Sunday, January 09, 2005

God bless Canada...

I went out to dinner with a good friend and we always seem to end up in a rut. It seems that it always come down to a choice of about 5 places. We usually end up in the Livonia/Northville area because it's "comfortable". Don't get me wrong, we've eaten all over the place, but we've fallen into a boring rut. A new place opened on Haggerty in Livonia so we figured we'd give it a go. I'm generally very skeptical of concept chain restaurants (especially when 2 other concepts owned by the same company open next door). They're about to open a seafood place (Mitchell's Seafood Market) and just opened an Italian place (I've already heard negative reports). The place we ended up at is called The Claddagh. It's an Irish pub/restaurant concept. It's also normally a stupid idea to eat at a new restaurant in the first few weeks. I'll have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't fantastic or anything, but it was pretty good for a chain. It's certainly higher end and better than Bennigan's. Mind you, Bennigan's is barely a step above Denny's. At least they have booze. It's obvious that a lot of money has been spent on The Claddagh to make it look authentic, which means it looks really faux. It doesn't have the character of the smaller independently owned Irish pub/restaurants, but it'll do. Considering the length of time the place has been open things seemed to be running pretty smoothly. We had a short wait at the bar before we were seated. Our waitress was good and efficient. Not bad for a new restaurant. The food was pretty good too. I don't expect much from a chain Irish place, but the food was respectable. Sure, they had stupid names for things and offered the most Irish of all appetizers...calamari. I had some decent smoked salmon for an appetizer and a fair cup of potato soup. Their "signature" dish was fish and chips. I haven't had fish and chips in years. It's hard to find good fish and chips in Michigan and it's not something I usually order. I must admit that the fish and chips were pretty damn good. Fish and chips have a certain "comfort food" character to them. I was truly satisfied. They even offer Crosse & Blackwell Malt Vinegar on the table. Nice touch. The bread pudding with whiskey sauce was fair. They have a pretty nice selection of Irish whiskey including Jameson's 18yr and Midleton's. My biggest and only real complaint is that their Guinness is COLD. In their efforts to authenticate everything they missed the most important detail. Turn off the refrigeration. Idiots.

When I got home I plopped down on the couch and turned on the TV. I was flipping through the channels occasionally resting on one for a few minutes. There was a movie on channel 9 (CBC) that intrigued me. Unfortunately I found it in it's last half hour. It was a movie about curling called Men With Brooms. I think it must be the curling equivalent of Rocky/Slapshot/Major League/Kingpin/Dodgeball: The Movie. It even had Leslie Nielson in it. Why didn't anyone tell me there was a comedy film out curling on? For those of you non-Canadians and those who don't live in the Detroit area here's a link on curling.

I often take for granted that I live near an international border. I moved back to Michigan in 1987 and discovered CBC Television. I didn't have cable until I got my own place, so it was a pretty big thing to have another channel from another country. There were great international films on Saturday nights and I had early exposure to The Kids in the Hall and Canadian humor. Living in the Detroit area you can actually legally drink at the age of 19. You just have to drive to Canada. Detroiters get a head start on the club scene as there are tons of nightclubs in Windsor whose whole subsistence depends on American teenagers. Ah, the memories...of overpriced Labatt and watered down drinks. Good times. Good times. The place I used to frequent most often is the now-defunct Don Cherry's (named after the crazily-cuffed Canadian hockey announcer/commentator). Windsor's a great city with lots of great restaurants. One of my favorite restaurants in the Detroit/Windsor area, Alan Manor, closed recently. It was an outstanding Turkish/French restaurant located in an old "house of ill repute". The owner is also an actor who used to have his own CBC series. Perhaps the greatest benefit of living in the Detroit area was living within CBC Windsor's broadcast radius. Not only did I get to watch The Kids in the Hall, but I also got to watch Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. These shows rocked! They were about "real" teen life. A lot more real than My So-Called Life (a fine show). Characters like Spike, Caitlin, Joey, Snake, Wheels, Lucy, the twins, and Yick mesmerized me. I have to admit that I had a huge crush on Spike and Caitlin. The shows followed the same ensemble cast from junior high to high school touching on the subjects of AIDS, abortion, drugs, alcohol, abuse, teen pregnancy, vandalism, political demonstration, run-aways, stealing, and goth suicide (Claude shot himself in the Degrassi Hish boy's room). I loved it because there were goth kids and kids in Pogues t-shirts. There were ISSUES. I just found out the greatest news recently. Degrassi Junior High-Season 1 is going to be released on DVD in February. I may be a dork, but I'm looking forward to it. I'll tell you about my trip to Windsor for a Canadian Politics class some other time. It's pretty insane. All that I'll say for now is that it involved the Mayor of Windsor, a silver plated cow chip, naked women, a Windsor City Council meeting, peeing in traffic (not me), Tunnel Barbeque, and lots of beer. I love Canada!

Tomorrow I'll try to post on my best meal ever.

Today's wine recommendation- 2003 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling $23.99
This great dry riesling hails from the Margaret River region in Western Australia. It's a fantastically fresh and lively riesling with notes of lime, wet stone, and white flowers on the nose and a whollup of citrus, pear, liquid minerals, and subtle parafin on the palate. It's delicous and vibrant. A great match with scallop ceviche, Vietnamese dishes, or curried carrot and apple soup. It's also got 4 different really cute "frog" labels. Collect them all.

Until the next bottle...


Blogger Kathleen said...

So, was it Helen doing the peeing in traffic?

You forgot the best ever TV shows from Windsor CBC Channel 9: The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dress-Up. I'm hoping they put The Friendly Giant out on DVD. Being that their episodes were only 15 minutes long, I'm figuring they could get the entire run of 50 years (or whatever) on one DVD!

Sorry, Jason, I knew about Men with Brooms, but didn't realise you would have liked it.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Hi Kathleen,
I didn't live in Michigan during the majority of my formative years and only saw a little "Mr. Dressup" before moving to Oregon at the age of 5. I don't recall ever seeing the Friendly Giant. From the bits of "Mr. Dressup" that I saw after returning to Michigan I can indeed vouch that it was a great kid's show. And no, it was not Helen peeing, thankfully.

12:39 AM  

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