Tag Archives: restaurant

Restaurant Review: Noodles & Company

I’ve passed Noodles & Company in Downtown Royal Oak at least weekly since I moved to Michigan three and half years ago. I just assumed it was stereotypical semi-fast food chain and shrugged it off. But I’ve always been curious. After a friend made pan-fried noodles modeled after a Noodles & Company dish, I decided I had to give it a shot.

Much to my surprise, what I got was both delicious and not horrible for me! Basically, there are five or six noodle dishes in three categories: American, Asian and Mediterranean, and a handful of soups and salads. For the noodle dishes, you can get either get a “regular” or small bowl. The small seemed like it would be plenty and it was.

I got the Japanese pan-fried noodles and added tofu to it (I snagged the photo from PETA.org). Unfortunately, they forgot the tofu, but they quickly stir-fried some up when I realized it and I tossed it in. The noodles were thick and chewy, and a little crispy on the outside. The flavor was great with just a bit of a kick. The mung bean sprouts and fresh cilantro helped cool that off a little (but really it wasn’t very spicy, and I can only handle a good medium on most stuff). I got a small side salad too, which was Romaine lettuce and a few of vegetables and the balsamic vinaigrette was fine.

I checked it out when I got home, and the noodle dish I got was only  320 calories on its own — the organic tofu adding another 100 calories. I’m not much of a calorie counter, but a dinner that’s around 400 calories and about 25 grams of protein isn’t bad. Not shocking, though, is that there’s a fair amount of sodium in the dish. Maybe that’s because there’s a bunch of soy sauce in this dish — as most of the Asian dishes there, if you look at the nutritional chart, seem to have about twice as much sodium as the rest of the menu (except for spaghetti and meatballs which tops the charts at nearly 1,500 grams).

We got our food quickly and the staff was really friendly. I also think it’s kind of cool that they apparently get paid accordingly so they aren’t allowed to accept tips. I’ll definitely keep this place in mind the next time I need a quick, inexpensive meal when I’m running around in Royal Oak.


Cass Cafe: Go now!

I’m always looking for new restaurants and last Saturday, D continued the “making Kirsten’s dreams come true” birthday tour by taking me to Cass Cafe for the first time, before we hit up Awesome Fest at the Magic Stick.

My stomach was feeling a little off so I didn’t want much to eat, but what I had was GOOD.

D and I split the hummus plate appetizer, which came with some tapenade that I think involved sun-dried tomatoes, olives and some other stuff. D stayed away from it, but I loved it.

I DID feel well enough to enjoy their $3 margarita special. It was great! So often margaritas are too much mix and you can’t taste any tequila. It was reminiscent of the margaritas at El Azteco in Lansing, which is a HUGE compliment.

D got the lentil burger with honey mustard and loved it. I used some of his fries to test out the honey mustard, which led to a conversation about why restaurant honey mustard is SO much better than you ever could buy at the store.

I even dipped my vegetarian egg rolls in it, even though they didn’t need anything — it was just that good. The egg rolls were super good. Shouldn’t have gotten something fried, since my stomach already was upset, but they were really good.

Even though it’s not a veg-only restaurant, it was great to eat somewhere that had more vegetarian and vegan items than meat items on the menu! Everything sounded so good — I can’t wait to go back and try the following from the menu:

• Roasted Curry Lentil Soup
• Vegetarian Mediterranean Pasta Salad
• “Love Basket” — fries and onion rings!
• Black bean and cheese quesadilla
• Open-Faced Artichoke-Pesto Melt
• Campus Vegetarian Wrap
• The lentil burger — it looked so good
• Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Cheese Tortellini
• Vegetarian Lasagna (Although I make a mean one myself, I have to say)

There are all kinds of good beers available in pitchers even, and a full bar. Great place to take meat-eaters, too, as there’s a variety of fresh seafood items, salads with steak, seafood or chicken, burgers — you name it!

To top it all off there’s great art on the walls, a cool NY-loft-like industrial feel, and the waitstaff couldn’t have been nicer.

I can’t wait to go back!

Give my regards to Broadway

For weeks I’ve noticed this small, gray-brick, square building, on Woodward Heights near 9 Mile. It always seemed closed or empty, so I’ve never stopped. But with the only thing nearby being a boarded up gas station, it’s simple yet modern feel jumps at you from the street.

One day, on a quest for an extremely late brunch during our Stay-cation we saw a chalk board outside, proclaiming that Pete’s Place: The Broadway Cafe “Now open at 9:00.”

I decided to stop and pick up a to-go menu and ultimately we decided this was our destination for the afternoon.

With Broadway tunes blaring and play posters lining the walls, there’s no question where Pete’s gets its name. The clean lines, white and silver decor and fresh flowers reminded me of a place where I once ate in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC, although it was about 1/5 of the size.

Since I had breakfast on the brain, I went to that section of the large, one-page menu. There are egg platters and omelets galore, including one with broccoli, portabello mushrooms and Gruyere cheese.

But then… I found the real prize — asparagus Benedict. Daniel can attest to the fact that I love, love, love, love Hollandaise sauce. Just about every time we have asparagus for dinner, it’s drenched in the thick, lemony, buttery sauce that’s oh-so-bad-for-you, but tastes oh-so-good.

Now that I’m not a meat-eater, I miss the good ol’ days of ordering Eggs Benedict, complete with a slathering of sauce (although I never much cared for ham even when I ate meat).

