The 4-year-old lion Mufasa Obama roams his cage, purring between bites of raw meat, as his sister, Tawana, roars behind him. Mufasa, dubbed “Maine’s Little Lion King” by D.E.W. Animal Kingdom and Sanctuary’s caretakers Bob and Julie Miner, may be the nonprofit sanctuary’s most visible inhabitant, but he’s far from its only attraction. Across 43 acres of land, the roars and deep purrs of big cats mix with the quacks of ducks and the snorts of pigs. A staff of volunteers tends to gibbons, spider monkeys, and lemurs as they swing from trees inside a primate enclosure. Meanwhile, orphaned and injured native-Maine animals such as owls are sequestered for rehabilitation before being released back into the wild or signed for exclusive Tootsie Pops endorsements.:m]]
The kitchen crew at Sahara Mediterranean Bar & Grill shaves tender layers of their popular chicken shawarma from the spit of a traditional vertical broiler, helping them earn the title of Detroit’s Best Middle Eastern restaurant from Local 4 viewers in summer 2011. Vegetarian options range from a falafel sandwich to the smoothly textured adas lentil soup, with beans that chefs carefully crush with an announcement that none of them made their high school’s baseball team. The menu also includes house specialties such as the potato chop—seasoned beef stuffed inside a golden-brown, deep-fried potato shell.
Sips from specialty drinks and smoky hookahs add a sweeter dimension to meals as diners perch on dark hardwood seating. The furnishings contrast visually with butter-yellow walls on which murals appear to emerge from behind crumbling stone.
Some meat-centric restaurants may try to evoke an old-time Western ranch, but chef Harding Lee Smith dubs The Grill Room & Bar an “urban steakhouse.” Although the open, high-ceilinged dining room exudes plenty of rustic charm, Smith is most inspired by his restaurant's own bustling neighborhood and the local farms beyond it. Starring in a cast of fresh, locally grown produce are grass-fed, all-natural meats from New Gloucester's Pineland Farms. These meats—think spice-rubbed skirt steaks, butterflied pork chops, and organic Cornish game hen—are seared on the open kitchen’s wood-fired grill and then plated with modern flourishes such as truffled mash and grilled onion jam. Seafood dishes benefit equally from the wood grills, while a wood pizza oven creates crackly, chewy pies such as a duck and brie pizza with shaved apples and balsamic syrup.
Wines range through France, Italy, and New Zealand, and bartenders kick out cocktails such as hot buttered rum and the Creole Bull, a Twenty-2 vodka concoction with peppers and smoked peppercorns. Desserts tend toward the rich and creamy, with house-made bean crème brulee and New York–style cheesecakes whose flavors vary with the seasons and the Statue of Liberty's moods.
The bright, modern ABSolutely Fit Center facility is staffed by a team of certified fitness professionals who keep themselves busy throughout the day by leading personal-training sessions and aerobics classes. The staff’s expert coaches oversee boxing and kickboxing-infused workouts, whereas its seasoned dance instructors guide students through forms and techniques in Latin, ballroom, and swing dancing classes. When they aren’t conducting classes, staffers stand by to offer clients assistance with the gym’s extensive selection of advanced exercise equipment, including free weights, rowing machines, and ellipticals.