Nine new reasons to shop on 9 Mile

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  1. Granma’s House of Pancakes – 17271 E. 9 Mile Rd., Eastpointe

1-granmas-house-of-pancakesGranma’s House of Pancakes is sporting a new look with fresh paint and a purple awning. This local diner made Detroit Metro Times’ “A smorgasbord of better breakfast joints in metro Detroit” list and was also featured in Macomb Now Magazine. This small diner packs a big menu with crepes, blintzes, omelets and, of course, pancakes as well as many sandwiches, burgers and lunch items.

 

  1. Detroit Wing Company – 17535 E. 9 Mile Rd., Eastpointe

2-detroit-wing-company2According to their Facebook page, Detroit Wing Company (DWC) served nearly 500,000 wings to more than 42,000 customers in their first six months – not a bad start! This new restaurant has completely remodeled their building, installing a kitchen, front counter, small dining area and modern window overhangs as well as trimming the interior with warm wood walls. DWC specializes in wings slathered in your choice of 16 original sauces made from scratch. Mac and cheese, poutine and cornbread muffins are just some of their mouth-watering sides. In the past few months, owner and chef Gus Malliaras shared cooking tips and recipes on Local 4 News, Fox 2 and WXYZ Detroit.

 

  1. Audio Café Recording Studio – 17954 E. 9 Mile Rd., Eastpointe

3-audio-cafeThe unassuming exterior of Audio Café Recording Studio makes the state-of-the-art interior even more impressive. Designed from the ground up, many improvements have been made over the years, the latest of which is brand-new flooring to improve the acoustics for better sound quality while recording. Audio Café features a control room, live room where instruments are recorded, isolation booth for vocals and lounge area with amenities to keep you and your bandmates comfortable for hours of recording. They also record a significant amount of voice-over work. Did you know Catelynn Lowell from MTV’s Teen Mom has recorded here?

 

  1. Stingray Bay – 17800 E. 9 Mile Rd., Eastpointe

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Stingray Bay is a treat for any aquatic hobbyist. With new stock arriving weekly, they boast an impressive selection of saltwater and freshwater creatures including star fish, crabs, frogs, sea urchins, sea anemone, coral, fish of every kind and even stingrays! They also carry tanks, filters, pet food and everything you need to set up and maintain your aquarium. They renovated the building this past winter, replacing windows, adding new flooring and building out a new nautical-themed counter.

 

  1. Milestone Grill – 17831 E. 9 Mile Rd., Eastpointe

5-milestone-grillIn 2011, Legends was destroyed by a fire, and after several years of anticipation and curiosity, Milestone Grill finally emerged. This brand-new building is beautiful inside and out. It features stone columns, large windows with chic black awnings, rich wood paneling and an impressive bar. Whether you’re dining out with the family, enjoying a craft beer and game with friends or ordering signature cocktails for a fun night out, Milestone Grill is worth stopping in! And if you do, you’ll be in good company. Former President Bill Clinton stopped for a visit last March while on his wife’s campaign trail.

 

  1. DeRonne True Value Hardware – 18561 E. 9 Mile Rd., Eastpointe

6-deronneAfter a retail space adjoining DeRonne True Value Hardware became available, it didn’t take long for the business to expand. Not only does DeRonne carry something for all of your home project needs, this locally-owned small business is also renowned for their excellent service and knowledgeable staff. If you have a question, they know where to point you!

 

  1. Syphus Training – 20012 E. 9 Mile Rd., St. Clair Shores

7-syphus-trainingSt. Clair Shores is home to a new Syphus Training facility. This special type of fitness regimen keeps you on your toes with new workout challenges every time you go. As physical tasks are achieved, they are tracked and tabulated so you can follow your progress and compete against others for top scores. Group classes go at each individual’s own pace, creating a team atmosphere perfect for beginners and professional athletes alike.

 

  1. Roy O’Brien Ford – 22201 9 Mile Rd., St. Clair Shores

8-roy-obrien-fordRoy O’Brien Ford is celebrating 70 years in the community with substantial renovations. According to a C&G News article, updates to the building will be completed in phases and include a partial demolition, service department expansion, more parking, adding a second story to the façade, bike racks to accommodate Nautical Ride participants and a historical marker. Lighting upgrades have already been made, saving the company in energy consumption and utilities while simultaneously giving the cars a beautiful sparkle.

 

  1. Kroger Gas Station – 23717 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores

9-kroger-gas-stationThe next time you’re in the area and find your car on empty, check out the new Kroger gas station. The site was completely redeveloped, resurfaced and features brand-new pumps, convenience store and kiosk. With entrances off of 9 Mile and Jefferson, it’s a clean and convenient option for filling up your tank.

