Mae’s is the Metro Detroit insider’s breakfast joint. Feel it as soon as the doors open to a sunlit sea of turquoise chairs. It is homey, but the funky salt and pepper shakers, chalkboard menus and the vintage posters are clear signs that reality has been replaced by the world of brunch.
Their hearty menu satisfies early morning cravings with six types of eggs benedict and five types of breakfast skillets. The skillets use redskin potatoes roasted in olive oil, sea salt, garlic and rosemary, crowned with two eggs made to order. Choose poached or sunny-side up eggs because delicate shiny yolks oozing over each potato is love.
Mae’s lunch menu french fries are made from fresh potatoes prepped in their kitchen. Each thick fry explodes with starchy goodness. The potato skin slivers on each end leave a fleeting crisp that is insatiably addicting. The fries at most restaurants come from frozen bags with questionable origins. Their Idaho potatoes come from Michigan farmers and they take great pride in purchasing from as many local vendors as possible, like Great Lakes Coffee and Guernsey Dairy.
Homemade fries are one of many examples of how Mae’s cares about the craft of a good meal. When I hadn’t touched the blue cheese dressing that came with the Portland sandwich, Jason Green, Mae’s manager, earnestly asked me to try it because he personally made it from scratch.
He said Mae’s makes all their dressing, except the Italian. The blue cheese dressing was a sharply cooling complement to the sandwich, made with chicken tenders hand-breaded in finely ground Cap’n Crunch cereal, and spiced with fiery Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.
The Cap’n Crunch was a subtly sweet departure from traditional panko or flour breading. Cap’n Crunch is known for being a sickly sweet children’s cereal, but Mae’s perfected the right amount of sugar in a spicy savory sandwich.
It is obligatory to order the aebelskievers, Mae’s famous Scandinavian pancakes, that are spherical orbs of cooked batter. Jessica Lundgren, Mae’s owner, grew up eating this Nordic specialty. Mae’s cannot reveal the ingredients, but they disclosed the cooking method. Aebelskiever batter is dropped into a heated cast iron skillet using a miniature ice cream scoop. The oil coating the skillet creates the orb’s hardened puffed crust. The pancakes are served with either strawberries or raspberries in syrup. The tart raspberries have the sting necessary to cut through the heavy batter sweetened with powdered sugar and whipped cream. The best addition in my opinion is to ask for a side of smoked bacon, which is served thickly cut.
Mae’s chose to specialize as a brunch joint because people like breakfast, but they want to eat it at different times of the day. This is a breakfast place where the atmosphere is as authentic as the cinnamon and vanilla used in their Challah French Toast.
You can find the website for Mae’s here and their address is 24060 Woodward Ave. in Pleasant Ridge.
All photos by Nick Hagen.