Well it's been over two months of work interfering with blogging. That is a leading economic indicator and it means the economy here in Detroit is still in the crapper.
I figure I can't be the only one forced by circumstance into a life less lavish than the one enjoyed same time last year, so I thought I would share some of my tips for keeping your leisure time standards high and your cash expenditures low.
Let me begin by saying Detroit is a great place to be broke. We have a strong and proud tradition of avoiding those distracting boom times that blow up real estate prices and deposit overpriced restaurants and bars on every corner. Detroit's ample inventory of cheap bars and Coney Islands is well documented. What requires a little digging is taking your dollar-store budget and living well, eating well and - most importantly - drinking well in Detroit.
Fortunately for us, the Cocktail Hour has exploded around town. There are a ton of fantastic deals to be had, if you are willing to shift your social time a little earlier in the evening. Since I am now a Gay Elder, I have had no problem doing this. It's pretty great - you get your drink on and you're in bed by 10 watching a streaming episode of 30 Rock on your laptop.
Roast, Michael Symon's new restaurant in the Book-Cadillac, has the king of the Cocktail Hours in town. For starters, it is the only one that takes place every weekday, from 4:30 to 6:30 at the bar. They have a fantastic bar menu derived from their regular menu, and each item is only $3.00, including a 5 oz version of their burger (topped with bacon, cheddar and and egg!), a roast beast taco and a tremendous sausage-of-the-day stuffed pepper dish. Six bucks gets you a great dinner.
OH - there are drink specials too! Three drafts and two wines are $4 a glass, and well drinks "with a wash" (it means one mixer, I've learned) are $5 each. Seriously $15 and you are well-fed, feeling fine and on your way. Roast has a lovely interior too, and if you don't mind the fact that most of the women who work there seem angry (seriously, hostesses who don't even look at you) you will have a wonderfully budget-conscious time.
Angelina Italian Bistro has turned out to be a pleasant surpise, especially for someone like me who always expects the worst. The decor is not 100% there (although pretty good by Detroit standards), but the food is really fantastic. I recommend the Pappardelle Bolognese in particular, but everything I've tried is great. For their Happy Hour they are offering everything in the "Tasting Plates" section of the menu at half-price (the pizzas are a whole meal) plus drink specials! It lasts until 7pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On a nice day the windows are all open and it's practically dining al fresco.
Cliff Bell's has introduced their dinner menu, which is a good deal even at regular prices. On Tuesdays from 5-8 is Happy Hour, and not only is all the food half-price, but all bottles of wine or champagne are half-price too. There is no live music at that time, so it's a low-key jazzy supper club vibe, which always suits me just fine because you can easily converse with your companion.
Atlas Global Bistro, a perennial favorite of mine, lets you expand your social time past the dinner hour. On Martini Mondays they offer half-price martinis all day long, so you are quite likely to find a saucy bar crowd trying to live within their means. A few newer bar menu introductions at nice prices also keep your food expenditures low.
"Latitude Wednesdays" at Atlas is the gay night, and it has taken off like CRAZY lately. It is, frankly, as well-attended by gays as our Doggy Style nights are (at least!), and it's a fun crowd that's a super mix of city and suburb. The new introduction of a special Queer-as-a-$3 bill drink specials (that are $3, obviously) may have helped. A good time, and it gets buzzing around 9pm.
And there's another way to save at Atlas GB - there is a promo through Channel 7, "Ultimate Dining Deals," where you can buy a $50 Atlas gift certificate for $25! You can get up to two, so buy them up and you can not only get half-price food, but you can go on Monday and get quarter-price martinis like I did the other week!
I am sure there are other deals out that that I don't know about - if you have any tips, post them in the comments, ok? I know there are more deals out there!