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Katie Davis

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Archive for the ‘Detroit’ Category

Monday, April 9, 2012 @ 09:04 AM

You all still with me? Well if you’ve been waiting for the results of our favorite Detroit Coney with bated breath, today is your day. However, if you are just joining us, two weeks ago we began with part one of a two part review of these famed D-Town dogs in competition where the focus was on one of the much loved originators of this dish, Lafayette Coney Island. While I won’t go into great detail about the history, since we have already discussed it in part one, I will mention again just how unique these restaurants are. Both owned by the same family who decided to go their separate Coney ways back in the day, literally just splitting the restaurant down the middle and birthing two very well loved Coney spots, literally right next door to one another; and while I mentioned last week that they are both beloved and each have their own set of fans, I thought it would be fun for you to see a clip of just what we mean…

 

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmnGTkYQmBg

 

You don’t have to watch the entire clip to see just how crazy each spots fans are for their signature dish, and with that love comes great competition and heated discussion. So we figured that being right in the heart of Detroit for a weekend last summer, what better way crown our favorite than to taste-test them both…back to back!

You can read all about what we thought of Lafayette. But after that initial Detroit City Coney experience, it was off for round 2 at American Coney Island…the originator of the dish. Of course it didn’t take us long to arrive at the next destination, being that it was literally right smack dab next door; and I must admit I felt a little silly eating a hot dog at one spot and then just picking up and walking a few feet to order another….silly but fun.

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The first thing I noticed different was how immediately more welcomed I felt upon entering. It was clear that in the past decade American had made not only huge décor changes and updates, but their staff seemed significantly younger and…well I hate to say it…more friendly. It was clear that American, unlike their counterpart, had grown over time…in all sense of the word… and embrace some of the more modern customer appeasing touches.

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We ordered immediately after being seated…2 traditional Coneys…dog, coney sauce, onions & yellow mustard. My mouth just begins to water listing off the ingredients!

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Now this being our 2nd Coney experience of the day, I was really trying to take each bite in and make sure I really examined the difference in flavor. It was pretty hard to discern a huge difference, but American’s chili was a bit sweeter, something I really enjoy in a Coney. Well, we gobbled those suckers down and at this point I knew I was Coneyed out for the day…, Adam on the other hand was still looking for possibly one more at the game. Smile

Because I’ll be the first to admit that first impressions are almost a make or break in the whole experience for me and that I can get pretty turned off pretty quick by a place that isn’t really trying very hard to win me over, I knew I already had a different feeling about the whole Coney situation when we walked into American. However, trying my best to keep all that aside, this is really about the food, so I made sure to keep an open mind…which I’ll share shortly.

SIGNATURE DISH: Coney’s are still the name of this game and if you stuck around from last week you know we are going to share which was actually our favorite at the end of the day!

TASTE: First and foremost, very good! Detroit Coney’s are an easy 2 for 2 after this. On the taste, however, American’s Coney sauce is distinctly sweeter…very much like a Greek-style chili. All the flavors come together very well and it is a very crisp taste.

AMBIANCE: I liked the modern updates American Coney Island had to offer and it is definitely bigger than its neighbor. Also, another thing I liked was the natural light with all the windows…great in the city.

PRICE: Possibly a few cents different, but still not a bank breaker…definitely worth it!

SERVICE: This was where American stood out. They were friendly, helpful and downright chatty…interested in where we were from, what we were doing, etc. It was clear they took customer service seriously and didn’t just stand on their popularity to keep people coming back.

I give American Coney Island 4 ½ ‘Little Piggies’

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THE COMPARISON & VERDICT

Alert the critic authorities…we have a split decision in the way of differing opinions in the PCC family! When it was all said and done, Adam was a fan of Lafayette Coney Island while my favorite was American Coney Island far and away. The deciding factor for him was that he felt the sweeter Spanish onions and vinegar mustard worked better for the overall taste of the Coney. Also, he liked that it still had that same early 20th century appeal.

I, on the other hand, much preferred the sweeter Greek-style chili. Also, I just enjoyed my entire experience there a whole lot more, which may or may not have made that Coney taste a whole lot better…you be the judge. Smile

In the end, I guess you will have to try both (in one day if you are daring) of these spots to make your own decision. For me it will always be American when I return (I guess Adam will have to go next door!), but I really enjoyed the entire experience of visiting both back to back and so glad we were able to experience this almost century old feud first hand.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 @ 08:03 PM

074Can you believe how warm it has been lately? I know the weather hasn’t been amazing for all of you, but if you live in the Midwest it has been downright awesome! We have had the mildest winter I can remember in a LONG time and now in the last two weeks it has been just like summer…, I mean 80 degrees in March…, it’s crazy!

One thing this weather is doing for our family (well Adam in particular) is helping to set the mood for the season…the baseball season that is. With the start of the season less than 2 weeks away, Adam is giddy with excitement, and it is taking me back to last summer when we shared a baseball themed trip to Detroit, which is where this week’s post is from.

