Archive for Restaurant Reviews

The Taste of Clarkston Is Back

Posted in Dining with Pat, Local News with tags , , , , on September 11, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Save the date → Sunday, September 15, 2013 for the 16th Annual Taste of Clarkston that is the signature event put on by the Clarkston Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Independence Township Parks and Recreation and the Village of Clarkston. The event is structured to be family friendly, providing a safe and fun environment for a community block party celebration.

Hours: Noon to 6:00 p.m.
Shuttle buses start running at 11:30 a.m.

Free shuttle parking is available from Clarkston Elementary, Clarkston Junior High and Clarkston High School parking lots.

Village of Clarkston Clock

Village of Clarkston Clock

Main Street will be closed—from Waldon Road on the south, to Clarkston Road on the north—for this event to accommodate the restaurant booths and pedestrians coming to the event.  For the “Detour Map”, click here.

Tickets are available in $1.00 increments; food items are priced at $1 to $10.  They suggest you purchase a pack of $10.00 or $20.00 to get started. Taste Tickets are available on-site at three (3) ticket booth locations.

38 Restaurant booths will be set up on Main Street serving taste samples and/or meal portions of their specialties. For a list of restaurant participants and prices, click here. There is sure to be something tantalizing for everyone—from soup to sliders, BBQ pork to chicken chili and sweet endings from cheesecake to frozen custard. Every year the offerings are more enticing.

The Clarkston Union Oktoberfest tent will be set up and operating throughout the Taste of Clarkston, along with the Rotary Wine Tent and Wine Garden in Morgan’s Parking Lot.

OktoberfestThe Gazebo in Depot Park will be the site of entertainment starting at 11:45 a.m. until closing.

The “Heart of Clarkston” will be set up throughout the event where you can give your support to non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Habitat Women’s Build, Blessings in a Backpack, Friends of Ryan Kennedy, Easter Seals and more.

In Depot Park, there will be children’s carnival games, blow-up bounce houses and a ticket booth.

Bridgewood Church will have an archery area, children’s crafts, balloon animals and face painting.

For car buffs, the Clarkston News parking lot and Washington Street will feature a Classic Car Show coordinated through Bowman Chevrolet.

According to marketing studies, Taste of Clarkston is attended by 70% of Clarkston area residents and friends and relatives of Clarkston residents. Merchants and volunteers work hard to promote their businesses and take great pride in promoting their historic village.

Oktoberfest ala Frankenmuth

Posted in Dining with Pat, Lifestyle, Local News with tags , , on September 14, 2012 by Pat Hansen

In 1990, in honor of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Frankenmuth initiated an Oktoberfest.

In 1996, Lord Mayor Christian Ude of Germany officially sanctioned the Frankenmuth Oktoberfest celebration, making it the only city outside Munich to receive such an honor.  In homage, Munich-based brewer Hofbrauhaus became the festival’s official sponsor, making this the first city in the U.S. to import this German beer.

Dubbed Michigan’s Little Bavaria, the city is as head-to-toe German as an American city can get, from its cuckoo-clock store to the Harvey Kern Community Pavilion, a scaled-down version of an authentic German beer hall. The German band performs annually and authentic German fare is served daily.

A German dinner buffet is offered for $11.00 per person. It features typical German fare such as Black Forest Ham, Bratwurst with Sauerkraut, Jaeger Meatballs, German Potato Salad, Buttered Spatzle and Sweet and Sour Cabbage.

American Fare is also available with Chicken Tenders, Pizza, Hotdogs and French Fires for the kids

This year, the Oktoberfest runs from Thursday, September 20th, through Saturday, September 23rd.

Daily Admission: Thursday, September 20th through Saturday, September 21st is $8.00.  Sunday is Free; Kids (12 & under) Free

Gates Open:        Thursday 3 pm – 10 pm

                 Friday & Saturday 12 pm – Midnight

                 Sunday 12 pm – 6 pm

Free parking for the Oktoberfest is located on the festival grounds as you arrive at Heritage Park.  Heritage Park is located on the banks of the Cass River, behind the Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth. This tourist driven town is the perfect compliment to the festival – offering an array of activities to occupy your time before and after the festival. You will enjoy more than two miles of hands-on demonstrations, unique shops, wonderful food and hospitality you won’t find anywhere else.

