Vinsetta Garage

Located on Woodward, in Berkley, this garage turned restaurant prides itself on being the oldest car shop this side of the Mississippi River. I describe it as retro repair shop meets old school diner with a hipster feel. The menu consists of burgers, pies, pasta and some unique treats. The bad thing: Long wait times. The good thing: Once we did get a table, our service was great. Some things are just worth waiting for.

Here’s how they scored:

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 bites

Price: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Service: 3 out of 5 bites (wait time)

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites

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Josh went with a “Build Your Own” pasta bowl.

Coal fired chicken penne pasta with bacon pecorino cream sauce, house-smoked cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, roasted red pepper, and spicy fried onions. The spicy fried onions were my favorite; they reminded of chopped fried onion straws with some heat. I honestly think any pasta bowl you ordered would be delicious, but we couldn’t stop eating this one. Creamy, cheesy, light, yet rich.

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I chose the Loaded Potato Pie

Redskin potatoes, house-smoked cheddar, cheese blend, garlic butter, shiitake bacon, chives, sour cream side. The crust was crispy and chewy and the pie was that perfect combo of potato and cheese. I just wish the potatoes were a little bit crispier because they were just barely done. The coolness of the sour cream was nice, but I don’t know about you, but with pizza, I prefer ranch dressing. You could imagine my disappointment when our server informed me that they didn’t have ranch. The pizza was a little on the dry side without any sauce so I just added Cholula Hot Sauce.

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The Wow Factor: Shitake Bacon. I ordered this on the side, since Josh doesn’t like mushrooms. If you don’t either, don’t worry. This topping tasted more like Rainbow Better Made Chips (ya know, the delicious burnt chips that are like gold). They were a little on the salty side, though.

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Faygo Rock & Rye Milkshake with Pop Rocks: Whaaaaaat?! Yes, I said it. It was amazing, delicious, and local. There’s something nostalgic about your favorite soda made into a milkshake. Who doesn’t like Pop Rocks exploding with each sip as well? I forgot how fun they were.

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When you leave a restaurant feeling like a kid again, that’s a good sign. Vinsetta Garage is serving some great grub with their unique brand stamped all over it. Parking is a little tricky, but they do have valet available. I’ve only tried to get a seat during dinner hours, so try lunch and see if the wait is any better. Get there soon and experience Vinsetta Garage.

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Shangri-La

Wednesday, I met Nastassia @ Shangri-La, located on Cass in Midtown. Moderately priced with a trendy, hip feel, this restaurant is not your typical red-carpeted, dragon decorated Chinese place. Known for the best dim sum in Detroit, we decided to see what all the hype was about.

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Price: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Service: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 4 out of bites bites (unique and extensive menu)

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We started with Spicy Softshell Crab appetizer with a recommendation for our server: Lightly battered and fried softshell crab served with a mix of onions and peppers. The batter was airy and delicious. I got more heat from the onion than I did the peppers, but the fresh veggie salad paired well with the rich crab.

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Dim Sum: noun. a Chinese dish of small steamed or fried savory dumplings containing various fillings, served as a snack or main course.

Shark Fin: Tender steamed dumpling filled with shark fin. The shark had a subtle seafood flavor, with a little chew.

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Eggplant: Shrimp stuffed eggplant. The eggplant was tender and the fried shrimp was huge!

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Garlic & Chive Pan Cake: With ginger. As soon as you took a bite, you tasted the ginger and garlic. The dumpling was the perfect combination of crispy and tender.

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Pan Fried Corn Cake with Shrimp Paste: Delicious! This didn’t taste like authentic Asian at all, but I’m not complaining. It was the perfect fried corn fritter. The outside of the corn cake was crispy and filled with tender shrimp and fresh corn.

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Sushi

Incredible Hulk (on left): Cucumber, asparagus, and avocado topped with seaweed salad. Tempura roll. This roll was huge and pretty good for a veggie roll. The crunchy veggies and creamy avocado balanced out the fried tempura.

