Ford’s Garage

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The Kid and I were out on a mission the other day for some tasty treats.  The only problem with this is that we currently reside in Westland, MI which has been named the worst food city in America five years running.  This means we have to venture out to find good food and that usually means I end up taking her to some crazy place where half the meal involves me describing in great detail what she’s going to eat and why it tastes good.  She’s four, so while I have been training her to become the greatest chef that has ever lived since her birth, she is still picky about her food.  I decided to take her someplace where she could have a real kid experience and eat, as she calls it, a cheese booger.  Keep working on those hard Rs, Eleanor.

I had actually heard a good amount of hype about Ford’s Garage.  From time to time, I’ll throw it out on Facebook asking for new places to eat.  Each time I have done this someone has mentioned it.  Each time I looked a the menu I dismissed it as a Applebee’s level joint specializing in way too many types of burgers.  I decided to finally do some research on what this place exactly was — And yes, if you’re new to reading my stuff, I research everywhere I eat before I go.  I believe every person, place and thing should have a Wikipedia page explaining their story.

Ford’s Garage is actually a small franchise that currently operates four locations in Florida.  There is no actual connection between Ford Motor Company, aside from a licensing agreement.  Dearborn is their fifth location and is owned/operated by Billy Downs, who just happens to be the BD in BD’s Mongolian Grill.  Yes, Ford’s Garage is owned by the same guy who owns Mongolian Grill.  That’s quite the diverse restaurant portfolio.  Two owners of the Florida locations have apparently been charged with DUIs and cocaine possession on separate occasions, see here and here, and also have claimed that they have the mayor of Ford Myers, FL on their payroll.  #interesting.

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I now know the story of Ford’s Garage, which makes it an interesting enough place to eat. The mayor on the payroll part really put this place over the top.  Ford’s Garage specializes in exactly what they have advertised on their sign — Burgers and Beer.  CRAFT beer, to be exact.  I’m always so appreciative of places continuing to specify that they only will serve the finest in craft beers.  They have over two hundred different varieties of craft beer, but if you’re in the mood to be a true American that drinks an American beer sold to a foreign holder they always have Budweiser.  Nothing is more American than Budweiser.  They also have an extensive liquor menu that lists Buffalo Trace as top shelf Bourbon, which is a rant I will save for a different post.

The food menu is a pretty impressive collection of higher end dishes that could all be specials on a Ruby Tuesdays menu.  Appetizers include a giant funnel with onion rings wrapped around it like someone was playing horseshoes with them, hot pretzels with dipping sauces, Ahi Tuna, buffalo chicken dip and BBQ pork nachos.  Seriously, the starters have roots in Ireland, American, German and Japanese.  I’m all for a hodgepodge of different foods from different cultures, but black angus chili cheese fries have no business being next to “sushi grade ahi tuna”.

The main menu has twelve different burgers that have different toppings and are named for various figures in Detroit’s history.  There is a Bob Probert, an Ernie Harwell and somehow Jay Towers got a burger.  You can customize your burger by subbing the standard beef patty for portobello, ahi tuna steak, bison or American Kobe beef.  Here’s where I need to go on a rant.  If you wish to continue reading about the actual restaurant, skip the next paragraph.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AMERICAN KOBE BEEF.  In the late 1990s, the popularity of Kobe beef erupted in the United States.  True Kobe beef comes from a certain strain of cattle, called Wagyu, in a certain region of Japan and is under heavy regulation on what can be called Kobe beef and how it can be served.  The cattle is served beer, massaged with Sake and even played soothing music before they sleep.  The meat is marbled with fat because the cow literally has the best life a cow could possibly have.  They are respected and the meat that results from this treatment is celebrated by the butcher, the chef and the consumer.   “American” Kobe beef means a farmer either put cows on a flight from Japan in the early 1990s, which is illegal according to the regulations of Kobe beef and led to an import ban in the mid 200s, or they cross-bred Waygu cattle with Angus cattle.  American farmers do not participate in Kobe-style treatment, insisting that genetics and grain will give them the same result.  It doesn’t.  So let me summarize all of this for you.  Kobe beef is special. You do not grind up Kobe beef, mold it into a patty and up sell it for an extra $2.50.  It goes against everything the name “Kobe beef” stands for.  Kobe beef regulations in Japan state that it may be served raw or as a steak.  Advertising “American Kobe Beef” tells me that whoever designed this menu is completely full of shit.

