February 23 2015

HopCat Detroit Review




hopcat

The Experience

Chris and I ended up having an unexpected night out together last Friday because my friend was sick and was unable to attend the Garth Brooks concert with me. (To read about the Garth concert click here.) Since Chris doesn’t like country music I thought I would sweeten the deal by enticing him with dinner at HopCat beforehand. We’ve been to the one in Grand Rapids a couple of times but we had not yet had the opportunity to go to the new one in Detroit so Chris was all for it!

HopCat Detroit opened in December of 2014 and is located on Woodward Ave in MidTown Detroit in a renovated 100-year-old building. They have the largest tap selection in Michigan with 130 Craft Beers on tap. The second level of the restaurant is home to their Huma Room where they have live music and other performances. And like all of the other HopCats before them, they have a great menu and the infamous Crack Fries!

Parking is a bit tight in that area plus construction is currently under way for the M1 Rail (which will have a stop right outside HopCat) so Chris and I ended up parking a block away in the Wayne State parking garage. Normally the walk wouldn’t have bothered us but Friday just so happened to be one of those sub-zero days. It was a brisk walk to say the least.

HopCat Detroit (1)

Once inside we were seated right away as we had arrived before the dinner rush. Our waitress explained the beer menu in great length and perhaps we should have stopped her because we don’t drink beer. I know, I know…..we went to HopCat but we don’t drink beer? It is true, we are not beer drinkers and we actually don’t drink much of anything anymore. No particular reason, we just aren’t big drinkers. We do however, love the food at HopCat and that was why we were there.

While taking our order, you could tell that the waitress was a bit disappointed that we didn’t order any beer. Perhaps we were an anomaly she had not yet encountered there yet. People that don’t drink beer do actually exist.

Chris ordered the Grand Royale which is a sloppy joe topped with jalapeños, Crack Fries and cheese sauce on a brioche bun. (He always gets this every time we go to HopCat. That is how good it is!) I ordered The Bar Zee burger which is a half pound burger topped with cherry smoked bacon, jalapeños and bar cheese on a brioche bun. My burger came with Crack Fries and I also got cheese sauce on the side. Cheese sauce is a must with the Crack Fries!

HopCat Grand Royale

HopCat Bar Zee Burger

We both really liked our meals. We would also recommend the Killer Mac & Cheese. We did not have it at the Detroit location but we have had it in Grand Rapids and it is delicious!

The Opinions

Betsy: Overall I really enjoyed our dinner at HopCat! The Crack Fries were just as good as I remembered. I was however, a little annoyed by the waitress. In addition to the displeasure she had when we didn’t order any beer she also told us as we were leaving that when we come back next time we should try some of their beer. She didn’t say it in exactly those words and I understand that HopCat is known for their beer selection but there was obviously a reason why we didn’t order any beer. What if we were recovering alcoholics or something? We are not but still. On another bad note, I used the ladies room before we left the restaurant and it looked like it hadn’t been tended to in quite some time. Those two issues were minor for me though and would not deter me from going back to HopCat in Detroit again.

Chris: I love Hopcat’s food. I am so tempted get everything on the menu but I always have to go with the Grand Royale because you just can’t get anything like it anywhere else. Now that we don’t have to drive across the state to get to one I’m sure we will be visiting more often and I will stray from the norm and try the rest of the menu. I didn’t read our waitress as being displeased by our not getting beer but simply urging us to try some since that is obviously their claim to fame. Between the 2 locations I still enjoyed the one in Grand Rapids better… but maybe that’s because there was just a little bit of magic behind discovering a great place to eat while on a road trip lol.

 

 




February 16 2015

Valentine’s At Buddy’s Pizza




buddys pizza

We’re bringing the blog back! Not to be confused with bringing booty back. Very, very different. But still just as fun. We haven’t posted on here in a while but since one of us, cough Betsy cough, is in between jobs right now, we figured this was the perfect time to revitalize our little piece of the internet.

And we have lots to talk about after all. In January we made a trip out to California to Disneyland for the inaugural Disney Star Wars race! You can read about the races themselves on our other blogs here and here but on this blog we will be focusing on the travel and attractions part of the trip. So stay tuned for posts about that later this week!

In the meantime, we thought we would share our Valentine’s weekend excursion to one of our local pizza places, Buddy’s Pizza! We’ve blogged about them before but they are so good we thought that they were worth another mention.