To me, nothing is more synonymous with summer AND baseball than hotdogs. Well, if you’re from Detroit, those dogs come in the form of a Coney Dog. That’s right…these things are everywhere in the Detroit metro area and everyone has their favorite; and perhaps the most famous of them all are two that share everything in common from family to a location and have been in competition with one another for the best Coney for generations. I’m referring to Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island.

These 2 Coney Island landmarks got their start by the Keros brothers in the early 1900’s and officially began their rivalry when one brother decided he’d strike out on his own and open his very own Coney sport right next door to their current location….and I mean RIGHT NEXT DOOR! He named the new Coney spot Lafayette Coney Island.

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Lafayette’s (or American for that matter) wasn’t really on our radar screen until we saw both the The Food Network and The Travel Channel visit them for their “Food Feuds” and “Food Wars” shows respectively; and since then they’ve also shown up on an episode of “Man vs. Food.” Needless to say, they’ve both gotten a lot of publicity through the years…major PCC cred; and while these 2 aren’t the only Coney restaurants in the D-Town area, they are the most famous and creators of the original “Coney Style Hotdog,” a hot dog with chili, diced yellow onion, and yellow mustard.

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Others around the state and country have duplicated the un-trademarked dog, but none seem to be as popular or widely known. So on last summer’s “babymoon” weekend getaway to Detroit for a baseball game, I knew a Coney taste test was in our future.

Our first stop/taste test was at Lafayette’s (for no real reason other than it was the one to the left Smile). It is quite comical when you pull up and see these two restaurants literally smack dab right next to one another. When we walked in, one thing we immediately noticed was how nostalgically “old” it was. I don’t want to say dingy, but it was clear that not much had changed in the décor since 1917 (a vast difference from its counterpart, but we’ll get to that next week). It is very much a “no frills” kinda atmosphere. Since it was just the two of us and we knew this wasn’t going to be a lengthy meal, we thought it would be easy enough to just sit at the bar and see the process first hand, a very quick process I might add. The guy at the counter came and took our order, but it was pretty clear we should be ready when he came over and that he wasn’t up for a lot of conversation. It wasn’t that he was mean, just pretty no nonsense. The order was pretty simple…a couple of Coney’s the way Lafayette’s intended, diced onions & yellow mustard; and, no joke, they were in front of us within two minutes, and five minutes later our plates were empty!

I knew I wouldn’t dislike this dish, since I love Cincinnati style chili Coney dogs. But the big question would be which of these two famed Coney dogs I would like best; and although I don’t want to ruin the surprise, I will say I found the Lafayette’s Coney pretty tasty. Still, you will have to wait until next week for the comparison and big reveal on which is best. In the meantime I will give you a basic review below…

SIGNATURE DISH: Coney Dogs all day long…since 1917.

TASTE: While I won’t say if this was my favorite, I will tell you it was for sure tasty and definitely hit the spot. While different in flavor than Coney style dogs I have had in the past, if this is how Detroit does it, than they have found a fan in me!

AMBIANCE: I mentioned above that the feeling you get when you walk into Lafayette’s is pretty unique…, unique in the sense that it feels like you are stepping back in time a little bit. It is clear that not much has changed in the décor over the last 80 plus years and people like it that way. Hoping I’m not offending anyone, I’d say Lafayette’s very much reflects Detroit blue collar feel. It’s a no-frills no-fuss place…all about the Coney.

PRICE: While I can’t remember specifically, I know each of our dogs was not much more than a couple of dollars…, a deal any day in my book!

SERVICE: While I would not say we received bad service, I will definitely say they weren’t as welcoming or friendly as I would have hoped. This is not to say I didn’t expect it, especially with their D-Town demeanor. I’d almost say this is part of what makes Lafayette’s so popular…it’s Detroit to the core, like it or not.

…Stay tuned for my review of American Coney Island next week and I’ll fill you in on which was our favorite!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 @ 08:11 AM

And I’m back…is anyone still reading?  It’s kinda hard to believe how quickly time with our little girl is going already. 8 weeks have flown by and while it hasn’t been all roses and sunshine, I am loving every minute of being a mommy to our little “Betta” as she is affectionately known to us; and although I promise this blog is not going to turn into all about my baby, being a food blog and all, I couldn’t go on without a shameless picture of our adorable little pea pod on Halloween…I mean how cute is she?

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Ok, now back to our scheduled programming…and where we are headed next is a bbq joint in a place where you wouldn’t think would bring good Q. We’re going to the Motor City….D-Town…Detroit.  I know what you might be thinking…, bbq from Detroit, how can that be good?  But what I am quickly learning is that you can find really outstanding bbq just about anywhere so long as those creating it have passion for the meat and approach it with good smoking technique.

So what took us to this unlikely tourist destination? Well, we just so happened to win tickets to a Detroit Tigers game and with being only a few short months away from welcoming that little one above, we thought it might be a fun and easy getaway for just the two of us; and although Detroit isn’t necessarily what you might think of when you think of a romantic weekend getaway, we knew that the time away, a little baseball and a few pop culture worthy hot spots was all we would need for a fun adventure.