Tony Montana (on right): Inside: White tuna and cucumber. Outside: White tuna, bonito flakes, scallions, and ponzu sauce. The bonito flakes sparked our curiosity, but curiosity killed the cat. I wasn’t a fan of this roll. The bonito flakes were smokey, fishy, airy flakes which I didn’t care for. The whole roll didn’t really have much flavor and the scallions and ponzu sauce were non existent. It would’ve been nice to have something to balance out the white tuna and bonito flakes.

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Overall, our experience was a success; I got to try dim sum for the first time. Although I wasn’t fond of everything we ordered, Shangri-La definitely gets points for making some of the most unique and different dim sum in the area. Service was good, but our server forgot to put in one of our orders of dim sum which was removed from our check. If you’re looking for a popular place to try dim sum or even just to enjoy Chinese favorites, try Shangri-La next time you’re out.

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Motor City Brewing Works

Located on Canfield in Midtown, Motor City Brewing Works features locally brewed beers and unique brick oven pizzas. What I liked best about this brewery is the circular bar right when you first walk in. Read on to see how my recent visit went.

Atmosphere: 4

Price: 4

Service: 4

Quality/Taste: 3

Wow Factor: 3

Hard Cider: Lightly fruity with a kick. A refreshing change from beer. Sometimes, you just want hard cider.

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Roasted Pear & Fig PizzaOlive oil, gorgonzola, oven roasted pears and figs, red onions, topped with spices. Surprisingly, this pizza was slightly sweet with a bite of gorgonzola. The crust was soft, chewy and made this pizza even more like a dessert. Very different.

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This tap room is smaller than most, but that’s what makes it so cozy and welcoming. The only thing that sucks is the parking. The staff does a great job at communicating this and there are signs all over that the parking lot belongs to Traffic Jam & Snug and you run the risk of getting towed. So find a spot in the few designated spots or in the street and grab a cold one.

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Green Lantern Pizzeria & Lounge

It was date night this past Saturday and Josh and I were on our way to Vinsetta Garage. We we’re disappointed with a long wait time and decided to go to Green Lantern instead. Green Lantern Pizzeria, located in Madison Heights on John R & 12 Mile, is making some delicious pies.

Service: 3.5 out of 5 stars (the place was packed)

Quality/Taste: 3.5 out of 5 stars (due to greasy pizza)

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 stars

Price: 4 out of 5 stars

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 stars

Candy Coated Bacon: Strips of bacon brushed with a concoction of BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. When I saw this on the menu I had to order it. Caramelized sweet and spicy bacon. Uh-maze-ing!

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Pepperoni & Ham Pizza: The toppings were generous and the dough was that perfect balance of crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. It really hit the spot. The only thing that we didn’t like was the amount of grease on the bottom of each slice. Of course, we still ate most of the pizza because it was still delicious, but there needed to be something between the pizza and the pan to absorb the grease.

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Green Lantern is the perfect spot if you are craving pizza and a beer while enjoying your favorite sports game. They have flat screen TVs throughout the bar so you’ll never miss a play. Sign up for the email list for a chance at winning pizza for a year.

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Foran’s Grand Trunk

Holly was in town so Janet and I met her @ Grand Trunk on Woodward in Detroit. The food is always amazing and this time was no different. The thing that I liked best about this visit was all the local ingredients. I just can’t get enough of this place.

Deep Fried Green Beans: served with house made Calder’s buttermilk ranch. The green beans were vibrant green, crunchy, and fresh. It tasted like they were fresh out of the garden. Well done!

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Breaded Mushrooms: The Calder’s buttermilk ranch was thick, rich and complimented the hot out of the fryer battered mushrooms. The breading was the perfect combo of light and crispy.