We had Thing 1 & 2 with us over Valentine’s weekend so we couldn’t think of anything sweeter to do as a family than head to Buddy’s for some of their famous square pizza. We were a bit nervous as to how long the wait would be. Not only was it a Friday night, which is a notoriously busy restaurant night in our area, but it was also Valentine’s weekend. As luck would have it, we ended up waiting less than 20 minutes before we got seated!

Buddy's Pizza Shelby Township

The biggest decision we have at Buddy’s is what pizza to order! They have so many great options. We ended up ordering two pizzas, the Detroiter and the Meat Deluxe Pizza. We also got an order of their Oven-Baked Cheese & Bacon Fries as an appetizer.

Buddy's Pizza

Everything was great as usual! Our server, unfortunately we didn’t catch her name, was fantastic! She seemed to anticipate every need we had, she never let our drinks run out and she delivered quick and friendly service. We left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try out Buddy’s Pizza yet, we highly recommend that you give them a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Have you been to Buddy’s Pizza?

What is your favorite thing to order?




Category: Detroit, Restaurants | Comments Off on Valentine’s At Buddy’s Pizza
October 27 2014

Detroit Zoo Give Back Night PLUS a Giveaway! (ended)

Disclaimer: We received something of value courtesy of the Detroit Zoo and Outback Steakhouse. However, our love of the Detroit Zoo and Outback Steakhouse are genuine and all opinions are our own. 

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It is no secret that our entire family loves loves loves the Detroit Zoo. We have a family membership so that we can visit as frequently as we want and Chris has even blogged about our adventurers there on his other blog, before we started this one. You can read about one of our visits there from this past Summer by clicking here and you can even watch a video from our first experience at Memberfest by clicking here.

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Because of our love of the Detroit Zoo it is only natural that we share with you a special fundraiser that Outback Steakhouse is hosting for the Detroit Zoo. On November 6th, all Detroit area Outback Steakhouses will be hosting their Detroit Zoological Society Give Back Night Fundraiser.

The concept is pretty simple. Just dine at your favorite Detroit area Outback (any time between opening and 10pm), tell your server that you are there for Zoo Night and Outback will donate 15% of your total check to the Detroit Zoo! Easy, right? And really the whole idea is a win for everyone! You get a night off from cooking and you get to enjoy some tasty Outback food (who doesn’t love their cheese fries?) while knowing that you are also helping out the Detroit Zoo!

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And if this news wasn’t big enough for you, we are also giving away a $20 gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse thanks to the Detroit Zoo and Outback. To enter just use the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway open to continental US residents only.

Good luck and we hope to see you at Outback for the Detroit Zoological Give Back Night Fundraiser!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Give Back With Outback

October 13 2014

Buddy’s Restaurant Pizzeria – Review




buddys pizza

This past weekend was a child-free weekend for Chris and I and since it doesn’t happen too often we took advantage of it by going on a date night. For our date we decided to go to the new Buddy’s Restaurant Pizzeria located in Shelby Twp just north of Hall Road on Hayes.

Not familiar with Buddy’s Pizza? Buddy’s Pizza is a Detroit based restaurant chain that got started in 1936 when they opened their first restaurant. In 1946 they introduced their square pizza which they are well-known for today. They currently have 10 restaurants in the Metro Detroit area with an extensive menu that includes their famous pizza, appetizers, salads, entrees and much more.

When we arrived at Buddy’s Pizza we were told that there would be about a half hour wait for a table. We were content with that wait time as any restaurant in that area on a Saturday night would have that amount of wait time or longer. Since the weather was decent, we waited outside with our buzzer and we were pleasantly surprised when our buzzer went off after only ten minutes of waiting! Once we were inside we were seated promptly and with a smile.

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The restaurant itself is nice and quite large. Larger than you would expect it to be by just looking at it from the outside. As expected it was quite busy in there but our server greeted us quickly and took our drink orders. Within no time at all Chris and I had decided what we would order (pizza, of course!) and our waitress came back with our drinks and took our order.

In no time at all, we received our appetizer, the Oven Baked Cheese & Bacon Fries.

 

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We are a sucker for cheese fries and have tried them at many different restaurants. These did not disappoint!

After we just about polished off the cheese fries, our pizzas were brought to the table. I went with the Detroiter Pizza which has cheese, pepperoni, tomato basil sauce, Parmesan cheese and Buddy’s Sicilian spice blend. Chris ordered the Meat Deluxe which has cheese, pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, bacon and seasoned ground beef.

