Behind every non-descript facade…
Do you ever watch television and see somewhere that you’ve been and jump up and down going “I’ve been there! I’ve done that! I ate that burger!” Just me? Surely not. Well, I had an interesting experience watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives recently, when Guy Fieri, the bleach blonde beast himself, rolled up outside the Traffic Jam & Snug near Wayne County University, Detroit. Detroit was the first city in America that I ever went to. It’s not usually considered a holiday destination, but there was a link, and then we made friends… It’s a long and wonderful story, but this is neither the time or the place. ANYWAY, not only am I a big fan of all things Motor City now, getting excited whenever I see the Red Wings or the Tigers play, I’m an even bigger fan of seeing things that I’ve actually visited. Last October, while travelling with a friend, we were taken by my friends in Detroit to the Traffic Jam & Snug, and, luckily for all of you beautiful people, we just so happened to take a picture of the food. Now, if you ignore the ginger beard, if you can work past the hoodie and the “look-how-much-meat-is-in-front-of-me” grin, you’ll see the special Traffic Jam Burger with a side of sweet potato fries.
This was about my fifth burger in the space of 72 hours, having previously sampled the culinary delights of Buffalo and Ann Arbor (I know it doesn’t work geographically, but that’s the way round it happened), and this wasn’t the biggest, it wasn’t the flashiest, but for pure cheeseburger it was money. Underneath the tomato on the top side of the bun was their special burger sauce, there was plenty of “swiss” cheese melted to perfection, and it really didn’t need anything else. I know I’ve spoken before about how a burger needed more, but in that example there was no sauce OR cheese. This was a good balance. The highlight of the meal, without a doubt, though, were the sweet potato “fries”. These chips were so delicious, I could have eaten another plateful there and then. I’ve experimented with sweet potato wedges before, to some degree of success, but honestly these crinkle-cut chips were on another level. Crispy on the outside, soft on the in… Dribbling down my best lumberjack shirt just thinking about it.
Another reason to visit the Snug is the microbrewery. I can’t remember if it was Detroit’s or Michigan’s first on-site microbrewery (a quick visit to their website will probably reveal that answer), but they make the finest IPA I tried in the States. We took a 6-pint jug of it back to my friend’s husband, and most of it was gone by the end of our card game that evening.
So the food is great, the beer is wonderful… I remember the service being slow, but certainly not lacking in welcome or charm. The inside of the place is done up to look like an old English hunting lodge, but I should point out that it is very much an American view of an old English hunting lodge. Anyone from Blighty is unlikely to step through those doors and think “good heavens, this is just like home”, but it’s fun and quirky in it’s own way. If you happen to passing through Michigan or Detroit, head here. I felt just as safe walking around this area of Detroit as I did walking through Chicago or New York, safer even as there were fewer people. Whatever you do, have the sweet potato fries.