Experiencing Great Restaurants and Delicious Libations

Posts tagged “MIchigan restaurants

Grey Ghost Detroit – Grand Opening

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August 28, 2016

After months of anxious anticipation, many pop-up dinner events throughout the area, and teaser instagram posts of the construction – the permanent home of Grey Ghost Detroit is now open!
Just before the 4PM opening, herbs were carefully harvested from the planters around the patio seating area while a line formed at the door. At 4PM sharp the doors opened and the adventure began.
I grabbed a seat at the bar before they were all taken, and took in the atmosphere. There is a large bar with ample workspace for the bartenders, with rough sawn wood paneling and open metal shelving on the back wall. The bar countertops are recycled bowling alley lanes, refinished and stained. The dining room has large windows facing the street bringing in abundant light. I have not dined in the dining room yet so will have to update this post after I do.
As expected, the craft cocktails are delicious, balanced, and exuberant concoctions. Will Lee is an amazing bartender, with the acute skills to create the perfect drink just based on a description of favorite flavors. If you want to order off the drink menu, you will not be disappointed either. Among the highest quality cocktails around.
Off the menu I started with the Fried Bologna. Yes, Fried Bologna. It was really delicious! Served on a waffle, with cheddar and jalepeno. Highly recommended, for both the flavor and the novelty. Beef Tartare was next, followed by the Scallops Thermador with apple , cognac and green onion. perfectly prepared dusted with panko on the seared side.
On a subsequent visit, trumpet mushrooms with bacon jam were the perfect accompaniment to the Bavette Steak with avocado verde. The steak preparation was a little rare for my taste, but very choice cut.
I can say that the partners, and their families are “all in” with this endeavor. There is a friendly, but totally professional vibe here, focused on quality.
After attending The Chicken, The Pig, The Lamb, Seafood, and the Cocktail pop-up, It was well worth the wait.

Forest Grill – Birmingham MI

735 Forest Avenue, Birmingham, MI

Chef Brian Polcyn

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I visited the Forest Grill with a group of friends that included architects, interior designers and “foodies”. A tough critical crowd for any restaurant – but the Forest Grill is not just any restaurant. The entire group was very impressed with the experience.

The clean restaurant design is devoid of the typical clutter thats seems mandatory in other Detroit area restaurants. The busy open kitchen gives a glimpse into the magic of the food preparation, but surprisingly the acoustics of the dining room are quite good. I could easily carry on a conversation across the table without any distractions from the kitchen. The dining room is one long open space with large expanses of glass along the exterior walls.

The staff is very friendly, knowledgable, and attentive. The menu raised many questions with unusual terms and pairings.  These were happily explained and answered by our server – with her personal recommendations and endorsements.

Enough of my rambling, just look at the photos of some of the selections we made with the menu descriptions below…each one was a hit, and there were no misses. Both of the guests that ordered the Farm Egg said they would return just to enjoy it again.


Farm Egg with Nameko Mushrooms and Madeira Sabayon;

Stinging Nettle Soup with Charred Ramps and Scallops;

Endive Salad with Asparagus, Prosciutto, Orange  and Parmesan;

Halibut with Fennel, Arugula, Kalamata Olive and Roasted Red Pepper;

Chicken with Swiss Chard, Barley, Sauce Bordelaise;

Apple Tart for Two with Caramelized Apples and Vanilla Ice Cream;

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Lime Macerated Strawberries and Pistachios;


Visit the Forest Grill Website here – but better yet, visit the restaurant in person. You will not regret it.

Bistro 82 – Royal Oak MI

401 S. Lafayette Ave., Royal Oak MI 48067

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Visited May 8 and 16, 2014

This totally remodeled space has reopened as a Bistro….a very good Bistro. Previously a Spanish Restaurant ( for the record I ate there a couple times and had subpar food and very subpar service), this new incarnation could not be more opposite. The food is excellent, and the service superb. I have visited twice, once I dined at the bar, and the second time with a group in the dining room. The greeters, bartenders, wait staff, and serving staff, have been well informed, personable, efficient, and friendly.

