The Apparatus Room (Detroit, MI)

While I rather love Detroit architecture, Detroit has a bit of a mixed history with historic preservation, with it seeming that historic buildings that fell onto hard times having roughly equal chances of getting refurbished, left to rot, or getting turned into yet more surplus parking lots (with the exception of game days, the city has one of the largest parking surpluses I’ve ever seen). One of the more impressive buildings that was always a bit of a concern has been the old Detroit Fire Headquarters, across the street from Cobo Hall. Actively used as a fire station until the early 2000s, by 2011, the building was only used for administrative purposes, and by the end of 2011 the administrators moved out as well. In 2013, the building was one of many across Detroit that the city was attempting to sell during its bankruptcy, and it sold to a group of investors in 2013. After several years of planning and renovation, it opened in 2017 as the Detroit Foundation Hotel, and the old garage bays that, way back in the day used to hold the fire fighting apparati, re-opened as The Apparatus Room.

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Dilla’s Delights (Detroit, MI)

After a brief detour back to Lebanon to write up Muriel’s Donuts for donut day, I’m returning to my Detroit-area reviews, and, interestingly enough, staying with the donut theme for another review. My whole reason for being in Detroit was volunteering at The FIRST Robotics Champsionships, and that event had portions scheduled at both Cobo Hall and Ford Field, and I ended up walking between the two more than a few times. So, when I was given a box of stuff over to Ford Field, and then asked “hey, can you grab some donuts or snacks for the guys setting things up?” my immediate answer was “I’ve got this!”. I was sure of this, since I knew my route will take me right by Dilla’s Delights.

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Muriel’s Donuts (Lebanon, NH)

Every year for National Donut Day, several of my coworkers celebrate by going out and buying a bunch of donuts for the office. And no, while Dunkin Donuts is damn near ubiquitous around here (and indeed, even gives out free donuts today with a beverage purchase), we drove right by the Dunkin Donuts… we had a much greater destination in mind: Muriel’s Donuts, some of the best donuts to be found for literally hundreds of miles.

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Supino (Detroit, MI)

While my reviews of Brass Rail and Via 313 covered the basic concept of “Detroit-Style Pizza” in detail, that doesn’t mean that every place in Detroit serves up pizza that style. There are many places around the Detroit area serving up traditional, round, Italian-style thin-crust pizza done well. Indeed, at several of the breweries I visited, I asked people where their favorite pizza was, and there was a general consensus around one place having the best overall pizza in Detroit, and that was Supino.

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Dime Store (Detroit, MI)

If there’s ever a sign that an area is on the upswing, it’s when it starts to pick up some good, delicious breakfast joints. It wasn’t all that long ago that almost all of the options for a decent breakfast in downtown Detroit had the words “Coney Island” associated with them, or you had to nervously wonder if the in-house breakfast at your hotel was halfway decent. But in relatively recent history, more than a few decent breakfast options have become available: the Hudson Cafe, the Parks and Rec Diner, and Dime Store all being locations that were on my radar, and since my walk to Cobo Hall took me right by the Chrysler Building (formerly the “Dime Bank Building”), I figured it would be a good opportunity to stop in and check out Dime Store.

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Brass Rail (Detroit, MI)

A few years ago, I did a review of Via 313 in Austin, that featured “Detroit-style pizza” (which is actually a thing, as we’ll review below), but realized that I’ve never really reviewed a proper Detroit-style pizza place here in…. Detroit. The canonical source for Detroit-style “square” pizza is Buddy’s, but their original location is way up at McNichols (aka “6 Mile”) and Conant, and for my visit to Detroit I was actually downtown without a vehicle, so I decided to check out a place with my friend Brian (an actual Detroit resident!) on Grand Circus Park, just across the street from the giant Hazen Pingree statue: the Brass Rail.

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Bite into Maine (Scarborough, ME)

If there’s one New England tradition I rather like, it’s that of the Lobster Roll. Our local contribution to seaside fast food, it involves taking a hot dog bun (top-split being the best), and loading it up with lobster meat (preferably, with a few big chunks of claw meat), lightly dressed with lemon, celery, salt, pepper, and, sometimes, mayo, it’s a great way to enjoy fresh lobster, and at times it seems just about every restaurant in New England gets in on the action. You can read about one of my other favorite lobster rolls in my review of Latitudes down the shore in New Castle, NH, but even Panera and McDonalds get in on the action (and actually, for the price, the short-seasonal special McLobster usually is pretty good.) So one idea we had for our second car-shopping trip to Portland was to duck in and get a lobster roll on our way home at one of the better-recommended places in the Portland area: Bite into Maine. There was just one little problem with that plan…. Bite into Maine, primarily being a food truck, with locations at Allagash Brewing and Fort Williams Park (and the occasional special event) is a seasonal production, and during our late April visit, their food trucks weren’t out for the season. But the great folks at Bite into Maine happen to have a solution for this: they maintain a commissary for their trucks off Route 1 in Scarborough, and the commissary now has a small dining area, so you can have your favorite Lobster Rolls any time, including the off-season!

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The Honey Paw (Portland, ME)

Despite Maine being only one state away, it’s just far enough of a drive that we don’t often seem to get over that way to explore. However, recent efforts in our household at car shopping had us doing several visits to dealerships in Portland, and after some test driving and a visit to nearby Mast Landing Brewery in Westbrook, we had some time to go find a light dinner in Portland before heading back to NH. We originally set out to visit Eventide Oyster Company, but upon finding the waiting list to be rather long (they were estimating an hour), we instead inquired next door at the sister restaurant, The Honey Paw, and found a much shorter wait of 20 minutes. Settling in across the street at Tomaso’s Canteen (who deserves a writeup of their own at some point), for a beer while we waited. A mere 10 minutes later, we got a page that our table was ready.

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Travel Guide Review: Only in Boston

From time to time, I do review travel guides, and as you can read from my review of Only in Edinburg, I’ve become quite a fan of the Only In Guides by Duncan J. D. Smith, primarily since he isn’t trying to provide a general purpose travel guide geared to the basics of how to use the bus, where to stay, and which museums to visit, but instead focuses on the unique and hidden attractions of a city. This makes it a particularly good travel guide if you find yourself visiting a city that you already know well (for example, I got his London guide after a solid decade of touring about London myself, and still found a lot of good recommendations). So, with that in mind, I was pleased that Duncan recently published a new guide, Only in Boston. Yes, I bought a travel guide for a city that only 2.5 hours away and that I’ve visited probably a hundred times.

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Rickie’s Indian Restaurant (South Barre, VT)

One of the whole reasons I started this blog is that, living in Northern New England, we don’t have a lot of options when it comes to ethnic food. Indeed, for some options like “Vietnamese”, “Indian”, and “Cuban” being the most notable, there can literally be hundreds of miles from one restaurant of that ethnicity to the next. This is particularly the case with Indian food; over the entirety of VT, I can count the entire population of Indian restaurants on one hand (and NH, with twice the population, doesn’t have that many more). So, when I actually hear of an Indian restaurant that I haven’t been to before, it’s notable. In this case, it was about a year ago I first heard of Rickie’s Indian Restaurant in South Barre, so when some recent travels ended up with my passing through Barre around dinner time on a Saturday, it was worth my time to stop by the Citgo station in South Barre on Route 14 to try out their Indian food.

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