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If you’re not in the mood for a burger, Ford’s Garage also has steaks, four different kinds of mac and cheese, fish and chips and pulled pork.  There are also eleven different sides you can add to your meal, ranging from truffle fries to baked beans.  I personally went with the patty melt, which was exactly what a patty melt should be, minus the salt.  It was a good sandwich, but I couldn’t help but think that maybe they should worry less about ahi tuna steaks and kobe beef, and more about seasoning their burgers.

On a positive note, Eleanor thought this place was pretty great.  There are old cars parked in the middle of the restaurant and the walls are covered in Detroit history. While I was fuming about various things that normal people don’t care about, she was having a great time and enjoying her meal.  The place was packed with employees, probably too many, who checked on us regularly and made sure Eleanor was taken care of.  Our server was hustling — offering drinks, appetizers and recommending deserts.  Whoever is managing the front of house is on their game.

So in summary, I would recommend Ford’s Garage.  Their menu is completely full of shit but it’s a fun environment paying tribute to a lot of great Detroiters.  I personally wouldn’t include Jay Towers as a great Detroiter but that’s OK.  There really are some great beers on the menu and you can probably have a really good time here, if you aren’t like me and have to nitpick every little thing on the menu and have strange requirements such as knowing the owner’s criminal record.

Deep Fried Cheesesteak Roll

I visited a joint called Mocha Bistro in Dearborn, MI after seeing their stuff on Instagram for some time. They advertise themselves as Yemeni-American fusion and have a pretty solid social media game. As you go through their shares, they definitely focus on the sweet stuff – cheesesteak rolls, milkshakes, fruit cocktails and smoothies. The pictures make this side of the menu look delicious but I’m not interested in that kind of thing. If you scroll through you will eventually come to the Mocha Steak Roll.  The Mocha Steak Roll is a deep fried cheesesteak roll.  Here, let me write that in bigger letters to get your attention.

DEEP FRIED.  CHEESESTEAK.  ROLL.

Now that description alone is enough to get my attention.  It’s amazing to me that someone thought to themselves “You know, a cheesesteak is a pretty good sandwich — But what if we deep fry it?”.  Whoever that was, THANK YOU.

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The Mocha Steak Roll is sliced ribeye, grilled onions and peppers with Swiss and American cheeses all wrapped in a tortilla. It’s like a wonderful cheesesteak chimichanga hybrid. It also comes with “Mocha Sauce”, which appears to be a spicy mayo, and a green salsa. Both are delicious and give a different flavor friend to each bite. The textures are soft in the middle with a slightly crunchy, chewy tortilla exterior. It’s as close to perfect as a deep fried sandwich can get.

If you’re not a steak person, they offer a similar sandwich in a chicken roll and also a chicken shawarma. So far I have been there twice and haven’t been able to eat anything else other than the steak roll. Eleanor, on the other hand, had the genius idea to dip chicken nuggets in hummus.

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Mocha Bistro has TWO locations – 14456 Michigan Ave in Dearborn and 9335 Constant Ave in Hamtramck.

Brome Burgers & Shakes

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Before I give you my thoughts, I would like to share with you a few excerpts from Brome Burgers & Shakes’ website, as most of what I have to say is a reaction to their marketing.

We pledge 100% organic beef that only comes from grass-fed cows that lead comfortable lives. We pledge ingredients that are NON GMO certified so that what mother nature intended, is all that goes into our bodies. We pledge sustainable business practices that increase efficiency and reduce waste.

Every day we wake up and make a conscious effort to minimize the negative impact we have on our planet. It is our goal to set an example for everyone who comes into contact with us, whether by vendors, competitors, or customers. We work to encourage all food vendors to purchase from farms that responsibly raise their vegetables and animals.

We encourage our competitors to mirror our business practices to provide a higher quality experience for their guests. We encourage our customers to visit our website to learn how to live more efficiently.

Their website goes on to say that their burgers are 100% organic, 100% all natural grass fed, never fed animal by-products and no added growth hormones.  There’s a small section where you can read about the farmers and their cows and even see where they came from.

Now here’s the actual beginning of this post.  When you walk into Brome Burgers & Shakes, you’re treated to a menu offering ten different burgers, multiple types of fries, complex salads, milkshakes, hot dogs and other items.  It’s a very impressive menu that offers something for pretty much everyone.  The menu continues to go hard on the organic theme – cage free chicken sandwich, organic vegan patty, Kennebec fries and Artisan greens. It’s almost as if a Vegan purchased a space with the idea of opening a restaurant specializing in salads but upon arriving to said space, a squatter was living there and would only leave on the condition that burgers were added to the menu.

