Category: "Detroit, MI"

Sumo Sushi - Rochester, MI

March 9th, 2012

I do not want my sushi cooked. Sumo Sushi offers only a few raw items on its specialty sushi menu and that is a turn off for me. I know many people who don't want raw sushi, and if you are like them, this is your place.

We have been a few times, and I find the sushi generally unremarkable. I did like their Rainbow Roll, which is raw. And their Lobster Roll and Three Musketeers Roll (both cooked) are good. Unfortunately, compared to Sakura which is just up the street, they are probably the only reasons to eat here.

http://sumosushiandseafood.com/

Sakura - Rochester Hills, MI

February 22nd, 2012

Sakura is a sushi restaurant tucked away in an awkward corner of the Papa Joe's shopping center. It might be difficult to find, but it is worth the effort. This has become my favorite restaurant. Yes, I called this my favorite restaurant, not just my favorite sushi restaurant. The fish is just of a higher quality than that offered at other sushi places. The freshness is the pride of Sakura's owner, who is frequently on site interacting with customers.

At any sushi restaurant, I need to eat a lot to eat my fill. Our standard order contains at least 1 Bom Bom Ba Roll, 1 Manhattan Roll, and 1 Spicy Scallop Roll. Their Volcano Roll is pretty awesome, too. I think sushi is expensive, generally speaking, and Sakura is no exception. They did, however, just start a program with Oakland University where students get a discount on their bill. That doesn't do me any good, but maybe it will save you a few bucks.

This place just can't be beat. I highly recommend it.

6866 North Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, MI (248) 608-3867
www.sakurafusionsushi.com/

Antica Pizzeria Fellini - Royal Oak, MI

November 29th, 2011

415 S. Washington Royal Oak, MI (248) 547-2751

This pizzeria is awesome. They import their ingredients, their process, and even their pizzaiolo from Naples, Italy. (Pizzaiolo is roughly Italian for "pizza maker.") The dough is just crusty enough on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. The cheeses are fresh and delicious. I cannot write about this place without yearning for another bite.

When you eat at a restaurant that uses higher-quality products, you will pay more. You will have to decide for yourself if $15-$17 for a plate-sized pizza is too expensive. Let me offer this suggestion, however, have one first and then decide if it was worth the price. You can get pizza that costs less from many other places, but pizza from Antica Pizzeria Fellini is an entirely different experience. And it is an experience that I say is worth the price, but probably not even once a month. As much as I loved the food, this is still not a place where I will eat with any regularity due to the price, but it is a place to which I cannot wait to return because the food was so good.

For four of us, we started with two orders of Bruschetta. Our server suggested that for four people, one order might not suffice. For thinly-sliced, lightly toasted bread topped with chopped tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and some Italian herbs and spices...it was just delicious. The consensus at the table, then, was that we would each forgo our pizzas for more Bruschetta. I don't like to think of what might have happened if we'd only had one order...

Calzones and strombolis were much more available along the Atlantic coast than here in the Midwest; I've never understood why. When I saw that a calzone was on the menu, I had to have it. I am sure that you have a list of ingredients that you feel make any dish better. One of the items on my list is ricotta cheese, which also happens to be a staple in calzones. The dough was so good. The cheeses were so good. The salami/ham (Artisan Salame) was so good. I lie awake at night thinking about this calzone. If only it were bigger; I was still hungry when it was gone (though I eat more than the average person, generally).

Our friends suggested that the pizzas here were big enough to order three pizzas for four people, so keep that in mind when you go. I would consider that to be a fair assessment, unless you want leftovers to take home. It might make more sense to just let everyone order their own, which is what we did.

In addition to my calzone, there were two orders for the (house specialty) Fellini and one for the Sofia. The Fellini, I'm told, was very good. The presentation sets it apart from the other pizzas on the menu; it is a star-shaped pizza and each of the star points is a pocket full of sauteed vegetables. When I told my coworkers about the Fellini, I believed at that moment that I had helped this pizzeria sell a few more.

I was given a piece of a piece of the Sofia, piled high with prosciuto and arugula. How can you go wrong with those toppings? Ok, let me expand on that. I have had this same pizza from another local brick-oven chain (one known for its pizza and wine, if you know the place) and it was good, but the Sofia from Pizzeria Fellini is major league and that other place plays double A ball. Honestly, I will have a difficult time choosing between the calzone or the Sofia next time. I cannot stress enough how important the right ingredients are and how much better they can make your food taste.

Leave room for dessert? We shared a cannoli and a light but flavorful pistachio/custard gelato dish called Coppa Pistachio. I recommend the cannoli. And the pistachio dish was good, but not worth the money.

And if you are still reading and are not already on your way to Pizzeria Fellini, grab a bottle (or two) of wine. The place is BYOB and there is no corking fee. So they will open your booze and pour it for you and not hit you with fees. Glorious.

