Bon Vie in Detroit

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Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Covert » Sat May 20, 2006 7:59 am

I missed my usual Thursday boomer night here in Detroit this week because my work was so challenging that I needed to keep my head clear and stay until the end of the day Friday to finish it.

Kept changing my plans for Friday night and at the last minute decided on the Bon Vie Bistro and Wine Bar at the Somerset Mall in Troy. It is the most upscale mall I have ever seen with stores like Gucci, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Coach and Cartier. Moving sidewalks, concierge staff and a guy playing classical fare on a grand piano in the main atrium add to the unusual ambience.

The restaurant is set up like an al fresco Parisian bistro, only the tables sit on a mall walkway instead of on an outdoor sidewalk. That’s cool because you get more comely women walking by than you would on a sidewalk; and the women who shop upscale in Detroit are good looking from school age to senescence. Even though the city is probably near bankrupt, the zillions of car executives here have already made millions so that their wives can stay fashionable and buff. A lot of the older men, on the other hand, don’t seem to worry about what they look like. The only drawback of having these women (not the girls) around is the pervasiveness of their post-menopausal floral fragrances when you are trying to commune with your wine. Pre-menopausal earthy spice or deep musk I can tolerate.

The sommelier at Bon Vie is an exception among Detroit men. Rather short of stature, like a typical male movie star, he has movie actor good looks and a large impressive presence. The fact that shorter men are often the best looking sort of indicates that God might exist. He is proud of his burgeoning Bordeaux collection and assured me that by the next time I visited he would have older wines to complement his mostly 2000s and 2003s. I was going to select the 2003 Gloria, but he talked me into the inexpensive 2000 Chateau Clos du Roy, a Fronsac, which he said was quite ready and drank like a classed growth, even pointing to amber in the rim, which I didn’t see at all.

In the middle of my conversation with Theodore, my wife called from the most famous restaurant in Albany, New York, if I can use the “f” word for anything in Albany: Jack’s Oyster House on State Street a few doors down the hill from the Capitol. She had just sat down with a friend and needed help with the wine list. If you are going to have to take a call in a restaurant, this was about the most apropos missive you could get, and Theodore helped with my wife’s decision (I didn’t really need his help, but I think he got a kick out of his expanded role at my table.) And neither my wife nor I like to be apart on Friday night, but the serendipitous synchronicity of the phone connection carried our spiritual union across the distance.

I didn’t want to drink more than a bottle of Bordeaux and a couple of mini carafes of vin de pays white, but the sommelier wanted me to try some Duckhorn Merlot that he thought was nice. After a taste (blech) when he wasn’t looking I gave it to the table next to me and left.

Anyway, after drinking a little too much wine to responsibly navigate my rented Chrysler 300 back to my hotel room on Woodward Avenue, I found my head remarkably clear upon exiting the mall into the night. From that state, I surmised that it must be a full moon. It is too cloudy here to tell from looking, but as soon as I can get a New York Post in my hands en route home, I will check.

Sounding like a broken record, I know, I will mention again that the black guy who designed the immensely popular new car for Chrysler grew up cruising Woodward Avenue, arguably the most famous cruising street in the world outside of maybe LA. One of the countless millionaires in Detroit, no doubt by now, he still cruises Woodward with his wife on Saturday nights. If that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is; so, in deference to the man’s God-like status in my mind, when I am in Detroit, I always stay in a room above Woodward with my window open to listen to the ‘60s’ muscle cars muscle out from the stoplight under my window.

This was all leading to a controversial ending, which I wrote a few hours ago when I was still tipsy (had a couple of ports locally after parking the carriage) but still had the presence of mind to realize it might not be responsible to post. Looked at what I wrote later, lopped off the offensive stuff and now will just post the lead-in to tell you about the restaurant.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Mark Hugger » Mon May 22, 2006 6:26 pm

Next time you visit, I suggest Eve in Ann Arbor. Excellent staff, wine list and food. If you avoid rush hour, shouldn't take the 300 more than 40 minutes to get here.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Jenise » Wed May 24, 2006 1:20 pm

You're too funny, Covert. Only you can get away with mentioning ogling women and your spiritual union with your wife under the same headline.

But hey--cruising--I grew up in the Southern California town most famous for it's cruising. There was even a hit song that began with a male voice saying, "Let's take a trip down Whittier Boulevard!" I did my share of it in an old turquoise blue 57 Chevy Bel Air I inherited from my grandmother. Anyway, nowadays I live up here, and lo and behold there's a street at the beach on the Canada side of the border where on Friday nights Canadians couples go cruise in their cherried-out American muscle cars. Dozens of open sidewalk restaurants line the street, and the cars get a lot of appreciation. Bob's dying to buy an old car like that so we can cruise too.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Covert » Sat May 27, 2006 8:07 am

I'll bet you wish you had kept the '57. In 1962 I purchased a cherry '55 Chevy believing it would become a classic. I didn't drive it much but kept it registered. One fateful day my alcoholic uncle Fred asked me if he could borrow it. My mistake was compounded by dutifully also lending him the registration, which allowed one to transfer ownership on the back. He sold it in a barroom for $50 so that he could keep drinking.

I hope you and Bob find something suitable for crusing. I'm mulling the same sort of thing for cruising in the mountains in my semi-retirement. And I'm figuring that I may have to go to LA to find it. Sometimes a '60s era Rolls equipped with a Chevy drive train for easier maintenance comes to mind.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Jenise » Sat May 27, 2006 4:50 pm

Buy one!

I don't miss the 57, actually. It was a fun car but a sedan, and not sexy enough for me. Much better was the white 66 Camaro 350 I married into later, white body, black roof, black and white houndstooth interior, stick. Tailored and demure enough for daytime, wicked and powerful enough for night. Then I turned into a yuppie and bought a Beemer.

