About Me

My photo
Lansing, Michigan, United States
I am a Lansing townie, lawyer, and restaurant reviewer for the City Pulse. I love traveling, reading, yoga, and baking, but my favorite hobby is stuffing my face.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Restaurant Weak?

Every year, I put a few extra miles on my car driving around to different metro areas in our state to partake in their Restaurant Weeks. Grand Rapids has one. Royal Oak just had one (I ate at Bastone, which wasn't great), and Detroit has the mother of them all, which happens to be fast approaching in April.

I think Restaurant Weeks are incredible. I know they're a lot of work for both planners and restaurant staffs, and I know diners have to put a little extra thought into what their eating plan is and maybe make a reservation when they wouldn't normally, but these events get my blood pumping. I don't think there's a better way to experience a restaurant that might just be a little out of your normal price range. 

I remember a few years ago, there was a half-cocked attempt at a Lansing Restaurant Week. I can only assume that, since this event hasn't appeared again, it was a flop (a Restaurant Weak, if you will.) But I think we're stepping up our game in the Capital City, amirite? We've got some great places to eat, we've got a population who cares about supporting local biz, and we've got some social media superstars who promote the hell out of the area's events.

So, do we push for another Lansing Restaurant Week? Do I use my connections and willingness to beg people for what I want and make it happen? Are you all going to help me, and tell me where you want to eat, and promote the event on your Facebook and Twitter?

Those aren't rhetorical. I really want you to answer me. Tell me what restaurants you'd like to see included.

In the meantime, look at this stuff:

My friend, living in England, send me this photo with the caption
"Up from one a penny and two a penny. Inflation."
I LOLd for an hour.

Lent is super hard when you're forced to eat a tuna melt
and fries for Friday lunch.

Crust Bakery in Fenton. I ate a bran muffin, sea salt chocolate chip
cookies, and marshmallows. Lay off me I'm starving.

Stuffed French toast at The (French?) Laundry in Fenton.

Cafe au lait.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kiss me, I'm Amish

Last weekend, I went to Constantine, MI to visit my friends Melodi and Mika and their two little half-French petits monstres. We drank copious amounts of tea, as we do whenever we are together, and we talked about our lovely British friend Miriam and her upcoming wedding. We debated whether or not we will wear fascinators (well, I don't think Mika is going to wear one.) I came down on the side of yes, definitely, and I will pretend all day that I am Princess Kate.

I pretend that most days.

Melodi's beautiful cousin was celebrating her 21st birthday and we joined her for dinner at Essenhaus, an Amish restaurant and enormous banquet hall in Indiana. Our dinner was served family style (which, in case you're not sure, means that big portions of food are brought out in serving dishes and everyone helps themselves. You know, how you would eat dinner at your parent's house, unless your parents are super fancy and plate your dinner in the kitchen. I know my family doesn't roll like that, and when my brother was bad, my dad would make him eat in the bathroom.)

I ate everything. Mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, stuffing, buttered noodles- they all played a supporting roll to the friend chicken. Good GOD this chicken. It's been a good long while since I had properly fried chicken, and I made up for it by eating 87 pieces of this.

At each person's place there was a little slip of paper for you to order a slice of pie. Essenhaus offers a bevy of pies, and everyone picks what they want and turns their slip into the waitress (who, by the way, was wonderful. Thanks for putting up with the kids and with this animal who couldn't stop eating chicken. Hi!)

Melodi read my mind and pointed out that, even though the 1 and 2-year-old boys would be content with a mouthful of whipped cream, they were eligible for their own piece of pie. I jumped right on that and ordered both a slice of butterscotch pie and a slice of chocolate peanut butter. Mel, as soon as Jules is old enough to realize what I did, I will buy him his own pie all for himself.

This weirdo loved his pie too-

I dwindled in the bakery after abusing myself with friend chicken and picked up some of my favorite Amish popcorn and honey. According to my cousin Katie's comment on my Instagrammed photo from dinner, people from Kalamazoo know all about Essenhaus. Funny, because I've been going to Kalamazoo several times a year for my entire life and nobody has even mentioned a wonderful Amish restaurant to me before. Ya filthy animals.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Noble Fish, Clawson

Yesterday I sat at my desk, thinking about the huge kale salad that I had brought with me to perpetuate the belief that I love healthy eating. I had eaten salad for lunch every day since Monday. I wasn't feeling it. I love kale, but we needed to be on a break.

"On a break." Does everybody else think of this too?

Best show ever.

To get my morning news hit, I went to the Detoit Free Press website, where I saw this breaking news. I was clicking around, checking out the different categories, and when I saw "Best Sushi," I knew what I was going to have for lunch. Sorry, kale salad. Imma eat you for dinner.

I headed to Noble Fish, which, by all accounts, is the best sushi outside of Japan. I do wonder though if people just like it so much because it's in the back of a grocery store and you feel really cool when you walk in, nonchalant, like yes, I'm in a grocery store eating sushi that was just sliced and served up in front of my face. I know everything about food and you'll never be as cool as me.

Anyway, I sidled up to a stool at the sushi bar and stared at the menu. I eat a lot of sushi, but the menus continue to intimidate me. I never know if I'm ordering enough, or if what I'm ordering is enough for a million people, or if what I've ordered is something crazy and I'm going to have to smile and eat it anyway like I totally meant to do that.

