Bucharest Grill

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Located inside Park Bar Behind the Fox Theater lies a small little counter cranking out some of the best shawarma’s in the area. Normally I order to go, but this trip, Tiffany and I grabbed a seat. With a menu consisting of Middle Eastern favorites, burgers, gourmet dogs, and sides, Bucharest Grill is the hot spot after any concert, Tiger’s game, or night on the town. We stopped in for lunch and it was pretty busy.

How they measured up: 

Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 bites

Price: 4 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4 out of 5 bites

Service: 3 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 2 out of 5 bites

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Chicken Shawarma: Grilled marinated chicken, tomato, lettuce, pickles, garlic, and spices wrapped in a pita. First, the shawarma is huge and all for $4.50 plus tax. Second, the chicken is perfectly seasoned, grilled, and still juicy. So moist that the juices will drip from the sandwich and onto my hand.  It’s a beautiful thing. This time, the pita was a little wet from it’s contents but when you eat it as fast as I did, it doesn’t matter. Next, the pickles! Skinny, slightly sour, but still crunchy. I don’t know what it is about these pickles, but they are my favorite. Lastly, the garlic sauce can be a little overwhelming so I often get mine on the side.

Tip: Beware because they charge you $0.25 cents to get your sauce on the side. This boggled my mind, because actually getting it on the side is a smaller amount than what they slop on the wrap. I brought this to the attention of the woman who took my order and she only said they charge to get it on the side versus on the shawarma. Isn’t that backwards?

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“New” Cheese Pie Turnover: Crispy pastry crust loaded with feta, asiago, and muenster cheeses. I was disappointed when this was brought to our table and I’ll tell you why. By the description I expected a pastry crust similar to phyllo dough. What I got was basically pita bread or a tortilla. It tasted delicious, but it was more like what I would expect a quesadilla to taste like. And it even came with a side of sour cream just like a quesadilla!! On the other hand, muenster and feta make everything betta so it turned out to be good.

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If you haven’t been to Bucharest Grill, you are missing out. The shawarmas are seriously the best around. They’re so good that I have even stopped in on my way home from a long night. I’m not normally a person who eats alone, so this is kind of a big deal. Bucharest Grill is opening a new location in Corktown so stay tuned. They also cater and deliver for your every need.

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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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Hop Sheing Noodle House

Ma and I finally made it in to Hop Sheing Noodle House. Located on Fort St. in Lincoln Park, MI, this new local addition opened about a week ago. With nothing like this restaurant in the area, the noodle house has a competitive advantage.

Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 bites

Price: 3 out of 5 bites

Service/Quality: 4 out of 5 bites

Taste: 3 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 2 out of 5 bites

 

How the order sheet works:

1. You choose your style of noodles

2. You choose your meat

3. You choose your veggies

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Since I never had bubble tea, that’s what I started with

Green Tea Bubble Tea: also known as “pearl milk tea” is a drink invented in tea shops in Taiwan in the 1980’s. The creamy green tea flavor was nice. The tapioca pearls in the tea were like flavorless gummy balls. I honestly don’t see what all the craze is about. I personally don’t want to drink gummy balls when having tea. Kudos for something different though.

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After we ordered, our server brought those delicious crunchy soup noodles sprinkled with sugar. They were delicious!

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Udon: Classic Japanese style wheat noodles with clear broth, meat, and veggies. The chicken was tender and the veggies were fresh. The broth didn’t have much flavor and the bowl reminded me of a hearty chicken noodle soup.

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Hong Kong: Egg noodles quick fried with a red pepper oil. I got mine with Chicken. This dish took me back to my high school days of spicy veggie Low Mein @ Cathay House also in Lincoln Park. Good flavor with some heat. Lots of veggies and big chunks of chicken breast.

