Thursday, January 31, 2008

MGM Restaurants steal the spotlight

Tomorrow evening cannot come soon enough - along with another couple, my husband and I are finally heading over to MGM Grand casino's SaltWater restaurant for a highly anticipated dinner.

It couldn't have come at a better time, since the Detroit Free Press announced yesterday that Salt Water is the newspaper's 2008 Restaurant of the Year. MGM's three upscale restaurants -- SaltWater, Bourbon Steak and Wolfgang Puck Grille -- really impressed Free Press staff this year, because they took the top three spots in the Freep's 2007 Top Dining Newcomers list. I can't speak about Salt Water yet because I have not eaten there, but I can speak about MGM's Wolfgang Puck Grille, which came in at #3.

Although the Free Press calls the Puck Grille "the most casual of MGM Grand Detroit's three signature restaurants", this is no hole in the wall -- far from it, in fact. Personally, I thought the fresh, contemporary decor of the main dining room was quite nice, though I do agree with the newspaper that at $100+ for dinner for two, the dining room's fishbowl-feel wouldn't be my first choice for a layout. The night I was there, diners were sporting everything from jeans to suits -- it is inside a casino, after all -- but I recommend at least business-casual attire if you're planning to hit this Detroit-newcomer for supper.

A friend and I had dinner at the Wolfgang Puck Grille on Sunday, December 30. While the holidays had just ended, neither the casino nor the restaurant were empty. Thankfully, though, the number of people in the restaurant didn't detract from the food or the service, the latter of which was superb. I have been to a lot of expensive restaurants, and I'd rate Wolfgang Puck Grille in Detroit at the top for waitstaff-attentiveness.

My meal -- I had a scrumptious chef's special of scallops in an incredible sauce -- was excellent, and my friend, who ordered the lamb chops, thoroughly enjoyed her dinner, as well. Our entrees each came with a small side (no soup or salad, and the restaurant was stingy on the bread), but there was plenty to eat and I went home with lunch for the next day.

I have not eaten at Bourbon Steak, which the Freep ranked as the #2 2007 Top Dining Newcomer, but my husband loves it and two of my friends feel the same, so it is on my "restaurants to try" list. I hope to eat there soon.

Will SaltWater meet or exceed my expectations? I absolutely love seafood, so I'm looking forward to finding out. Check Girl in the D next week for my thoughts on the Michael Mina-creation that everyone is raving about.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Talent retention in Michigan

One of my good friends, Jessica Pfeiffer, has been blogging about talent retention all week on Metro Mode.

Along with being a gourmet cook, avid volunteer and an adjunct professor at U of D Mercy School of Law, Jessica is the executive director of MORE -- Michigan Opportunities and Resources for Entrepreneurs -- an exciting new program that aims to keep recent college grads in the state.

Jessica has a lot of interesting things to say about talent retention in Michigan and what the MORE Program is doing to help keep Michigan grads in the state. If you have a minute, check out her posts -- you won't be disappointed.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Detroit-inspired Valentine's Gift Idea #1

In the spirit of the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday that is fast approaching, Girl in the D will be doing some posts in the next few weeks on possible gifts to get your sweetie this V-Day. Each gift will be Detroit-themed, made in Detroit, or have some Detroit significance behind it.

Thanks to Elena Maria for passing along the idea for the first gift post -- a jewelry and candle party in southwest Detroit.

From 5 - 8 pm on Thursday, January 31, head over to southwest Detroit's awesome Mexicantown Mercado for a pre-Valentine's Day preview party at the mercado's The Jewelry Center, Maya's Jewelry, Mexi-Candle Gift Shop, Mexicantown CDC Store and Cafe con Leche coffee house.

Featuring unique jewelry creations, soy-oil candles, flowers and handmade Mexican terracotta, you're sure to find something for all the women in your life at this event. If you're not familiar with the stores mentioned, the Jewelry Center is known for silver and gold from Mexico, Italy and Los Angeles, while Maya's Jewelry sells silver from Mexico. The Mexi-Candle Gift Shop specializes in candles and other small gifts.

In addition to great shopping, enjoy door prizes, appetizers and beverages, and enter for a chance to win a $150 gift basket.

