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woodward ave - royal oak, mi

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xman887 Feb 14, 2009 06:22 AM

i have lived in troy for the past 19 years and have eaten all over the city. yesterday i was driving on woodward and i got to thinking about a couple of places that i have driven by hundreds of times but have never tried. please share your thoughts on the following:

chicken shack - looks like a carry out/diner type place. big bright sign out front. around 5:30, the small lot had quite a few cars and there was about a dozen people visible through the wall of windows. obviously, they do chicken. is at good? do they do anything else?

pasquale's - giant italian place with a huge parking lot that their security guards will not let you use if you are going to walk over to duggan's. i have heard the pizza is good.

aspen - i have read reviews in the paper that say the food is surprisingly good for a bar.

onion roll - another diner-type place where i suspect sandwiches are featured.

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  1. j
    Jim M RE: xman887 Feb 14, 2009 02:16 PM

    I have eaten at that particular Chicken Shack, as well as others. No one would claim that it's high cuisine, but it's reasonable fast food. It's made to order--not left to sit around. I think it's broasted rather than fried--it's very juicy and comparatively non-greasy.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Jim M
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      boagman RE: Jim M Feb 14, 2009 09:24 PM

      Agreed with Jim on Chicken Shack. I like it, but it is just that: basically fast food. And yes, the chicken is broasted. They do several other things, especially ribs, and I guess lots of people like the ribs, too, but it's not where I go when I want ribs.

      I'm not enamored with Pasquale's. I've eaten there maybe 4-5 times over the years, and to this day I don't understand the appeal of the place. It's well-attended, but the food is decidedly mediocre at best. *Don't* get veal there...it's an entire waste of money. To me, it's pretty low-end Italian for mid-scale-to-upper-scale prices. Being that the Detroit area is absolutely *littered* with tons of (often better) places for Italian, I vote thumbs-down here.

      Onion Roll is a place that I've never been personally, but have heard *nothing* but good things about. I guess I just can't get over the way the place looks or something.

      Not familiar with Aspen.

      A bit further up Woodward is Falaffel King, which is pretty good Middle Eastern for relatively cheap. I *love* their chicken shawarma sandwich for $4.19. It's a meal by itself, or darned near it. Nice people, too.

      Also up there is Mt. Chalet II, which, for a bar, has surprisingly good food, at least the few times I've been there. I am utterly *unimpressed* with their drinks (their Amaretto Sour is positively horrid, which they fully admit to), but the food is far better than typical bar fare. When I eat there, I'm happy I've done so.

      Oh, and Thai House Express is, bar none, the *worst* "Thai food" I have *ever* had the displeasure of ingesting. When I was done "eating" (I can count the number of bites I ate on one hand), I threw out the remaining 90+% of the "food" they served. Avoid this place like the freaking plague. It's an abomination, especially when you consider how many great Thai places there are around the area.

      Hope that helps!

      1. re: boagman
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        xman887 RE: boagman Feb 15, 2009 08:11 AM

        chalet, aspen, skiing....bad mix up on my part. i meant mt. chalet and wrote aspen (an underwhelming place on hall road east of lakeside).

        1. re: xman887
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          boagman RE: xman887 Feb 16, 2009 12:37 AM

          Heh. I can understand why you made the Aspen/Chalet dyslexia move. But yes: Mt. Chalet's food is better than you'd expect it to be, and they do offer a good deal more than standard bar fare. I'm not saying that you'll be blown away, but you may very well be pleasantly surprised by what they're offering, as well as how nicely they prepare it. Aside from whipped potatoes (which I should know well enough to avoid getting *anywhere* by now...), their food has always been enjoyable in my experiences there.

          It's funny that you should say that about Aspen. My impression of it is the same as yours, but two non-foodie friends of mine *really* like the place, because they're meat-'n'-taters people, and I guess they do that pretty well there. They'll make the drive up there from Hazel Park, and I think to myself: "You're joking, right? All that way? Must be some steak..."

          1. re: boagman
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            kevin47 RE: boagman Feb 25, 2009 12:55 PM

            Wow, Mt. Chalet is still around? My dad used to take me there for happy hour. FWIW, their clam strips were pretty good in 1988. Also, I was like 9.

            In Minnesota, restaurants are like mayflies. If someone recommends a place at 10am, you'd better get there before 5, or it'll be closed.

            I didn't think Pasquales was good, even as a kid.

            1. re: kevin47
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              boagman RE: kevin47 Feb 25, 2009 05:54 PM

              Bite your tongue. With the way things are around the country, but *especially* here in Michigan, places both good and bad are suffering to the point of having to close. We want the good ones to stick around, like Mt. Chalet.

              And you're dead-square-on about Pasquale's.