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Bagels on the eastside

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This past weekend, I went to Baffin Brewing Company to meet up with Shannon Parent of Eastside Bagel to drink some micro-brewed beer and talk about bagels. I savored a Heffenwolf hefeweizen while she sipped a Crossroads cream ale and told me about the origin of Eastside Bagel – a St. Clair Shores instituation for the past 21 years.

When Shannon’s mom and dad Liz and Joe Parent moved into the area in 1987, they had a tough time finding a bagel shop anywhere on the eastside. With career backgrounds in office and industrial work, these entrepreneurs took matters into their own hands to remedy the situation. Liz started working at a bagel shop to learn how to bake. From there, they opened their own business and perfected their bagel recipes. A family business, Shannon and her sister have worked at the shop most of their adult lives.

“Over the years, I fell in love with every aspect that it takes to be part of this business,” Shannon explained. “It’s a craft and a process, and it isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.”

Eastside Bagel produces thousands of bagels a week. They make the dough, kettle boil the bagels, lay them out on canvas boards, bake one side, and flip onto stone to bake the other side until shiny. And all of this usually takes place around 3 a.m.

Shannon compared the bagel process to brewing at Baffin, another small business in St. Clair Shores. Brewer Evan Feringa often brews all night and into the early morning hours, crafting a unique product from scratch. When you put that much effort into your work, you’re bound to be passionate about it.

Eastside Bagel offers an extensive variety of bagels, the most popular being Jalapeno Cheddar, Everything and Spinach Asiago. The bagels are soft and fresh. One of my favorites is the Cinnamon and Sugar bagel, but I also really enjoy their nutritious Breakfast Cookie, which is packed with dates, raisins and almonds.

While bagels are the star, Eastside Bagel also offers sandwiches, soups and salads made to order. The vinaigrette they use is Shannon’s great-aunt’s recipe. They make their own cream cheese that comes in delicious flavors like cherry almond, garlic and chive and feta. Lox sandwiches are also popular, and they sell lox by the pound at a competitive price. Beverages include coffee, chai tea, cappuccino, fresh-squeezed juice, fruit smoothies and more.

When you walk into one of their stores, you’ll order at the counter. The line moves fast, so it’s helpful to have an idea of what you want. There are a lot of interesting options to choose from though, so don’t be afraid to try something new! Pay at the counter, and if you’re dining in, just have a seat and they will bring you your food. The friendly staff may chat with you while you wait.

Eastside Bagel is a great place to enjoy a hot breakfast and a cup of coffee, to pick up a dozen bagels for the office, or to cater your next business meeting. So now that you’ve heard all about these delicious, one-of-a-kind, preservative-free bagels made locally, go try one!

Bagel A

21601 Harper, St. Clair Shores, MI 48080
(586) 775-8820

Hours
Monday – Friday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Warren business serving up locally-sourced Latin American cuisine

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Pilar’s Tamales in Warren is offering something really unique in Macomb County – gluten-free Salvadoran food with dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options. It’s made with many all-natural, free-range and organic ingredients from local Michigan farms.

You may have had a tamale the last time you dined at your favorite Mexican restaurant (see A look into Plaza Mexico), but when was the last time you had a pupusa with fried yuca root and tamarind?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hadn’t even heard of these savory dishes until I tried them at Pilar’s. A pupusa is a grilled handmade tortilla made from stone-ground corn masa filled with your choice of chicken, pork or black beans and cheese. Fried yuca root is derived from the root of a shrubby plant with large, starchy roots. Fried and coated with a spicy seasoning, it is essentially a tropical French fry. Tamarind is a Latin American drink made from the fruit of an Asian evergreen tree. Pilar’s peels their own pods to make this tart and fruity drink.

And of course, there are tamales. Handmade with stone-ground corn masa, these tamales are filled with all-natural chicken, chicken and cheese, all-natural pork, spicy pork with ghost chili peppers, chorizo (pork sausage), jalapeno and cheese, black beans and cheese, vegan black beans or tempeh (soybeans). Then they are rolled, steamed and served with a delicious homemade sauce and a side of curtido (cabbage slaw). In fact, all of their stocks, salsa, sauces and salads are made in house. I recommend the perfect pair special because you get to try both a tamale and a pupusa.

