Friday, September 20, 2013
These sausages are locally produced in Detroit with pasture raised meats and all poultry coming from MI. They use non GMOs and fresh herbs, which you will tell immediately by tasting these delicious herbs in every bite.
My absolute favorite so far is the Turkey & Red Mole that has tomatillo, chilies, cocoa nibs, raisins, sesame, and spices. The intense flavors of these ingredients really shines with this sweet and slightly spicy mixture. Nothing compares. My latest love from them is the Apple, Sage & Pork that has dried apples, coriander, sage, and maple. This is giving the turkey and red mole a run for its money. This one reaches a little higher on the sweetness factor and less on the spicy side as compared to the mole. The sweetness is still controlled and not overwhelming. When eating these side by side, determining which bite to end with was extremely difficult. I believe you'll fumble with the eternal question as well.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find them in any stores, only at the farmers markets in Royal Oak and Eastern Market. They may be at others as well, not sure. They always have samples out, take advantage of all the options and find the one that makes you reach your happy place, it won't be just one, I promise.
I've now tried their Corned Beef, Hot Brown, BCT, Korean, Lamb, Bologna, Cuban, Truffle Fries, Tempeh, Mystery Meat (changes daily, Blackened Ahi Tuna, Lobster Claw on the days I was there), Le Poutine, Gyro, PB&J W/ Bacon, and Buffalo Chicken.
It's difficult to describe each one, but one of my favorites so far is the corned beef. Their Mustard Aioli is perfect with the corned beef. It has great contrast of the tart mustard and the saltiness of the corned beef. You'll wish it wasn't the size of a slider, more like a huge deli sandwich since its so good. The other surprising slider is their Tempeh. This is a slider that will make every vegetarian salivate and love each bite. It has a thick cut of tempeh and wasabi mayo with wakame salad. Be prepared to lick your fingers clean after eating this slider. It truly is an excellent harmony of texture and flavor.
Green Dot is the only place I want to have sliders now. In my mind it is the ONLY place for sliders. It has variety, originality, flavor, excitement, and texture. I need no more.
The sandwich was suppose to have some shrimp and oysters on it right? I found a few and wish I could evaluate the sandwich, but it really didn't have enough to have an opinion. What was there, I suppose it was fine. The breading was fine, but the flavor wasn't outstanding and even good. It was, well, .... "I've experienced better".
On the first visit I had their Naan Chips & Hummus; Half Grilled Cheese; Apple Quinoa; and Walleye Chowder. The two items that were good were the chips and hummus and the walleye chowder. These naan chips are flavorful, not too greasy, and has good balance with their hummus. The chowder was delightfully creamy with nice little chunks of fish throughout. The two that was not so good...the grilled cheese and quinoa. The grilled cheese had milder cheese so it was harder to identify the cheese. The real negative to this dish was how the grilled cheese was overly greasy. Is not the "tastes good, but unhealthy" greasy, it's the "it's hard to finish it" because of how greasy it is. The quinoa was over flavored withe their citrus acid. It was over lemon-ed or something. Not that good.
Visit one would have scored probably two stars.
Visit two, I tried their Box Lunch: crab cake with cabbage slaw, miso soup, beet salad, housemade vinegar and salt chips, with a bumpy cupcake for dessert. They get an extra star for this visit. The crab cake was delicious with the right crunch from the cabbage. The flavor of the crab came right through. The miso soup wasn't exactly the best I've ever had nor did it have the exact flavor from a Japanese restaurant, but it decent. It was still tasty with a nice miso flavor, but it taste a tiny bit watered down. The beet salad was by nice, with a light amount of dressing. My only issue with the salad was that it was mostly lettuce and should have had more beets. The chips were delightful. Homemade, crunchy, lightly salted, and a mild vinegar flavor. Now that bumpy cake, wow was that great. It was deliciously soft and sweet.
This box lunch convinced me to gladly try out gastronomy again.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Starting with the Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon Rugelach. It is made well and was a worthy rugelach. The outside coating of cinnamon was backed in well and the inside was still soft and moist. If they sit too long, they get dried out, but it was still fresh.