        2. re: boagman
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          aliasrlm RE: boagman Feb 19, 2009 01:11 PM

          How is Siam Spicy? East side of Woodward near Webster, I think. Drive by all the time and heard good things from friends, but have never been. No offense to my friends, but I trust your opinion more than theirs. :)

          1. re: aliasrlm
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            boagman RE: aliasrlm Feb 19, 2009 07:16 PM

            It's not bad. I've eaten there about 4 times or so, and haven't been turned off by it once. It certainly isn't my *first* choice for Thai, but it's a decent place that has one very important thing going for it: it's open on Sunday, which 99.999999% of other Thai places aren't, apparently. When you're dying for Thai on a Sunday, it'll work.

            A guy from my church swears by a certain dish of theirs, which I can't for the life of me remember at the moment. I'll have to ask him on Sunday and get back to you with it. When I've eaten there, I've been satisfied, but I'm much more into Pi's in Hazel Park or Sterling Heights.

            1. re: boagman
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              aliasrlm RE: boagman Feb 26, 2009 06:51 AM

              Good to know. We still haven't been to Pi's, which is crazy considering it's probably not too far away (we're in Ferndale). Thanks again!

      2. dearborn barkis RE: xman887 Feb 15, 2009 06:01 AM

        I've eaten at Pasquale's at the request of family members many, many times. I've never cared for any of their pasta dishes, but the pepperoni they put on pizza is wonderful. Cheese and crust, not so much (yet better than the big chains). But the pepperoni itself is worth it.

        When the wife and kids ask me to go on a chicken run, I drive past KFC to get to Chicken Shack. Their potatoes have acquired a reputation, and I admit I can't resist them either.

        2 Replies
        1. re: dearborn barkis
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          boagman RE: dearborn barkis Feb 16, 2009 12:28 AM

          Now, see, when it comes to the KFC/Chicken Shack comparison, there just *is no way* to compare the two to me. I like both, but while they both involve deep frying (which is basically what "broasting" is), the taste of the two are just miles away from each other. Yes, they're both chicken, but they're just nothing like each other. I guess you really *can* chalk one up for the Colonel's recipe of 11 herbs and spices...and when you've got a taste for KFC, Chicken Shack won't cut it. When you've got a taste for Chicken Shack, KFC won't cut it.

          I will *fully* admit that the sides from Chicken Shack are better than KFC's, though.

          1. re: boagman
            Fritter RE: boagman Feb 26, 2009 04:41 AM

            Agreed. Both KFC and chicken shack broast which is a combination of deep frying and pressure cooking. The Colonel gets the credit for being the original. In spite of not being a big fan of corproate chains/franchising It's hard to deny the temptation of KFC every now and then.
            Chicken Shack is straight fried chicken with out the herbs and spices. I enjoy both but neither will substitute for the other.
            There is a Chicken Shack on 23 mile in New Baltimore and one in downtown Rochester as well (A block West of Main on University).
            I never understood the attraction of Pasquales but I don't blame them at all for not letting Duggans patrons utilize their parking.

        2. g
          grouper RE: xman887 Feb 15, 2009 01:56 PM

          If you are just looking for some flame-broiled chicken try a little place tucked into a strip mall just north of Shrine, called YaYa's. I've been going there for years and when all I want is some good tasting, not fried, chicken with salad or on top of lettuce, that's the place.

          5 Replies
          1. re: grouper
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            boagman RE: grouper Feb 16, 2009 12:31 AM

            Dis-a-freaking-gree. I *hate* YaYa's wimpy little pieces of chicken meat, and I keep waiting and waiting for the day that the place finally dies for lack of business. If you want overpriced, tiny, and pretty tasteless pieces of chicken served by idiots, then yes: by all means, eat at YaYa's. Just don't say you weren't warned.

            1. re: boagman
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              grouper RE: boagman Feb 16, 2009 03:55 AM

              Sorry, I never get the chicken pieces as I always get the shredded chicken salad. Which is better than most as there is no mayo involved. The YaYa's in the Flint area where they started usually have a pretty good following.

              1. re: grouper
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                boagman RE: grouper Feb 16, 2009 07:15 AM

                Ah. Fair enough, as I honestly can't speak to the chicken salad. It may very well be good...I just haven't had nor gazed upon it. I'm rather surprised there's no mayo...what do they use to "bind" it together? Or is it just dry?

                Avoid for a chicken dinner, though...hideously small chicken at exorbitant rates.

                1. re: boagman
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                  grouper RE: boagman Feb 16, 2009 11:03 AM

                  The chicken is shredded and relies upon the taste from the flame-broiling. They also provide a dressing that comes in low-fat, that I think is yogurt based. When you just want something that's not too heavy, but provides some lettuce and protein, it's the place to go. For years I loved their chicken noodle soup which I thought wasn't bad for take-out,,,,then I found Nino's chicken nooode. So much like my own I can fool myself!!