Directions from the Detroit area:

Take I-75 North to exit 136 for Frankenmuth/Birch Run

Turn right onto M-54 S/M-83 (N Birch Run Rd)

Turn left onto M-83 (N Gera Rd) and continue north until you enter Frankenmuth

Turn right onto E Jefferson St and then take the 2nd left onto Weiss St

Frankenmuth’s Oktoberfest is located at 601 Weiss St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

The Taste of Clarkston is Back

Posted in Dining with Pat, Lifestyle, Local News with tags , , , , on September 6, 2012 by Pat Hansen

Save the date, Sunday September 23, 2012 for the 15th annual Taste of Clarkston.  This is the signature event put on by the Clarkston Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Independence Township Parks and Recreation and the Village of Clarkston. The event is structured to be family friendly, providing a safe and fun environment for a community block party celebration.

More than 30 restaurants and exhibitors will be participating this year. A list of restaurant participants can be found online at:, a week prior to the event. Click on Taste of Clarkston 2012 for details. There is sure to be something tantalizing for everyone, from soup to sliders, BBQ pork to black bean chicken chili, and sweet endings from frozen custard to cheesecake.

Tickets are available in $1.00 increments. They suggest you purchase a pack of $10.00 or $20.00 to get started. Tickets will be available at four locations:

  • Taste Entrance
  • Church St. and Main St.
  • Washington and Main St.
  • Depot Park

Entertainment will be featured on two different stages starting at 11:30 AM. The stages are located on Church St. and Washington St.

Two free KidZones with games and activities are located at Depot Park and Washington St. parking lots.

According to marketing studies, Taste of Clarkston is attended by 70% of Clarkston area residents and their friends and relatives. Merchants and volunteers work hard to promote their businesses and take great pride in their promoting their historic village.

Hours are: Noon to 6:00 PM. Note: Main St. will be closed from Waldon Rd, on the south, to Clarkston Rd on the north.

Free Parking and Free Shuttle Buses are available at these school lots

  • Clarkston Elementary
  • Clarkston Jr. High School
  • Renaissance High or Clarkston High School

Amazing Michigan

Posted in Lifestyle with tags , , , on June 8, 2012 by Pat Hansen

The Michigan State Motto is, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you”.  You don’t have to drive far to see the beauty of Michigan. In Oakland County alone, there are 358 lakes and 13 county parks. Every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the traffic going north on I-75 is steady, and at times   a standstill. This lends testimony to the fact that we Michiganders love our lakes, county and state parks, campgrounds, resorts and cottages.

One of the most scenic routes, M-119, starts at an intersection with US 31 in Harbor Springs. From Harbor Springs on, M-119 is the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route. The roadway meanders through oaks, maples, birch and cedars along an old Ottawa Trail. Occasionally, you can catch glimmers of Lake Michigan through the trees, but the dense foliage lends beauty to the winding road. Along this area of the route, the highway narrows in width and continues through the forest without a center-line most of the remainder of the way. The road continues through the community of Good Hart up the Lake Michigan shoreline to the Community of Cross Village. There it ends at the intersection between Lake Shore Drive and State Road in the middle of town.

A highlight of historic Cross Village is the Legs Inn. It is a stone and log structure built on a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. The fantasy-like atmosphere of this medieval looking stone, timber and driftwood landmark was created by a Polish immigrant, Stanley Smolak. He fell in love with northern Michigan and its people, many of them Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and decided to settle in Cross Village in 1921.

A blend of Old World European and Indian cultures creates a memorable atmosphere at The Legs Inn. The entry foyer, tavern, game and dining rooms are all filled with an intriguing collection of nature and hand carved furniture such as whimsical creations made of tree stumps, twisted limbs and roots, driftwood sculptures and massive fieldstone fireplaces. The grounds consist of beautifully manicured gardens. If you are there at sunset, you may be lucky enough to get outside seating and watch a captivating sunset over Lake Michigan.

The Legs Inn was identified by The Detroit Free Press as one of fourteen Great Michigan Eats in the State of Michigan. It is the only restaurant in the Lower Peninsula, north of Traverse City, receiving such a distinction.