The Detroiter
The Detroiter
The Meat Deluxe
The Meat Deluxe

 

We both really enjoyed our pizzas! I especially liked the Sicilian spice blend on mine and Chris liked all of the meat on his pizza. As planned, we had more than enough than we could eat so we had some to take home to eat for lunch the next day!

 

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Prior to this weekend it had been quite some time since either of us have been to Buddy’s but now that they have a location that is more ideal for us, I can’t imagine us going too long before we will be back there again. The food was great and the service was quick and friendly. What more could you ask for?

 

Are you a fan of Buddy’s Pizza?

What is your favorite pizza place?




September 18 2014

Wildberry Pancakes And Cafe – Chicago – Review *BackTrack*

wildberry chicago

This post is part of our “BackTrack” series where we write about places we visited pre-blog. We are currently featuring Chicago in preparation for our upcoming return trip.

Adventurer’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

One thing Chicago is known for is it’s food and where there is food, there are restaurants. According to Tripadvisor, Chicago has 8,296 restaurants within the city limits… Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe is ranked #5. Yes FIVE out of Eight thousand two hundred ninety six restaurants in Chicago! You KNOW that’s gotta count for something.

wildberry chicago

If you couldn’t tell by the name… Wildberry is a breakfast place. Open 6:30 am – 2:30 pm the menu isn’t strictly breakfast, they also have some lunch items as well. Being as popular as they are you should always expect to wait for a table. When we visited there was roughly a half hour wait which grew to be even longer after we got in.

We ordered berry pancakes with a side of bacon and some waffles (apple but it appears they have altered the menu since this visit) and shared them between us. They. Were. Fantastic! Everything was cooked to perfection. The fruit was fresh, the pancakes were fluffy, and the waffles were light and crisp. No syrup was needed on anything however we did add a little to set off the flavor.

wildberry chicagoThe atmosphere was busy but it seemed the staff was well prepared to handle the large crowds. The coffee was good although nothing to write home about but our cups were always kept full and warm. I’ve read reviews where people had complained they felt “rushed” but what they fail to keep in mind is while they sit around chit-chatting after they’ve finished eating there’s still 50 people waiting outside to get in… so yes, if you want to sit around and read the paper go to Denny’s, if you want to eat a great breakfast come to Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe. When we left we were so full that we could barely move! It upsets me that we wont be able to fit this restaurant into our return visit, however, Chicago isn’t too far for us so I guarantee we will be back soon enough!

 

Category: Chicago, Illinois, Restaurants | Comments Off on Wildberry Pancakes And Cafe – Chicago – Review *BackTrack*
September 11 2014

Papa Lou’s Pizza Pub & Grill – Review – Petoskey, Michigan

papa lou's petoskey

 

Adventurer’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars! Excellent!

In the heart of Downtown Petoskey, you will find a stretch of road with all sorts of unique shops and restaurants. We were taking in the sights and doing a little shopping when we stumbled upon Papa Lou’s Pizza Pub & Grill. Their menu was posted outside and had a wide selection available to order but featured what-else but pizza. So we went inside and got a table.

papa lou's petoskey

The decor was warm and inviting. The brick and highly lacquered and irregular wood went very well together. They had a balcony but we chose to dine inside, I think they may have been a mistake because I bet the view outside was amazing. There seemed to be several little quirks that added to its charm such as: the mens room door was hung upside down. The bar had swings instead of stools… yes actual swings hanging from the ceiling! But enough about the decor we came in for the food so after browsing our options we chose a specialty pizza called “The Heap of Meat Pizza” which ran about $20 for a large.

papa lou's petoskey

When the pizza arrived it was exactly that… a Heap of Meat! We devoured it but couldn’t even finish the whole thing between the 4 of us. It. Was. Awesome! You cant really do pizza wrong but not everyone can do it right either… Papa Lou’s does it right! My only gripe was that our waiter was a bit flaky and spaced out. Our cups ran dry without a refill to be found… not a deal breaker I mean everyone has an off day and the food more than made up for it. We boxed up the leftovers and headed on our way… full and happy! I may or may not have had pizza related dreams that night and lunch the next day was spectacular! This is a must visit for us next time we’re in town!