I cannot speak highly enough of my meal at Antica Pizzeria Fellini. Keep that brick oven warm, I will be back.

Lola's - Detroit, MI

September 13th, 2006

Lola's is one of a few places in the Harmonie Park area of Downtown Detroit that features both dining and live jazz. Last night we went for the former, though I could easily see myself going back for the latter. We definitely had a positive experience at Lola's.

The menu does not fit well into any defined genre I know. It seemed to pull from a variety of influences and added depth and variety to the menu as a result. I had a rather difficult time picking what I wanted and I'll go through my thought process before I actually go into how anything tasted.

A few main courses that I considered were: Crawfish Etoufee, Fried Rice (yes, it was a main dish), Lobster B.L.T., Tempura Shrimp, and Lola's Fried Chicken. I was initially leaning most towards the fried chicken, but opted against because of the side dishes. I did not want the black beans or the corn succotash. So I didn't get the Fried Chicken. I was very curious for the fried rice, but couldn't justify getting that as an entree my first time at Lola's when there were so many other appealing menu items. I love lobster meat, though it did not take long for my eyes to gravitate away from the Lobster B.L.T.. The sandwich was listed at $16 and I rationalized that there would hardly be any actual lobster meat on it for that price. I opted against both the Tempura Shrimp and Crawfish Etoufee because of the appetizer menu. I wanted both the BBQ Shrimp and the Crab, Crawfish and Corn Fritters as appetizers for the table and did not want to have the same featured ingredient in both my appetizer and entree. By this point in my selection process the server will be back any minute and I need to make my decision since I have now talked myself out of each dish above. In an item description I see the words "Our famous" and my attention was grabbed enough to order accordingly. Those two words were the only way I could ever justify ordering the Bacon Cheeseburger on a menu like Lola's. And even with that description, I do feel that I kind of took the easy way out. But I'm ok with that.

Both of the appetizers were listed at $10 per. I feel that the Fritters was a better deal since there are more ingredients and at least you got 5 of them, which worked out well since we had 5 people in our party. The BBQ shrimp came as only three shrimp, which makes it hard for me to justify the price.

Both dishes were great. The Fritters were roughly the size of a chocolate truffle, so I would have liked more than one to fully appreciate the flavor. I expected a more New Orleans spin on the Shrimp (based upon some other things on the menu), meaning more spice. They didn't necessarily need the heat, but I think it would have been a nice addition.

My cheeseburger...oh my cheeseburger. It comes with your choice of cheese, I picked cheddar. My juicy cheeseburger came topped with the cheese and applewood smoked bacon on an onion roll. I guess I should also tell you that it came with lettuce, tomato and red onion, though I kept that all off of my burger. Served with a glorified french fry potato chip hybrid for $13, I thought the burger was a steal. Especially since it was one of the best cheeseburgers I have ever had.

I wanted dessert, but my company was too full. The dishes that were responsible were Thai Snapper (x2), Lobster B.L.T. and a Smoked Turkey Reuben. I never get dessert if I am the only one, but last night I was tempted to break that tradition. Lola's offers a Ginger Beer Float that really sounded particularly delicious after my burger. Though I'm still disappointed that one dinner mate opted against dessert after she mentioned that she was considering the Aphrodisiac in place of her meal before we ordered dinner. Two glasses of chocolate Port and Lola's chocolate lava cake (or whatever it was, you get the idea). I think that would have been a little over the top chocolate-wise, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't suffer through it if I had to.

The place was smaller than I would have expected going in. Sitting towards the rear of the restaurant may feel more "out to dinner," but up front the space was too open. I think it would be a great place to watch their live jazz, but I was hoping for a more intimate feeling from the restaurant, which I did not get at our table. I was also briefly disappointed when they did not have the flavored liquor one of my table mates tried to order for her cocktail. I would think they would keep their bar well stocked, but I am not sure lacking orange vodka can really be considered a strike against the place.

I would definitely go back to Lola's.

Lola's Restaurant, 1427 Randolph St Detroit, MI 48226-2213
313-962-0483

Lelli's Restaurant - Auburn Hills, MI

January 31st, 2006

Conversations began last week about my search for a "go-to" local steakhouse. When I have guests in from out of town and a nice dinner is in order, I would like to know that I can make one phone call and have my reservation. We have the usual chain steakhouses and they are very good, but when I travel I like to taste the local flavor. Doesn't Detroit have any? A coworker suggested Lelli's in Auburn Hills/Pontiac; I had never been. The next thing I did was make the reservation.

My parents and I arrived at 6:45PM on Saturday for dinner. The restaurant was not overly crowded, which I thought was nice. It began to fill up while we ate, not too surprisingly.

Lelli's is definitely a restaurant to consider if you are looking for large amounts of food. Each entree comes with the antipasto tray, salad, soup (Minestrone Lelli), spaghetti (w/ meat sauce), and spumoni for dessert.

