"Our desserts were compelling works of art. "  




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Traffic Jam and Snug Cooking Segment

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Carolyn Howard and Scott Lowell to reassemble dairy barn in Detroit.

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The Trimmings of Home

Hungry reader, welcome to the D's fabled Traffic Jam & Snug, a restaurant that comes complete with on-site brewery, dairy and bakery. Even better, one that keeps the kitchen hot with an eclectic and imaginiative menu.

There's a long history behind this establishment, but, there are space considerations to consider and we don't want to stint on our review of the fare. Allow us to tantalize you with the oft-heard story of a local teacher who answered the weary query 'Does anyone want to buy a bar?' with a ready check - and then leap forward to owner-manager Carolyn Howard. She started there as a waitress and, after a brief sojourn in the automotive jungle, came back to run the place. The steady rhythm of the Traffic Jam's engine is first and foremost thanks to her. We will satisfy your curiosity about the term 'snug', however. Irish pubs frequently put aside a bit of space for wives and kids to gather in while the men enjoy their Guinnesses. Taken with that notion, the proprietors of Traffic Jam constructed a pleasant environment that echoes an Old World tradition.

A meal here has to start off with an appetizer. We were tempted by the delightfully described Tropical Couscous Cakes, with their currants, pecans, coconut and red peppers. But go with the gold is our motto, so the table was soon graced with Traffic Jam's State Fair Award Winning Cheese Platter. This variety of glory - created right here in Michigan's only in-restaurant licensed dairy - arrives with an assortment of crackers, strawberries, honey garlic mustard and a fig/hazelnut compote.

Because TJ & Snug is so closely identified with Detroit, the sandwiches are frequently named after someone or something local. Our eyes smiled to see The Boblo Island Memory Maker. This is Faygo marinated chilled pork loin sliced thin and served open-faced with fresh basil, tomato and coleslaw on a hoagie slathered with mayo. Plus, it keeps happy company with a generous downpour of Motown's own Bettermade chips.

Entree time required the usual CPC quorum and consensus. Of the ten possibilities, we opted for the two that were making the most waves. Londontown Fish & Chips is something that could easily prompt a peal or two from the Great Bells of Bow - hand breaded filets accompanied by beer battered potato wedges and served with a personalized (and seasoned) round of slaw and tartar sauce. The second dish is nothing less than a vegan's dream. Yekik Wet Ethiopian Platter has the following roster spicy split red peas, yellow lentils and sauteed collard greens served with the unique and traditional injera bread. This is a marvelous summer choice for that hot day when the tummy should not pack more fuel than the weather or humidity allows. It actually cools you down!

Our desserts on this occasion were compelling works of art. Triple Lemon Chiffon - soft lemon chiffon layered with lemon curd filling, coated with lemon cream cheese frosting. Now throw in some blueberries for color. Death by ecstasy continued with Carlotta Chocolatta Ice Cream Cheesecake, a beautiful slice of heaven coated with bittersweet hot fudge & sprinkled with ground espresso.

Two things before we leave you. The portions are as generous as the staff's hospitality. And PLEASE do not take the name of the place literally. There's plenty of parking. Even if you have to stow the buggy a block away, the brisk walk in Detroit's belated sunshine (or classic moonlight) is always worth it.