While Authentic Polish cuisine is their specialty, delicious American entrees, including local fresh Whitefish are also served. The Smolak family, now in their third generation, is dedicated to making your visit to Legs Inn an unforgettable experience, which will have you returning often with family and friends. This amazing restaurant, along with the spectacular route 119 leading to it, has been acknowledged and praised by major magazines, TV broadcasters, newspapers, travel related web sites, tour guides and guests from across the country and around the world.

Location: 6425 N. Lake Shore Drive

PO Box 157

Cross village, MI  49723

P: (231) 526 – 2281

Legs Inn – Michigan

Clarkston, Michigan – Golf and Dining

Posted in Dining with Pat, Local News with tags , , on July 8, 2011 by Pat Hansen

Although there are other popular public golf course facilities in and around the Clarkston area such as Pine Knob, Springfield Oaks, Indian Springs, Heather Highlands and Fountains Golf and Banquet (Liberty), Shepherd’s Hollow is among the most unique, public golf courses in Michigan.

Situated on 350 acres, and tucked into a towering forest of pine and oak, the golf course affords the golfer a scenic and tranquil atmosphere comparable to the Up North golf experience.  I don’t play golf, but I do know that Golf Digest ranked it 42nd best public course in the country, so there’s more to Shepherd’s Hollow than just atmosphere.  They offer 27 holes, with weekday rates for 18 holes starting at only $45.  Weekend and holiday rates are $80 – $85 for peak tee times, which is about the norm for upscale golf in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Golf, however, is only part of the appeal here. The clubhouse at Shepherd’s Hollow is situated in the middle of a pine forest that also lines the long driveway leading up to it. The architectural design is Low-country (coastal South Carolina), imbuing the clubhouse with warmth and charm. It features a veranda and terrace; a perfect summer setting for a fine dining experience. If you prefer indoor dining, the main dining area and bar provides warmth and elegance complimented by a rich cherry bar and glowing fireplace.  The clubhouse is also available for banquets and weddings, and is one of the top choices available in the Clarkston area.

The Lunch menu offers a delectable selection of soups, salads and sandwiches in addition to two hot entrees. The prices range from $9 to $16. The Classic Reuben sandwich and the BBQ Pork sandwich were both delicious. We can’t wait to try the Michigan Walleye and chips lunch entrée when we return.

The Main Course Dinner menu focuses on American Regional Cuisine, specializing in fish and beef with prices ranging from $19 for both Perch Murat and  Herb Chicken Provence, to $28 for an 8oz Filet Mignon. There are also delicious appetizers and beautifully presented desserts. During the summer months, diners may also take advantage of the special Twilight theme dinners.

In addition to fine dining, there is a strong emphasis on excellent service and attention to detail by a professional and well-trained staff; a rarity these days.

If you are seeking a pleasurable dining experience or a challenging golf outing in a scenic setting, Shepherd’s Hollow will certainly fulfill your expectations.

Located at 9085 Big Lake Road in Clarkston, MI 48348; there is a sign at the entry directing you to Columbiere and Shepherd’s Hollow.  Dinner reservations are recommended. Call (248) 922-0300 for either reservations or tee times.  Tee times can also be made online at Shepherd’s Hollow Tee Times

Dining with Pat – French Laundry

Posted in Dining with Pat with tags on September 22, 2010 by Pat Hansen

This is truly a unique restaurant approximately 45 minutes northwest of Clarkston, at 125 Shiawassee in downtown Fenton. It is housed in a converted laundry building, hence the name. The atmosphere is eclectic with a European flair. In addition to the main dining room and bar areas, there is additional seating outside, in front of the restaurant.

The owner, Mark Hamel, spent a year in Paris during his college days at Michigan State University. His dream was to own a restaurant with a French name but not necessarily a French-influenced menu. In 1997, the French Laundry Café and Market was born.

As you enter, the market features Zingerman’s breads as well as enticing, house-made pastries and pies. A casual seating area features high ceilings and 1950’s kitchen style, vinyl-topped tables and mis-matched chairs The dining room, added nearly five years ago, includes a bar stocked with everything from boutique beers and wine, many from Michigan breweries and vineyards, and an array of malt Scotches and Irish whiskeys,

When we were seated, the friendly wait staff offered us an extensive menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  There are 40 different sandwiches to choose from. I ordered the Reuben sandwich with corned beef instead of the “heart-smart” turkey. It was served on marbled rye and grilled to perfection. My friend ordered the French dip au jus, which looked and tasted wonderful. It was served on a lightly toasted baguette. We sampled a taste of each sandwich and found both delectable. The servings were very large and the staff advised us that the guests rarely leave hungry. We took home more than we could eat and had memories of a great culinary experience. We both look forward to returning for dinner soon.

