations. This is a real hardware store, if you need to repair something at home chances are you can find what you need right here. The store is a mix of old and new, it is somewhat a general mercantile with antique cabinets, a couple of vintage washing machines on display, and the only rope operated elevator in the city. The sign outside advertised pickle crocks, they still sell vegetable seeds like the old days, you can have a key made, and if you’re lucky, one of the owners will tell you a story or two. The place is great, seriously, you have to come in and walk around.

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All that shopping made us hungry, Roma Cafe, Detroit’s oldest Italian restaurant sits nearby on Riopelle, they have been serving classic Italian dishes since 1890. From the decor to the menu the atmosphere is unquestionably  old-time. Waiters wearing tuxedos serve you crusty bread with real butter, salads are prepared in the dining room where you can watch the action. We ordered Cannelloni and a Roma salad, the salad was really good, crisp lettuce, nice chunks of meat and peppers, seasoned with salt and pepper. The canneloni was excellent, tender meat filling in perfectly cooked pasta all smothered in red sauce and topped off with melted mozzarella, delicious.  

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There’s a new ice cream place on Russell St, so we had to save room for dessert! Mootown Creamery & More recently opened next door to Supino’s Pizza, which works out perfectly for both establishments. The store is just charming, walls are painted pastel mint green with a white tin ceiling, tables are also white with pastel colored chairs, somehow this place has the feeling of being in a beach town….really. Large beautiful posters of ice cream cones dress the main wall. Mootown serves Hudsonville Ice Cream made in Holland Michigan, the rear of the store is a gift shop with plenty of pretty things to catch your eye. It is the perfect addition to Eastern Market.

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Pewabic Pottery, Russell Street Deli, Fou d’amour

9 May

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On Friday morning the sun was shining brightly in the powder blue sky, clearly indicating a scenic drive along Jefferson was in order. It eventually leads you to Lakeshore Drive where Lake St Clair shimmers on one side and incredible mansions stand watch on the other.  We took a slight detour over to Kercheval for a mid morning snack at Fou d’amour (which translates to Madly in Love) in Grosse Ponite Park. Scones are the specialty here,  and they are scrumptious!  There are several varieties available every day along with seasonal selections. Our favorite is the white chocolate coconut, a tender scone, moist with just the right amount of white chocolate pieces and coconut woven throughout, topped with a light glaze and more coconut. The quaint interior is decorated in vintage Victorian style, it seats only ten, with additional seating outdoors when the weather permits. They also serve light lunch and a carry out dinner selection one night a week. These are truly the best scones we have ever eaten, just ask Clint Eastwood, he’s had them sent to him in California!

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Back to Jefferson and a stop at Pewabic Pottery. Founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry, today it is Michigan’s only historic pottery. The current Tudor Revival building has been operating since 1907. You have probably seen Pewabic pottery and didn’t even know it! The decorative tiles in Comerica Park, exterior tiles on the Guardian building, People Mover stations, the DIA, even the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is decorated with their tiles. Pewabic is known throughout the United States for their unique iridescent glaze developed by Ms Perry, and can be found in the finest homes in Detroit. Stop in and browse, the main floor has a showroom with items for sale, works from local artists and other pottery’s as well. You can also tour the studio itself, here ceramists are hard at work creating decorative items to grace any space indoors or out.  Be sure and go up to the second floor, here you will find the history of the pottery, and the current exhibit pieces.

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Eastern Market is home to all things food, besides the many stores, there is a great variety of restaurants. Today we decided to have lunch at Russell Street Deli, there is usually a line out the door on a Saturday, being Friday we were hoping for a couple of empty seats. We were in luck and landed two prime counter seats in the front window overlooking all of the activity on Russell. Tables are large here, it is not unusual to have several different groups of people sharing one table. Don’t be shy, sit down and see how easily the conversation flows. They serve an awesome breakfast here, besides egg dishes they make a raisin bread french toast with toasted pecans and fresh fruit, served up with Michigan Grade A Maple syrup, delicious! Their lunch menu is extensive, deli sandwiches, salads, and soups, all made from scratch. We had the sandwich special of the day, pulled pork with cole slaw and a vinegar type sauce all served on a kaiser roll, along with a house salad. Besides the french toast, I don’t think we’ve ever had the same thing twice.

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