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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Emory and Sneakers in Ferndale

On Saturday night I was priviledged enough to visit two local establishments in Ferndale for a first time and was not surprised that both impressed me with their atmosphere and service.

Let me first say it was a birthday party group, but we did not have reservations at either establishment, nor do I think they take reservations.  Both are located on Woodward in Ferndale but have distinctly different characteristics.

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First stop The Emory.  Named after a Toledo, OH. farmer, Emory Johnson, it features hardwood decorations harvested from the farm it was named after.  It also incorporates many of the old materials gutted from the building during it's construction.  The recycling program is also a proud point for the purveyors of this find establishment.  It is funded by the restaurant and provides funds for the city of Ferndale.  Their pick-up/delivery vehicle runs on alternative fuel too!  Seems as though The Emory is doing their part for a greener Earth and I am proud to support a Michigan business like that.

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I did not get to sample the food but checked the menu online and it looks like regular bar food... burgers, pizza, salads, sandwiches, appetizers and sides.  They also offer breakfast Saturday and Sunday mornings 9-2pm.  Right now they are running a Tuesday special, burger and fries for $5.  For those of you night owls The Emory is open till 2am on the weekends and offers a full service bar with pool tables and a wicked juke box (Springsteen, The Killers and Hall and Oates).

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Second stop Sneakers Pub.  Although Sneakers does not have a website detailing their history or menu I will take a shot at this one.  Deep, dark and old school.  Call it a dive, a hole in the wall, a locals spot, a beer joint, it's great.

Greeted up front with a looong bar and plenty of beers on tap including Pabst.  As you move back toward the stage... yes a stage, there are a few tables and chairs set up so that you can watch karaoke... yes karaoke.  And it was in full swing Saturday night.  Everyone and their sister was doing karaoke and loving it.  Songs I heard included "I like Big Butts", "Afternoon Delight"(performed that one), and "Don't look Back in Anger" (actually performed by a british guy that was raising awareness of karate kicks).

Great night supporting local Ferndale establishments that I will for sure go back to.  Plus a late night pizza from Como's in Ferndale.  They are open till 4am!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Go Hiking!

As the sun breaks and the snow melts now is the time to break the seal on your cabin door and head out into the wilderness and do some hiking.  That is exactly what I plan to do this spring with a trip to Moab, Utah and a visit to Arches National Park in the high Utah desert.  But you don't have to travel across the country to enjoy the outdoors.  There are plenty of ways to get your hiking fix here in the Detroit area.

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I got on the website and looked up hiking in Southeast Michigan and the Detroit Area and the site brought up a map that highlighted all the trails in my area.  From here I checked the websites of the ones I was interested in to find out more. gives the name, length and location of the trail on an easy to read map.  It also offers a short description of each trail and some helpful tips.  I looked at three hikes that vary in location and length.

Go to fullsize image1. Paint Creek Trail - length 8.9 miles, location - Rochester Hills - This trail is a hike through northern Oakland County that passes a local cider mill.  It was the first Rail-to-Trail conversion in Michigan.

Go to fullsize image2. Island Lake Recreation Area - length 12 miles, location - Brighton - This recreation area has two hiking loop trails that total 12 miles.  If you want to extend your stay there are campsites but the trails are pretty easy. Island Lake also offers canoe rentals (we've done this before), a shooting range and picnic facilities.

Go to fullsize image3. Proud Lake Recreation Area - length 21 miles, location - Commerce Township - This park offers 21 miles of trails and is the premier hiking destination in the Detroit area.  They also offer canoe and boat rentals along with biking trails.  If you want to make a weekend out of it there are two campsites one more rustic than the other.

I caught the hiking bug in college but have not been in a long while.  My wife and I are just getting back in to hiking and backpacking (camping along the trail for multiple days).  Along with these local trails my backpacking wish list also includes Isle Royal National Park and the Porcupine Mountains in the U.P.  If you are also interested in getting outdoors this spring and summer checkout Hiking Michigan, a free hiking club that offers info on group hikes, classes, camping, canoeing, kayaking and almost everything you need to know to get outdoors.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dave Coulier to host Clean Guys night at Comedy Castle

Dave Coulier

Tonight is the "Clean Guys" night of the Detroit International Comedy Festival at Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle in Royal Oak.  The night will feature those comedians that keep it clean with their jokes and leave out the "dirty" and cuss words.  Christina Aguilera would not be a fan!  Hosting the show will be noted actor and comedian, Dave Coulier, from Full House fame.


This day in age it's uncommon to hear a comedian keep it clean.  It seems like these days people only laugh at the more adult material.  I think it is a fresh approach to comedy and probably a challenge for the "clean guys."  Tonight's show starts at 7pm and the cost is $20.

The festival started March 21st and will go through the 28th.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Karate Kid

A new version of The Karate Kid is coming out this year starring Jackie Chan. This is the first feature length movie that I can remember seeing the original version as a kid, being a fan, and now not wanting to see the new version because it won't compare. First, Mr. Miyagi was from Japan, not China. Second, Daniel Son was from Jersey, not Detroit. Third, IT'S KARATE KID, not KUNG FU KID! Check out the IMDB page here.