My friend and I were so impressed with our first visit; we decided to have lunch there again. This time we chose lighter fare. We both decided to try the salad of the day which consisted of baby spinach, feta cheese, dried cherries, hard boiled eggs and croutons. Every bite was full of flavor. It was topped with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Lunch prices ranged from $ 3.95 for a cup of soup to $15.00 for a hot lunch special. I highly recommend it.

Dinners are served from 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm, Mon. through Sat.; and Sun. from 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm.  There is a kid’s menu as well as a catering menu offered. The dress is casual. They do not accept reservations so it is best to arrive early if you are there for dinner

We could not leave until we chose a pastry to take home. The blueberry/peach pie was unbelievable and my friend raved about her pastry.

In addition to the take-home desserts, we also took home memories of a delectable experience and a desire to return for dinner.

The French Laundry

Zingerman’s Deli

Ice Cream with Pat – Cook’s Dairy

Posted in Dining with Pat with tags , , on September 1, 2010 by Pat Hansen

I had heard about Cook’s Dairy Farm in Ortonville from several visitors who had toured our model in The Manors of Deerwood in Clarkston. They all said it was worth the drive. I headed north on M-15 and continued to Seymour Lake Rd. where I headed east and found the dairy farm at Perry Lake Rd.

The parking lot was full; a good sign that it was worth visiting and enjoying one of the 19 flavors of ice cream. It was, by far, the best butter pecan ice cream I had ever tasted. I am a big fan of ice cream and this was truly delicious; the pecans were pleasingly salty and the ice cream was a wonderful, creamy consistency. If you plan to take some ice cream home, bring an insulated container with ice, as they only offer plastic bags.

The Cook family farm started in 1933. By 1960’s, the farm was home to 100 dairy cows and the milk was sold to Kroger stores. In 1982, the second generation of the Cook family began bottling their own milk and making their own ice cream. Today, the third generation of the Cook family runs the farm and boasts that “We grow our own corn, feed it to our own cows and make our own milk (hormone-free) and ice cream at the farm.” “It’s kind of unique that you get the whole thing: “From moo to you.”

In addition to milk and 19 flavors of ice cream, Cook’s Dairy also produces buttermilk and chocolate milk, hot fudge, hamburgers made from non-dairy cows, and for the holidays, eggnog. They also have a “Nut-Free” section of ice cream for those customers who may have an alergy.  Now you can also find Cook’s Dairy products at area stores. A gas station on M-15, just north of I-75, sells their milk.

In the fall, visitors will flock to the farm to enjoy a hayride through the pumpkin-lined property. The farm is a favorite school field trip; the owner said he especially enjoys showing the children around the farm. During the Christmas season, there is a long line of children waiting to talk to Santa. One of the customers, standing next to me, told me how impressed she was on a December visit to Santa, when the owners passed out a free half-gallon of eggnog to each parent waiting in line with a child anxious to talk to Santa. She also shared the fact that the eggnog was the best she has tasted.

If you go, Cook’s Farm Dairy is located at 2950 E. Seymour Lake Rd in Ortonville. Their hours are: Weekdays and Sat. 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Sun.Noon to 10:00 p.m. It is definitely worth the drive. Enjoy!


Clarkston – Michigan

Posted in Lifestyle, Local News, Manors of Deerwood with tags , , on August 5, 2010 by Pat Hansen

Small Town – Huge Spirit

The Village of Clarkston, Independence Township, exemplifies the charm and graciousness of another era.  Words like quaint, charming, old-fashioned and picturesque came to mind on my first drive down Clarkston’s Main Street. I was attracted by Rudy’s market and decided to stop and get some refreshments. I was fortunate to get a parking space close to the market. Parking is limited on Main Street but upon closer inspection, I could see the nearby parking lots.

