First taste: Traffic Jam & Snug Restaurant
Restaurants seem to be getting faceless, often using far from local ingredients. They lack little identity or character. Traffic Jam and Snug has the opposite mentality, going beyond just serving local ingredients by actually crafting them in their in-house brewery, creamery and bakery. This is the spot to come for homemade food with an eclectic twist and a great atmosphere. The crowd is a mix between older professionals and young, hip Detroiters. The fun comes when they interact. The menu is a compilation of remixes of homespun favorites. For example, the madras meatloaf: A blend of beef, veal, leaks carrots, apples, currants, and curry-served with sweet potato fries, peas and finished with Cumberland sauce. Vegetarian dishes at the Traffic Jam are outstanding and sure to satisfy herbivores and carnivores alike, especially many of their homemade soups de jour. Interesting bread flavors change daily, from veggie breads to cheese breads and make a suitable companion to soups and entrees. All of the bread made fresh, daily and in-house. Since 1999, husband-and-wife team Carolyn Howard and Scott Lowell have owned the Traffic Jam. In that time they have been committed to delivering the best possible food to their customers. The previous owners, who had been in business since 1965, restored the restaurant to look like the Doghouse Saloon, the original business in the Traffic Jam’s location. The décor is mostly dark wood in the spacious bi-leveled dining room. Some pieces of what appears to be drift wood on the ceiling. A 1930’s Detroit saloon comes to mind when soaking in the atmosphere at The Traffic Jam. Antique Russian light fixtures flood high-ceiling rooms with dim light, inviting patrons to have an intimate and somewhat cozy meal. The brick floor was made using bricks from the original Jackson State Prison. Behind the scenes at the Jam, there’s an in house creamery that was formerly a home built in the 1880’s. Actually, Traffic Jam is the smallest licensed creamery in the state. Most of the cheeses on the menu are made in-house; hard cheeses are made primarily such as Colby, Monterey Jack, American Blue and Asiago. All of the milk is unpasteurized and therefore the cheese is considered “raw milk cheese” -- the gold standard for quality cheese. In the Belgian monkish tradition, the cheese is made using the same equipment as the beer. Brewer/cheese maker Chris Riley produces small batches of microbrew often, to ensure freshness. Selections change seasonally but include the West Canfield Pale ale, 2nd Avenue Pilsner, Oatmeal Stout and Hefe-Weizen. Did you say ice cream? That’s right; the Traffic Jam makes some of the best ice cream around, using only the finest ingredients. This ice cream is made using milk with the highest butter fat content possible, 15%! Not low in calories but, worth the splurge. Along with the standard classics, flavors are constantly changing and being created. Past experiments include the Michigan sweet corn flavor or the “Pebbles and Rocks” a blend of fruity pebbles and Faygo Rock & Rye soda (definitely one for the kids, or young at heart). Add the ice-cream on top of homemade pies, cakes, torts and cookies. Delicious. Check out The Traffic Jam if you want quality food and break from the monotony of those standard and mostly dull restaurants.