Let me get this straight, I’m all for the treatment of animals and I buy organic any time it’s discounted as a manager’s special at the grocery store.  I’m not trying to say that restaurants shouldn’t advertise the quality of their ingredients because it’s important to many people.  What I have a problem with is when restaurants use organic labels as a marketing tool.

When you step up to the counter and order your burger you will be asked this question: “Would you like to pay an extra $2 for an organic patty?”. I actually stalled during the ordering process because before arriving, their website beat me over the head with claims of quality in food processing and animal treatment.  I had noticed that their menu advertises two prices for each burger without specifying what the price difference is for.  I figured it was for a larger sized beef patty, which I was absolutely ready to accept.  What I didn’t realize was that Brome Burgers & Shakes wanted me pay more for everything they advertise.

I’m not trying to say this is misleading and/or false advertising, I just think it’s bullshit on a pretty large scale.  If you’re going to be an organic restaurant, go organic all the way.  Don’t offer people the sad cow meat and then try to upsell them to the happy cow meat.  That’s just kind of fucked up, in my book.  If your menu, website and mission statement say “We give a fuck about animals” then maybe you should go 100% in giving a fuck about animals.  I actually feel kind of bad for the non-organic beef that is probably kept in a separate walk in at a higher temperature and is stored in off-brand ziplock bags while the organic beef is kept in a temperature controlled walk in and stored in 100% USDA organic vacuum sealed plastic.

I guess what I’m trying to say, if you skipped all of that and are wondering where the hell the pictures are, is I think Brome Burgers & Shakes is a bit full of shit.  That being said, my burger was pretty damn good and no, I did not pay the extra $2 to make my patty organic which would have made my burger total $13.  This is “The Mex” which is topped with corn salsa, cheddar-jack Cheese Sauce, pickled jalapeno, avocado and chipotle mayo.  Brome is located at 22062 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

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Gas Station Burgers

Eating burgers made in a gas station.  Gross, right?  Actually, completely the opposite.

Back around 2009 I preached that the Detroit food scene was completely underrated.  Not saying I’m Nostrodamus or anything but Detroit was recently named America’s top “unexpected” food city by NatGeo.  Now I’m here to tell you that the Dearborn food scene is killing it.  Not just with Middle Eastern cuisine but with different foods you would never expect like Italian bakeries and classic American food.  I have to question why anyone would want to emulate classic American food, but if they’re going to do what I’m about to tell you about I am completely for it.

Taystee’s Burgers is on Ford Rd. across from the Ford-Wyoming Theater and shares occupancy with a BP Gas Station.  This is a family venture, in that the owner of Taystee’s runs the burger joint and his grandparents own the gas station.  They serve burgers, chicken wraps, quesadillas, hot dogs, wings, about 6 different types of french fries, fried Oreos and other options.  Check their website for a full menu.

Now I’m a bare bones burger kind of guy.  I believe that if you get quality meat, season it with some salt and pepper, top it with American cheese and surround it between a quality bun and I’m golden.  That being said, if I’m going to put toppings on my burger I go all out.  Like, ridiculously all out.  Taystee’s spoke to me with Ali’s Notch-Yo Burger that has 12 TOPPINGS.  12!  I’m serious.  Here, I’ll list them:

Lettuce, Tomato, Grilled Onions, Jalapeños, Cheddar Cheese, Swiss Cheese, Pepper jack Cheese, Nacho cheese, Beef bacon, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Mayo and Hot Sauce

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Now normally I would say twelve different toppings on a burger is overboard but somehow this works.  All of the flavors meld together to make one of the better burgers I’ve had in recent memory.  The roll is substantial enough to keep everything together and you can still taste the beef through the twelve ingredients stacked on top of it.

I am here to say this is the best burger I’ve ever had at a gas station.  In fact, it’s the only burger I’ve ever had at a gas station.  If you’re a little hesitant in eating a meal at a gas station, this place is impressively clean and everything is prepared right in front of you.  The best part of this whole experience?  My car needed gas so I filled up in the same place I got a great burger.

Go here.  NOW.

10419 Ford Rd. in Dearborn