When a cannoli like the Janolie is in the case, anyone in their right mind would not walk past it and ignore it. It was cannoli-like style pastry with white chocolate mousse and a florentine cookie. The dark chocolate at each end is perfect to close off each side. The white chocolate mousse is slightly on the sweeter side because of the white chocolate, but not overwhelming. The star in this cannoli was the florentine cookie. It has this wonderful crunch to it and I think the flavor is better than the standard deep fried cannoli shell. If I had the choice between the two, I would pick the florentine each day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
I started with their BBQ Pork Rinds. They are crunchy, fresh, and have a bit of zest from the BBQ seasoning. I highly recommend finishing the bag when you order it. They do not keep well to the next day. I tried it and they keep their appearance, although lose all the texture. They lose the crunch and pop of their original state.
On the recommendation of the gentleman behind the counter, the Turkey Melt was next. He was right, it was a good selection with a very nice complex dressing and fresh greens, given it a nice garden flavor. The turkey meat was very good in flavor and texture. With it paired up with the dressing, it's a nice sandwich to try.
The last sandwich was the Bahn Mi. I really enjoy a tradition Bahn Mi and these sandwiches are seeming to become more popular among trendy restaurants with their own twist. I think most of these places should stick to serving the traditional sandwich. If you really can't elevate it, you should stick to the original. Ink Sack's version tries to give a slightly new flavor but keep the familiar sandwich. What it delivers is a sandwich that reminds you of a Bahn Mi, but really is does not. It does not come close to having those wonderful fresh flavors of cucumber and cilantro with a bit of spiciness. It's not a bad sandwich, it's just not a good knock off of a Bahn Mi. I'm sure there are better sandwiches to try here.
I tried two tacos, one fish and one vegetarian. The Fish Taco had a corn tortilla, cheese, cabbage, and grilled white fish. I expected dried out cubed pieces of fish, but found nicely grilled fish that was still juicy and had a s ma ll charred grilled flavor. I should also point out its nice to see corn tortilla shells instead of flour.
Vegetarians, you have a pretty tasty taco here, so feel free to join your omnivorous friends. The Tofu Taco came on a corn tortilla with lettuce and Polynesian marinade sauté. They use extra firm tofu so its not mushy. The star here is the marinade that sweetens the taco making you lick your chops.
Its fast, simple, delicious, and accommodating.
Well, it was ok, but I had higher expectations. I anticipated the buffalo sauce to have more of a presence and maybe more heat as well. The apples should have given it more flavor, but unfortunately you could barely taste them. I was hoping its sweet flavor would come through more, but it didn't.
It's was an okay sandwich with potential. With their creative menu pairings, I would try it again and hope they deliver more complex flavors.
I was presented the question at this truck and given the opportunity, I went with Sweet Potato Fries. They were not greasy, nice and crunchy on the outside with a soft inside. It's a nice cup of sweet potato fries. They certainly are not the best I've ever had, but not the worst either. I wish it was a tad bit sweeter. Some places will sprinkle a brown sugar mix, satisfying the sweet craving. I wish they would have added another element giving it not just a single note of flavor. But who am I kidding, I'm just talking about fries.
Now when you're presented with the question, sweet or salty, which will you go with?
Monday, August 05, 2013
Your breakfast, even if its a carb-fest, will start with their Complimentary Poppy seed Muffin. It's a nice way to welcome you in, start satisfying that burning desire to eat. Each day, it was fresh and soft. It's just a poppy seed, not a lemon poppy seed. Don't get your hopes up.
Their Breakfast Sandwich, which has scrambled eggs, bacon, pico se gallo, avocado, grilled spinach, jack cheese, and mayo are really nice ingredients. They all work together for a nice blend of flavors. However, the combination screams to be tucked in between some fresh bread made that morning. What you get is two basic pieces of toast. Not too exciting.
The Breakfast Burrito is one mamma jamma. it includes eggs, spinach, apple chicken sausage, avocado, swiss cheese, and pico de gallo. You cant squeeze in anymore ingredients because the tortilla shell couldn't fit it. This is a full size burrito that will keep you full throughout the day. The nice addition to this is the chicken sausage. It needed that slight touch of oil, spice, and protein to heighten its full effect.
