Posts tagged ‘Restaurants’

Restaurant Review – Beaver Creek Tackle & Beer Co.

Vita and I have both been pretty busy lately, so we haven’t been cooking together as we normally do. So, last night as she was post call, I took her out to Beaver Creek Tackle & Beer Co.

Beaver Creek has been my Westland hangout since I moved there in 2006. I used to stop in every Friday night after Crain’s Detroit Business was put to bed and I’d order myself a pint and something to eat. They do everything well at Beaver Creek, whether it’s a steak, their drunk buck dip or their amazing venison chili. But my regular meal, is what you see above, the Roadkill Grill.

No, it’s not roadkill, it’s a game platter. The kabobs are pieces of venison flanked by bacon, onion and mushroom. You also get a quail breast and some boar sausage alongside a mess of hunter’s gravy, wild rice and fresh corn. If you enjoy game food, as I do, it’s absolute perfection and will definitely fill you up. Even though it always stuffs me, I end up getting venison chili, just because I’ve never had it better anywhere else.

The restaurant itself is laid out like a hunting lodge, has lots of big screen televisions, animal trophies and fish lining the walls. It’s comfortable and feels like a lot of the bars and lodges you’ll find in northern Michigan, with big cathedral ceilings, rustic pine furniture, pool tables and stone fireplaces.
It also has a great outdoor garden terrace area that’s open during the warmer months.

But what makes Beaver Creek such a great experience is the staff. The restaurant is incredibly well run. A manager always, without fail, comes out to ask how your meal is and if ANYTHING is unsatisfactory, they are always quick to rectify it. I’ve NEVER had a bad meal here, and never felt like I wasn’t getting the service I deserved. Entrees range from $9.95 to about $17, but you can get a buffalo loaf sandwich, burger or big salad for $6.99 and up.

Portions are big, the beer selection is fantastic and the chefs know their stuff. If you’re ever in the Westland or Canton area, I’d highly recommend it. It’s part of a group of independent restaurants that includes the Deadwood Bar and Grill, Camp Ticondaroga, The Moose Preserve and The Iroquois Club.

Easily a 5 out of 5 for me. Very good food, very consistent quality.


September 18, 2008 at 9:13 am 1 comment

Restaurant Review – Taqueria Lupitas

Yesterday I had to pass through Detroit and, as I often do when I return to the slumbering giant of a city, and wandered into Taqueria Lupitas.

Lupitas was one of my most frequent lunch stops when I worked in the city and offers arguably the most authentic Mexican food in all of Mexicantown. I would have happily gone in simply for the smells, but when I saw one of the chefs throwing a fresh batch of Cabeza on the grill, I immediately ordered two Tacos de Cabaza (beef head) and one Taco al Lengua (beef tounge).

Each was served in the traditional style with Onion and Cilantro. Cheese is 50 cents extra, but trust me, you don’t need it. The both tacos are incredibly well seasoned, and if you’ve never tried, true authentic Mexican tacos, you’re really missing out. This is the way Tacos were meant to be served, not loaded up with cheese and lettuce, ala Taco Bell.

Places like Taqueria Lupitas are one of the reasons I truly miss working downtown day in and day out. Their service is amazing. You’ll hear more Spanish than English, and you’ll always find the die hard foodies in this restaurant before you’ll ever see them in one of the more touristy joints you can easily find in Mexicantown.

It’s clean, super fast and the staff are among the most patient and knowledgeable in the city. Lupitas is bar none the best Mexican you can get in Detroit. And I’ve tried em all. Believe me. For tacos like the ones I purchased, you’ll average $1.50 to $2.50 depending on what meat you get. I always walk out paying under $10 and I can pack the food away.

Complimentary chips and a platter of different salsas and guacamoles are always there for your pleasure as well. My other favorites in this lovely little gem are the marinated cactus, the Menudo and the Chile Colorado. It’s all phenomenal.

I know this isn’t as in depth as all my other reviews, but if I wrote more, I’d be gushing. If you’re anywhere near Detroit and you have any passion for authentic Mexican, get your butt down there.

Five out of Five Stars

Neighborhood: Mexicantown
3443 Bagley St
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 843-1105

September 12, 2008 at 10:00 am 2 comments

Restaurant Review – Steve and Rocky’s

Last night Vita and I had our weekly “date night.” We generally don’t cook on Fridays so that we can both unwind and take it easy, but we put it off until Saturday so that we could take care of some shopping.

We took a shot on Steve and Rocky’s, which has been open in the Novi area since 1998. It’s had mixed reviews over the years, but is considered by many to be one of the best places to eat in the Novi area. Vita and I were certainly not disappointed by our experience.

