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Restaurants recently reviewed in Metro Times
Published: November 3, 2010
2Booli Fresh Mediterranean Eats 37610 W. 12 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-994-0614; $$: For many diners, the lack of a liquor license is a deal-breaker. That proclivity can relegate most Middle Eastern spots to a lunchtime treat rather than an evening pleasure. Farmington Hills' 2Booli addresses the problem with not only a full bar but a happy hour that lasts all evening long, Monday through Friday. Draughts are $2.50, margaritas and martinis are $4, and featured wines of the week are also about $4, or $12-$15 a bottle. As the name makes clear, the restaurant has aspirations to address several cultures around the Mediterranean, rather than just the Lebanon from which the owners' parents emigrated. Bruschetta, polenta, fritto misto, clam linguine, and a meatball sub share the menu with tabbouleh and falafel.
24 Grille 204 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-3821; $$$: The Book Cadillac's 24 Grille is a less formal, though no less expensive, alternative to the acclaimed meat-eaters' paradise in the hotel's opposite corner, Roast. It has a somewhat shorter, American menu, with just a couple of steaks and four seafood dishes. 24 Grille says that its ingredients are preservative-free and sourced locally when possible. As at many places these days, 24's calamari are crisp and wonderful, served with capers, lemon beurre blanc and chili aioli. The dressings make the dish. The melt-in-your-mouth scallops, sweet and smoky and served with clams in the shell, are excellent. For vegetarians, there are Himalayan cabbage rolls, stuffed with grilled tofu, mushrooms and some nutty Himalayan red rice. And delicious veal meatloaf comes as a tall tower — layers of meatloaf and bacon, interwoven with layers of potato purée. 24 Grille also has a happy hour from 4 to 6 on weekdays, when wine and appetizers are half off.
Addis Ababa 273 N. Main St., Plymouth; 734-414-9935; $$: At dinnertime, there's just one way to order: the all-you-can-eat meat-and-vegetable platter for $16.90 per person or the vegetarian platter for $14.90. Patrons of the Blue Nile, Taste of Ethiopia or Windsor's Marathon are familiar with the routine: Little heaps of fabulous dishes are placed on a giant circle of spongy injera bread, which everyone shares. More injera is alongside, folded like napkins, to use as your eating utensil until you're ready to eat the tablecloth. At lunchtime, you can keep the meal smaller and order one meat with two vegetables for $7.95. But what makes Addis Ababa different from other Ethiopian restaurants is that it has a take-out menu. Twelve ounces of the vegetable dishes are $2.95, meat $3.75, injera free. You could create your own feast at home or for a picnic. It's open every evening and for lunch Tuesday through Saturday.
Ajishin Sushi & Noodle 42270 Grand River Ave., Novi; 248-380-9850; $$: Tucked away off Grand River in one of Novi's countless unremarkable strip malls, Ajishin literally packs them in to their small but comfortable seating area consisting of about a dozen tabletops and an L-shaped bar behind which chefs cut and roll and pat rice into small, football-shaped bites. There are bamboo screens on the windows. The walls are painted a textured gray with flecks of pink. Weathered-looking wood divides some of the main seating, and a narrow column of fieldstones supports the middle of the room. You can choose among about 20 different nigiri, priced between $1.50 and $3 apiece, and about 20 rolls at $2.50 to $6. Missing are the fantastic and pricey specialty rolls you find at so many of the hip sushi lounges catering more to a Western palate. The nigiri are well-constructed, with mildly sweet rice, excellent seafood and wasabi paste already incorporated into the bite. But soup lovers have reason to rejoice! Ajishin's udon soup is extraordinary. There are also a few cold noodle dishes where the flavor of soba is better illustrated. Arashi, for instance, combines soba, grated yam, seaweed and green onion in a tangy dressing for a deep, almost smoky noodle salad. Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Monday; closed Tuesdays.
Aladdin Sweets & Café 11945 Conant St., Hamtramck; 313-891-8050; $: On the corner of Commor and Conant streets, in the extraordinarily diverse city of Hamtramck, there is not one dish on Aladdin's menu that costs more than $8.99. In fact, a large mixed fruit shake costs more than any of the appetizers and even a few of the vegetarian entrées that include rice or naan. On the whole, prices hardly surpass what you'll pay for a meal at a national drive-through chain. Vegetarians have all sorts of choices, from curries to fried homemade cheese with spinach or green peas. There are some dishes where lentils are the base and others with chick peas. Try some mushroom vegetable fritters with onions and hot spices, or sautéed okra. The variety is amazing and the most expensive dish is $5.99. Open 10:30 a.m.-midnight Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Credit cards accepted; free delivery.
Amani's 13823 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-584-1890; $$: Amani's is a halal neighborhood place, across from Dearborn City Hall, that serves all the tried-and-true dishes of Lebanese cuisine that Westerners tend to order — hummus, kebabs, tawook, shawarma — plus some that deserve to be more widely known. In particular, the chef does a great job with makaneck or sojouk. There are always plenty of customers at Amani's, of both the east and west Dearborn persuasion, though it's not a fancy place. A party of four seeking meat would do well to order the Jumbo Platter, advertised for three. The servings of hummus, fattoush and baba ghanoush are large, and the charcoal-grilled skewers of kebab (beef), tawook (chicken) and kafta (ground beef pressed into shape with onions, tomato and parsley) are cooked with onions, peppers and carrots. The chicken in particular is a fine product of the griller's art, with a bit of mint flavor. Breakfast is the time to try some traditional Lebanese dishes: foul (favas cooked with chickpeas, garlic, lemon and olive oil); eggs with makanek or sojouk; labneh, a thick yogurt, with olives; fateh. They're served till 2 p.m. but can be available later if supplies last.
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