leave your inhibitions at the door
A few weeks ago the Pieholes were at camp and Boom Boom and I found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands. With the new house sucking a lot of our energy and – more importantly – money, we opted for a “staycation” of sorts. Though with all of the shopping and dining out we did in those two weeks, I’m not sure how much money we actually saved. But we did manage to get away and visit a far-off, exotic city – Birmingham.
That’s Birmingham in Michigan, not England. Or even Alabama.
Since moving to Ann Arbor eight years ago, outside of trips to the airport or passing through on the way to Chicago, I only leave Ann Arbor along the lines of 3-4 times a year. Boom Boom is in sales so she’s seen quite a bit of the state and she was saying that downtown Birmingham was worth a visit. It’s one of the most affluent of Detroit’s suburbs, so it has some nice shops and restaurants. And since I do love shopping and was enthused about getting some blog fodder checking out a new restaurant, I was game for the trek.
We decided to check out Social Kitchen & Bar. It’s been around for about a year and the dinner menu features twists on different comfort food classics like TV Dinner, Hot Dogs in Blankets, and Shrimp & Grits.
It’s a beautiful looking place with seating both inside and out. There’s a rooftop area that apparently gets pretty lively at night, but it was closed when we were there. The décor was a mixture of industrial and rustic design elements, which echoed the theme of whimsical twists on classic food.
So in the wide open dining room, there was exposed ductwork and walls accented with weathered planks.
We sat in the brightly-colored outdoor area.
dining in Detroit
We got there around lunchtime and the only available menu was their brunch menu. Reflexes kicked in because as soon as I heard “brunch” I wanted a Bloody Mary and, thankfully, they had a pretty good Bloody Mary Bar. I don’t understand why more places don’t have these things. I’ve been to a few really good ones in Chicago, but I don’t recall seeing any in Ann Arbor – a travesty that needs to be rectified soon.
After getting a pint glass with a generous pour of vodka, it was off to the bar. First, you really should put in some mix or tomato juice. Otherwise you’re drinking straight vodka, comrade.
best bloody mary
Then you spice it up with some Worcestershire and some hot sauce. I can’t remember which ones I chose, but I’m sure a couple had “ass” in the title.
Then you add some garnishes like celery, olives, pickles, etc. What I liked about Social’s bar was they also had all kinds of meats like bacon, summer sausage, and beef jerky.
Here’s my monstrosity.
drinks as art
Boom Boom opted for the Egg Sandwich – fried egg, guacamole, hot sauce, tomato, bacon, and cheese.
I chose the Chicken & Waffles
The waffle was downright perfect – crispy on the outside and airy within. It was topped with pieces of crispy chicken breast covered with a maple-bacon glaze. It was decadent. Perhaps a little too decadent. The other times I’ve had chicken & waffles, the chicken came out plain so I was able to choose whether to douse it with sweet (maple syrup or honey) or with spice (hot sauce). I had more than enough hot sauce in my cocktail, so it wasn’t really missed time around.
That all said, I think I liked Boom Boom’s sandwich a little more because of the varied flavors, temperatures, and textures. Mine was a little two-noted – crispy and sweet.
It was a great meal. I’m curious to try it for dinner as they did a damn good job at brunch. And based on the menu and the atmosphere, I can definitely see this place being pretty lively for dinner.
But that liveliness is also why I rarely leave Ann Arbor. Birmingham is a about an hour away from our house. I don’t have a problem with driving that far for a meal – and this place can be worth that schlep. But if it’s lively and there are a couple cocktails involved, there’s no way I could get home.
Maybe you can drive me?