The Karate Kid (2010) Poster

But the movie is about a kid from Detroit who moves to China, not a kid from Jersey who moves to Racita, CA. So I am interested to see what landmarks will be included and how they portray the D.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Groupon is Rad!

So a couple weeks ago I joined this iffy email newsletter from It promised to send me one Detroit coupon a day with insane deals for places all around Metro Detroit. And if enough people bought the coupon the deal would stand and if not they would not offer it. I figured that since all I really want to do for a living is find the rad needles in the haystack that is Detroit I would sign up and save some money doing it (since I'm for sure not making any money at it).

I will say that when I got my first few groupon offers (a massage parlor, a carpet warehouse, some place in Shelby, MI.) I was worried. But today it finally happened! The groupon today is to The Town Pump in downtown Detroit for $30 worth of pub grub and pints for only $15. And although I have already been to this fine establishment I purchased this groupon. At least now I have an excuse to go downtown again. I figure I spend about $30 on an average night out anyway. Why not throw some food in there too and take 50% off?

So as always I am promoting this RAD deal at If you want to sign up for this daily email you may have to weather some real bad deals (it's like clicking "dislike" on a Josh Ritter song for your Alt-Country Pandora station), I have a feeling that will come through for you like it has for me. And if you want to do me a solid by using my referral link I have pasted it here. If not I understand... I hate sending stuff like that to people.

Traffic Jam and Snug

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The Traffic Jam and Snug restaurant isn't just a restaurant. It's also a microbrewery, Michigan's first. It's also a bakery... and it's also a dairy. It's really like a cell phone... that's also a camera (thanks Mike Birbiglia).

We decided to stop in after the Corktown celebration because of the host of people in Corktown we figured this mid-town restaurant would be significantly less populated, and we were right. Located on Canfield just west of Woodward in the mid-town area of Detroit, the Traffic Jam and Snug sits across from Motor City Brewing Works and is (still have to visit this place) far less noticeable from the outside. Inside I couldn't tell if it was a meat and potatoes type steak house (lots of wood and brick) or a down home country type Applebee's (lots of random stuff on the walls). Turns out it is a great little treasure with original recipes made from scratch.

When we arrived we had to wait a little bit for a hostess to seat us. But while we waited we saw one group ahead of us (mostly senior citizens) get seated and then a bus load of them (senior citizens) came in right after that. I don't know what the deal is but apparently the older fold LOVE this place. The bus groups said they come every Sunday... wild and crazy kids.

We were there for a late lunch and I will say I was a left wanting more options from their lunch menu. They had a ton of appetizers but not that many sandwiches and the entrees were a little pricey ($15-$20 for lunch). Plus you don't automatically get fries with your sandwich. They also only had 2 of their microbrews available, I don't even think those that we ordered are on their website.

For lunch I had the chicken and black bean nachos and they were fantastic. There was just the right amount of melted cheese on top and with salsa, sour cream and diced jalapenos the only way to describe them is fantastico! The IPA they brew there was also a pleasant surprise. Hoppy and bitter but just what you want from that kind of beer. Before we got our food the waitress brought out some free bread that they make fresh there everyday. It was some sort of cheese bread that was so good we had to ask for another basket right away.
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Although it may sound like I am griping about this place I did love it. When you walk in you feel like you are in a different world. The atmosphere is like the cross between medieval castle and 1960's family restaurant. Our waitress was a little odd, but a good odd. It was like she was probably a city dweller of Detroit and very interesting. Somehow at Traffic Jam it all makes sense and delivers a restaurant experience like none other. What is for sure is that I felt like a total tourist at this place but I would like to be a regular. But don't take my word for it. Get downtown and support Detroit by visiting this rad restaurant!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Corktown 2010

Every year on the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day the Detroit neighborhood of Corktown celebrates with a parade and revelry in the streets. Last year when I attended I missed the parade but enjoyed the revelry and this year was the opposite. The parade started at 2pm and we just made it but had to leave early. Also this year I heard that local law enforcement was going to crack down on open containers this year... but if they were I couldn't tell... and neither could the other 1,000 people I saw with beers in their hand.

We arrived in Corktown and parked near the abandoned train depot, which should be saved.

As we stood on the south side of Michigan Ave. we watched as all of our favorite downtown spots paraded floats and workers in costume by. Getting in to an establishment was out of the questions. Because of the weather every bar was packed and spilling out on to the street.

Hoots, Nemo's and Slow's BBQ were all possible destinations but were way too crowded for our liking. Nancy Whiskey's, to the north of Corktown over I-75 was also a possibility but we didn't have time to get there.We walked up and down the parade route, met up with some friends to watch, and then decided to hit the road because of time constraints. But if you have time on this Sunday or can take Monday off I highly suggest staying downtown for the parade and aftermath.

Slows Bar BQ

On a sad not, old Tiger Stadium, which still had a few remnants up last year, was completely gone. All that is left is a huge vacant lot and a few of the old gates lining the street.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Madness!