              2. re: boagman
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                Markcron RE: boagman Feb 16, 2009 01:42 PM

                Wow!
                I absolutely love Yaya's chicken.
                I agree it is pricey, but the grilled, marinated chicken is awesome in my book.
                I have never had Chicken Shack, but I would certainly NEVER choose KFC over YaYa's.

            2. coney with everything RE: xman887 Feb 17, 2009 03:49 AM

              I'm a Chicken Shack fan, if the chicken is hot. We've gotten it a couple of times where it has either sat for a bit or was just not correctly cooked and was sitting in a pool of nasty grease. The potatoes and coleslaw also are excellent. When I worked in Troy I would get chicken from T-Birds on occasion and it's similar to that.

              I've been warned away from Pasquales--"Franco American Italian"--so have never been.

              Onion Roll makes a decent sandwich, but I prefer Bread Basket or Samuel Hoffmans in Clawson.

              1. f
                Foog RE: xman887 Feb 17, 2009 07:50 AM

                Pasquales is 80s italian heavy red sauce nothing to write home about.
                Onion Roll - Not a diner it's pastrami and corned beef mostly with some other choices. Was good one time I went and ok another time.

                1. f
                  Fibber McGee RE: xman887 Feb 17, 2009 08:21 AM

                  Onion Roll is pretty good, but I wouldn't put their sandwiches at the level of, say, Bread Basket. If you go to the coney places on Lafayette in Detroit for the entertainment of watching the staff scream at each other in Greek, Onion Roll may be your type of place. A lot of arguing going on behind the counter.

                  1. d
                    donkensler RE: xman887 Feb 20, 2009 04:11 PM

                    I've only eaten there once, but I'll second (fifth? tenth?) the consensus on Pasquale's. Wouldn't pass muster in a Jersey diner, let alone a real Italian restaurant in Jersey, and they're pretty pricey.

                    1. dearborn barkis RE: xman887 Feb 21, 2009 09:07 AM

                      "...pasquale's - giant italian place with a huge parking lot that their security guards will not let you use if you are going to walk over to duggan's. i have heard the pizza is good."

                      Forget Pasquale's bland pasta and Duggan's Big-Boy-wannabe Big Chief--I'd rather have a Big Mac--and jaywalk across Woodward to Red Coat.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dearborn barkis
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                        boagman RE: dearborn barkis Feb 21, 2009 11:21 AM

                        *Or*, you could just skip Mickey D's altogether and get a Redcoat burger made with the stuff that comes on a Big Mac, which I found wonderful when I tried it.

                        Oh, and positively *do not* try to jaywalk across Woodward by Duggan's and Redcoat. Believe it or not, I actually *did* get a jaywalking ticket doing just that, and no, I wasn't drinking, and no, it wasn't on Dream Cruise day.

                        I was *ticked off* about it.

                      2. d
                        donbui82 RE: xman887 Feb 21, 2009 11:45 AM

                        Pasquale's - absolutely terrible food. The pasta, pizza, salads, all VEry VEry VERy forgettable.

                        Onion Roll - Makes a pretty mean pastrami sandwich. They're not as good as say Zimmerman's or Bread Basket, but it comes very close. Cash only. The cook guy is really friendly.

                        Falafel King. Cheap, fast, always good. Great place to pick up some quick eats.

                        Vinsetta Grill - we recently tried that place, not bad! Willing to give it a second shot. Their forte are burgers as well. Their "niche" is the amount of toppings you can put on it. Very creative.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: donbui82
                          firestalker RE: donbui82 Feb 22, 2009 03:47 PM

                          Agree Pasquale's is not worth the time it is old school heavy Italian and pretty uninspired. Directly across the street is an Italian Restaurant at the end of a strip mall the name is alluding me it is a mans name though. The food is much better cheaper and really hits the spot.

                          Fire

                          1. re: donbui82
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                            Ludlows23 RE: donbui82 Feb 23, 2009 04:05 PM

                            Thanks for the comments about Vinsetta - that is one of those places that I've never tried either - whenever I drive by it, I say to myself that I should try it - but I always forget its an option when I am deciding where to eat. I live in downtown RO, so I usually don't get beyond those restaurants when I am brainstorming and I wholly forget most of the woodward options.

                          2. r
                            RNemes RE: xman887 Mar 6, 2009 10:52 AM

                            This is a second vote for the pepperoni at Pasquale's. They use the small pepperoni, the ones that curl up at the sides and gather little pools of grease in the middle. The pizza in general is great though. Wonderful ratios of crust to sauce to cheese. Floppy too, which I adore. I also happen to rather like their pasta and sauce as well. Especially the meat sauce. No one does meat sauce right like Old-School American-Italian. You can go take a "real Bolognese" and go stick it.