For more information or to RSVP for the event, please call 313.963.9999.

The Mexicantown International Welcome Center & Mercado is located at 2826 Bagley (at 21st Street) in southwest Detroit.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Detroit Auto Show Continues

If you're like me, you've been waiting for the crowds at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to die down a bit before venturing over to Cobo Hall to check things out.

I tend to stray from the norm sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) but I can't help that I would rather wait for the masses to flock in and out so that when I arrive, I have some breathing room.

But my lack of large-crowd-love is beside the point. The important thing is that NAIAS is coming to a close this weekend, but there's still time for you to check out Detroit's biggest event of the year.

Plan to attend? Here are the basics:

  • Dates/Times: On Friday and Saturday, the show runs from 9 am - 10 pm (no admittance after 9). On Sunday, the show runs from 9 am to 7 pm (no admittance after 6).

  • Tickets: Ticket prices are as follows: Adults - $12. Senior citizens and children 7 - 12: $6. Children under 6: free. Tickets may be purchased at the event, through Ticketmaster, or you may purchase e-tickets here.

  • Parking: Take a cue from the helpful people at NAIAS and consider where you'll park before you even head out for the show. NAIAS recommends online parking system-Click and Park, which allows you to purchase a parking space in advance. If you don't want to do that, park near one of the 13 Detroit People Mover (DPM) stations and ride Detroit's monorail to Cobo Hall. If you're unfamiliar with the city, the covered structure right next to the Renaissance Center is a great bet. Park (or valet at the RenCen) and grab the DPM on Level 2 of Tower 200.

  • Driving: If you'd rather leave the driving to someone else, take advantage of the luxury motor coaches traveling between Dearborn's Henry Ford Museum and the Detroit Zoo and Cobo Hall on Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 28. The trip is a mere $10 - $5 for parking and $5 for the ride. Children 12 and under travel free.
For photos, videos, top 10 lists and more of what's hot at this year's show, check out continuing auto show coverage from the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, or MSN Autos.

Detroit held its first auto show in 1907. The 2008 show, renamed the North American International Auto Show in 1989, is the 20th international show.

The NAIAS is the only auto show in the United States to earn an annual distinguished sanction of the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA), a Paris-based alliance of automotive trade associations and manufacturers from around the world. For more on the global auto show circuit, visit OICA on the Web.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lafer Building Reopens

Following a $5 million renovation by Mercier Development, Detroit's Lafer Building has reopened.

Located on Broadway, the Lafer Building features 16 loft-style apartments featuring granite countertops, polished concrete floors and maple cabinets.

The two-bedroom units range from 1500 to 1800 square feet. Rent will range from $1,250 for two-bedroom/one bath units to $2,000+ for penthouse units.

Built in 1916, the building once housed Lafer Brothers Grocery.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Detroit: It's Worth It photo contest

I wanted to pass along news of a cool project local non-profit Detroit Synergy Group (DSG) is cooking up, called Detroit: It's Worth It.

The project is an invitation for Detroiters, metro Detroiters or anyone that loves Detroit to share photographs that show off the best of our glorious Motor City.

Whether it's an image of Detroit's underdog beauty or one of Detroiters having fun at a local landmark, anyone with a camera and a love for capturing cool Detroit moments is encouraged to enter this fun local challenge.

Photo submissions, which cost a mere $5 each, will be displayed at an upcoming photo exhibition about Detroit. Participants attending that event will enjoy great food and music, plus they'll have the opportunity to choose the best photos of the bunch.

Top vote-getters will be featured in a special Detroit calendar, and included in a set of Detroit-themed note cards. Both products will be available for purchase at a later date.

The deadline for submitting photos for the contest is Thursday, January 31, 2008.

Click here for a complete list of submission guidelines.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

CTS wins EyesOn Design Award at 2008 NAIAS

Two Cadillac CTS models -- the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V and the CTS Concept Coupe -- swept the production and concept car categories at the 2008 EyesOn Design Awards at the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The BMW X6 and the Chrysler ecoVoyager were awarded the production and concept truck honors, respectively.

The only automotive design awards selected and judged by top automotive design experts from around the world, EyesOn Design Awards for Design Excellence was the final event of the Press Preview Days portion of the 2008 NAIAS.