The dining room is simply sophisticated – simply presented in shades of grey, with a backlit stone bar adding warmth. The space is very open with exposed ductwork and white upholstered chairs with clean lines. The walls have a couple large paintings adding just the right pop of color.

The Goat Cheese Salad with honey, apple, petite greens, mixed nuts and raisin spread is a masterpiece, I liked it so much on my first visit, I had to order it again. Highlights from my meals and others at my table: the Beet Salad , the Cobia, the Salmon, and the Scallops (they do have meat and poultry on the menu, we were all just in a seafood mood I guess). For dessert we had the Cinnamon Sugar beignets, and shared the Dark Chocolate Tart. It was all delicious. Check out the Bistro 82 website for their Photo Menu of other tasty items, and the regular menu for the descriptions.

I highly recommend it.


City Vu Bistro – Holland MI

In the City Flats Hotel, 61 East 7th Street, Holland MI

Visited July 5-7, 2012

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On the top floor of the City Flats Hotel, City Vu Bistro is a contemporary fun space with something for everyone. They have table and booth seating, a long bar suitable for dining if you choose, as well as an outdoor rooftop terrace with a perfect western view of the sunset. The menu also has something for everyone, from over a dozen different flatbreads, great salads ( any of which you can get a “side” portion with your entree – at a “side” portion price), soups, and I just couldn’t resist the entrees.

The first night I stayed in the Hotel, I had dinner at the bar. Zak, the bartender suggested the balsamic marinated chicken entree with the whiskey cider sauce –  which was unbelievably good. With the success of his first suggestion, I had him recommend a dessert (I was on vacation afterall). The strawberry & vanilla bean cheesecake with orange creme anglaise was recommended, and was as rich and delicious as you would expect.

I had planned on exploring Holland to find another restaurant for my second night, but why mess with success? I got in the elevator and like a magnet it took me back up to the City Vu Bistro. I again found a seat at the bar – and there was Zak ready to recommend a few new dishes for me. I started with a side Caesar salad, then had the NY Strip with parmesan mashed potatoes, asparagus and a very interesting red onion marmalade. And for dessert I had an incredible Orange Brulee.

The next morning before checkout, of course I ventured up to the City Vu Bistro for breakfast. The Prosciutto Frittata was full of flavor.

My only regret is that I never got to explore the other restaurant options in Holland – but then again  I guess I really do not have any regrets…

Click here for City Vu Bistro website

Cafe Zinc – Midland MI

In the H Hotel, 111 W. Main Street, Midland MI

Visited April 21, 2012

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While looking for a place for a pleasant lunch in Midland, before a special tour of the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, I came across what looked like a good option. Cafe Zinc on Main Street turned out to be a fantastic option. It is a perfect blend of crisp contemporary design, clever surprise touches, and an underlying french cafe feel. With white marble wall panels, a decorative tin ceiling, white leather upholstered chairs with a drawer pull handle on the back to assist in pulling the chairs out, and a wood grate wall perfectly displaying apples all show the attention to detail in the design.

And the food…well it was delicious. A warm, crisp mini baguette to begin, then I had a mushroom and spinach quiche served with a nice green salad. The menu includes a wide variety of items for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Everything looked delicious. The server suggested a “build your own” bloody mary. I declined, as I was driving, but I did wander over to the adjacent Oxygen O2 bar to check out the room. It proved to be another great space, with a very well stocked bar. Check out my separate post on the Oxygen O2 Bar for some photos. I am already planning on a trip back to Midland to spend the night so I can enjoy both of these establishments.

Oxygen O2 – Midland MI

In The H Hotel, 111 W. Main Street, Midland MI

Visited April 21, 2012

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This bar and lounge in The H Hotel is adjacent to the Cafe Zinc. The names of the spaces reference the elements on the Periodic Table, a clever nod to the scientists in Midland’s main employer Dow Chemical. Oxygen O2 is a well designed space with a perfect mix of cool contemporary elements and a warm lounge feel. I just wish I was there in the evening….with a dry gin martini, shaken not stirred.