Pilar’s opened their first location in Ann Arbor in 2000. A family of refugees fleeing from the Salvadoran Civil War, they began their business with a tamale cart, selling to University of Michigan students. The business expanded as they became vendors at several farmers markets, offering cold tamales that can be easily frozen and reheated. In early 2014, after looking for a satellite kitchen to be closer to Eastern Market, the Royal Oak Farmers Market and the Birmingham Farmers Market, Juan Carlos Nolasco and his wife Sandra Naimou found an affordable spot in Warren and opened a second Pilar’s Tamales kitchen and restaurant. Juan Carlos’ sisters and mother still manage the Ann Arbor location.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocating on Mound between Chicago and 14 Mile Road has proven to be a good business decision. In addition to their proximity to nearby farmers markets, Pilar’s is also seconds away from the popular Warren Community Center and pool and two of the largest employers in the area: the GM Technical Center and TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. GM has even invited Pilar’s to participate in a rotating lunch program they offer to their employees.

Juan Carlos was surprised by how much support they have received from the community. “The people here really care about what they are eating; they care about their health,” he said. His favorite part of running Pilar’s is meeting people who are open to new foods and to trying something different.

The recipes are not necessarily traditional Salvadoran because the concept of healthy food was incorporated from the very beginning. While authentic Latin American recipes often contain some not-so-healthy ingredients (think lard), Pilar’s has created their own delicious and healthy versions while still remaining true to their Salvadoran roots. They have devised more varieties of tamales and have included healthier meats raised without antibiotics, hormones or artificial growth stimulants. Kale, squash and other seasonal produce are locally grown at Vanhoutte Farms in Armada. Since everything is free of gluten, it is the ideal dining destination for patrons with celiac disease or food allergies.

I could go on and on about the different sides, drinks, desserts and specials available (casamiento made with organic black beans and organic white rice; fried plantains (like a fried banana); and gluten-free, vegan, soy-free and nut-free chocolate chip bliss bars), but you should really explore this restaurant for yourself. Keep an open mind, and remember, this is Salvadoran food and might not be exactly what you expect at first – but I promise it will grow on you!

This tiny restaurant offers carry out and minimal dining in. Open Tuesday through Saturday, hours are limited, so be sure plan your visit accordingly. And don’t forget their cold tamales, perfect for freezing and reheating for a great meal at home or an office lunch.

 

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32247 Mound Road, Warren, MI 48092 (586) 838-5608

 Pilar’s Tamales Menu

Hours
Tuesday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday – 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday – 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday

Cloverleaf: Experience Detroit-style pizza at its best

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Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant is an iconic staple in Macomb County. Founded by the father of the Detroit square pizza, Gus Guerra, it has been in business since 1953. Still using the original recipe, Cloverleaf offers one seriously tasty deep-dish pizza in addition to other favorites like crunchy sweet bread, whipped cheesecake and cold drinks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing from the area, you might take Detroit-style pizza for granted and not even know what it is. It is defined as a square, deep-dish pizza with sauce on top and a crispy crust. Guerra and his wife Anna first introduced this style of pizza in 1946 as the original founders of Buddy’s Rendezvous in Detroit. They sold Buddy’s and the recipe in 1953 and purchased Cloverleaf in East Detroit. Today, Cloverleaf still sits at 24443 Gratiot Avenue in Eastpointe and is run by the Guerras’ children Jack Guerra and Marie Guerra Easterby.

Cloverleaf offers a large eight-piece or a small four-piece pizza with a variety of toppings from which to choose. The specialty gourmet pies include bruschetta, Hawaiian, barbeque chicken, supreme and BLT. Each pizza is made fresh when you order it. Loaded with cheese, sauce and toppings, the pieces are substantial. Also newly available is gluten-free pizza, which is a really great-tasting option for those looking for gluten-free alternatives.

crunchy breadWhile you wait for your pizza to bake, try one of their delicious antipasto salads. This comes with fresh bread with rosemary baked into the crust and crunchy sweet bread. The latter is buttery, parmesan cheesy and at the same time sugary and sweet. If you decide to forego the salad, I highly recommend you ask your server for a bread basket so you can discover this crunchy sweet goodness for yourself.

Not in the mood for pizza? Cloverleaf also offers classic Italian dishes, pasta, ribs, lake perch, burgers and sandwiches. If you still have room for dessert, try the homemade whipped cheesecake with cherries or strawberries or the whipped Oreo cheesecake – both made in house and exceedingly good.