And I don't know what I turned into when I bought the Jag, but now that I've moved I don't have any trouble with that car and I adore it to pieces. I suspected the So Cal dealer of sabotaging it for warranty income, and the guys up here tell me I'm probably right.

But nonetheless we saw a fire-engine red 68 Impala convertible SS with a 396 and red and white interior a few weeks ago that, to heck with Bob, *I* haven't stopped thinking about. Would be the perfect cruiser--sporty enough for me, hurky enough for Bob.

An old Rolls? Hmmm...convertible Corniche yes, but anything else, no. Maybe I spent too much time in Southern California (this, in fact, is indisputable) but they just look like old cars to me. Has beens. I don't see 'classic'. What am I missing?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Covert » Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:42 pm

I don't know. I'm having a heck of a time deciding what to buy next. I've leased cars as long as I can remember, but now that I am embarking on a semi-retirement mode in the mountains (working half time for a few more years). I want my own car which I can enjoy winding through the mountain roads with - and going to mountain restaurants on warm nights with the top down.

The new T-Bird (have to buy one used, of course) with some head work and a cam and converted to a stick shift with some modification to the trunk in order to put things in it is still an option. And I do in fact like Jags. If I were working half time I would have time to take it to the shop. :) Never had to take a Japanese car in for anything but servicing, but they have no sex appeal - except for my current Maxima, which has a little.

I probably told you that in 1962 I bought the first 409 ci 409 hp Chevy in the county. Ordered it way in advance, like futures. Gold Impala with red interior. Turned out to be one of those cars out of the box that was simply the fastest. I easily beat sponsored, blueprinted, tricked out super "stocks" at the sanctioned drag strips that never saw anything but racing. In other words, they were not driven on the streets. The car was a local legend and I still have dreams about finding it in a junk yard and nursing it back to health.

Lynn kind of likes those retro T-Roadsters. Or maybe another motorcycle. But most rides feel like I am trying to go home again, which never works.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Paul B. » Tue Jun 06, 2006 11:50 am

Covert wrote:Never had to take a Japanese car in for anything but servicing, but they have no sex appeal - except for my current Maxima, which has a little.

I'm 50/50 on that one, Covert. I agree that the Japanese cars will rarely let you down. That said, there's something mighty attractive in that kind of reliability. But I've never been into fleeting, flashy or showy stuff.

And as for power on the road, I'll take a diesel truck any day over a race car ... 8)
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Jenise » Tue Jun 06, 2006 12:08 pm

Covert,

What happened to the new T-Bird anyway? I read an article about the new Ford offspring's plans to revitalize his company, and was surprised to see the T-Bird mentioned in the failure column. Last I knew, there were waiting lines for certain colors. Obviously I wasn't paying attention, but the only negative thing I'd heard about it was you deciding not to buy that black one because of the trunk space, or lack of it.

I'll bet they become valued classics in years to come.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Covert » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:27 pm

Jenise,

We went with Lynn's checkbook in hand to buy one. We had made up our minds from simply seeing them on the road. Test driving was almost an afterthought; I didn't care much how it drove, as long as you could put the top down for those priceless Adirondack nights. But it drove okay.

It actually was an afterthought that induced Lynn to suggest at least opening the trunk. It isn't that it is small; it virtually doesn't exist. I couldn't put my brief case in it. Even that didn't kill our plan to buy it. But we went immediately to the area in back of the seats to make sure we could at least put a small bag of groceries there, since we need to eat. There was no space behind the seats, not even enough to set a pair of gloves.

We looked at the salesman and said, "What the..." He said, Yeah, he took one home and couldn't put a bag of groceries in it.

We drove out of the dealership sadly proclaiming that a car without any room for anything can't possibly sell, and it didn't. What were they thinking?

My intention is to take out the top or whatever takes up the space where a trunk would ordinarily be and have someone fabricate a trunk. I can put the open, folded ragtop out in the open behind the seats, like older convertibles, or just take it off completely on dry days, and pray.

During the cold part of the year, I can take the hard top out of the garage and put it on the car for the season.

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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Covert » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:34 pm

Paul, 50/50 on what exactly? On it having a little sex appeal? Sex appeal doesn't require flash for me, if that's what you mean. A dark, brooding car with almost no chrome might have sex appeal for me.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Paul B. » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:46 pm

Covert wrote:Paul, 50/50 on what exactly? On it having a little sex appeal?

Yeah ... I mean, I find the diesel truck to be way more interesting than the race car just about every time. It's more my style.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:55 pm

That's funny, Paul, I would have imagined that you'd only drive a hybrid.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Covert » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:12 pm

Paul, I was actually biting my tongue. But Stuart brought it up. I didn't see you in a Diesel truck, either. Do you mean a pickup or an 18-wheeler, or something like that? When I think of truckers, though, Canadians are right up there. I live on the Adirondack Northway and see a zillion Canadian Truckers every day - and they look like tough guys.
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Paul B. » Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:06 am

Hybrids?

With grapes, sure ... but with cars, I dunno; they seem awfully cumbersome and expensive. I've always thought that the automotive diesel engine was one of the best pieces of machinery ever built. "Ol' Bessie" I used to call 'em ... "She ain't purdy, but dang, she can haul!" :lol:
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Re: Bon Vie in Detroit

Postby Paul B. » Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:08 am

Covert wrote:Do you mean a pickup or an 18-wheeler, or something like that?

Yeah, more of a pickup. I mean, they're not practical around town, but if you live out in the country, they can be saviours going back and forth into the city. Every time I go out of the city, I see lots of folks driving them and I think they make sense out there.
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