This year's panel of 20 automotive design experts included Chief Judges Chris Bangle, BMW Group Design Chief; Jack Telnack, former Vice President of Global Design, Ford Motor Company; and Nate Young, Executive Vice President of the Art Center College of Design.

The judges spent the morning hours carefully reviewing the list of nearly 50 production and concept vehicles, all of which had been unveiled over the previous three days.

Winners were announced in the final press conference of the 2008 Detroit Show by Master of Ceremonies-John McElroy, the host of Autoline Detroit. Event sponsor guests-Annie Assensio of Dassault Systemes and David Amati of the 2008 SAE World Congress presented the four winners with the unique crystal award that has been synonymous with the EyesOn Design Awards for almost 20 years.

EyesOn Design is a major source of revenue for the Detroit Institute of Opthamology (DIO) research, education and support group programs that enhance the independence of the visually impaired. For more information on EyesOn Design, please click here.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Northern Group Continues Expanding Detroit Real Estate Portfolio

Just days after announcing Cadillac Centre, a $150 million residential, retail and entertainment project planned for downtown Detroit, Northern Group principal and managing partner-Alex Dembitzer today announced that his company is acquiring Lafayette Towers, part of the Mies van der Rohe Residential District located just east of downtown Detroit.

Lafayette Towers joins The Northern Group's ever-growing Detroit portfolio, which currently includes Alden Park Towers, the gorgeous Tudor-Revival style apartment complex on the Detroit River, and the First National, Penobscot and Cadillac Tower buildings downtown.

"We have a strong belief in the future of Detroit and an excellent history with our apartment rentals in Alden Park Towers," Dembitzer said. "We have nearly completed refurbishing the historic 400-unit Alden Park Towers residential apartments, which are currently 90 percent leased, on Detroit's riverfront."

Lafayette Towers includes 584 rental apartments which feature wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor windows in aluminum and glass.

Each of the two towers has an abundance of amenities, including city and river views, 24-hour attended gatehouse with concierge, fitness center, heated outdoor swimming pool with sundeck, laundry facilities, cable and high-speed Internet outlets, covered parking and storage facilities. The two-story lobbies of each tower are lined with terrazzo floors and marble walls and surrounded by floor to ceiling glass.

Lafayette Towers overlooks a spacious 19-acre central park designed by famed landscape architect Alfred Caldwell. The park contains several walking and jogging paths that connect a mix of high rises, two-story townhouses, tennis and basketball courts, a playground, an elementary school and a small shopping center. The central park is part of the larger 78-acre Lafayette Park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The van der Rohe Residential District celebrated 50 years in 2007.

Lafayette Towers is one of the largest, purest examples of Mies van der Rohe style in the world. A pioneer of modern design, van der Rohe is also credited for the Seagram Building in New York City, IBM Plaza and Chicago Federal Center in Chicago, Westmount Square in Montreal and Ontario's Toronto-Dominion Centre.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

American Automakers Claim Majority of International Car of the Year Awards

On the eve of North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) press week, American automakers were honored several times at ROAD & TRAVEL magazine's (RTM) International Car of the Year Awards (ICOTY), held at the lovely and spectacular MGM Grand in downtown Detroit.  

With an audience of 600 industry leaders and members of the media, Detroit-area automakers were honored with six of the ten awards given out. The Chrysler Town & Country picked up two trophies, while the Volvo C30, GMC Sierra Denali, Buick Enclave, and the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, which was  also named 2007 Green Car of the Year, each garnered one. Here is the complete list of winners: 

International Car of the Year: Honda Accord Sedan
International Truck of the Year: Chrysler Town & Country
Pick Up Truck of the Year: GMC Sierra Denali
Sports Car of the Year: Audi R8
Sedan of the Year: Honda Accord Sedan
Luxury Car of the Year: Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
Minivan of the Year: Chrysler Town & Country
Entry Level Car of the Year: Volvo C30
Crossover of the Year: Buick Enclave
SUV of the Year: Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

Opening remarks at the 12th annual ICOTY award show were made by Congressman John D. Dingell, the "Dean of the House of Representatives," and Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. 