                            But it seems many seem to hate Pasquale's because they are not a "real" Italian restaurant or something of that nature. Not a La-tee-da-oh-so-precious-authentic Italian straight from the Old Country. (or at least one of the many posing as such)

                            Well good for them I say. I love their honest, simple, and, at least in my apparently deluded opinion, delicious fare. Pasquale's is authentic-----Authentic-American-Italian. Sometimes that's what people want. Heavy, meaty, 1000s of calories, not too subtle, but quite effective.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: RNemes
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                              boagman RE: RNemes Mar 6, 2009 11:43 AM

                              I'm honestly glad that you like them, as it would seem that you're quite the minority opinion. You must admit, though, that what they serve *for they price that they serve it at* is decidedly expensive. I find their price-to-quality ratio to be appalling myself, and I'm not even that picky about my Italian food and/or restaurants.

                              Don't misunderstand: I'm not condemning Pasquale's to a fate any worse than, say, Como's in Ferndale (which I'd probably place in the same, exact category a Pasquale's, if not worse), but really now: Pasquale's bills itself as an Italian restaurant more than just a pizza joint...as such, it has to be rated accordingly.

                              1. re: boagman
                                r
                                RNemes RE: boagman Mar 6, 2009 08:34 PM

                                My little rant being done, I do understand where you are coming from. Perhaps I have a problem separating nostalgia from real appreciation of quality on some level. I dunno.....

                                Anyhow, I have always greatly appreciated your comments boagman. Diamond Jim's and Stage Deli come to mind as a couple places you have turned me onto. (and you have my eternal gratitude for those!)

                                So while we are on the subject of Italian...if you could only go to one Italian restaurant in SE Mich ever again, which would it be? I *will* go there.

                                1. re: RNemes
                                  rainsux RE: RNemes Mar 8, 2009 10:16 AM

                                  > if you could only go to one Italian restaurant in SE Mich ever again, which
                                  > would it be?

                                  My overall choice would be Pasta Fagioli @ Franklin & Square Lake. It's a very
                                  small bistro that does a LOT of carry-out business. Prices are reasonable and
                                  they encourage you to bring your own wine.

                                  I rate the overall work of the kitchen as Very Good with an occassional
                                  Excellent and/or Just-okay. Lelli's and Andiamo are con$i$tently better; al$o
                                  con$i$tently more expen$ive.

                                  For lasagna; I still trek to Ruggero's in Flint. Their lasagna is available using
                                  italian sausage (yum) or ground-beef (why bother).

                                  1. re: rainsux
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                                    grouper RE: rainsux Mar 8, 2009 12:29 PM

                                    Oh my gosh, I grew up down the street from the original Ruggero's and to this day rate most restaurant lasagna against theirs. It was the first lasagna I had ever eaten and loved it way back then. For my 30th high school reunion, my friends and I went to Ruggero's and passed on the dinner served at the reunion. We all ordered our favorites from junior high school...it was a great dinner.

                                  2. re: RNemes
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                                    boagman RE: RNemes Mar 8, 2009 03:36 PM

                                    What's my favorite Italian destination? That's a darned good question, as Italian is certainly *not* my forte/cuisine of choice. I honestly don't have a whole lot of experience in it since I rarely get an Italian craving...you'd probably have a heck of a lot better knowledge on it than I do, quite frankly.

                                    I took a page from your book and looked at Pasquale's online menu, and if the pricing currently posted there is correct, then I'd be more prone to agree with you: it wasn't as expensive as I had remembered. It's entirely possible that they've reduced prices in the couple of years since I've been there, but I absolutely recall being *appalled* by the price they charged my friend for a veal dish which was so lousy, she wouldn't take any of it home. Considering that I hadn't enjoyed what I'd eaten either, I was wondering how a place like that would be able to stay as popular as it had. Pizza and location would explain a lot, I guess.

                                    Glad you like DJBs and Stage! I've actually been hankering to go back to DJBs lately, but haven't been in a couple months. It's time!

                                  3. re: boagman
                                    r
                                    RNemes RE: boagman Mar 6, 2009 11:12 PM

                                    As an addendum here I looked at the Pasquale's menu just now and I honestly can't see the problem as far as prices go. The entire menu is basically under 20 bucks, and a huge number of dishes (entrees that is) are under 10. Seems pretty dang cheap to me in this day and age.

                                    Anyhow, that aside, I still want to know what you consider the ultimate Italian in the SE Mich area, as I am sure it will be quite awesome. My real go-to place, as an Ann Arborite, is Paesano's, if that is any meaningful gauge.

                                2. y
                                  yorbacus RE: xman887 Mar 21, 2009 02:16 PM

                                  Onion Roll is fantastic. I highly recommend the corned beef as well as the salami.

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