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Mae's, Pleasant Ridge, MI - Revisited [DTW]

I'm either extremely picky or there are truly very few excellent breakfast spots in Metro Detroit. I stopped by Mae's for the third time and again....eh. I love that the place is retro and fun, the fact that they rely heavily on local ingredients is a definite plus, I would love to give it a great review but I just cannot.

The concept is excellent, the location great, the owners super nice and the menu is inspired and sounds like it will be fantastic. The problem: everything comes up just short of excellent. The omelets are not seasoned well, the pancakes don't have a lot of flavor (a little vanilla, cinammon or nutmeg would cure that) and the bread and baked goods are fine but nothing spectacular. I love that they make their own jam, which is great, if it were really jam. It's fruit and sugar, there is obviously no pectin in the jam and ends up being soggy and too wet.

I have mentioned this before, I know my wife and I perhaps more critical than the average diner ..but I have found that to be true of many Chowhounders. Am I alone here? I know they are getting a lot of attention and feel horrible that once again I am left wanting after trying a place that is supposed to be fantastic.

I'm thinking maybe we should just stay home and make our own breakfast. We do have a few go to spots that are always pretty good. Breakfast Club (Farmington location) and Chocolate Gallery have never let us down. Any other suggestions?

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  1. I've heard that Toast is good, but I haven't been there myself. Then again, the only real recommendation I can make for breakfast is Frittata in Clawson, unless you're just wanting eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast.

    What can I say? I guess I'm just not a big breakfast guy.

    1. I agree with your other favs. Boagman's recommendations are also good. I prefer Fly Trap to Toast ... and will add that we like Recipe's (Troy), Rendezous (FH) and LA Cafe (Waterford).

      WRT to Mae's; I have not yet visited. I did visit the same location when it was Anna's, and
      found the breakfast to be below average.

      -----
      Fly Trap Restaurant
      22950 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220

      1. Just as good as Breakfast Club but with more seating is Uptown Grille on Maple between M5 and Haggerty. They don't have as many super sweet items like stuffed French Toast etc, but they do have a crab/avocado omlette similar to BC. Last time I was there for breakfast I had a savory crepe and I would order it again.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Wooderson

          I thought they only did Sunday brunch.

          1. re: Fibber McGee

            You may be right, I usually go after my Sunday morning soccer game and never gave it a second thought. They do list their hours as

            6am to 2am M-F
            8am to 2am S-S

            Ok, I just confirmed on their website, they do serve breakfast 7 days a week:

            http://www.uptowngrille.com/menu/upto...

            1. re: Wooderson

              That's good to know. I'd like a breakfast option that's more than just the coney places or Breakfast Club and Gest. Next time my family wants to head to Siegel's, I'll mention it.

              1. re: Fibber McGee

                Recipes at Grand River and Haggerty isn't bad either. Moe's on 10 (10 and Haggerty) is slightly better than a Coney Island for breakfast.

                1. re: Wooderson

                  I do like Recipes, but have only had lunch there. I did like it for breakfast when it was Amy's.

        2. I find the atmosphere in Mae's to be very cosmopolitan which is part of the resto theatre. You can also get the prime counter seats in front of la plancha and watch Charles make the play unfold as the orders come in and the communication and prep. Betty Ross II in Madison Heights has a similar lurking perch. I find the breakfast food at Mae's to be satisfying and fulfilling if not inspiring. Having a meaningful conversation about a NYT article that both you and the Gay/Lesbian counter mate both read this morning adds a little spice to your life, Mae's is the place. BTW, the owner is a freak for NYT crossword puzzles so you can slip her one (or 10) the next time you go. Damn good coffee too. I give the lunch sandwiches a pass. Try the biscuits and gravy with two poached eggs. You won't need to eat again until bedtime.

          3 Replies
          1. re: goatgolfer

            I truly have nothing against Mae's, the owners are very nice people and as I mentioned I really like the feel of the place. The guests are definitely an eclectic crowd, which is fantastic! We have been a total of three times and on our second visit I ordered the biscuits and gravy, the poached eggs were overcooked. It's a food issue with me..otherwise I really like the place. I agree, the coffee is very good. I simply wish they would take that one more step that would make their food excellent! Thanks for the breakfast suggestions!