Also popular is the lunch buffet, offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Eastpointe location offers carryout and so do its franchise locations in Macomb Township, Sterling Heights and coming soon to 13 Mile in Roseville.

pintsThere is a fully-stocked bar with an assortment of beer on draft, bottled domestics and imports, wine and spirits to complement your meal, and if you time it right, there are happy hour specials. Cloverleaf has also been adding a growing number of craft beers to their selection. The bartenders are friendly, and in addition to bar seating, there are also high-top tables where you can watch sports or play Club Keno.

Throughout the rest of the restaurant, there is ample table and booth seating able to accommodate large groups. The enclosed patio is a great space to reserve for events like birthdays, showers or rehearsal dinners (this is where I had mine!). With a family-friendly atmosphere, I often see couples out on “date night,” families enjoying dinner out together and coworkers deconstructing their day over beers. Cloverleaf is also community-oriented, often hosting fundraisers for nonprofit and charity organizations.

Paint Nite logoSomething new being offered is Paint Nite, where an artist instructor guides you step by step to create your own beautiful painting. The registration fee includes the lesson, paint and canvas, making this a fun and easy night out with the girls or with your significant other. Most painters arrive early to grab a bite to eat, and of course, you must enjoy a glass of wine to get the creative juices flowing while you paint! Paint Nite takes place at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday in the enclosed patio. Go to www.paintnite.com to register (discounts are often available through Groupon, Living Social and the Paint Nite Detroit Facebook page).

If you’re looking for a really good pizza or simply a fun place to hang out, give Cloverleaf a try. Check out their Facebook page for current specials and upcoming events. You can also find them on Instagram under Cloverleaf Restaurant.

Cloverleaf entrance

24443 Gratiot Avenue, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (586) 777-5391

  Cloverleaf Menu

Hours
Monday – Wednesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on March 18, 2015.

The gift of reading

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs an expecting mother-to-be, some aspects of my baby shower were easier to figure out than others. Venue: Fishbone’s – check. Cake: Giuseppe’s Bakery – check. Favors: Midwest Suds Soap Co. products made by my sisters and me – check. But when it came to registering, that was a different story.

There are thousands of items with limitless variations to sort through. The aisles of bedding, toys, car seats, diapers, nursery pieces, strollers, bath essentials, clothes, bottles and safety gear were a little overwhelming. However, armed with a scanner gun, my husband and I were determined to find everything the baby will need.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter fruitlessly wandering the store for a while, we naturally gravitated over to the book area. Paging through our old favorites from when we were young, the scanner gun quickly snapped into action. We scanned every Dr. Seuss book we saw as well as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and other Eric Carle books, “The Monster at the End of this Book,” “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and more.

As I examined the familiar covers, I remembered my parents and grandparents reading to me, and I look forward to reading to my child. And as he or she grows, I can’t wait to share with them “The Giving Tree,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “The Secret Garden.”

We didn’t register for very many things on our first try. We weren’t sure how many footie pajamas we would need or what brand of diapers to choose, but we did know our baby will need books.

caterpillarMarch is National Reading Month, and it’s a great time to remember the huge impact reading has on our lives. Literacy is not something to be taken for granted. It needs to be initiated, nurtured, developed and maintained. The fundamental reading skills we acquire in our youth translate into academic and career assets in the future.

Illiteracy is not something that only affects children. Reading Works is an organization that helps metro Detroit adults learn to read or raise their literacy level. Find out more on their website readingworksdetroit.org.

This month is the perfect time to read to your toddler, take a child to the library or set aside time to discover a new book for yourself.

A version of this article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on March 13, 2015.

Get to Green Dot

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Green Dot Stables is one of my favorite burger restaurants in the area. They offer a really unique selection of sliders and keep things fun by offering a mystery meat and drink. You can ask your server what the mystery is, or simply take a chance and order. My last mystery meat slider was rabbit wrapped in bacon. Seriously, a rabbit slider? This place is special.

An island among a concrete wasteland, Green Dot is right in the middle of nothing. Located in a mostly industrial part of northern Corktown, the restaurant is on West Lafayette and 14th Street, a block from West Fort Street. A first timer not familiar with the area may be wary to give this place a try, but there is ample parking, and each time I go, I see an increasing number of young families and baby boomers — it’s a welcoming environment for everyone.

Green Dot is not a large restaurant, but it can accommodate larger groups by pushing tables together. There always seems to be a line, and your whole party must be there to even get on the wait list, whether there are two of you or ten. So, arrive with the rest of your group, because the clock doesn’t start ticking until you all get there. However, if you must wait, there is usually room at the bar, and there is a waiting area in the back.

The theme of the restaurant is, well, stables. There is jockey and horse racing memorabilia throughout. The dim lighting, exposed brick interior and shingled overhang above the bar give it a retro VFW hall vibe, but the place is definitely trendy and made for foodies.

