A Delicious Detroit Day
Summer is here, and two of the best parts of it are outdoor dining and fresh local produce. Detroit boasts a number of excellent outdoor dining locations and, as an added bonus, some of these places serve brunch. There are few things better after a night of excess than dining al fresco with a righteous brunch menu at your fingertips. If living excessively isn't your cup of tea, brunch is the perfect meal either before or after a trip to Eastern Market. It's strawberry season after all, and Michigan strawberries are crazy delicious.
Our brunch focus this time around is the Traffic Jam & Snug. Traffic Jam is a Detroit institution that has been cooking up an eclectic menu for nearly 50 years. Known not only for their food, Traffic Jam brews their own beer (they were Michigan's first brewpub), makes their own cheese and bakes their own bread, cookies, cakes and other baked goods. A true full-service restaurant in every sense of the word, they even offer beer and cheese making classes.
About four years ago, Traffic Jam owners Scott Lowell and Carolyn Howard, who are also husband and wife, opened the outdoor dining area. Situated on the sidewalk running alongside Canfield, this fenced-in area is a great spot for a summer meal or for one of the beer release parties that Lowell has been known to throw when a new brew is ready to drink. The ambiance is further emphasized by the delightful sink/bathtub fountain and flower garden placed in the corner of the outdoor area. Quirky touches like the fountain add to the Traffic Jam's charm while accentuating the eating experience.
Traffic Jam's Sunday brunch menu is consistently changing. On a weekly basis, the menu may change based on the ingredients available, the chef's whim or a dish that demands to be featured. This means you may never run into the same dish. Most, if not all of the dishes on the brunch menu pair well with a cocktail, glass of wine or beer. What's better than a Bloody Mary with your brunch? Not much.
Traffic Jam's Bloody Mary is slightly spicy and moderately tart — a perfect pair with the roasted asparagus omelet. Incredibly savory and creamy, the asparagus is cooked perfectly. Goat cheese lends a tangy creaminess and the eggs are light and fluffy. On the side is a substantial roast beef hash that does not overpower the omelet.
If spiciness is more your speed, the Jambalaya quiche has chunks of Andouille sausage, smoked turkey, fontina cheese and other ingredients inside a house-made pie crust. An ideal pairing with a Bloody Mary, but even better with a pint of Bouvier Blanche, the new beer on the block, Belgian Wheat Ale, has all of the fruitiness of Belgian ale, but with a citrusy, dry finish.
The made-from-scratch buttermilk pancakes are not so much fluffy and light as they are dense and chewy. Three thin pancakes are dusted with powdered sugar and served with maple syrup and a fresh fruit salad. Bring back childhood memories by pairing it with a tall glass of milk or orange juice, but if you want to be a little more adult, try the freshly squeezed lemonade with a shot of blueberry brandy. This electric blue cocktail is refreshing and pairs surprisingly well with pancakes.
As you're reading this, we are in the peak of Michigan's strawberry season. If you've never had a Michigan strawberry, you must get down to your local farmer's market or "you pick" farm. Whether it's Eastern Market on Saturday, the New Center Farmer's Market on Sunday or a journey outside of the city toward the pick your berry farms in Ypsilanti and Ida (among other places), the key is that you are supporting local farmers and buying the freshest produce possible.
Throughout the growing season, Michigan farmers will be selling strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, peppers, etc. The markets remain open as the summer turns to fall. Not only is this a great time to buy Michigan produce, but also to meet the farmers who are growing the food. In addition, many local bakeries such as Traffic Jam have stands at the market with fresh baked bread, cookies and other goodies, as well.
Michigan's spring and summer are wonderful times to get acquainted with the city and the country. Eating a delicious brunch outdoors and taking a stroll through a local farmer's market are ideal activities for a warm summer day. Enjoy it while you can — in a few months we'll be talking about how cold it is and begging for the warmth of June and July to come back again.
Traffic Jam Hours
Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, 11 to 12 a.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For fresh-tasting food in Midtown, be sure to stop by Trafic Jam & Snug, located at 511 W. Canfield in Detroit. Find out more at trafficjamdetroit.com. Interested in farmers' markets? Check out a great list at farmersmarkets.msu.edu. And if picking your own strawberries sounds like the perfect day, we recommend whittakersberryfarm.com and rowesproducefarm.com. And make sure to follow the full-flavored adventures of the Two Hungry Dudes at twohungrydudes.com.