U.S. Senator Carl Levin, RTM Editor-in-Chief Courtney Caldwell and Editorial Director Kevin Smith also co-presented the inaugural EARTH ANGEL Award, which went to Detroit's own-General Motors. Sponsored by Bridgestone, the award highlights the most environmentally-friendly automaker. It seeks to shine a spotlight on the positive strides automakers are making with global warming issues on a worldwide level.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Detroit Symphony Orchestra receives $1 million gift for music education

Today the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announced that Honda has given the institution over $1 million to create The Power of Dreams Music Education Fund

The Power of Dreams will help support and expand the DSO's nationally acclaimed music programs for young people, specifically by allowing the organization to focus on supporting the involvement of Detroit children. Honda will also support a campaign to promote public donations to the fund.

The five-year DSO/Honda partnership will include:

- Launching a new initiative called The Power of Dreams String Project to provide introductory music education and string training to children in metro-Detroit communities where opportunities are non-existent or unaffordable.

- Establishing The Power of Dreams Music Scholar program to provide private lessons to aspiring students with financial need in the String Project, DSO Civic Ensembles and the Detroit School of Arts (DSA), enabling them to fully develop their musical capabilities.

- Supporting DSO Civic Youth Ensemble performances; the DSO's educational partnership activities with the DSA; and the DSO's spring Educational Concert Series for metro area school children in April 2008 at Orchestra Hall at The Max.

- Supporting the 2008 Classical Roots Gala, a fundraiser for programs such as the DSO's African-American Fellowship Program.

- Sponsoring renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma's performance with the DSO in May 2008, as well as a special daytime educational event for students.

Honda will also help launch a public campaign to generate support for
The Power of Dreams Fund. To celebrate this new partnership and increase community awareness about it, Honda has invited DSO musicians and students to perform in the Honda exhibit at the Detroit Auto Show Charity Gala on Friday, January 18 between 6 and 8:30.

The public is encouraged to support the Power of Dreams Music Education Fund online here. Beginning February 11, donors of $100 or more to the fund will be eligible to win a variety of prizes including a Honda Accord EX-L V6 sedan, signed Yo-Yo Ma CDs, and tickets to the May 13 Yo-Yo Ma performance at The Max. 

About the DSO
Founded in 1914, the DSO performed the world's first radio broadcast of a symphony concert in February 1922. 

Thanks to funding provided by
General Motors, one million people tune into the DSO's nationwide broadcast, the "Mark of Excellence" radio series, each week. 

Every year nearly half a million people attend the DSO's live concerts, held at The Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

$150 million Downtown Detroit Project Planned

If you missed yesterday's Free Press, then you missed this exclusive John Gallagher article about the planned $150 million residential, retail and entertainment project planned for downtown Detroit. 

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and developers will announce details about the monumental project, known as Cadillac Centre, on Wednesday at 11 am.

According to the article, Cadillac Centre would include "two, 24-story apartment towers connected by a 12-story link that will house a six-screen movie theater, health club and spa, restaurants and stores." 

The project, slated to break ground in 2009, would be located on a surface lot on Monroe Block near Compuware and Campus Martius Park.

If the project is seen through to completion, it would contain 84 apartments, a 30,000-square-foot market, 125,000 square feet of retail space, a 40,000-square-foot public park and 800 parking spaces.

And it will also be green -- topped off with a "22,000-square-foot so-called living roof that would collect and filter rain water and help control energy consumption." 

Privately-held, New York-based real estate firm-Northern Group Inc. would build Cadillac Centre and own it. Northern Group is best known around Detroit as the owner of the Penobscot, First National and Cadillac Tower buildings.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Baby in the D!

Given that it is New Year's Day, and the New Year is all about new things, I want to share some newish-news of my own: I'm pregnant!

I had a dash of morning sickness during the first few months of my pregnancy  (who am I kidding? I had horrible all-day-long morning sickness!) but that's a thing of the past, and I don't remember a time when I felt better. 

As you would expect, I am counting down the days -- my due date is in mid-June -- when my new little Detroiter gets here. I'm excited to meet my child and introduce him or her to the world, especially Detroit. And, of course, I cannot wait to share my adventures of raising a baby in the D.

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