I've done that before- in France- with a pig foot. A PIG FOOT! Can you imagine the acting I did to pretend that it was what I meant to order?! I would have given Ann Hathaway a run for her Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

I ordered two pieces each of salmon nigiri, yellowtail nigiri, and scallop hand roll nigiri. It went a little something like this.

It was very good. Fresh fish. Moist rice, not at all sticky or crunchy. The scallop hand roll had a bunch of scallop in each piece, and I love those little orange circles. See why sushi intimidates me? Because I have no idea what those things actually are. I just know that I love the way they kind of pop against my teeth. The sushi was great, but if this is the BEST SUSHI IN DETROIT, then I know some people who need to make a quick trip to Okemos and hit Maru.

Or maybe I just needed to order more. I would be happy to do that. This wasn't enough food.

The real show-stopper of this lunch wasn't the food, though. It was the middle-aged man sitting next to me. You know how sometimes you can just feel when someone wants to talk to you? It was radiating from him. So I turned and struck up a conversation with Alfonso, who is a plumber and amateur racquetball player, and as a result I was treated to an alphanumeric analysis of each letter of my first name and to a honey tangerine, which he pulled from his pocket and presented to me.

I'm considering whether or not I eat it. Don't tell my mother. I felt like he was just my kind of person, because I would definitely give someone a clementine from my purse and expect them to eat it.

By the way, my first name has 9 letters. It was a 15-minute analysis. I love people.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Morels- Farmington Hills

A few months ago I bought a Groupon for $40 to eat at Morels, a fancy joint in Farmington Hills (Oakland County.) I'm sure many people would buy a $40 Groupon and think "Great! I can have a pretty nice lunch with my bestie! Maybe we can even squeeze in a dessert."

I, on the other hand, thought "YEEEEEES! $40 to spend all on myself. I am going to eat everything." And eat everything I did.

I don't understand why people don't like to eat by themselves. I love to have that time to meticulously read the menu, to eat as slowly as I wanna eat, and (of course) to people-watch. People-watching is high on my list of hobbies. Must be all that time I spent in France.

So I took myself out to lunch one rainy, snowy afternoon. My waiter, Devin, was a dreamboat. Upon sitting down I explained to him that I was going to order a lot of food, too much food for one person, but it's because I had a Groupon and I don't eat lunch in that area of the state very often and, let's face it, I'm kind of a hog. He was into it.

He brought me a little bread basket with slice of sourdough (not my favorite) and a tiny cranberry brioche roll. I really tried to restrain myself from gobbling up the entire roll, since I knew that I was going to order two complete lunch entrees, but it was just too good. Nibble by nibble, the roll disappeared.

My first meal (ordered after obtaining the advice and consent of Devin, who called it his "go-to salad") was the duck breast and brussels sprouts salad. I couldn't figure out if the b. sprouts were raw or had been blanched, but either way they ha a nice bite to them and were separated into petals, like tiny little lettuce leaves. I haven't made myself a salad at home yet copying this technique, but you better believe it's in the works.

The radishes were peeled and boiled. But still crunchy. I don't love radishes, but I loved the candied, spiced pecans. Quelle shock, I know.

I also love duck. It's a little bit greasy, a little bit dark, like a chicken that's been reading too many vampire novels. It's easy to roast for a crowd but people think you're fancy when you serve it to them. It made for a luxurious lunch.

For my next entree, Devin and I chose the Scottish Salmon Rockefeller. I'm ashamed to admit that it had never occurred to me to take a piece of grilled salmon, cover it in Parmesan, and stick it under the broiler. You know that I don't walk around eating pieces of cheese, but it's hard for me to turn down a juicy, flaky piece of salmon covered in bubbly Parmesan.

The accompaniments were good too, nothing noteworthy. But then, who needs a knock-down drag-out side when you're eating salmon like you're going to the electric chair the next day?

After these two meals, Devin told me that we had a problem. "We're only at $32," he said. "You've got to spend more money."


I told him that I had given up sugar for Lent, but Archangel Devin told me that this was a special occasion, and God would understand. He brought over the dessert tray.

Now, I knew that I was going to be making my first-ever cheesecake in the next few days for the Little Prince (my brother)'s birthday, so in the name of research, I ordered the mascarpone cheesecake.

Holymolythiswasdelicious. I have two favorite bites of cheesecake- right on the point, and the flat end of it. I will admit that I took those two bites, plus about 5 more. It was rich and velvety and the caramel sauce on top was incredible.

Morels, dear reader, are a type of wild mushroom that grow in Michigan. They are seriously expensive- not truffles expensive, but you're not going to find them sitting in the produce case at Meijer either. My mother has a friend, a little old lady all the way up in Boyne City, who hunts for morels every year. Then she dehydrates them and sends them to Mom, wrapped in a plaid gift bag. Morels have a distinctive earthy, spicy flavor, and the mushroom cap looks like a honeycomb.

The attention to detail at Morels wasn't lost on me.

It was a gorgeous lunch. I felt like a celebrity. Keep your eye on those Detroit Groupons, eaters.