Their best was for last, their Latte Eggs Benedict. I would certainly get this one again. It's not the typical benedict, it's nice to see some originality. I enjoyed the toast underneath instead of the standard muffin. The fresh spinach, some would say is why are you trying to dress it up as a healthy dish or trying to squeeze veggies where they don't belong. I on the other hand like to have the inclusion of the veggies and welcome it to be slightly healthier. The spinach does give it a bit more earthy touch and all most makes it a bit "lighter".
The staff was always really nice and when you're the first in there, the place is pretty quiet.
I tried two versions of Awaze Tibbs, beef in a special red pepper sauce and a mild version with a touch turmeric instead of the pepper sauce. When they come to the table, just close your eyes and take in the aroma. From either dish, they have such a full bodied aromatic presence, filling the air with turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin. It will be pretty difficult to try and forget about the flavor of these dishes. They are packed with flavor and when it's soaked up with the injera bread, you really can't stop eating it even when your stomach is about to explode. This brings me to the other highlight, the injera. It's prepared very well, soft, fluffy, and full of sour dough flavor. Some places rush the making and is too bland. Here it has the full flavor it should.
The downfall for both dishes was the tenderness of the meat. In both cases, the meat is overcooked and difficult to chew. I am not sure if its the cut of meat they use or if it was overcooked and now just tough, but both dishes the meat was too hard.
You will not leave hungry because the portions are very large. I had my dish for dinner that evening, a couple of bites later that night, then some the next day. The staff was very nice and welcoming making the visit very pleasant.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
The place is elegant and comforting inside. It's fancy, but not pretentious. The staff are very nice and welcoming. My server was extremely helpful in explaining the menu and how the salads and the side dishes can be half orders to try multiple dishes.
I started with the Arugula Salad that had a refreshing light lemon dressing, nicely and roasted pine nuts. The parmesan balances the bitterness of the arugula even though it was very mild. Its hard to tell from the picture the size of this half-order, but its basically a full side salad. There is nothing half about it. Its a delicious, light, and flavorful dish to start.
On the other side of the spectrum, a completely different flavor profile, I tried the Beet Salad that it includes both red and white beets, whole and puree. It was beautifully smooth and balanced. The puree was fantastic on the bottom. The perfect textural differences between the whole and puree beets. The cheese was mildly salty and creamy, in which the salt was necessary to neutralize the beets contrast. Its a well thought out complex dish that works.
The true highlight of the evening, the entree that will make me dream about food was their Black Cod wrapped in Speck with Pepperoncini. When I go back, whichever dish I select, I do not care how full I am, I am also ordering this along with my other entree. I cannot go here and not get this dish. Let me get right to it. The cod is truly amazing. If I say it melts, its an understatement. The texture was so delicate. The speck adds that harder shell to that soft cod and that needed saltiness to the buttery fish. I expected the speck to be hard to cut through, but without any difficult, I sliced through without smashing the fish. Each bite of this combination made me pause, making me reach the conclusion that I could not believe food could taste this good. To summarize this entree, it's salty, buttery, soft, hard, and juicy.
Trying two sides with the first being Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, well I unfortunately have to say that I have tried better. They are cooked well, crispy while still soft inside, but it was the bacon that was disappointing. There is supposed to be bacon in this dish right? They were present, but it was these tiny diced pieces that you really could not find nor enjoy.
On the recommendation of the server, the next side was the Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms. You have brought be back to bliss. Being a first timer to Hen Of The Woods, I did not know what to expect visually, texturally, and in flavor. These were hardy and thick shrooms that I now look for at other places and grocery shopping, but come out empty handed each time. I only hope I can find them again soon. Most were think, but you could find a few that were thin and crunchy from the cooking process give both the meaty and crunchy texture.
Before dessert arrived, I was treated to a pre-dessert, a Lemon Posset. Having a nice lemon base, smooth texture, and small crunch from the crumbles, my palate was cleansed and ready for dessert.
My stomach wasn't though. I was stuffed at this point, but I had to keep going.
I asked for something light since I have already eaten probably 3,000 calories by now. The server recommended the panna cotta with it being so light and airy. The Butterscotch Panna Cotta with Apple Fritters & Pecan Crumble arrived which turns out to be such a wonderful dessert. The panna cotta is light, airy, and smooth. The server was absolutely correct in his recommendation. I thought the panna cotta was good, then I tried the freshly made fritters. Oh my, my oh my. Soft, warm, carby, cinnamon, a touch of heaven.