            1. re: Jack Freeman

              I was totally agreeing with you and just adding another colorful element to the experience. You were spot on and I was giving a backstage appreciation of your encounter. That's what's cool about CH. I get fun out of interaction with a Sunday morning eclectic crowd and the food is pretty good and the atmosphere is cooooool,.

              1. re: Jack Freeman

                Hey Jack,

                I have a similar issue with a restaurant a few blocks away. I love the location (obvioulsy) and the feel of place, but not the food.

                When we moved into our house, we were blessed that we could walk to "The Fonte", the Fonte de Amore, for authentic Italian food and superior service. (And being able to walk to dinner allowed me to briefy pretend I lived in Manhattan. * if only *)

                The Fonte broke my heart and went out of business. I had hope again when the restaurant across the street, DePalma's, burned down and Guilo's Cucina Italiana opened. Sadly, they too only to need to take one more step to make their food excellent, but they just don't do it.

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                Cucina
                725 Woodlake Rd Ste E, Kohler, WI 53044

            2. Couldn't agree more with the Breakfast Club recommendations.

              Some other suggestions:

              Russell Street Deli at Eastern Market is my ultimate breakfast favorite. I had an amazing veggie omelette with swiss chard and cremini mushrooms there last Saturday, fresh squeezed OJ and cherry walnut toast from Avalon Bakery. My husband loves the corned beef hash. He has no interest in Eastern Market, but is happy to join me any time as long as we stop at Russell Street for breakfast. Order the organic eggs for an extra buck if they're available, so worth it.

              If you're feeling adventerous when you're done, there is usually a mushroom guy in the southernmost shed. Last week we bought Morels, black garlic, fiddleheads and ramps. The mushroom guy tried to talk me into truffles, but I told him I had to have something to look forward to in my old age. : )

              Another favorite Saturday routine is yoga at the Yoga Shelter in Royal Oak followed by breakfast at Cafe Muse. Try the orange rum raisin pancakes or any of the egg dishes with fingerling potatoes.

              In West Bloomfield on Orchard Lake north of Maple, Zoe's House of Pancakes has a wide variety of pancakes - I particulary enjoy the pumpkin. I haven't tried them, but when the eggs and skillets go by, they look great too.

              Finally, you can't fail with a farmer's omelette at any of the Senate Coney locations. They're fast, cheap and a tad bit greasy. Perfect for a Sunday morning.

              -----
              Russell Street Deli
              2465 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

              Cafe Muse
              418 S Washington Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067

              2 Replies
              1. re: Rosedale

                > Zoe's House of Pancakes

                I concur. Their pancakes are tasty enough that I can enjoy them without butter or syrup ... and
                their skillets are indeed tasty.

                On Sunday mornings, if you arrive after 9AM, be prepared for a 15-20 minute wait. It's also quite noisy.

                1. re: rainsux

                  15-20 minutes? Not bad at all compared to some places for breakfast. I've been wondering about Zoe's. Definitely sounds good and worth trying.

              2. Sorry you had a less than optimal experience at Mae's, although we give the "thumbs up" to Chocolate Gallery Cafe, too. Have you tried Weekday Cafe in Eastpointe or Recipes in Troy?

                -----
                Chocolate Gallery Cafe
                3672 Chicago Rd, Warren, MI 48092

                1 Reply
                1. re: DiningintheD

                  DiningintheD...love your show! We have not been to Weekday Cafe or Recipes yet but plan on visiting both very soon. Glad you guys found a new home on the local PBS station! We look forward to watching all the new episodes!

                2. Jack, we feel the same. Totally underwhelmed by the food at Mae's despite our real interest in it. Actually one of the worst breakfasts I've had -- egg MacMuffin was better than their egg sandwich. And way too $$. Wanted to love it, but can't. Love the Fly Trap but even better is Deli Unique at the Kinglsey (now Radisson Kingsley) Inn at Long Lake and Woodward. Best corned beef hash I've ever had, including my own. Turkey hash is also great. Everything done perfectly, seasoned staff and no rush to turn over tables. Never disappoints and is always a treat.

                  -----
                  Deli Unique
                  39495 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

                  Fly Trap Restaurant
                  22950 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: berkleybabe

                    Thanks, bb! We have been to Fly Trap and we do like it very much. My wife is in love with their gingerbread waffles. I'm more of a savory fan but the few bites I nabbed were very good. We've never tried Deli Unique but we will definitely give it a shot. I love corned beef hash, looking forward to trying it!

