Friday, September 25, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out During Detroit Restaurant Week

Cities like New York, Chicago and LA are known for their upscale restaurants. The number of swanky restaurants in Detroit may not compare to these cities, but many high-end eateries have popped up downtown in the past few years. The economy has hit some of these restaurants hard and forced owners to come up with innovative ways to bring in customers - like Andiamo Italia offering buy one get one free entrees.

The Greater Downtown Districts (including Downtown, Midtown, New Center, Corktown and Eastern Market) and Paxahau Promotions Group decided to take things one step further by bringing a novel idea implemented in other cities to Detroit - Detroit Restaurant Week. From September 18 - 27 (hurry, only two more days!), the city's top dining establishments are offering a minimum three-course dinner for $27 (excluding beverage, tax and gratuity). Some may complain about that price and claim it's not a discount, but most single entrees alone at upscale restaurants cost more than $27.

Many of the newer restaurants downtown have been on my need-to-try list for awhile. I couldn't resist the opportunity to get a three-course meal for what in my mind is a decent price.

MAL and I decided on Wolfgang Puck Grille at MGM Grand Detroit. Overall, I thought the decor was exquisite, the servers were attentive and welcoming and the food was delicious. I was surprised how well the walls blocked the noise from the casino, so that was an added bonus.

Side note: The dim lights made the photos from my camera phone turn out fuzzier than normal.

For our first course, I chose a creamy mushroom soup, while MAL opted for butternut squash ravioli. Both were smaller portions (which seems to be the trend at most nicer restaurants), but this didn't take away from the quality of the food. We gave both the ravioli and soup two thumbs up.

I was a bit disappointed with my main course, but I have no one to blame but myself. MAL chose the salmon with potatoes and a mustard sauce, a savory and perfectly-portioned dish.

We ate salmon the previous night, and for some odd reason I tend to avoid chicken at restaurants, so I opted for the ribeye and potatoes. In my excitement for more food, I failed to read the menu well and didn't realize french fries accompanied my meal. But these were the best darn french fries I've had in LONG time. They were the perfect blend of salty and crunchy. The ribeye wasn't cooked as well as I had asked, but the blue cheese topping was such a tasty addition that I forgave the cook.

Dessert was our favorite course. The only option was a 12 layer cake, but we weren't complaining. You would think 12 layers of chocolate would be overkill, but the sugary sweetness was subdued. We were definitely full after the cake, but we didn't have that "I'm so stuffed I could spew" feeling.

I'm more than happy with our meal at Wolfgang Puck Grille. Rumor has it we're in for at least two more Detroit Restaurant Weeks next year. People have been tweeting up a storm about Detroit Restaurant Week, so I'm anxious to see if the participating restaurants saw a boost in customers and sales. I hope this tradition continues for years to come. Any program/event/conference that generates excitement about Detroit, brings people to the city and creates positive buzz in our community is a win for everyone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Allow Me to Stand on My Soapbox for a Moment

I'm not one to toot my own horn. Everyone loves praise and wants to hear that they're doing a good job, but public praise makes me uncomfortable. So please note, this post is not meant to put me on a pedestal. Rather it's to share something with those of you who I know tap into my blog, but aren't avid social media users, so you probably missed the "tweets" and Facebook posts.

I had the opportunity to write a guest post for The Detroit Free press about how metro Detroiters use social media to connect offline. I figured posting this on my blog was a more efficient way to share it than sending a massive amount of individual e-mails. This article is similar to my recent "We're All in This Together" post.

Some people think I'm crazy because I like to bebop around town after work and participate in many of the events that take place weekly in metro Detroit. The word "networking" is a bit old school, so I'd lean toward calling what I do relationship building. I've apologized to MAL on several occasions for coming home late, but he told me once that I always come home happy, and he'd never want to take that away from me. Yes, he rocks.

I hope you non-SM geeks find some value in my post! Thanks to Mark W. Smith for the opportunity to share my thoughts with the Freep community. It was a fun experience, and I hope to contribute more guest columns in the future.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Homeless Blogger's "Never-Give-Up" Attitude Leads to Elle Internship

I came across an amazing story about 24-year-old Brianna Karp, whose blog about homelessness turned into an internship with the guide-to-all-things-fashion magazine, Elle

This is also a story about love and hope. Brianna used Twitter to share her Homeless Tales blog posts, and this is how she found and fell in love with her trans-Atlantic boyfriend, Matt. Brianna's words gave hope to the homeless and showed the rest of the world that many homeless people are intelligent and skilled individuals who are faced with an unfortunate situation. 

Check out this AP article to learn how the Elle internship plays into the story. 

Brianna's ability to persevere amid tragedy is inspiring and admirable. She's on the path to success, whether or not Elle's editors give her a full-time position one day. This is just the first stepping stone.