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Today is the day, the day after selection Sunday, the day we begin filling out our brackets for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament that has meant so much to us. The bragging rights and maybe 5 bucks are on the line once again. And no one, no matter how much college hoops they have watched this season, knows what is going to happen.

March is the month of upsets, glass slippers, gut feelings, and over confidence. I for one started my pool last night and have emailed everyone I know to try to get the largest turnout yet, although some people may still be waiting on their prize money from last year. To them I say, "You can't take it with you... and your entry this year is on me."

I for one do not watch much college basketball until the tournament starts. Unfortunately I must make my bracket picks before that, so here are a few rules I have come up with that will no doubt help you make your picks for years to come. These are the guidelines I live by when filling out what can be a life changing bracket.

1. Don't watch the regular season - It doesn't matter, teams can go on runs or droughts.
2. Pick a 12 seed to upset a 5 seed - History doesn't lie.
3. Pick at least one low seed underdog - I'm not saying U of Arkansas- Pine Bluff has a chance... or am I?
4. Go with your gut - Eraser marks look terrible on a paper bracket as does scratched out pen. Plus it shows indecisiveness... a sign of weakness.
5. In the art of bracket picking irrational = rational... sometimes.
6. Don't listen to me... check out yahoo sports' advice.

Go Comedy in Ferndale


Last weekend was a laugh riot. A group of friends went to Go Comedy in Ferndale on Saturday night with some free passes we scored from our neighbor whose son is partial owner of the club. What I expected was a lineup of stand-up comedy acts but what I got was much better. Go Comedy is actually an improv venue that not only offers performances but an improv theater school where budding comedians go to cut their teeth and beef up their chops on their way to super-SNL stardom (ok maybe Second City stardom).

We witnessed the comedy group "Internet Sensations" take on some frat guys (seriously they chugged beer on stage in letterman jackets). The "Sensations" were no match as they worked their way through short improv games and competitions like Inuendo where every line has to start with "I like my men like I like my..." The points don't matter but in the end I think the dudes took the competition. The crowd even got involved a bit as the MC of the show uses bits from the suggestion cards you fill out before the show. All in all it was a great time with lots of laughs. Plus there was even a free improv show called "Dark Matter" after the 10pm show. Not as good but a nice extra. Thanks Go Comedy we will be back!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Red Wings, Metro Times Blowout and D'Mongos Speakeasy

Ladies and gentlemen of the Detroit Metro area. Tonight there exists a hodgepodge of things to do that kind of present themselves nicely. Plus with the clear blue, crisp skies it is a perfect time to get outside and get downtown to see a show, go to a game, or visit a Detroit bar or restaurant. So I have carefully put together the following itinerary for those of you looking to get out and go downtown for a night.

1. Head downtown in The Night Move - This is Detroit's Green Transportation vehicle. The bus itself runs on B20 biodiesel fuel which cuts emissions by 50%. They have also partnered with in order to help fund more ways to cut emissions. The bus goes between Royal Oak, Ferndale and Detroit with round trip tickets for $10. Plus this weekend The Night Move is providing FREE transportation around Hamtramck for the Metro Times Blowout (read on).

2. Metro Times Blowout 2010 - This event actually started last night but continues tonight and tomorrow night with 200 bands playing in 12 venues around Hamtramck, MI. The Metro Times is a Metro Detroit entertainment guide available for free every week and this is their 13th annual blowout celebrating local music. The music starts at 6pm tonight at Detroit Threads with music by the Detroit Techno Militia.

3. Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators - Tonight at 7:30pm the wings take on the preds at the Joe. Because of the Olympic break the season is two weeks shorter this year and there are only a few home games left going in to April (not counting the playoffs). I would fork out a few extra bucks for some good seats as this promises to be a gritty match up with most of the injuries for Detroit are behind them.

4. Go to a local bar! - After the wings win... or after an awesome blowout show... head downtown to one of Detroit's 100+ bars and restaurants. Don't know where to go? Check out the list at virtual welcome center. Inside Detroit is also a tour company that offers group or private tours around downtown and themed tours like the St. Paddy's Day pub tour coming up next week. My suggestion would be to visit D'Mongos Speakeasy, a small restaurant bar that is only open on Fridays. The distinctive interior was once described to me as a preserved version of "Liberace's living room."

Do it all... or just do one thing. Either way you'll be getting out of your house, having some fun and supporting some Michigan businesses! Let me know your itinerary or send some pics from your night out and I'll post them!

Monday, March 1, 2010

B Nektar tasting in Ferndale

Mead is like a type of alcohol with the consistency of wine but alcohol percentages ranging from a light beer to that of wine. The bottle looks like a wine bottle and the process involves fermenting a mixture of water and honey with yeast and then aging in oak or stainless steal barrels until it tastes just right. Some call it the "ancestor of all fermented drinks.
B. Nektar Mead

B Nektar Meadery in Ferndale is currently churning out tasty meads every first and third Friday of the month that you can taste for free. This Friday is no different. Admission to the tasting is free and you have a chance to purchase mead and mead merchandise directly from the brewer. The tastings start at 5:30pm and end at 10 so you have plenty of time to stop by and enjoy some beverages while supporting a Michigan business!