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Quick trip report: Toledo -> Detroit -> Saint Clair

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Quick trip report: Toledo -> Detroit -> Saint Clair

SBCochran | Mar 29, 2004 04:58 PM

Went on a quick trip weekend before last up to Saint Clair, MI, along the absolutely beautiful Saint Clair River. Along the way we pulled off I-75 to Front Street in Toledo to arrive at Tony Packo's at 1130h opening time on Sunday to find the parking lot about half full with an equal number of cars having Michigan and Ohio plates. This time I knew what to order: the hot dog and chili combo for me and the cabbage roll plate for the SO. The bowl of chili came first - a large bowl of steaming meaty-good hot chili with multiple packets of oyster crackers. We both dug in and almost finished it before the hot dog and cabbage roll appeared. The hot dog isn't a conventional wiener, rather a halved and griddled Hungarian sausage with mustard, onions and their sauce served with a mound of their half-sour sliced pickles. The cabbage roll was served on a bed of kraut along with really good German-style hot potato salad (the best and most authentic I've had since the Zum Rheingraffen in Bad Kreuznach, Germany). They are currently renovating their gift shop area and are selling all products for 15% off. Picked up a case of their hot dog sauce with another 10% off for a case lot. Also ordered 2 quarts of chili for takeaway which lasted about 5 days.

Proceeded on to Saint Clair for a visit with friends. Had lunch the following day at the Voyageur. Won't do that again. The pan-fried pickerel was overcooked and dry, side snow peas were grossly overcooked to the point of sliminess and the bread basket had some tasteless squishy rolls. The best item on the plate was the steamed redskin potatoes with real butter. SO had a sliced steak-topped salad with nice, fresh greens, but the steak used was so gristly each bite was returned to the plate post-mastication. Would have brought this to the waitress's attention, but we were with an older friend who frequents the place.

We timed our departure the following day to have lunch in Detroit at the Cyprus Taverna where we split a couple of appetizers including kasseri saganaki and skordalia. The garlicky skordalia outshone the OPA! of the saganaki. We then split a horiatiki salad and the lunch special oven-roasted lamb served with good, mushy peas and rice with a light tomato sauce. The salad had large chunks of decent tomatoes, cukes, onion and good feta with a light dressing. The lamb was falling-off-the-bone tender and, though usually not my favorite, the mushy peas and the rice were the perfect comfort-food foil for the lamb. And the bread was fantastic - a solid white bread just right for sopping up the juices.

For dessert we hiked the 5-6 blocks to Lafayette Coney Island for a couple of hot dogs "heavy-on-the-sauce and onions, please." I've had dogs from the American Coney Island before and I think Lafayette's sauce is just a notch better. A fine finish for a lunch before hitting the road again.

Tony Packo's Cafe - 1902 Front St, Toledo, OH 43605 - 419/691-6054, (tonypackos.com)

Cyprus Taverna - 579 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226 - 313/961-1550

Lafayette Coney Island - 118 Lafayette St, Detroit, MI 48226 - 313/964-8198

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