To find asparagus Benedict — it just made sense. Why had I never thought of it before? I ordered it, and waited. I tried to determine which play each song was from to pass the time. (Although I’ve seen several Broadway plays, I did poorly at this exercise).

Then the waitress rounded the corner from the open kitchen window and set down….. an omelet. An asparagus and brie omelet. Don’t get me wrong — this would have been what I ordered next time. The waitress mumbled something about the cook hearing her wrong and said, “Let me know if it’s not OK.” And walked away. It was kind of an odd exchange, but I love asparagus and I love Brie, so I went to town.

About half-way through, the cook (who is possibly owner Peter Mel) stopped out to apologize and I said it was fine. The omelet was very rich, even though I do love Brie. It was good.

They were out of parsley potatoes, but I hope to try those next time too.

“Act I” selections range from about $5 to $8 depending on what you’re getting.

The “Auditions” portion of the menu — appetizers — includes everything from soups and salads, to sauteed artichokes over spinach, a Brie and fruit plate and guacamole and chips.

Dan got his meal from the lunch portion of the menu — “Act II” — considering he doesn’t eat eggs and there weren’t any options other than French toast that don’t have eggs as a main ingredient. (Note: French toast can come plain, with blueberry compote or a caramelized pecan sauce. Sounds like dessert, but it still might be worth sampling).

This section of the menu includes sandwiches, a burger and several paninis, only two of which don’t involve meet. He opted for the portabella one, which comes with arugula, tomato, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette (he went sans cheese). The other veg option basically omits the mushroom.

Act II prices are all in the $6 to $7 range.

Pete’s also an interesting mix of items available for dinner — “Act III.” There are several different types of pasta, including one with broccoli and pine nuts, another with fresh vegetables and pesto and ravioli. Wheat and gluten free pastas are available.

Other options, for the meat eaters in your life, including prime rib, salmon, classic chicken picatta (an old favorite from my meat-eating days), fish and chips, lemon garlic shrimp linguini and chicken Marsala. The most expensive thing is the salmon, which is $12.95.

They have several non-alcoholic drink options under the “Take Five” section, including Starbucks bottled Frappuccino, fresh lemonade and sun tea when available and your regular sodas and the like. Bring along your own bottle of wine — but there’s a $5 uncorking fee.

And, what Broadway show wouldn’t be complete without the finale? Desserts include molten volcanic chocolate cake, Bloomfield Canopy Cheese Cake with blueberry compote, slices of fresh baked pie, and fresh grilled pineapple with ice cream and hot rum sauce (um…I need to go back there stat). Desserts are about $3 to $5. Add a scoop of ice cream for an additional $1.25.

Pete’s Place, 1225 Woodward Heights in Ferndale, seems to have just launched its Web site, which didn’t exist yet when we visited. You can check everything Pete’s has to offer HERE.

Anita’s Kitchen: Mediterranean Heaven

So, Daniel and I have a new favorite place to eat. It’s called Anita’s Kitchen and it’s got the best falafel we’ve had in the area, not to mention being walking distance from our house — at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Saratoga Street.

Dan feeds his falafel craving there regularly (to say daily at times would not be a stretch) and the lemon lentil soup is like nothing we’ve ever had.

Tonight we went and decided to try something new. Instead of the vegetarian mezza — a plate of samples of vegetarian grape leaves, hummus, babaganoush, tabbouli, falafel, spinach pie and all kinds of other things, we made our own little veggie smorgasbord.

We went for the lemon lentil soup, because we can’t not get it; the chickpea salad, which is a little like tabbouli, , but without the tomatoes and with chickpeas; the Arabian pizza, a pita pizza with hummus, red peppers and artichokes (it’s supposed to come with lamb too, but we went sans lamb, obviously); and the falafel platter, which comes with six pieces baked or fried falafel (we prefer baked), tabbouli, hummus, tahini and wild rice.

Needless to say, it was a bit too much food, but if I hadn’t gorged myself at Chris and Jessica’s wedding earlier in the day, we probably could have made it happen.

Though I didn’t have one tonight, they have a great Lebanese beer — Alamazza, I believe it’s called. I think it’s a lager. They even have a gluten free beer, but I haven’t tried that yet. Besides that, they’ve got a big selection of beer and wine, including one of my favorites on tap, Bell’s Oberon.

If you go and happen to have room for dessert, we had the lemon tart when it was on special once and it was good. Be sure to get some of Anita’s Turkish coffee to go with it.

Here’s a link to the Anita’s Kitchen Web site. As you’ll see, they have a huge menu for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. They also have a few items for kids — we found the other day the whole family could go out to dinner for 20 bucks. You can’t beat that.

Instead of the cheesy posters from Beirut and unused hookahs you might find in most Mediterranean joints, Anita’s is actually cool, warm and comforting. The walls are painted in warm tones of earthy green and terracotta, large roots or vines wind through the open ceiling and along the wall and any adornments or “kitsch” is actually tasteful and interesting. Used water and beer bottles hold fresh Gerber daises, which is a nice touch. And, in case someone’s worried about missing the big game, there are a couple of flat screens hoisted behind the bar.

All that being said, the restaurant has a great outdoor patio on the side of the building that probably seats 30 to 40 people, so that’s clearly a draw for the summer. Better yet, there’s always a parking spot or two nearby.

So, check it out when you get the chance. You won’t regret it.