Now the food. We usually order in rounds. I would say start off with three burgers, allow some time for that to settle, and then see what else you still have room for. Some of my favorites are the tempeh (marinated tempeh with wasabi mayo and wakame salad), the black bean (tomato slice, avocado and sour cream) and the bacon cheeseburger, the last probably being my favorite. Never underestimate a regular old cheeseburger. My husband Brandon’s favorites are the BBQ bacon (beef patty, sweet potato and homemade BBQ sauce), the fried chicken (panko and sage maple syrup) and the PB&J (peanut butter with chipotle raspberry jam) ordered with bacon. We always try the mystery meat and have yet to be disappointed. Green Dot also has lamb, corned beef, quinoa, catfish and a lot more.

I recommend truffle & herb or Cajun fries to share with the table. They have bottled beer and a few Michigan brews on draft, and the classic cocktails should not be overlooked. Brandon is a big fan of the Zug Island iced tea (scotch, triple sec, raspberry tea, lemonade and bay leaf) and Moscow mule (ginger beer, lime and vodka). Each item you order is only two or three dollars, but you might be surprised how quickly it adds up, so be forewarned.

If you are looking for a laid back environment, cheap beer and high-quality specialty sliders, then I would recommend you get to Green Dot.

 

logo-greendot1

2200 West Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48216 (313) 962-5588

Green Dot Stables menu

Hours
Monday – Wednesday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Thursday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

A cut above the rest

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Mr. Paul’s Chophouse is a place you want to know. It oozes old-school charm. Tucked away in a primarily industrial area in Roseville, it might be easy to miss. However, when you walk through the door, the dim lighting draws you into the elegant, intimate world that is Mr. Paul’s Chophouse, set apart from the rush hour traffic whizzing down Groesbeck.

With a rich background in the food industry, brothers Paul and Peter Gogo founded Mr. Paul’s Chophouse in 1968. It is now run by three of Paul’s sons, Paul Jr., Chris and Peter. I had the opportunity to go on a tour (where I even ended up in the walk-in refrigerator!) and speak with Paul Jr. about the family business.

Paul Jr. has been with the restaurant from the very beginning, learning every aspect of the business.  He always knew he would follow in his father’s footsteps, and the part he enjoys most about his job is his guests, many of whom he knows by name.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you first enter the restaurant, you pass through a small waiting room where the ambiance is set by a trickling fountain.  There are two dining areas, one with an inviting bar with mirrored panels and glistening bottles and glasses lining the shelves, the other with an elegant baby grand piano. There are cozy booths, chic tables layered in linens and exposed brick walls adorned by paintings.

In the kitchen, I saw carts stocked with all the ingredients needed to make fresh Caesar salads (even the dressing is made from scratch) ready to be rolled out to the awaiting diners and prepared on the spot. A chief was chopping romaine lettuce and lemons and another was preparing the famous Chateaubriand. This romantic meal for two is served on one platter within a flaming ring.

Don’t get me wrong, the food is excellent, but the special touches and unique presentation make dining in an experience to remember. “It really is a lost art, the tableside cooking,” co-owner Peter Gogo told the Macomb Daily in 2002. “It allows us to be acquainted with the customer on a more personal level.”

I celebrated my five-year anniversary here. My husband and I got dolled up for the evening and were seated at a cozy booth near the piano where the player took requests. I enjoyed a glass of merlot; steamed mussels with white wine, garlic and lemon; the classic Caesar salad made tableside; and charbroiled filet mignon – and savored every bite.

Mr. Paul’s Chophouse is the definition of fine dining in Macomb County and has played an integral part in the community for years as a destination for family celebrations, business meetings and special occasions. Many engagements have occurred here throughout the years, cementing it as a memorable place in many couples’ hearts.

But it is also a place full of “the regulars.” You don’t need to be celebrating a birthday or on your first date in order to enjoy a nice pork chop or their popular sautéed lake perch. Whether you want to get on a first name basis with the bartender or treat yourself to an item on the surprisingly affordable lunch menu, there’s a spot waiting for you.

While many things have changed since 1968, Mr. Paul’s Chophouse continues to offer the staples that it was founded upon, fresh food and excellent service. By staying true to its form throughout the years, Mr. Paul’s Chophouse has somehow managed to stay as relevant and innovative as ever – a true original.

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29850 Groesbeck Highway, Roseville 48066 (586) 777-7770

 Mr. Paul’s Chophouse Dinner Menu

Hours
Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Dec. 10, 2014.