I'm done, I can't eat anymore. Wait, what is the server bringing me now? I know it's going to be delicious, but I seriously don't know if I can shove it down my throat.
The after-dessert dessert arrived. It was a Blood Orange Marshmallow, Brownie, and Oatmeal Cookie. The cookie and the brownie were both spot on flavor with the brownie being deliciously rich. Even with it being small portions, I still couldn't finish them. The marshmallow though I could finish. It was sweet with that orange hint, nice and refreshing.
Okay, so they made a spectacular dinner. You get five-stars for the evening, but I didn't realize they would treat me to a small breakfast as well. The evening ended with them bringing a complimentary Raspberry Muffin for tomorrow. It's nice and light, moist and a nice little muffin to wake up to.
A perfect place with perfect food.
Monday, July 22, 2013
They had some nontraditional flavors and the server said we could make any flavor we wish but would need a few days. He told me their most popular and regularly available flavor is the Brown Bread.
I tried two flavors, Salted Maple Oreo (top) and Brown Bread (below). It was tough to decide which to end with and after lots of spoonfuls of each, I decided the better of the two was the Salted Maple Oreo. It had the sweetness contrasted with the saltiness. Then you have the crunch from the Oreo pieces, it wins the match. The Brown Bread was good to. They use Grape Nutes in it to simulate the "crunchy" pieces of bread. It definitely has texture. Those Grape Nuts never get soggy even being in the ice cream for a while.
I would have liked to see some exotic flavors, but who am I kidding, I enjoyed both flavors. I would rather have two that I enjoyed than have some crazy ones and only have the thrill, but terrible taste.
On Bizarre Foods, Andrew Zimmern tries their Soondae Plate or their Blood Sausage. In walking in his footsteps, lets order away and try it out. I just ordered a sample plate of it and it is really surprising it. It's cooked really well with the casing being super delicate and the flavors are very mild. You do not have any metallic or mineral heavy dense flavor. It's rather light and the blood only gives is a small subtle enhanced flavor. The rice inside is well textured and wonderfully soft. This was a good choice.
My adventure continues with their Home Made Style Duen Jang with Assorted Vegetable. This is a special soup. It is an assortment of everything; vegetables and flavors. It's served in a hot pot bowl, so the temperature is unbelievably hot. It's still boiling and it probably continue to boil for the next 30 minutes. I am not sure what those bowls are made of, but they certainly keep soup above the temperature at which you can eat it. Finally after it falls from the temperature of the sun, it is very rich of flavor and spices. It's very unique in that the flavors really meld together into one that really is indescribable. The tofu in the dish is constantly be cooked by the broth and takes on that flavor as well. Tofu either can keep its original bland flavor and help bring on its accented flavor of its dish. It certainly adopts its soup flavor.
It's an adventure to eat here and take in the ambiance. You will for sure have a harder time parking than choosing what to eat. The parking situation is pretty terrible. The parking lot is primarily valet so you are stuck finding a place in the neighborhood in the street. Expect to park several blocks away and walk in.
I am in the right place with the menu has an actual section for insects! They are not hiding it or putting an slick names to hid what they are. It's straight up scorpions, crickets, and pupae. That's what I'm talking about.
The server was extremely helpful in assisting me to decide which to get and how they are presented. Ask them anything about the dishes if you are unsure which to order or what to expect. I started with the Singapore-Style Scorpions served on shrimp toast. The overall dish is very light. The real question on your mind is how were the scorpions. They are crunchy, that's about it. It is difficult to see from the picture, but they are really small. In addition, all the flavor is from the shrimp toast, not the scorpions. I recommend trying the scorpions separately to see if you can get any of their flavor and then try the toast. A bit of caution, stinger and pinchers are still there. At first I was worried with them on it, but these guys are so small, it does not matter at all. If you are curious, I asked about their origins and they are Baby Black Scorpions farm raised in AZ. An unexpected surprise was the sauce had some real heat to it. I thought it was only going to be a typical sweet plum sauce, but I was wrong. Prepare yourself, it won't burn your mouth, but be ready for the heat.