As we typically do before any trip, we researched which places we definitely wanted to hit up, and one place kept showing up.  Slow’s  Bar-B-Q, located in a very urban part of downtown Detroit, popped onto our radar when we happened to see it on an episode of Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food.” As you know, we are avid bbq lovers, so the thought of being able to get some possibly decent “Q” since leaving Texas without venturing too far definitely made it a high priority.  So we planned that our first night would be enjoying some food and atmosphere and this local hot spot.

When we ventured out we were quickly taken aback by just how deserted the city of Detroit is. It is definitely not Chicago…or even Dallas for that matter. After 5, it was so quiet…almost like a ghost town right in the heart of the city. Slows is located a bit on the outskirts of downtown in an area that seems to be being renovated….sort of a rebirth section of the city where a lot of up and coming establishment are located. Right now there is not a whole lot that surrounds it as far as other businesses. It’s sort of a unique urban setting; and although it’s not the most upscale area, it does not seem to deter many from venturing out for some great food.

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The first thing we noticed…or didn’t notice that is….when we first walked up is the very cool front façade. You would almost walk right on by the door if you weren’t paying attention.  It blends in so seamlessly we were hard pressed to even figure out where the door was exactly at first.  However…, and I’m not exaggerating at bit, we simply followed our noses to find our way inside.

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(Disclaimer: Looking back I didn’t feel HUGE at this point during my pregnancy, but this picture sure makes me look it haha)

This place is VERY popular, so we had to put our name in a wait a while. However, while the restaurant was very crowded, we were able to squeeze in near the bar and enjoy a drink (non alchy for me) while we waited for a table.

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Once we got seated, we quickly looked over the menu and decided upon “The Big Three” (pulled pork, pulled chicken, and sliced brisket) and a “Baby Back Ribs” platters to share amongst the two of us.  Each of our dishes came with two sides so we went with cornbread, mac and cheese, and green beans.  While we waited for our food, we decided to taste test their 4 sauces, and of course I can’t remember what they were each called, but they had a wide range from sweet, to spicy, tangy, and more classic. There was one that was even apple based…not my favorite.

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It wasn’t long before the heaping plates of meat were placed before us and we were allowed to dig in…this was a meal I certainly relished and hated being 8 months pregnant at the same time.  I was so excited and hungry and ready to enjoy the meal, I just wished that at that point I didn’t fill up after 2 bites, so I tried to keep that in mind and take it slow so I could enjoy trying everything.

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We both really enjoyed the ribs, but agreed it was the pulled pork that was really super duper out of this world!  And unfortunately, although I had heard rave reviews about the mac and cheese, it wasn’t really my favorite.  Now that being said, I am a picky mac and cheese person, and if I don’t like the texture…forget it.  Adam, on the other hand, still enjoyed it, but really…are we surprised?

For me, the corn bread was to die for; and I promptly ate the majority of that right up.  All in all we truly enjoyed every morsel of our food and had a lot leftover we were so full. Still, while my super pregnant belly was too full for dessert, Adam dug into some of their homemade banana pudding (a favorite of his). I tried a bite and both of us agreed that it was not very good.

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Overall, we really had a blast hanging out at this cool spot; and had I not been pregnant, we probably would have hung out in the bar longer. I guess it just makes it a place we are going to have to hit up again sans pregnancy.

SIGNATURE DISH: While they don’t have any particular meat they are more known for than the others, they have done a great job of really honing in on all the regional bbq favorites and how to prepare those in their own unique manner.  If you like fish, chicken, pork, or beef, they have it all for the taking.

TASTE: While we have been hard pressed to find many bbq places that beat some of the wonderful places we had in Texas (boy were we spoiled!), this was a wonderful way for us to enjoy some of those flavors again and in a much closer vicinity.  Lucky for us, Detroit is only a few hours away, so although I can’t see us hopping in the car to make that trip weekly, we at least know that some good Q is a within our reach again.

AMBIANCE: The interior designer in me always has a keen eye for places that clearly take the design into account.  Sure…, I love a good hole in the wall place as much as the next person and many times that adds to the overall feel, but I also love places that truly find an aesthetic that complements their food.  What I thought Slow’s had done so well was with their use of textures and tones they really created the feel of an outdoor barbecue but upscale and without actually being outside.  It felt very clean, modern, and special without being stuffy or over the top fancy.

PRICE: Their entrees ranged in price from$12 – $25 which for barbecue really isn’t unheard of.  On a side note… what is so funny is really for those cuts of meats you are really not talking about pricey…but bbq has become so trendy and special that these places can easily charge more.  But as far as Slow’s was concerned, I was not shocked by their prices one bit and we actually got a fairly decent amount of food considering we had some to take home.

SERVICE: I thought both the bartender we encountered and our waitress were super friendly and helpful.  The bartender was kind enough to make up a fruity non-alcoholic concoction for me while we waited so that I could still enjoy a fun drink.  And our waitress not only helped us with our food decisions, but chatted with us about Detroit itself and some of the things we may want to check out…, overall super friendly.

So although Detroit does not scream “Babymoon” or romantic getaway, we certainly had fun checking out this city and were glad that we ventured out to the Motor City in search of some great barbecue.  While it was not better than my beloved Texas BBQ, I really did love me some Slow’s and I give it 3 ‘Little Piggies.’

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