Category: Northern Michigan, Restaurants | Comments Off on Papa Lou’s Pizza Pub & Grill – Review – Petoskey, Michigan
August 26 2014

The Bear Trap Inn – Shingleton, Michigan – Review

Bear Trap Inn

Adventurers Rating – 4 out of 5 Stars

Overview:

The Bear Trap Inn is just a small restaurant on the side of the road in Shingleton, Michigan. Unless you’re from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula you have probably never heard of the restaurant or the town. However, while driving in the U.P. you may run across a billboard or two for some place claiming to have “the best pastie in the U.P.” While many restaurants will make this boast… The Bear Trap Inn is, in fact, THE restaurant with the best pastie in all of the U.P. So what’s a pastie exactly? Well without getting into it too much we’ll just call it a “meat and potatoes calzone” that you will find in the northern-most  regions of the United States. But there is more to the Bear Trap then just pasties, they offer a wide menu that should fit just about anyone’s palette.

The Details:

Did you know The Adventurers has their very own resident foodie? It’s true! The oldest of the children, “Thing 1”, is our #1 food critic and he insisted that we stop for a pastie at least once on our trip through Northern Michigan. We started the search at lunch while at the less than mediocre Antlers in Sault Ste Marie. Since we knew what part of Michigan we would wind up in around dinner time we took to our smart phones to begin researching our options. Betsy came across the “best pastie in the U.P.” and from all of the rave reviews we decided that was the place. Hours later, after several attractions, pit stops, and cities… it was time to seek out our dinner choice. Only, we forgot what it was called …so we scoured the internet trying to find the place… we wound up at another pastie spot and said “hi” to Bigfoot before realizing this was not the place.

munising

After out little detour with Bigfoot we did eventually find THE place! We had assumed it was located in Munising when in fact it is not and thus the reason why it didn’t show up in any of our later searches.

The Bear Trap

When we first walked into the restaurant we were greeted with a sight that made us question whether this was really the right place for us to have our family dinner.

bear trap

 

It may be hard for you to see because we had to take a sneaky photo but on that table surrounded by those guys are empty beer cans stacked in pyramid form. Not exactly what you would expect to see at a family restaurant. Not to mention, Thing #2 also goes by the nickname of Mr. McSpilly, so one false move on his part and you would have the city folk battling it out with the country folk.

Luckily, we had nothing to worry about as the rest of our experience at the restaurant was fantastic! The service was good and the food received two thumbs up from all four of us. Naturally Thing #1 ordered his long-awaited pastie that was purportedly made by Grandma herself.

best pastie in michigan

 

Chris also tried to order a pastie but it turned out there was only one more left to sell for the day! So what did Thing 1 think of the pastie? He said it was the best pastie he has ever had! I think we earned some brownie points with this restaurant visit!

The Opinions:

Betsy: I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this restaurant but it turned out to be a great find! I am sure if we had made it there at “regular” dinner time we wouldn’t have run into the drinking crowd. If we are ever back in the Pictured Rocks area again I would definitely want to stop in for a meal!

Chris: I did get to sample the pastie but since I had never had one before I have no basis for comparison, however, it was very good! I wound up getting the brat burger instead which was excellent as well. The waitstaff was very nice and even though the drinking crowd looked intimidating I’m sure they were harmless… the “danger factor” just makes for a better story lol.

August 20 2014

The Antlers Restaurant – Sault Ste Marie, Michigan – Review

The Soo Antlers

The Adventurers Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Overview:

Anyone who has ever visited the Soo Locks has probably heard of The Antlers Restaurant in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. A unique little place just outside of the city center, The Antlers boasts more stuffed animals per square inch than any other restaurant around. And when I say “stuffed animals” I don’t mean teddy bears. It’s like a taxidermy shop, only with food. The menu is pretty standard: Burgers, sandwiches, fish, steak… you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something you like.

The Soo Antlers

Details:

Overall the place was nice. Betsy had fond memories of going here as a child and so we decided it would be fun to go back. It looks, however, like it has seen it’s day and is a bit past it’s prime. The gimmicky lights and whistles would have been a big draw years ago but now seems sort of sad and forced. The wait staff was somewhat friendly but we felt like tourists walking into the “locals” place. The food portions were generous and none of us finished all of our food. Also, the animal heads kept the kids entertained while we waited (what seemed to be abnormally long for how slow it was) for our food.

