Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Parade Day in Grosse Pointe

Detroit Fire Department Clown Truck

When most people think of Thanksgiving in Detroit, they probably think of the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade (the second oldest in the country), the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving game, or even the Turkey Trot downtown. However, there are multiple smaller parades and events throughout the Detroit area and Michigan each Thanksgiving weekend for people who cannot make it into Detroit on Thursday morning.

I would have liked to attend Detroit’s parade this year, but I had traveled into town on Wednesday and did not feel like dragging my two young daughters out of bed and into the city to deal with the large crowds on Thursday morning. Instead, my wife and I accepted an invitation to the Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade from friends who moved to Grosse Pointe Park last year.

The Grosse Pointe parade is held the day after Thanksgiving on Kercheval Avenue. This was my first time seeing the Santa Claus Parade. Although it may not have giant balloons or nearly as many floats as Detroit’s parade, it was really easy to find a spot along the parade route about 15 minutes before it started.

Front row seats for Grosse Pointe's parade

The Grosse Pointe parade was entertaining though, especially for my five year old daughter. She loved being right next to the parade route. The parade featured several of the Detroit parade's attractions with the Detroit Fire Department’s Clowns, the Detroit Mounted Police and a few of the Big Heads (paper mache heads), including famous Michiganders Tom Selleck, Bo Schembechler and Bob Seger. The parade also included several Detroit area high school marching bands, the Detroit Boat Club's rowers, a few floats, bagpipers and, of course, Santa. 

The parade was a success with our five year old, and she left with a smile on her face after the parade was over. After briefly warming up at our friend’s house, we drove down Kercheval to Red Crown, a restaurant housed in a converted gas station. The main dining area is in the old garage bay, which includes actual garage doors.

The restaurant’s menu focuses on comfort food with a lot of barbecue and Southern food. Red Crown’s drink menu includes handcrafted cocktails, a decent wine list that includes a few Michigan wines and a beer list full of Michigan craft beers.

My beer connoisseur friend recommended a few Michigan beers on the menu, and I chose one of his recommendations, the Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA, to drink. This was the first time I tried a beer from Marshall-based Dark Horse Brewing. It was refreshing and did not have the bitter aftertaste that some IPAs leave in my mouth. Overall, the Crooked Tree IPA is a great beer, and I would definitely order it again.

For lunch I ordered the Poor #3, a pulled pork sandwich. Living in Virginia, I have a lot of decent Southern cooking and barbecue options, plus I have tried and absolutelylove Slows Barbecue in Detroit. I had reservations about ordering a pulled pork sandwich in Grosse Pointe, which is not exactly known as a barbecue mecca.

Red Crown convinced this skeptic that Grosse Pointe can make a good pulled pork sandwich. My biggest gripe with pulled pork is that it often is too dried out, almost requiring me to drench it in barbecue sauce to make it edible. The Poor #3’s pork was juicy and flavorful with an applewood smoked taste complimented by salsa verde that gave the sandwich a little bit of a kick. 

Our party included three girls aged 3, 5 and 6. My daughter, the five-year old, ordered the kids mac and cheese and loved it. At the end of the meal, the waitress “accidentally” asked in a loud enough voice for the girls to hear whether anyone wanted dessert. Instead of risking a mutiny, we ordered one piece of chocolate cake for the girls to share.

The waitress brought out a gigantic slice of triple layer chocolate mousse bumpy cake. All four adults took one or two small bites and remarked on how rich and delicious the cake was. We then went back to our conversation. After a few minutes, I exclaimed, "Oh my God!" when I glanced towards the girls and saw THIS!

And POOF! It was gone!

I believe the three girls must have set some kind of speed record for consuming a chocolate cake of that size. Apparently, the cake was a hit with the kids.

I would highly recommend Red Crown if you are looking for good comfort food and a neighborhood restaurant feel. Everyone at my table walked away happy, and the girls walked away hopped up on sugar.

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