                    -----
                    Deli Unique
                    39495 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

                    Fly Trap Restaurant
                    22950 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220

                    1. re: Jack Freeman

                      Went to Mae's with the g-f yesterday morning.

                      Location: 50 yards south of 696 on woodward, ont he east side of the road. Itty-bitty, hard to find, but interesting location. The place has tons of character. Lots of vintage detroit items. Ample parking

                      Service: Excellent. Quick, personable, fun. Good music coming from someone's ipod.

                      Food: I wanted to like it. I really did. Alas, I really didn't. Two smoothies: Mixed Berry and the nutter butter. Mixed berry was ok. Not very smoothy-esque though. More like just.. berry juice. My Nutter Butter was plain gross. I think he forgot the banana or something, but it wasn't very good. I ordered the aebelskievers, and my g-f had the hillbilly. The menu is available online for anybody interested.

                      My Abelelskeievers were five doughy, deep-fried spherical balls with a syrupy raspberry sauce on it. The first one was good. Each successive one was an act in carb, sugar, grease overload. I really couldn't eat more than two. However, this is coming from somebody who can't finish a slice of cheesecake or creme brulee by himself. The bacon that came with it was decent. thick-sliced, slightly sugar cured. meaty without being too salty.

                      The Hillbilly was a biscuit + chickenfriedsteak + sausage gravy + Cheddar cheese + hot sauce + poached egg. Biscuit. Not your normal crumbly moist, stick to your ribs biscuit. It was doughy and chewy. Personal preference, I like the former. Chicken fried steak patty was decent. Crunchy with some good flavors and moist. Way too salty though, in my tastes. Sausage gravy was ok. The poached egg... wasn't poached. They were just hard boiled eggs.

                      Maybe my expectations were too high, but I left the restaurant kinda disappointed. Looking back, the food was decent (except for the smoothies). But everything was just TOO much, and not in a good way. I'd probably give it another whirl, but would not be my first choice for breakfast, esp with so many other excellent options in the area.

                      1. re: donbui82

                        Sounds like nothing has changed at Mae's over the past year. It was just about a year ago that I went, for the first and only time.

                        Thought the exact same as donbui82 about the aebelskievers--too greasy, too overwhelming. It's billed as a "pancake", which makes one think things like "grilled", "fluffy", "soft". No, this was like a donut hole that sat in a vat of oil before being served. My plate had a little dribble of whipped cream, where they had reached the bottom of their aerosol can of it, then ran out. They didn't even bother to clean off the dribble. They just served it, and said "we're out of whipped cream." Funny that a breakfast place would be out of whipped cream at 8:00 a.m.--they obviously weren't keeping tabs on their inventory/supplies.

                        Bacon was cooked burnt on one end, raw on the other.

                        Cappucino was FLAT without any foam. I was told that the "machine wasn't working properly", but was not even asked if I wanted a different drink.

                        Just seemed like they didn't know how to run a restaurant or serve customers... I thought it might've been growing pains, since they had recently opened. But it doesn't sound like much has improved over the past year. Too bad.

                        1. re: jjspw

                          I have to say I am somewhat relieved. I thought I was the only person that was disappointed in Mae's. Several of my friends/family rave about the place and I keep going back thinking it's got to get better. It's certainly an ok place, the atmosphere and retro vibe go a long way but it's really difficult to understand why the food is consistently...um...um...blah? Not sure what is going on with the lack of seasoning in any egg dish but then the overseasoning in other things. The last time I met friends there I decided to eat before I went..haha. I had the same Nutter Butter, mentioned above, and I couldn't finish it. What a gross smoothie. Anyway..the fun factor must be the reason this place is still in business. The people watching is excellent, the coffee is good and the toast is fine. No doubt I will be dragged back there again by another friend who "just loves that place".

                          1. re: NomNomNomNom

                            No, Nom, you're not the only one. As much as we wished we'd liked the place we won't be back. Food was beyond mediocre. Nice for coffee/tea and cool atmosphere. But otherwise, they need to step up their food, way too much $ for lame breakfasts. Looks can only get you so far.