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I liked that the decor was fresh and there wasn’t an overwhelming red hue that normally floods Oriental or Asian restaurants. Our server did a good job explaining the menu and checked on us frequently. The owner cashed us out, was very friendly and even checked on us during our meal. The only thing I was missing was fortune cookies delivered along with the bill. I always look forward to these and was disappointed they didn’t come. Wink, Wink. I’m looking forward to seeing how Hop Sheing Noodle House does in 2014. Stop in and show them some love!

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Italian Cheesy Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls with Pesto Penne

Judy is at it again. She made another delicious, creative pasta dish this time incorporating crescent rolls.

Crescent Rolls: Stuffed with chicken, Italian cheeses, sauteed peppers, onions, and love! The flaky roll is the perfect home for the slightly spicy filling. 

Pesto Penne: Alfredo sauce, pesto, red pepper, onion, and chicken. The pasta was creamy and tender. The chicken was moist and juicy. Judy baked her pasta so it’s more like a casserole and it turned out delicious!

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If you’re bored with dinner ideas and don’t know what to make. Just grab a tube of crescent rolls and wrap them around your favorite dish!

Tip: Crescent rolls go great with roast beef!

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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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Hot Chocolate

I had a bad case of the Monday’s today and wanted to wind down with a nice cup of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate. Good thing my awesome significant other got me a lovely hot chocolate set for the holidays. 

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All the flavors are delicious, but my favorite is the Caramel Cream. The Dark Chocolate comes up in 2nd place. There’s something about hot chocolate that just takes me back to my childhood. It’s the best. 

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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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Shish Garden

Tee, her mom, Pat, and I decided to stop in to Shish Garden for dinner Saturday. Located on Allen Rd. in Woodhaven, MI., this place offers some of the best Mediterranean food around.

Lentil Soup: Hearty and thick. With each bite you get freshness and brightness from the lemon. Really good.

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Chicken Sajji Sandwich: I describe this sandwich as the Chicken Shawarma’s zesty, white meat, cousin. The Sajji sauce was garlicy , slightly spicy, and had tons of mouth watering flavor. The spices really came through. This is my new favorite sandwich. You have to try it, it’s awesome. The Sajji sauce was so good I switched from dipping my pita bread in the hummus to this sauce.

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Chicken Kabob: The chicken was charred, yet still moist and juicy.

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Grape Leaves: Light, lemony, and fresh. You can really taste the quality and care put into each perfectly rolled grape leaf.

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Our visit was a success. The manager even came over to our table when he heard I was going to do a write up. He was very nice and friendly. Tee knew one of the servers and he brought over an order of hummus on the house which was an unexpected surprise. He was also very knowledgeable, giving us tons of suggestions and even bringing us out different sauces to try. The food was so flavorful and delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted so many different spices at once, but they all blended well together. The service was perfect and the whole staff at Shish Garden really made us feel at home. I’m not sure if my food writing had anything to do with it, but unlike other places, they really stepped it up.  I will definitely be back.

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Rice Bowl Asian Kitchen

If you work in Downtown Detroit like I do, you will happy to know that you can get Asian food delivered for lunch. Rice Bowl offers Thai favorites, Chinese dishes, and whole grain brown rice to eat it with. I attempted to satisfy my craving for General Tso’s Chicken, but was unsuccessful.

General Tso’s Chicken: The sauce was spot on, tangy and spicy, but the fried rice was very plain. Again, where was the egg? The green onions? Then, I bit into what I thought was a piece of breaded chicken breast, but it was a deep fried nugget of batter. Normally, I would welcome a treat like this, but the batter was dry and tasted awful. I’m not sure if this was an accident or intentional, but either way it was unfortunate. I like to share because the serving size is enough for two, but there’s a minimum for all deliveries, so you’re better off getting your own entree. For $9.50 plus a delivery charge, it was not worth it. I do recommend trying Rice Bowl though, maybe just avoid delivery. I  have had Schezwan Chicken here in the past and it was pretty good, so maybe something that isn’t battered is a better way to go.

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I am still on the search for authentic, delicious General Tso’s Chicken. Stay tuned for more write ups as I continue on this hunt.

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