The scorpions were okay, but I was hoping for a full plate of them and the Taiwanese Crickets are getting closer to the picture in my head. These are much more plentiful on the plate, but they are hidden inside fried shoe string potatoes. They are stir-fried with raw garlic, chili pepper, and Asian sweet basil. The potatoes almost make you hunt for them, which on one hand is annoying and the other hand, its as almost they are in the environment and you have hunt for them and they wouldn't be easy to catch. Look closely and you will still see that most of them have their antennas. I, once again, recommend trying them alone because the potatoes will mask their flavor. I thought they had this nutty undertone, with a crunchy outside from sauteing with a slight soft inside, since there is not much there to begin.
I finally receive a plate of what I was hoping, Silk Worm Pupae stir-fried and served straight up, nothing masking it. It comes with assorted dipping sauces to experiment with and see which is better with these little critters. When you eat them alone without any of the "dressings", they are crunchy on the outside and soft and meaty on the inside. There is not a whole lot of flavor, but a bit of nuttiness to them. The sauces you get to play with are chocolate, chili paste, mayo chili powdered, lemon pepper, chili oil, soy garlic, siracha, mustard, and peanut. I thought the ones I ended up liking with the pupae were chili paste, chili oil and peanut. These sauces helped to either enhance or compliment the crunchiness or nuttiness. The sauces that did not bode well were the chocolate, mayo, lemon pepper, soy garlic, siracha, and spicy mustard. Not that the sauces were not good, its that they were overpowering the pupae and you really only tasted the sauce.
Since I didn't like the chocolate sauce on the pupae, I just saved it for dessert by just dip your chop sticks in it and scoop out. It was the sweetness I wanted at the end of the meal.
I was surprised how much these dishes filled me up. I did have three, but it is a lot of protein when you're not sharing these dishes. All of them are fun to try whether if you're an adventurous eater or having fun with the dishes among friends.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I would never expect a sliders joint to have an option for vegetarians, but when I saw they did, it's worth trying. I asked if they just nuke the veggie patty and the answer was no, we grilled them. Okay, I'm expecting the same quality or better vegetarian burger than the ones at Red Robin, which for a franchise, they are pretty good when they are not over cooked. Little brothers needs to stick with meat and either leave these patties alone or learn how to cook them.
The patty was fairly thin and not much to it. I wouldn't expect much if it was the size of a real slider and you would normally order a few. I would not want to have more than one of these guys. They make the cardinal mistake of over cooking the patty. They come out dried up and the edges get hard. They should also consider having the option for a veggie or meatless patty. The veggie patty is a garden burger, so you can see the carrots and bits of other pieces. With the meatless option, you don't see those ingredients and with it mostly soy based, it's texture and taste is different.
Vegetarians, if it was your only option when going there with friends, fine you have something to order. However with being in Downtown Royal Oak, there are so many other options for you that will taste good and be worth the money you spend.
The wraps were fresh and not dried out. They were stuffed with vegetables and noodles with them almost ready to pour out. The herbs were fresh with nice aromas when biting into it. The sauce was slightly different than other places. This one had a bit of a smokey hint to it. It was refreshing to have a slightly different flavor and to see they put their own touch into their sauce.
The fresh wraps gives you a welcoming feeling to come back and try an entree now. I hope it has the same freshness and fresh herbaceous flavors the wraps had. I'm not sure if it was my timing or not, but I was the only customer in the restaurant. I hope that is not a bad sign.
The Fried Green Tomatoes are served with pepper jam, goat cheese, and a tomato purée having an impact on your taste buds in a sweet and savior fashion. The breading on the tomatoes is nice and even with a sweet thick slice of a green tomato underneath. It was nicely golden brown with three sauces to match is flavor profile. My favorite was the pepper jam, but it was milder than other places that make it. Some places give it a kick of heat in the beginning or the end. This jam didn't have that delivery, but it has that sweet undertone that works well with the tomato. Both the tomato purée and the goat cheese are both well suited to work with these delicious fried wonders. They are both mild and help to balance the fried flavor. My only criticism is that with these two sauces, it neutralizes it too much, making it more bland than complex.
