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Sweet Lorraine’s, Southfield [DTW]

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Since the Friday crowds and masculine male meter maids chased me away from downtown Birmingham (Tallulah, Luxe, etc.) last night, I ended up at Sweet Lorraine’s (http://www.sweetlorraines.com/) in Southfield, for the first time in years. S.L., on Greenfield just north of 12mile, is tightly boxed-in between an electrical station, a Wendy’s, a dollar store and a row of $40,000 homes already bearing their garbage for Saturday morning pick up. Regardless, it seems to be a favorite dining spot for well-to-do Democrat types, and serves “world beat cuisine.”

Dinner menu prices (mp’s) run about $20, but soup/salad are extra and there are no bargains on the adequate wine list. This pricing, fairly or unfairly, caused me to have tough expectations during my long-past visit, and I hadn’t been “blown away.” Last night, however, I cut S.L. a little slack, and this allowed me to absolutely enjoy myself.

My family was seated immediately (even at 7:45PM Fri). Our server Ashley was very hard working and, well, would be daughter-in-law material if my kid was 20yrs older… We were then provided nice fresh corn muffins and some fantastic pan bread (focaccia-ish?) which was peculiarly paired with a tasty side of chilled house marinara.

My Pre K kid was hungry, so I was fortunate that a bowl of quality mac-n-cheese was rushed out. Soon after, arrived a sort-of kid’s Amish chicken homemade schnitzel, with a side of five grain rice substituted for fries. We felt deeply happy that our kid ate healthily—not an easy task when ordering from a kid’s menu in America!!!

My wife had an “avocado crabcake aioli BLT” with a side of perfect sweet potato fries. It was certainly good, but with ingredients like that, one could nearly replicate the unrefined results by going to Costco and compiling boxed frozen crabcakes, bulk bacon, hamburger buns, mayo, guacamole spread and corporate lettuce/tomatoes.

In other words, S.L.’s version may have been made by a trained chef using quality ingredients, but who could tell(?), since everything was such a big and rich mishmash. Sure, we finished every bite. But I’ve also pigged-out on a chili-fries-cheeseburger, in my day.

I ordered scallops and shrimp sautéed with fresh julienned veggies, in a creamy ginger dill wine sauce (served with rice pilaf). It was truly flawless, even if it didn’t take me to a place I’ve never before fathomed. I enjoyed it with a choice of several nice Michigan beers which were quite easy on the pocket book.

Well, after giving this place a second run, will I soon again be willing to spend mp $20 for healthy and EXCELLENT $17 food, that additionally is served in a personable, comfortable, hassle-free place, owned by a local* woman entrepreneur doing business here for over a quarter century (who is in to “ecology” and “sustainable agriculture,” “animal welfare,” starving artists, etc.)? Ummm, HECK YES!
*I was hoping owner Lorraine was a Wolverine but, alas, she was a Spartan.

My next report will be on the S.L. weekend breakfasts, which come highly recommended by CH’s Coney with Everything. Cheers

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  1. Hey, V, thanks for the update. This has always been a go-to place for me esp. for biz meetings. I find their steak/blue cheese salad irresistlble, as in after surgery I was screaming at my family to go get me one! Some things are pricey, I admit. I'm always a lunch person there. Glad your offspring ate well, always a good sign!

    1. VTB, sorry...I have yet to get to SL for brekkies. It's on my list, though :) The menu looks good to me

      I do like SL for lunch/dinner. It is a bit spendy, but if you are with a group there is something for everyone and the service has never disappointed.

      1. i went to sweet lorraine's for lunch last wednesday. first time in many years that i had set foot in the place (i used to go to her place in the lobby of the courtyard by marriott downtown occaisionally until she closed it a while back). only the downsatirs room was open and i grabbed the last two top. service was attentive. the bread and muffin were very good. i had a cup of vegetarian black bean soup ($3) and the "slc turkey club" - turkey, bacon, avacado, tomato, lettuce, and herbed-ranch on a brioche roll with house made chips ($10 ). the soup was ok and the sandwich was pretty good.

        1. Sweet Lorraine's is one of our favorite restaurants. We have been there countless times and the food and service have never let us down. We eat there a minium of twice a month and aside from Traffic Jam, we have never had more consistently good food. It may seem pricey but when you sign up for their email or go to the Valpak coupons website, there are always coupons available. I am more than willing to pay reasonable rates for high quality food! Their Tuna Nicoise Salad is my wife's favorite, I rarely order the same thing twice. They have great daily specials!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jack Freeman

            Thank you for the tips Jack Freeman. We went back for another dinner on Friday and had a good experience. I had the jambalaya with chicken, bearing sides of whole grain rices, and heirloom green beans. All quite good, with the meat being in generous portion.

            The rice arguably was cooked a bit too far, but when grains are mixed it is difficult to get them all tender without some types being “overly tender” (unless they’re prepared separately and mixed at the end, which I wouldn’t expect).

            The other comment I would add is that the yummy jambalaya is heavy on a non-standard ingredient (chipotles), and I think SL’s might do well to call this out on the menu, as such a pronounced flavor may turn off some diners. My soup was creamy mushroom. Delicious, but also surprise-containing: curry.

            My wife had the pot roast and a Lorraine’s Special side salad, which featured fine greens, Gorgonzola cheese, pears, hazelnuts and dried cranberries, as well as good poppy seed dressing. I do recommend that salad. The sweet and sourish pot roast gravy was fantastic in taste and was not greasy.

            I guess I usually make my pot roast at home, so I was surprised to see the beef arrive having been thinly sliced yet still maintaining its structure. In any event, it was well trimmed and tender. I didn’t think the beef had great flavor and I even doubted that it was chuck roast, even though they assured me it was.

            Anyway, with all that good gravy on it and homemade garlic mashed potatoes along side, my wife and I just happily ploughed forward. The fresh baked focaccia was very good (though not as good as on my first visit), but the fresh baked corn muffin was even better than before. I guess that is the nature of freshly handmade versus industrial controlled and preserved foodstuff manufacturing.

            My wife ordered a dessert of “Spring Trifle.” This winner was layers of sponge cake with house-made lemon curd in between, topped with fresh berries and a custard-sherry mousse, as well as raspberry puree squirts and a dollop of whipped cream*.
            *whipped cream, according to the menu, but it seemed like mascarpone cheese to me. Is it just me?... oh, me and a bottle of wine, that is, which I’d immediately enjoyed upon arriving home from work, before heading to SL’s for the pleasurable dinner.

            1. re: VTB

              VTB..how hilarious, we had the same trifle and couldn't figure out the whipped cream either. We knew it wasn't plain whipped cream..it was far too heavy (but not in a bad way). That was a great trifle!