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The Majestic: Featured from Eph’s Deli: Wigley’s corned beef, turkey breast, cheddar, 1000 Russians, Avalon 313 Onion-Poppyseed Roll served with Better Made Chips. The corned beef was slightly salty, yet sliced paper thin. The dressing wasn’t overwhelming and was light and tangy. Here comes the star of the show: the roll was amazing! Fresh from Avalon Internatioonal Breads, the onion-poppyseed combo was subtle, and the roll was light, buttery, and sweet. It was the best roll I’ve ever had.

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The food was delicious and I was so full after. It was good catching up, thanks girls!

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Bourbon’s on Sycamore

Yesterday my brother, Jason and I wanted to grab lunch @ Coastal Thai in Wyandotte, but we found out that it doesn’t open until 4 pm, so we went a few doors down to Bourbons on Sycamore. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I’m glad fate directed us to try out Bourbons.

Fried Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts marinated in Balsamic Vinegar and flash fried. The Balsamic was a nice touch to the brussels sprouts. The only thing I didn’t like was that the brussels were a little on the burned side. Flash fried is defined as cooking at a high temperature for a minimal amount of time: 15 seconds or so. Judging by the color, I don’t think these brussels were cooked for only 15 seconds. Regardless, I respect the idea and the light crispy texture of the brussel leaves. It was very interesting and like nothing I’ve ever had.

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Blackened Salmon Wrap with Dill Mayo & Tempura Purple Sweet Potato Fries: The salmon was served on a spinach wrap which was the first thing that caught my eye. The dill mayo was cool & refreshing, yet subtle. I ordered a side of pickles (because I love them) and they added a nice crunch to this light wrap. Now, when I ordered the purple sweet potato fries I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The tempura batter was light and combined with the sweet potato, had an elephant ear flavor. The sweet potato wasn’t too rich, but perfect. It was delicious! When you go to Bourbons on Sycamore, you have to order these! And tell them the Eat Food Detroit blog sent you.

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Bourbons on Sycamore is new to Downtown Wyandotte, but they fit right in. The food was unique and our server was on point. Bourbons brings that neighborhood bar feel with an upscale flavor experience. They have seasonal draft beers (some of which were unavailable), but my brother was able to find a couple he liked. The place was decorated with holiday swag and flat screen TVs making it a warm, cozy atmosphere.

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Green Dot Stables

As most of my followers know, I love me some Green Dot! Located on Lafayette in Detroit, MI, Green Dot Stables is a unique little bar offering some awesome food.

Tip: Try the mystery meat!

On the menu:

Gyro & Corned Beef

The Gyro was my favorite! Creamy cool tzatziki sauce slathered on top of tasty lamb. The corned beef had this tangy, slightly spicy mustard aioli which was amazing and reminded me of horseradish. It had a tiny kick that made my mouth water.

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Fried Bologna & Philly Cheesesteak

I just couldn’t pass up the fried bologna! Thick cuts tasted just like kielbasa. Perfect for a Polish girl like myself. The Philly Cheesesteak was tender and juicy.

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Venison Chili Cheese Fries: Better than any coney island chili cheese fries I’ve ever had.

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I did try my brother’s Rabbit mystery meat with sliced sugar snap peas. It was light, lean, and delicious!

Another satisfying trip to Green Dot. If you haven’t been, you have to stop in. The menu changes so you can try new items and they offer weekly drink and mystery meat specials. Everything is priced fairly which allows you to try different things and not have to rack your brain with the menu. Don’t stress, just try it all!

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Southwest Chicken Salad

Recently, I went out to dinner for Jessica’s Birthday at Red Robin on Eureka Rd. in Taylor, MI and ordered the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad. It inspired me to recreate my own version. Here’s a quick recipe for a delicious chicken salad:

What you’ll need:

1 boneless skinless chicken breast

1/2 can of corn

1/2 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)

1/2 diced red bell pepper

1/2 small white onion

2 green onions

1/4 cup shredded cheese (Mexican, Cheddar, or Colby Jack work best)

1/4 cup Tortilla Strips

2 cups Baby spinach

1/3 cup water

Prep

1. Add corn and veggies in a skillet with olive oil and a tablespoon of butter and saute on medium heat until soft.

2. While the veggies are cooking, season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic and brown until juices run clear. This is a good opportunity to get a nice color on the chicken and if you have a grill that’s even better!