The antipasto tray came with one of each item per person, with the exception of the black olives which none of us touched. The tray had pepperoncini, black olives, thinly sliced pepperoni, what I believe was mortadella, cheese, and shrimp.

I try to not season food when I get it. When something is placed in front of me at the restaurant I feel at that time it is truly how the chef intends it to be and adding even salt and/or pepper will detract from the full experience. I should have thrown this practice out the window when the minestrone came. Sure, I ate it all, but I felt it was slightly bland.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did not get the spaghetti, but rather the palmina (penne in a creamy tomato sauce). For someone who claims to not get too excited over pasta, this is now the second meal in three months nearly highlighted by the pasta course. The palmina was unique to those who ordered the porterhouse as I had. I would order this as an entree and forgo the rest of the meal; it was that good.

My steak was a beautifully cut porterhouse. Big, juicy, and cooked to my specification: life is good. On the steak's merit alone I would go back to Lelli's; plain and simple. It was not the best I have had, but it was very good.

I opted against the spumoni and chose the homemade chocolate ice cream instead. I recommend you do the same, it was great.

Overall, the meal had high points and low points. Most of them do, in my experience. Unfortunately one big blemish on Lelli's record in my mind was the service. When you go to a semi-fancy dinner out you should be able to expect above average service. I would have even accepted average service... I have said it before and I will continue to say it: customer service is so very important. When a place gets that right, it is truly special. Lelli's got service all wrong.

What I had hoped for was a special night out to dinner with my parents. That is absolutely what I had. I am able to separate any complaints I had with the food or the restaurant from the occasion with my family. When all is said and done I would go back to Lelli's, but the circumstances would need to be abnormal. The search for my "go-to" steakhouse continues...

Red Coat Tavern - Royal Oak, MI

December 23rd, 2005

There is no hesitation in calling this one of my favorite restaurants in Michigan. I only wish that I made the effort to go more often.

The signs are hard to read, but you find Red Coat on the east side of Woodward, north of 13 mile road. The building is not a large one, and it has the feel of a lodge in the woods. You will probably want to call ahead to put your name on the to-be-seated list as it is usually pretty busy.
(248) 549-0300

The menu is complete with Traditional "American" foods, but I don't need it when I go there. I always do and always will get the same thing. I start with a bowl of clam chowder, then I have a cheeseburger and onion rings. Each item is the best I have had. There is really nothing like a good hand battered onion ring. I could make a meal just out of these. If you're so inclined, they do have a "burger sauce" which I believe is a mayonnaise based sauce with minced onion. I haven't had it, so I cannot comment; cheese and ketchup suits me just fine.

The prices are extremely reasonable. When I was there the other night, there were 7 of us having dinner. Including a few drinks, before tip, our bill was $90. The large party was probably not advisable on such a busy night, but there was not too much of a problem seating us.

The staff is friendly and accomodating. I have never had any complaints, but there has been more than one occassion when they have gone out of their way for me. That is always appreciated.

Xochimilco - Detroit, MI

May 18th, 2005

The signs say Mexicantown, though some call it "Mexican Village". Whichever way you say it, this area of Detroit is home to Xochimilco's Restaurant.

I have never been to Mexico so I cannot speak to the authenticity of their Mexican menu, but what I can tell you is that the food is delicious.

I would accept take out from Xochimilco if I absolutely had to, but eating there is part of the fun. The place is dimly lit and has nothing too exciting lining its walls, but it is still a great place to eat.

You get a bottomless basket of fresh tortilla chips with salsa (both mild and hot) to snack on before, during and after your meal. A tip I got from Nick, who is the kind soul who shared this little Shangri-La with me, is to never leave Xochimilco with any less than two large chips and two large mild salsas in my hands. Pricing is on the appetizer side of the menu to see how much that will run you out the door. The chips have a decent shelf life and the salsa is so fresh when you get it. You have a snack for a few days, assuming you don't eat it all on the ride home. And if you're thirsty, I believe all beers, domestic and imported, are $3 and you see plenty of margaritas on the tables to round out your Mexican meal.

You would be hard pressed to find a sit down restaurant that takes less time between order placement and delivery of food. It does not take long to eat at Xochimilco, so keep this in mind if you pull up and see a line for a table. Prices are also very reasonable.

I do not get down to Xochimilco nearly as often as I would like. It is hard for me to justify the trip down to Detroit on my own, but any time I find a willing companion I head south. It's pretty easy to get there from north of Detroit as you just take I-75 south to exit 47-B which is the exit for the bridge. Do not get on the bridge, mind you. After a series of left turns you end up facing Mexicantown. The address is 3409 Bagley St. (You can also take 96 east and get off at the exit for the bridge.) Parking is limited directly next to the restaurant, but there is an extended lot just beyond.

If you could pick one restaurant that excites me most when I get to go there, this is it.