Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Right side of the tracks

Ypsi's Sidetrack brings great burgers and brew to the table

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Sidetrack's specialty is interesting beers: 16 drafts, including nine Michigan craft brews on tap, the highlight being Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. Others are Bell’s Oberon, the biggest seller, Hacker Pschorr’s Weisse, Great Lakes’ Edmunds Fitzgerald (“best porter in the Midwest”), Huma-Lupa-Licious from Short’s up in Antrim County, Woodchuck Amber hard cider from Vermont, and the only “lite” microbrew around, also from Short’s. Beer in bottles includes raspberry and cherry beers from Belgium, and 24 vodkas, mostly flavored, are also big. The Sidetrack is beloved by Ypsilanti-ans for its history and ambiance. The building, a pebble’s throw from the Amtrak tracks, has been a bar since 1850, according to French, a former antiques dealer, and it still uses the original, elaborately carved, dark wood bar. There’s a tin ceiling and lots of taxidermy, including a snarling bear cub; fresh flowers are quite welcome if a bit incongruous in the bar-rish setting. It’s a minor thrill to feel the trains rumble by (the earth moves) and hear the whistle blow, and some patrons request the patio; these are closely watched trains. The undisputed star of Sidetrack’s extensive menu is the burger. Five years ago, GQ magazine called it one of “the 20 hamburgers you must eat before you die,” nationally. Linda says her exact blend of fat and flesh, supplied by Hiller’s and delivered twice a day, is ground to her proprietary specs.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Upper crusty

A retro spin on dining at the Ford estate

Posted By on Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Last February, the Tearoom at the Eleanor and Edsel Ford estate at Gaukler Point on Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe Shores became the Cotswold Café. In May, armed with a tavern license, the café began serving dinner on the weekends. Cotswold, however, applies more directly to the Albert Kahn-designed...

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kebabs and beer

Middle Eastern fare gets paired with a full bar in Farmington Hills

Posted By on Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 12:00 AM

For many diners, the lack of a liquor license is a deal-breaker. That proclivity can relegate most Middle Eastern spots to a lunchtime treat rather than an evening pleasure. Farmington Hills’ 2Booli addresses the problem with not only a full bar but a happy hour that lasts all evening long, Monday through Friday. Draughts are $2.50, margaritas and martinis are $4, and featured wines of the week are also about $4, or $12-$15 a bottle. As the name makes clear, the restaurant has aspirations to address several cultures around the Mediterranean, rather than just the Lebanon from which the owners’ parents emigrated. Bruschetta, polenta, fritto misto, clam linguine, and a meatball sub share the menu with tabbouleh and falafel.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Northbound lodge

Loon River Café lends Up North warmth to Sterling Heights

Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 12:00 AM

The café, which seats 160, creates its own rustic atmosphere with a shingle and stone exterior and a lodge-like interior flaunting the obligatory moose head over a huge stone fireplace, fishing and hunting prints, stuffed animals, a full gun rack, and other outdoorsy paraphernalia. Those looking for a light meal can choose Buffalo chicken salad with slightly assertive pieces of chicken, along with onions and blue cheese, mercifully not drowned in a ranch dressing. Cobb, Caesar and grilled-salmon Dijon Caesar are among the rest of the greenery. Most of the mains range from $11 to $19. The Lake Shore portion of the menu is highlighted by walleye from renowned Red Lake, Minn., and Keewanaw whitefish from Lake Superior. Both can be ordered in a variety of ways, with the moist and nutty-sweet sautéed walleye a winner, while the whitefish is enhanced with bacon. You can sample a mini-sirloin steak, one large pork chop and a half portion of one of the fish specialties in the Midwest mixed grill, which is quite reasonably priced at $16.99. The majority of the bottles on the short but well-selected wine list are less than $30. These can be drunk, along with a nice array of beer and spirits, at the handsome elevated wood-paneled lounge adjacent to the dining space.

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