First Course: House salad

I opted to start with the house salad, which was well prepared and portioned. It had a house vinaigrette, over field greens, dried cranberries, pine nuts and small wedges of grapefruit. It also featured thinly sliced red onion. Overall, this was nothing overly impressive, but it was a nice way to open up the palate. Vita opted for a mushroom soup that was also very good, but I can’t say that I had enough of it to judge it accurately.

Main Dish: Seared Yellowfin Tuna with Hoisin Sauce (pictured above)

I’m a huge fan of of Yellow Fin, and I enjoy ordering it out because I’ve never quite gotten the searing process down accurately. Chef served this with grilled pineapple, a fried rice cake, scallions and fried wantons. The flavor of the Hoisin reduction was absolutely fantastic, and the searing of of the tuna was executed perfectly. What made the dish most pleasant was the combination of flavors and textures. I almost wish the fish had been just a touch smaller, it felt a bit overwhelming given all the extra elements that were part of the tower. All in all, I’d say it was some of the best tuna I’ve had in the last year or so.

Here’s what Vita had: Lake Trout with Shrimp Truffle Sauce and Fresh Asparagus

Vita’s dish was also excellent. The sauce was fantastically executed and the fish was prepared perfectly. I only wish the shrimp that Chef used in this dish were not of the salad variety. All in all, her dish was fantastic. Again, only two bites didn’t allow me to properly rate it, but from what I tasted, it was apparent Chef had good control over his dish. This also paired very well with our Pinot.

Dessert: Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Dessert was fantastic. I don’t often order desert, but this one was very, very good. Vita loves chocolate and we’re both big fans of Raspberry. The mousse was served in a construction of chocolate, mint and fresh raspberries that was delightful from a textural and aromatic standpoint. It smelled as delicious as it tasted. I found myself almost longing for more of the fresh berries though. The sauce piped around the sides was particularly delightful, although a little too sweet for my tastes. But, I won’t hasten to say that I’ll often pick salty or tart flavors before I’ll ever pick sweet, so I may be a tad over critical.

The restaurant itself was very nice. You can definitely tell that “Rocky” came from a background in Muer Restaurants, as Steve and Rocky’s featured some of the same colorful flair you’d find in a Big Fish or Charley’s.

Rating for Steve and Rocky’s: 4 out of 5.

Service was excellent, food was well prepared, albeit a tad overpriced for certain items. We walked out with a tab that was a touch surprising. Big points for a reasonably extensive wine list, knowledgeable and attentive staff and a quiet ambiance. We’d definitely return.

August 24, 2008 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Food Review – Starbucks Breakfast Sandwiches

My friend Sheena told me that the Starbucks Breakfast Sandwiches have actually been around for quite some time and that they were pulled off the menu for a while because they allegedly, “interfered” with the smell of the coffee.

Either way, I never had one when the sandwiches were first introduced and since I boycotted Starbucks for many, many years, I wouldn’t have tried it anyway. Recently I’ve gotten into grabbing the occasional, fastly becoming more frequent Cafe Americano on my morning drive. I’m admittedly drained after the commute and in Warren, it’s one of the only coffee joints in business that I can have drive through coffee at. Though, I may switch back to Tim Hortons because I believe I’m secretly Canadian.

At any rate, I was treated to a free sample of one of the said sandwiches on Wednesday morning. I ate it on the remainder of my drive into the office and was reasonably surprised. So, the next day I vowed to get one for breakfast and give it a go. There were several options, but I eschewed my initial desire to be gourmet and light (Eggs Florentine) and opted instead for a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast sandwich: The Sausage, Egg and Cheddar.

1. The Price – $2.95 here in the Mitten.
2. The fact that the cheese was actually melted into the egg and sausage, something McDonald’s has never done on any Egg McMuffin I’ve ever ordered.
3. The whole wheat English Muffin it was served on was very crispy.
4. Portion was appropriate and filled the little bellyache going on in my tummy.

1. Could have been warmer. I like my eggs to have a little bit of heat to them. I start to lose interest in eating eggs if they even become faintly chilly. I realize this is a difficult task for fast food, but I had a five minute ride to the office from Starbucks.
2. Too much cheese. And that’s saying a lot for me, because I love the stuff. Still, it was oozing over the sides and the grease was soaking the sides of my once crispy English Muffin.
3. A tad salty. Again, I realize this is a lot to ask from a fast food joint, but come on… I shouldn’t have to drink a liter of water to feel rehydrated after I’m done.

I’d eat it again. I don’t normally eat breakfasts, which I’ve mentioned in other posts, but I’d grab a Starbucks Breakfast Sandwich before I ever grab another Egg McMuffin.

Happy Eating.

August 22, 2008 at 10:21 am 1 comment

Restaurant Review – Larios On The Beach

I’ve been meaning to give this restaurant a proper review since returning from Miami a few weeks ago. Today, I finally have enough down time to get to it.