3. When the chicken is done, shred and sprinkle with taco seasoning. I usually sprinkle the chicken with a couple tablespoons from a taco seasoning packet then add 1/3 cup of water to the pan (or a little less).

4. Simmer until the water makes a sauce and taste. If you want more seasoning, add it. When you’re making single servings like this, it’s better to add a little at a time, then adding too much and over doing it. Let chicken cool before plating.

Dressing

You can always buy southwest ranch dressing, but I like improvising.

1. Mix 2 tablespoons ranch dressing, 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, & 3 tablespoons sour cream.

2. Taste. If it is too spicy, add more sour cream. If it’s not spicy enough, add more taco seasoning. If you like more ranch, add more ranch dressing! I don’t like a salad that is swimming in dressing, but if you do, double the recipe.

Tip: Substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream for a healthier alternative.

Build

1. Start plating spinach, making a bed for the rest of the ingredients.

2. Add corn mixture, black beans, shredded cheese, and chicken (add as much corn mixture or black beans as you like). Top with crunchy tortilla strips and dressing.

Alternatives: You can add whatever ingredients you like: olives, tomatoes, cukes, etc. Instead of shredding the chicken, you can just slice it.

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It was delicious! You get crunchy, fresh, cool, creamy, spicy, and warm all in one bite.

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Palette Dining Studio @ MGM Casino

Otherwise known as the buffet @ MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Palette is a great place if you like variety. Palette offers a “create your own” salad & stir fry station, American, Mexican, and Italian cuisine, and an island of delicious desserts. Josh and I’s favorite is the stir fry and sushi.

The ingredient options are minimal and range from fresh spinach and squash to rice noodles and fried garlic. You also have your choice of chicken, shrimp, or beef. Even though there aren’t too many options, the stir fry station is still creative and allows you to customize your meal.

A little messy, but it was delicious!

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California, Veggie, and Spicy Tuna Rolls: The sushi options also are basic, but tastes pretty good. The sushi rolls are made fresh daily.

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Although Tap is our top choice, Palette is nice when you can’t decide what you are in the mood for. You don’t have to stress over a menu, you can sample everything! And MGM Restaurants take casino comps as well as the usual form of payment.

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Cracker Barrel

After Janet and I’s 5K ( Scope it Out to support Colon Cancer) this past Saturday we decided to celebrate at Cracker Barrel in Belleville. Cracker Barrel Restaurants are strategically located off of highways and you can usually catch them while taking a break from road tripping. We are oh so lucky to have a few located in MI: Belleville, Monroe, Brighton, and Roseville. If you love home cooking, everything that reminds you of your Granny and makes you feel all warm inside, Cracker Barrel is the place to go. There also is an “Old County Store” at every restaurant filled with everything from taffy to holiday decorations.

My favorite is the Chicken Fried Chicken, but this time I was feeling like breakfast.

Sunrise Sampler: Two Eggs* cooked to order with Grits, Sawmill Gravy and Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits along with real Butter and the best Preserves, Jam n’ Apple Butter available. Served with Fried Apples, Hashbrown Casserole and a sampling of Smoked Sausage, Country Ham and Thick-Sliced Bacon. The Hashbrown casserole has cheese and onions and is delicious. The fried apples are warm, sweet, and mouth-watering. The Jam n’ Apple Butter is reminds me of something my Grandparents would make and its so comforting on a biscuit. This basically is everything I could ever ask for in a breakfast.

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biscuits and gravy

If you’re used to IHOP or your local coney island for breakfast, that’s fine. I’m not knocking it, but seriously eat at Crack Barrel. It’s reasonably priced, delicious, and you get to play the Triangle Peg Game! And if you don’t know what I’m referring to, it’s time to pay a visit to Crack Barrel.

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