It's hard for me to claim the mantle "foodie." First of all, I'm not quite sure what it means, and I think I might be disqualified for the simple fact that I eat peanut butter toast for breakfast every single day, and leftovers many nights.
Yet, on the other hand, going out to eat is one of the simple pleasures I never tire of, and restaurant reviews are my favorite of all assignments.
So I was pleasantly surprised, upon moving to Brighton last December, to find so many great restaurants in this town. In fact, my husband and I made our first connection to Brighton through a local restaurant. He painted the murals inside Ciao Amici's before we were married, and we've enjoyed many a meal there since.
We are eager to continue to explore all of Brighton's restaurants, and anticipate new additions to the local scene.
Two coming restaurants, Bagger Dave's and The Pound, are the talk of the town right now, it seems. Bagger Dave's is set to open on Grand River, just south of Main Street, and The Pound is eying the former Singer Press building at West and Main, complete with a rooftop deck overlooking Mill Pond Park.
They're exciting projects, yet as they plan their debut in downtown Brighton, the city's established restaurants continue efforts to fill the tables in their own dining rooms.
Pick up an issue of the new Metropolitan Detroit Menu Guide, published by HOUR Media, and you'll find a two-page advertising spread touting the charms of Brighton's bistros.
A restaurant destination
Titled "Eat, Stroll and Be Scene," the advertorial was purchased by BrightonDining.com, a group of nine indie restaurants banding together to make a stand against corporate franchises.
"What people need to realize is we're not competitors," said Nick Palizzi, owner of Downtown Main Martini Bar & Grille and leader of the association. "Our competition is the chains."
Corporate restaurants can afford prime-time commercials and bulk pricing on food that small restaurateurs can't, Pallizi said. By pooling resources, BrightonDining.com hopes to lure foodies from all around Southeast Michigan to try downtown Brighton for dinner.
"With this many restaurant choices, you don't have to decide what to eat until you get to Brighton," Palizzi is quoted as saying in the glossy Menu Guide ad, which also touts Brighton's eclectic shops, plentiful parking and walkability.
BrightonDining.com includes Pi's Asian Cuisine, Ciao Amici's, Champ's Pub, Downtown Main Martini Bar & Grille, Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips, Brighton Bar & Grill, Stillwater Grill, Stone Fire Bistro and Leaf Barley and Vine.
Whether the new restaurants join BrightonDining.com or not, they will only help make the city a dining destination.
The place to be
Developers of The Pound own Rock Bar & Grill in downtown Plymouth, one of many trendy restaurants that have helped that sleepy town blossom into a bustling hotspot. Any night of the week, Plymouth is buzzing with people of all ages enjoying a European-style night out, cafe dining being a big part of the vibe.
The coming restaurants could do the same for our downtown, which is exactly what BrightonDining.com aims to achieve.
One downtown merchant put it best at a recent Brighton City Council meeting speaking out about The Pound. Mac Miller, owner of Heirloom Oriental Rugs at 307 W. Main, said the city has aimed to solve the vacancy problem downtown by attracting new businesses that would "stimulate traffic, bring money into the city and increase property value."
"We were particularly interested in bringing in young people who have energy, drive and will be the leaders of our community in the future," Miller said. "We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on that mission. I think we are in danger of succeeding."