Once fresh catches arrive to Cafe West, it's up to you how they're made. Diners can choose from 10 preparation styles for 6 seafood classics, from deep-frying mahi-mahi to stirring perch into scampi. Of course, the chefs whip up their own creations, too, such as mac and cheese made from cavatappi pasta, succulent scallops and shrimp, and house alfredo sauce.
Besides maritime options, Cafe West spotlights plenty of land-based proteins, including chargrilled 1-pound ribeyes and blackened chicken smothered in housemade pineapple salsa. Bartenders complement meals with an extensive selection of wine and brews both imported and local, some of which they showcase at frequent tasting events.
Circular mirrors back the bar, while the windowpanes in the casual dining room sport ocean-themed decorations, including diagrams explaining the differences between public and private schools of fish. Outdoor seating sets a relaxed mood during warm months.
Before Pam Turkin flung open the doors to the first Just Baked in 2009, she was just baking cupcakes on the weekends. But after her corporate travels took her past a growing number of cupcake shops outside of southeastern Michigan, she decided to turn her hobby into a career. She now helms 17 shops in the area, where she and her staff of dessert experts whip up eclectically flavored cupcakes such as red velvet cheesecake, chocolate chip cookie dough, and grumpy cake. In addition to the mouthwatering flavors, all of their items boast real butter, real eggs, and real milk as opposed to artificial ingredients from artificial cows and chickens.
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
Sweet Chateau owner Victoria Thompson draws from her experience as a pastry chef at several prominent hotels to create her artisanal cupcakes, cheesecakes, and wedding cakes. Each cake comes with meticulous decorations: she covers cinnamon-apple cupcakes with caramel drizzle and chopped apples, and triple-citrus cupcakes get topped with orange-flavored frosting. The shop itself, meanwhile, is about as elaborate as the desserts: it’s housed in a redbrick country cottage near a boating dock on Belleville Lake. It has soft pastels on the interior, cedar shingles on the outside, and an iron gate to keep out Oompa Loompas in need of a sugar fix.
A southern Lebanese village was the first site of Hashems Nuts and Coffee Gallery, started by the current owners' grandfather—Abu Ali Sheik Theeb—in 1959. He roasted coffee and nuts fresh daily, blending spices and cooking falafel by hand that lured patrons from as far as Beirut. While the Dearborn stores are far removed from Lebanon, the Hashem family still mimics the original store's wares with daily roasted Turkish coffee, authentic recipes, and a wealth of Middle Eastern goods. Cooks can stock their pantries with Lebanese olive oil or pickled pepperoncini, and fill their spice racks with Spanish saffron and hand-mixed kibbeh spice blends. Dry-roasted or raw nuts mingle with dates and Turkish dried apricots to create a customizable trail mix. The staff also makes hookahs available for sale—like the art at museums if you bring your art to the museum and start selling it.
Each week, pre-booked tours take kids into Mary Denning's kitchen, where they learn about the creation of various cakes, pies, cookies, and baked goods. In one corner of the bakery, they might see the baker using Mary's mother's recipe to stuff pasties with ground sirloin and veggies. In another, owner Mary Denning creates custom cakes for weddings and special occasions, using icing to sculpt intricate floral designs or replicas of the edible baseball caps worn by famous gingerbread athletes.
But the cake shop doesn’t just accommodate kids. Mary and her team want to share their sweet creations with as many people as possible, so they make sugar and gluten free desserts and—on select days—host baking classes.