The Soo Antlers

Opinions:

Betsy: As Chris mentioned, I do have fond memories of dining here when I was a kid. My Grandparents took us here whenever we were in the Sault Ste Marie area and I remember being very excited by it. Unfortunately going back to the restaurant as an adult wasn’t as magical of an experience. The service seemed pretty slow despite the restaurant not being busy and the food was nothing to write home about. It was just an ok experience and if we are ever in the area again, I would look elsewhere for dining options.

Chris: Normally I’m a big fan of touristy places like this but not this time. My burger tasted strange and it just seemed like we were a bother to be waited on. Not only did it take a long time to get our food… but also refills on our drinks. We sat around staring at each other for a while before we got our bill, I was going to use my charge but then scraped together enough cash to just pay and get out because who knows how long it would have taken otherwise. We gave ourselves plenty of time to go eat before the next scheduled freighter at the Soo Locks but missed it because of the slow as molasses service.

The Soo Antlers

August 18 2014

MaMa Mia’s Pizza – Mackinaw City – Review

mama mias mackinaw

 

The Adventurers Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars (Average)

MaMa Mia’s Pizza Restaurant is in the heart of downtown Mackinaw City. They (naturally) specialize in pizza but also have a wide range of other entrees on the menu such as subs, sandwiches, and pasta. Their pizza is good albeit somewhat pricey (a medium pizza with 1 topping will run about $16) which is justified because it’s a tourist town after all. What sets it apart from any other pizza place is that it is also home to the Mackinaw Bridge Museum which is upstairs above the dining room.

mama mias mackinaw

When you enter the establishment you will be directed to a line at the ordering counter. You may be tempted to grab a seat but will notice that all empty tables are marked “reserved”. They have actually come up with a pretty good way of managing the crowds by assigning you a table only after you have ordered, or if it’s extremely busy, you may not get assigned your table until your food is ready. This ensures that those with food aren’t left standing while people without are hogging up all the tables.

mackinaw bridge museum

While you’re waiting you are free to check out the Mackinaw Bridge Museum or play some of the many arcade games in the back. Penny Squisher Alert – yes they do, in fact, have a penny squishing machine but there’s nothing overly unique to choose from.

mackinaw bridge museum

The museum itself is nothing very special: Mostly hard hats and assorted relics, some photos, and a gift shop that is surprisingly empty and void of …well any souvenirs at all. They do have a small theater that loops a movie about the bridge that is pretty interesting but typically your food is ready before you get to watch the show in it’s entirety. It’s not a must-see destination by any means, however, it does exactly what it’s intended to do… keep you occupied while your food is cooking.

mama mias

 

Out of the three times we’ve traveled to Mackinaw together, we have gone to MaMa Mia’s twice: The first and third time, while the second time up we tried some other pizza place instead. Our decision to return boils down to this… pizza is almost always good no matter where you go… but would you rather sit around at a table thinking about how hungry you are and how long it is taking to get your food? Or would you rather go somewhere that gives you a little distraction to help pass the time? Mama Mia’s Pizza knows how to do one thing right and that’s handle to crazy flood of tourists, and that is why they have got a repeat customer in us.

July 28 2014

Buffy’s Mexi-Casian Grill – Review

This post was made possible by The Henry Ford who gave Chris four entries into the Maker Faire in exchange for a review on his blog.

 

Yesterday Chris, myself and Thing 1 and 2 went to the Maker Faire for the first time! This was all made possible thanks to The Henry Ford who reached out to Chris on his personal blog The Nerf Herder. We all had a great time and you will get to hear all about it very soon!

So although you will not be hearing about the Maker Faire today, you WILL be hearing about something super tasty! Buffy’s Mexi-Casian Grill Food Truck to be exact.

 

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There were a lot of food options at the Maker Faire, some of which included food trucks! With food trucks being all the rage right now and considering that none of us had ever had the pleasure of eating from a food truck, we decided that was the way to go.

 

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I had the chicken tacos (top left), Chris had the quesadilla burger (bottom left) and Thing 1 had the sliders. (Thing 2 did his own thing and had some Buddy’s Pizza.) All three of us agreed that we had made a good choice. The food was tasty and filling. It wasn’t very spicy like some Mexican food can be, but there were plenty of condiments available to spice things up. The people working on the truck were also super friendly which made our experience that much better.

If you ever see Buffy’s Mexi-Casian Grill Food Truck out near you, we recommend that you stop by for some good eats!