Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Giovanni's on Oakwood in Detroit

The real boss of DetroitFood has yielded the floor for a moment.

Dinner at Giovanni's in Detroit tonight. It was wonderful, but...

I had the ravioli with boursin cheese and sun-dried tomatoes in a champagne cream sauce with crab. The sauce and crab were extraordinary, the sauce carrying the crab to an intense level, as good as these items get. Call it a crab-champagne-cream sauce. Alas, the pasta kind of disappeared in the sauce - I did not even really taste the cheese and tomato. The disappointment is that Giovanni's generally offers great pasta, but I didn't really get to enjoy it. The green salad with honey vinaigrette was just darn exciting. The vinegar and honey danced an energetic tango in my mouth. I loved it.

The other diners: I would not have guessed that salmon in tomato sauce would work. It worked. It worked, worked, worked. The veal in caper and lemon sauce was superb, the veal being perfectly cooked. I did not taste the perch in capers and lemon, but two of our party loved it. As always, the risotto was lovely, silky and flavorful.

What else? Um, the waitress was nice, enthusiastic, cheerful, attentive. She wasn't very experienced here and it showed.

Don't get me wrong - Giovanni's is always a treat. But, for the first time in a long time, it wasn't perfect. We'll be back.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Toasted Oak, Novi

I was graciously invited to a Women in Communications event at the newly opened Toasted Oak restaurant and market. Located inside the Renaissance Baronette hotel (former Hotel Baronette), just adjoining Twelve Oaks Mall, this was a wine and cheese meet and great --- but so much more!

Toasted Oak's executive chef is a former student and sous of chef Brian Polcyn, one of our great chefs and a real master of charcuterie. The generous spread included several Michigan cheeses, a Swiss type, and Pinconning farmhouse cheddar, served with their homemade spicy mustard with merlot, corn relish, bread and butter pickles, pickled cherries (intense cherry flavor), olives and their very rich caramel bacon sauce --great for the cheese dip.

A real standout was the smooth and lightly smoked trout pate and homemade salami sliced paper thin and capicola. A trio of wine, a Vielle Ferme blanc, Malbec and house sangria rounded out the menu.

The market section is reminiscent of an old deli -- big wood side boards, a glass case full of cheeses and homemade meats, shelves of their condiments, pickles and preserves and a nice wine selection, all in a comfortable space with a vintage looking tile floor. A low bar and free-standing cozy tables are available for snacks, charcuterie or just a drink. Two larger and rustic dining areas are open for lunch, dinner and brunch. Nice eclectic menu.

Not only complementary for our group, but we also received a $15 off for the next visit.

A good newcomer for the area, and a generous host for this group of first-timers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vienna beef dogs!

I love Vienna beef hot dogs, even though I'm not a real big hot dog eater. But their dogs, that snap, are irresistible.

So, driving down Adams one day, I glimpsed a Vienna beef umbrella. Eureka! It was in the parking of of Simply Food, corner of Lincoln and Adams in Birmingham. They have a Friday and Saturday Vienna beef/sausage cookout cart from 11:30 a.m. or so to 2 p.m. Simple dogs,dressed up or Chicago style, and sausage. My friend Kim and I had the Chicago dog -- dragged through the garden--pickle, tomato, neon green relish, sport peppers, celery seed. The whole shebang. Great bun, great dog. But I have to say, not as great as the lamented, late Red Hot Lovers in Ann Arbor, now incarted as Al's Dogs on East University.

It was great to have a good dog, but it didn't blow my skirt up as much as the A2 dogs. Nonetheless, I'm grateful we can access Vienna beef now and then here as it's only sold wholesale. And, yes, I've contacted the company -- no retail in our area in the near, or maybe far future.

Forest Grill, Birmingham

Totally enjoyed a late birthday lunch with my sister at Forest Grill in Birmingham. We ordered from the "stimulus package" lunch menu -- three courses for $15. (Dinner version is $30.)

Started with tomato bisque with puff pastry croute--piping hot, super flaky pastry, rich but light bisque. Entree was chicken paillard with aged balsamic vinegar topped with argula/bacon/asparagas, grilled onion salad--pefectly seasoned meat, homemade bacon smokey and assertive and wonderful baby greens. Dessert:chocolate flecked bread pudding w/ creme Anglaise and Tahitian vanilla ice cream and Juno rose to drink. Warm, professional service, sleek but comfortable space.

Will definitely go back, interesting menu and the "value" lunch was a real bargain given the quality of the cooking and the ingredients.

Update: Visited with four friends yesterday and ordered the grilled ham and cheese: black forest ham, gruyere cheese grilled on challa bread, lightly sauced with mornay. A big pile of good, crisp salty fries. $10. Again, very nice service, a great place to eat thoughtfully made food and enjoy friends.

Glad the chef, Brian Polcyn, got props on Bourdain's recent "No Reservations".

Forest Grill menus

Mae's Diner, Pleasant Ridge

We REALLY want to like this place...small, but airy, a little retro, very nice wait staff. My breakfast was really only a step up from egg McMuffin --fried egg on not toasted enough English muffin, a slice of processed cheddar, but the bacon was excellent. Co-diner's pancakes were totally different from the first time, which were light and airy. Not bad, just not consistent. Price of $13.25 for breakfast...too pricey for what we got. Frankly, on the par with a decent coney island/other diner.

Hope this may be just a chance of them getting their feet under them. It's a very pleasant spot, but maybe tea rather than a full breakfast. Anybody else been recently?

The site is pleasant, sunny, clean, roomy, though only a half dozen or so tables with a counter.

Located at 26040 Woodward, about a 1/2 mile north of Toast and Fly Trap, Mae's is fine addition to the Ferndale breakfast scene.