Food Stuff

Garden parties, unfair restaurants, Opus One's rebrand and more

Garden path  Summer is here, and garden parties at Detroit's the Whitney are in full swing. This week's shindig will feature the band Pink Lightning, as well as food and drink specials in the Whitney's beautiful patio space. The parties will run every Thursday until Aug. 30 (with the exception of July 5, due to the holiday), and each event will feature a performance by a different local band. The parties happen from 5 to 8 p.m., with the band starting at about 6 p.m., and with food and drink specials until 7 p.m. at 4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-5700; free to attend.

Fair fare  The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United has recently published a pocket guide of some of America's most popular restaurants. The purpose? To shed light on how badly some employees are treated. The guide handily helps readers see the worst restaurants for workers. Unsurprisingly, just about all of the American fast-food staples are on the list, but so are many restaurants without the ominous reputation many fast-food restaurants have. The guide gives poor marks to Panera Bread, P.F. Chang's and Red Lobster, as well as IHOP, Cold Stone Creamery and Starbucks. Not all popular chain restaurants were ranked poorly — just most of them. Five Guys Burgers and Fries was awarded a gold medal for its treatment of employees. Slows Bar-B-Q and Zingerman's Deli, among others, were also praised. But the slew of low ratings and alleged illegal activities is a sign that restaurant employee unions are more important than ever. See a PDF of the report at

Opus Two  At 11 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, Detroit's Opus One restaurant will close for remodeling, scheduled to reopen as Opus (Next) in November. The restaurant, which marked its 25th anniversary this year, will still offer catering services during the makeover, which will be documented on a blog accessible through Opus One's Facebook account. Call 313-961-7766, ext. 400, or head in for one last drink in a Detroit classic at 565 E. Larned St., Detroit.

Nudi-tea  We got some awesome jasmine mint tea from a company called Idler's Tea. The tea was great, packed in mesh bags, and it came packed in a cleverly labeled black Ball jar, nestled in a box of wood shavings. It even had a typewritten note from the company president, Isaac, that seemed like a friendly letter from a slightly deranged dadaist. Then we went to the website, It's cluttered with text and testimonials, sort of like a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap. Only it has some images that are, as they say these days, NSFW. Look if you dare. ...

Know of any upcoming events related to food, drink or gardening? Let us know! Send them to [email protected] or call 313-202-8043.


Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner

by Giada De Laurentiis

Clarkson Potter, $35

For those who consider a pan-fried burger or a store-bought rotisserie chicken the easiest way to put dinner on the table, the title of Giada De Laurentiis' latest book, Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner might be misleading. But the book might convince you to think about the value of the extra effort that it takes to expand your mid-week repertoire. There are some appealing variations on dinner fare, such as the eggs Florentine in the "breakfast for dinner" chapter. Combine the tomato-basil bread pudding with a caramelized onion, chicken and grapefruit salad for a meal with blasts of flavors and textures.

the works  The easiest way to baste meat on a grill is with a brush that lets you glaze it without applying a thick coating that masks the flavor. The problem with soft-bristle brushes? They burn and they are difficult to clean. Silicone will withstand high heat and can be cleaned up in the dishwasher. This one even looks good, with a choice of colors and a stainless-steel handle. Beware, sugar, which is always in catsup and purchased barbecue sauce, will burn over high heat. Use it judiciously and serve more on the side. Available exclusively at Sur La Table for $12.95.

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