The Pork Belly appetizer, arrived along with the tomatoes, which are pan seared, served along with house made conserves, herb salad, and rye toast. The pork was nicely seared on the edges and still fatty on the inside. It had that nice rich balance of fatty, salty, and crunchy. The conserves, well, they are not spectacular. One is cinnamon apples and the other is sauteed onions. Both are served cold, real cold, refrigerator cold. It would have been better if both were warm or even room temperature. The herb salad includes a nice small set of greens and lightly dressed. I'm not sure why the toast is there. Didn't use it, didn't need it.
Here was the bad part of either the service or execution of the food delivery. The appetizer arrived and not 45 seconds later, the entrees arrived. So our entrees were getting cold while we were eating the appetizers. Not to mention, the table really isn't big enough to have all this food on it. We make it work, but it was difficult to maneuver.
The carnita nachos has home made chips, shredded pork or vegetarian black beans, salsa, pickled jalapenos, crema, queso, and avocado. I like that it can be made vegetarian as well. The chips are wonderfully crispy and not sure if its in the chips or somewhere else, I swear I taste some kind of cinnamon hidden in their somewhere. This gave it a nice element of surprise and allure. What's also nice with this dish and particularly the jalapeños is that they remove the seeds. For me, spicy is my thing, for for many others, it's not. So in this case, you can still enjoy the flavor of the pepper, but without the heat. It's a nice little touch.
The Seared Scallops with Wild Rice Jambalaya was one of their specials. The scallops were seared nicely, but I don't thing they were cleaned properly. The scallop had this wonderful smooth texture and while enjoying the sear, you get a harsh crunch hear and there. The crunch of grittiness, improperly cleaned scallops, a turn off. The jambalaya was certainly an interpretation of one. It was not one I've had in New Orleans for sure. I think anyone from there would send it back if they had it. That's not to say it wasn't good, it just wasn't a traditional jambalaya. There wasn't any sauce on, in, or around the rice. The rice did have some chicken and shrimp pieces that were cooked and seasoned well for a non-jambalaya dish.
Finished off with a nice dessert of Rick's Brownie having vanilla ice cream, salted caramel drizzle on top. I was so happy to see the brownie warmed up. It was very nice and warm that just barely started to melt the ice cream, not too quickly. It had hidden chocolate chips in the brownie that was a nice surprise. The ice cream was ice cream. Nothing special. The salted caramel sauce was on the skimpy side and a little more would have made it just a little better. It needed that little extra salt to contrast the sweetness to give it a pow.
The service was fantastic, maybe because we were the only people there, either way, they took well care of us. This "blow your mind" tasty dinner starts with their House Bread with Peppercorn Salt served hot. The bread is still steaming, perfectly fluffy like your pillow. When you open it up, you can see how airy the bread is with wonderful air pockets inside. Spread a little of their butter and sprinkle some of their peppercorn salt...do you think there was any bread left? Not a single piece.
It now set the stage for my entree, the Swordfish with Risotto. This cut was thick and yet perfectly cooked from the outside to the center. The risotto had this fantastic lemon undertone that helped give that needed acid to the fish. Why give me a slice of lemon when you can give me the lemon risotto and its a combo that sends you home still licking your chops.
The REAL STAR, DO NOT LEAVE WITHOUT TRYING, is their Fish and Chips. It is
sea bass, malt vinegar, house made tartar and spicy tamarind sauces, served with steak fries that had a perfect crunch and soft middle. I would fly to San Diego just to have this dish again. The bass is 100% better than cod, and yet even though the fish is light and delicate in flavor, it's not over powering in fishy flavor. The real spectacular spectacular of the dish is the breading. So many times with fried fish, the badder separates from the fish. Not in this case. You'll find that it has this wonderful flaky crust, which crumbles and melts in your mouth. Use all their sauces and lick the bowl and plate if no one is looking, it's that good. I will either fly out or have this dish shipped to me, yes I said it before and I'll say it again, it's that good.
I later went back for a quick carry out and tried their Kazoo Roll With Salmon and Mango; Nigiri Unagi (BBQ Freshwater Eel). The salmon was very nice and fresh clean flavor. The mango heightened the flavor just enough where you can taste it just so slightly. A winning carry out dish.