Detroit Trip Report (long!)
A great big thanks to all the Detroit ‘hounds for their recs. While we didn’t love everything we ate equally, there were no real duds in the bunch.
This long report is, more or less, in chronological order:
Mr Kabob— kabob place in Berkeley gas station: My first stop in the Motor City ‘burbs. We were definitely heartened by the steady stream of customers, and all the props that place seems to get. While we weren’t disappointed by anything, we weren’t blown away either, with the exception of the garlic sauce. I imagined that if I lived in the area Mr Kabob would be a great place to grab a decent, quick, and inexpensive lunch.
Price’s Pastries—Middle Eastern pastry shop: Not a lot to compare this place to, but the owner (I assume) was patient in explaining and generous with samples. Would return.
Sheeba’s—Yemini in Hamtramck: This place is probably the winner of the trip. All in my party, especially my brother in law, loved, loved, loved it. Not being the least familiar with Yemen food, one of the servers was very patient and helpful with us as we tried to make sense of the menu. We quickly realized that almost everything had lamb, not that this is a problem. We started with lamb soup, which tasted like something my grandmother would have made if I had had a Yemini grandmother. The hummus was good, and generously doused with olive oil. There was some frothy lamb dish (it’s described as having froth on the menu & I forget the name) which was lovely and had great totally unfamiliar flavors. We also had a roast lamb over basmati rice. The perfectly cooked rice absorbed all of the lovely lamb fat, and was delectable. My BIL was so enchanted by some fried white bean dish—which I thought was sort of meh—which he talked about it for at least two days. A particular standout was Sheeba’s hot, freshly baked bread served on a mat. This place is on the top of my list for when I return.
Polish Yacht Club—Polish (d’oh!), Detroit: What a step back into the past. I liked it the moment I sat down and they gave us a relish tray, which I think of as a particularly sweet Midwestern touch. Coleslaw was fantastic and addictive. Fried perch was solid, but could have used a bit of spice. The standouts in the Polish sampler platter were the kielbasa and the perfect potato pancakes. (Try saying that three times fast!) The pierogies were somewhat disappointing. For people who might read this and haven’t been there and aren’t familiar with the area, the restaurant is located on a street that isn’t near other establishments, or even many houses. Had we not seen photos beforehand on Yelp, we would have thought that we were in the wrong place. Oh, and I really loved the name.
Royal Eagle-for Russian Tea Room at St Stabbas Orthodox Monastery, Harper Woods: If there was a miss this trip food-wise, this was definitely it, although it wasn’t actually bad, just not especially good. I’d rate the food a solid C, going up to an A- for the dessert, which included a moist, floral tasting pound cake. While we didn’t love the food—and, it was the most expensive of the meals we had, at $20 a person—we gave the experience of being at the monastery and the tea room an A.
Al Ameer- Middle Eastern in Dearborn: What a place Warren Avenue is! I’d like to take days to explore the shops and bakeries and restaurants. I mainly picked Al Ameer out of the many suggestions because they offered raw kibbeh, which I’ve been eager to try. I’m happy to say that it was good (I’ve nothing to compare it to, though). I thought the tabouli was truly outstanding, and unlike the tabouli that I’m familiar with, which is mostly bulghur with a bunch of parsley, Al Ameer’s tabuli turned that proportion on its head to great results. Adored my lamb kabob sandwich that had the right amount char and was a perfect medium rare. I will order that again. Al Ameer hit all the right notes of being a warm, comfortable, affordable place with very nice service.
Chao Zhou Restaurant—Chinese in Madison Heights: This place has been open a month (ooh, hope I’m giving the DTW hounds a tip!), has non-Americanized Chinese food, and seems to specialize in noodles, rice, and dim sum. Had a great wonton noodle soup with homemade large flat rice noodles. (I don’t know if the thinner noodles they serve are hand pulled. My guess is that they aren’t since places with hand pulled noodles seem to advertise that fact.) Ordered generous shrimp dumplings from the dim sum menu. The place had a steady stream of customers throughout lunch. From what I tried, and from the look on the other diners’ faces—who all appeared to be Chinese—this place is a winner. I’d be overjoyed if there was a place like this in my neighborhood.
Good People Popcorn: This was a late rec. Good popcorn in cheery downtown setting.
And, yes, I had a coney at Layfette downtown. And will leave it at that.
There were more places that I wanted to try than I had time for. I’ll definitely be back. Thanks again to all the Detroit hounds. If any of you are headed to Baltimore, I’ll definitely return the favor.
Sorry. The urban gardens were about 2 blocks east of the Yacht Club, but on the same street (Farnsworth.) Also, with plant die off-they are looking a bit bedraggled. Truthfully, the biggest of the gardens-a peach-nectarine-pear orchard a street south of Farnsworth-doesn't look like much until you really look.