Let me preface this review by saying that this restaurant was not my choice. We went there because my work colleague had fine memories of eating there on a spring break trip with her boyfriend. And Larios might be good for just that – spring break tourists.

Located right off Ocean Drive, Lario’s is partially owned by Gloria Estefan which makes this particular restaurant (that doubles as a Salsa club after hours) a very popular destination for tourists and wanderers. Supposedly known best for its Cuban food, Lario’s offers typical fare, from skirt steaks to fried plantains and various seafood dishes.

Grace and I decided to take a streetside table to people watch and enjoy the evening air. Since we arrived in Miami that day, we ate a reasonably late lunch and thus a very late dinner, but the restaurant was still bustling. I was completely underwhelmed with the wine list, which curiously offered many selections that didn’t pair well with Cuban food at all. I finally settled on a glass of Bogle’s Sauvignon Blanc (2006), because I was planning on having seafood, and love drinking the varietal in particularly warm climates because it’s served chilled and the light flavors are actually quite refreshing.

Our waitress brought our drinks right away, and I was immediately a bit put off that my wine wasn’t particularly chilled.

Nearly 20 minutes later, she finally made it back around to take our order. I opted for the Lobster Creole, fried plantains and black beans and rice. Another 30 minutes went by and we finally got our food. My lobster came in a small casserole-type dish, swimming in a VERY salty creole base. It was a bit tough in spots. Overall, I was very disappointed with the Lobster considering what I paid for the dish (about $35 I think?). Presentation was largely uninspired.

Rice and plantains came on a separate plate and there was no attention to color in the presentation. Everything had a brown tinge. It gave me the impression that the chef simply didn’t care about making the side plate look appetizing. The plantains were pretty greasy, but the black beans and rice were fabulous, hands down the best part of the meal.

I’ve read elsewhere that Lario’s supposedly has very authentic Cuban cuisine, but this was far from my experience. Save your money for a restaurant in a Cuban neighborhood. You’ll pay half what you pay at Lario’s and it will taste authentic. EVERYTHING I ate, from the plantains to the lobster to the beans, had too much salt – and I’m a salt guy.

The only saving grace for Lario’s is location. It was fun to people watch with Grace despite the uninspired meal.

Stick to singing Gloria, but only perform Miami Sound Machine stuff. You’re a terrible restaurateur.

Rating for Lario’s By The Beach
Half a star out of Five

August 8, 2008 at 10:51 am Leave a comment

Restaurant Review – Piccirilli Ristorante

I had dinner with my wife and a good chunk of my extended family at Piccirilli Ristorante in Shelby Twp. on Sunday following a baptism. My wife comes from a large Sicilian family, so their taste in Italian food and restaurants is usually pretty much spot on. For the most part, Sunday was no exception.

Antipasto (Starter): Antipasto Piccirilli
The antipasto was very, very good and featured fresh Mozzarella in a very light olive oil surrounded by Capicolla ham, Genoa salami, fresh Prosciutto, smoked Provolone and pickled pearl onions and vegetables.

It was portioned perfectly and was light and pleasant. Added bonus was that they didn’t over oil the plate, which made it great way to prep the palet.

Primo (Pasta): Penne in Red Sauce, Bowtie Primavera
Began with the Bowtie Primavera. It came out nice and hot and was served family style (wouldn’t ask for anything less in a Sicilian joint). It wasn’t terribly heavy, and the family style kept you at a nice and appropriate portion. Great use of peas, cauliflower was still tender and the white sauce was excellent. I prefer my pasta done slightly Al Dente, so I’ll deduct a small point there.

The Penne was fantastic. It featured a really well done rustic tomato sauce that had just the slightest kick to it. I found myself longing for more of it after the dish had made the rounds, but settled for the chance to dunk a garlic roll in my sauce instead.

Contorno (accompaniment): Multi-leaf featuring a house Italian
The salad was my only complaint of my Piccirilli meal. It came featuring red cabbage and a variety of green leaf lettuce and a pool of house Italian dressing. I realize that this was a large get together (chef had to prepare for at least 70) but there was no need for that much dressing on any salad. Most of mine was swimming in the dressing and I couldn’t appreciate the subtle flavors of the greens.

Secondo (main course): Veal Siciliano
Could have been a little warmer at serving time, but again, I appreciate the toughness given the large party. The Veal was very tender, cooked appropriately and very lightly breaded. The breading didn’t mask the flavor of the meat. It was served alongside a few summer veggies (string beans) and a sliced and peeled baked potato. The tomato, basil and balsamic topper was to die for.

Vino: Burlwood Cellars Merlot – 2005
The wine, which I believe to be a restaurant variety from Gallo, was fairly unremarkable. It was drinkable, but added nothing special to the meal.

Dolce (dessert)

Unfortunately, my wife had a headache, so we had to skip out before Dolce.


4 out of 5 stars.

August 5, 2008 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

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