Experiencing Great Restaurants and Delicious Libations

Posts tagged “Corktown

Katoi (Preview)- Detroit MI

2520 Michigan Avenue, Detroit MI 48216

Opens March 21, 2016

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The long awaited Katoi will open next Monday, March 21. The well liked food truck parked across the street at Two James Distillery now has a brick and mortar home.

I stopped in during the preview to take a look. I must say that I am impressed with the design. I had seen some progress photos and thought that I would not like the loft like “abandoned-building-take-over-and-leave-it-as-is-and-call-it-cool” vibe. Well I was wrong on both counts. It is actually a very sophisticated dynamic design, and I really quite like it.

I did not eat, so can only comment on the space and the bartender’s skills. My drink was very interesting, unique and delicious. I cannot wait to return and actually sit in the dining room and have dinner. I think it will be fantastic.

Katoi Website



Huron Room – Detroit MI

2547 Bagley, Detroit MI 48216

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Visited December 15, 2015

Gold Cash Gold (PREVIEW) – Detroit MI

“A Modern Farmhouse Kitchen”

In the Historic Corktown Neighborhood, 2100 Michigan Avenue Detroit MI

On the same block as Slows Bar Bq, Astro Coffee, and Sugar House Detroit.


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November 30, 2014

I was invited as a guest to preview the newest addition to Detroit’s fast growing restaurant scene – Gold Cash Gold.

This former pawn shop has been transformed into a self-proclaimed “modern farmhouse kitchen” under the direction of Phil Cooley (Slows and Ponyride). Chef Josh Stockton, as I researched online, brings his culinary experience from the Culinary Institute of America,…. and he brings his pigs from Tennessee (really). I also discovered that he worked at the Daniel Boulud Brasserie in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (I have dined there –  and it was supurb).

The Preview went off without a hitch. The food was delicious. I recommend the Chef’s Plate Appetizer, the Fried Chicken, the Frites, and the Polenta Desert. The light levels were low and I didn’t want to use a flash for my pics to disturb the patrons, but the food looked even better “in person”.

The Dad’s Trophy cocktail was very good as well. Check out the names of the craft cocktails when you go….very clever.

The space is warm, comfortable and friendly. The ceiling is made from recycled furring strips from the demolished walls and the eagle flooring is recycled from a school gym. The iconic “GOLD CASH GOLD” signage in a new reimagined gold version was installed on the facade today just before the preview. It is a catchy and humorous nod to the pawn shop that previously occupied the building.

I will be back after it opens and update my post when I have sampled more items on the menu.

Opening day may be as early as this Saturday, December 6th.

Click here for all of my Detroit Restaurant posts.

The Sugar House – Detroit MI

In Historic Corktown

2130 Michigan Avenue Detroit MI

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One of my favorite neighborhood haunts, this speakeasy style craft cocktail lounge is a great friendly place for a perfectly made cocktail. With a vast selection of spirits to work with, house made bitters and herb infused syrups and other concoctions, they really create unique and impeccable libations.

The Sugar House bartender’s showmanship in cocktail preparation is influenced by “Professor” Jerry Thomas and his 1862 book How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion. He is referred to as the “father of American mixology”. Each of the dapper Sugar House bartenders I have been told must read Thomas’ book (actually a book called Imbibe! by David Wondrich, a cocktail historian who has reprinted Thomas’ recipes for punches, cocktails, sours, fizzes, toddies, slings etc. with historical commentary on his legend and life as well).

For a real show – especially when the weather is chilly and you want to impress your friends – when the bartender asks what drink you would like….simply say  “what would Jerry Thomas do”? They will make you a Blue Blazer. This is Jerry Thomas’ signature drink. I will not spoil the surprise with a description of the preparation, but will give you a clue: Blue Blazer does NOT refer to a conservative navy sport coat. Once the show is over, you will find that the drink is delicious as well

All of the Sugar House bartenders are experts, including Yani who is the Grand Prize winner of the 2013 Angostura U.S. Cocktail Challenge.  At the Sugar House you can literally have your cocktail made by one of the best bartenders in the United States. Yani moves on to represent the U.S. at the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge in Trinidad in February. We will find out if your cocktail is made by the best bartender in the world! …(according to Angostura anyway).

(Click here for Yani’s Angostura Cocktail Challenge winning drink recipes)

Ottava Via (Sneak Peek) – Detroit MI

Ottava Via, 1480 Michigan Avenue, Detroit MI

In Detroit’s Historic Corktown Neighborhood

Visited June 28, 2013

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My first visit was a most fortuitous circumstance. I have been driving by this building for months and months just waiting for it to open. The sophisticated black awnings have been up, but it has always been dark inside. I wondered if it would ever open up. Last night I was driving home from work thinking about dinner on a dark very rainy night and noticed the lights were on and people were walking in. I parked my car and strolled in, walked past the hostess station and walked up to an empty bar stool and sat down. As it is an italian restaurant, I ordered a Negroni cocktail. This is where I started to realize that I perhaps walked in on a party that I wasn’t invited to….The bartender told me that they only had wine tonight, but “when the restaurant opens”, they will have a full compliment of wines, craft beers and liquor.

“…when the restaurant opens?”

I ordered a full bodied Cabernet and started to look around. The space looks great, a long bar against the side wall, with a large clock as the center feature. There is exposed ductwork painted a warm creme color hanging below a deep burgundy ceiling. At the rear is an open kitchen with chefs and staff busily cooking and plating dishes. Looking at the “small plate” dishes and pizza being served, it looked like a promising dinner spot. The bartender asked if I was going to be eating. I smiled and said yes, and she placed a plate and napkin wrapped silverware set -but no menu -and walked away. A very happy and proud host walked up to me, introduced himself, and told me that they would be bringing out a variety of dishes for me to try. He wanted to know what I thought of each of them, and wanted me to be brutally honest, as they want to perfect the dishes to make sure everything is perfect on the menu …”when the restaurant opens”.

The food started to be placed in front of me. First an Italian chop salad with garbanzo beans, then a sweet italian sausage and grilled pepper pizza, then sliced spicy sausage with grilled peppers, then pork wrapped in pork belly and steamed for 36 hours with a citrus fennel salad on top, then…..I thanked them and said that I could not try anything else as I was full. Everything was really really good. The pizza perhaps was not as “unique” as the other dishes, but perfectly prepared. The other dishes were fresh tasting, and full of flavor. The spicy sausage was spicy (as you would expect) but really was bold with a flavor a little different than I have had elsewhere…and I think this will be the first dish I order when I come back…or will it be the pork belly which was very unique, tender and delicious, delicious, delicious.

Looking around I see one of the owner’s of a local bar-b-que spot with his entourage, the owner’s of a local craft cocktail lounge, the owner’s of a local coffee house, the owner of a local real estate and development firm…I was in really good company among all of the invited guests.

The buzz is great, the space is nice, the food is delicious, and I am so glad to see that the lights are on…finally.

UPDATE: The restaurant is now open!

I went back for dinner after they opened , the food was delicious and yes, I finally got my Negroni Cocktail…

I have been back several times since, it has been all good.


Ottava Via is located in a Dime Savings Bank branch building, which was most recently a pawn shop. It is next to the legendary Nemo’s Bar (Voted the 3rd best sports bar in the country by Sports Illustrated). This stretch of Michigan Avenue is in Historic Corktown- Detroit’s oldest neighborhood.