The first time I entered Rudy’s I was warmly greeted by the owner and his staff. They could not have been more attentive and helpful; they even asked me my name and made me feel right at home.  The array of prime meats and fresh fish was very impressive. The deli offered a variety of salads, sandwiches and pizza as well as tabbouleh, grape leaves and kibbi. The sandwiches were listed on chalkboards behind the counter. I was delighted to see and enjoy a turkey sandwich for under $5.00. There was even a family of Mallard ducks waiting for me outside the market when I left. They apparently waddled their way over from a nearby pond.

I have been back to Rudy’s many times since that first visit and have experienced the same service and graciousness as I did on the first visit. They still remember my name to this day. 

As I left Rudy’s, I decided to walk the rest of the business district, just two blocks long.  I was intrigued by what I saw. There were picturesque shops, a bakery and restaurants alongside real estate offices and a bank. Everyone I encountered on my walk was very friendly. I stopped to check out the bakery and decided to rest on the bench on the sidewalk. A couple came out of the bakery with treats for the Mallard ducks and sat down beside me. It was very apparent that they had a great love for the city and the surrounding area. They had grown up nearby and encouraged me to drive just a bit north of town to savor the beauty and charm of the historic homes that dotted both sides of the street. I could see the ponds directly behind these gracious old homes. It was apparent that the residents had a deep love for the city and had the desire to keep the Village of Clarkston and the surrounding area, a place worth coming to.

I have since witnessed a strong sense of community. On Friday evenings during July, there are free concerts in Depot Park, directly behind the business district. People of all age groups arrive with their lawn chairs to enjoy the music.

There are parades, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, for the celebration of Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day. The Clarkston Farmer’s Market is held in Depot Park every Sat. during July and August. One of the “Can’t Miss” events is the Taste of Clarkston where vendors from the various restaurants in Clarkston, offer samples of their specialties. Main Street becomes pedestrian only for this event and the crowd is enormous. Free parking is available at several locations.  There is also an Art-in-the-Park event that attracts a large crowd in June. A Holiday Lights parade is held every year in early December and includes a tree lighting ceremony. Volunteers also decorate the streets with garlands and lights. This is a very welcoming sight.

These events, created and sponsored by businesses, various civic and private organizations together with the efforts of countless volunteers, have earned the support of the local residents which has helped foster a strong sense of community, a sense of home and a sense of well-being.

 Check out what’s happening in Clarkston here:

Village of Clarkston – Events

Dining with Pat at the Union

Posted in Dining with Pat, Lifestyle with tags , , , on July 22, 2010 by Pat Hansen

The Clarkston Bar and Union, located in the heart of Clarkston, is a unique bar and restaurant housed in a vintage 1847 converted church. The original church pews are still used as seating. The converted church, with some of its original stained glass, provides an interesting space for the dining room, bar and kitchen, although it can be noisy at times.

The dress code is “Anything Goes”. There are no reservations available and the wait can be long on weekends.  Sorry, no call-ahead seating either. There is outdoor seating available during the warm months. Parking is at the rear, but if the lot is full, try the nearby street parking or a free lot located a short 1 ½ blocks away.

 The Clarkston Bar and Union is known for its 30-something specialty beers on tap listed on a huge chalkboard.  The selection ranges from local micro-brews to national and international brands.  There’s a nice selection of bottle beers as well. The main floor bar has background music while a jukebox rules the downstairs bar. A limited food menu is also available in the downstairs until 11:00 pm.

 The house specialty is the signature macaroni and cheese dish. Don’t ask for the recipe as it’s a closely guarded secret (I think there may be some local history connected to this).  The menu features burgers, sandwiches, entrée salads and interesting specials such as meatloaf and pot pies, all of which are very good. The thin-crust pizza is awesome. I confess to ordering it for takeaway at least once a month. The specialty desserts include cupcakes, Crème Brûlée and ice cream sandwiches.

 If you’re tired of the national chain restaurants and looking for something a little different, take a ride to Clarkston and have lunch or dinner at the Clarkston Bar and Union.

 Location: 54 South Main Street, Clarkston, Michigan.


Phone (248) 620-6100


Week days    11:00 AM until 10:00 PM for food service
Saturday        11:00 AM until 11:00 PM for food service

Sunday          9:00 AM until 2:00 PM for breakfast

3:00 PM until 9:00 PM for dinner

The bar is open Thursday through Saturday until 2:00 AM

%d bloggers like this: