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Name Opus One's bar, do lunch at Cliff Bell's and more



Write an Opus — When Tim Kokas opened Opus One in 1987, plenty of observers scoffed that a four-star restaurant tucked away on Larned Street wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't fly. But Kokas was no stranger to the business, and believed the luxurious eatery would be a smart gamble. For almost 24 years, he's been proving the doubters wrong. And, from July 29 through Aug. 22, he's asking the restaurant's guests to help brand the restaurant's bar in celebration. To participate, fill out a bar-naming entry form when you visit, with a maximum of three suggested bar names per visit. First prize is $500 and dinner for four, second prize is dinner for four, and third prize is dinner for two. Winners will be announced at Opus One's 24th anniversary party at 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 565 E. Larned St., Detroit; 313-961-7766.

Lunch Bell's — Downtown Detroit's Cliff Bell's keeps evolving. After adding a menu of food a few years ago to its menus of classic cocktails and live music, new changes are afoot: Starting this coming week, the joint will be open for lunch, with a special lunch menu. It all starts at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, and lunch will be served 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The new menu from chef Matt Baldridge includes barbecue-braised beef short ribs, roasted chilled salmon nicoise, smoky bacon and pear salad, angel hair primavera and more. What's more, stay for their new happy hour, 4-7 p.m., and enjoy drink specials that include 50-cent pints of PBR. (You heard right.) Cliff Bell's is at 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-961-2543;

Dig in! — We like to poke fun at commemorative designations — such as National Baked Beans Month. But the folks at Buca di Beppo give us a reason to value National Lasagna Day on July 28: Dine-in guests who purchase any large pasta or entrée will receive a free lunch-sized portion of lasagna at no additional cost. Locations in Utica (12575 Hall Rd.; 586-803-9463) and Livonia (38888 Six Mile Rd.; 734-462-6442); for more info see

Revel with a cause — Join like-minded revelers at BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon in Royal Oak to raise funds to fight domestic violence. Funds raised from wristbands will go to aid HAVEN, Oakland County's center for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence and sexual assault. You buy a wristband for $5 and get free appetizers and $2 off you-call-it drinks until 9 p.m. Prizes include a $50 BlackFinn gift card. It happens 7-9 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at 530 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-582-9460;

Truckin' — The latest dining addition to the Greektown area is the El Guapo Fresh Mexican Grill taco truck. Often parked at the corner of Randolph and Monroe, it offers one more option for downtown's office workers. Roll on over.

Know of any upcoming food and wine events, new restaurants or gardening news? Let us know! E-mail [email protected] or call 313-202-8043.

food/thought  Not a new book, but a classic, Carol Field's James Beard Award-winning The Italian Baker is a must-have for any serious baker. The array of breads and pastries shown on the cover are sure to trigger a desire to bake. Field traveled the Italian countryside, working with artisanal bakers and gathering recipes she has adapted for American kitchens, using locally available ingredients. Be sure to read about biga, the fermented starter used in many rustic Italian breads. Try the regional breads and celebration breads, focaccia, savory croissants, tarts, cakes and cookies. 

bottoms up  The caipirinha and mojito are the darlings of today's cocktail scene. We like them both, but the mojito can be a chore to make and the caipirinha's simplicity tends to grow tedious. That's when we turn to a pisco sour. With straightforward preparation, and Chilean brandy a little more exotic than usual, they go down in a hurry. Make one by combining 2 ounces Pisco brandy, 1 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, a dash of Angostura bitters, and one-half an egg white. Shake with cracked ice and double strain into a chilled glass.

the works  At first blush, covered ice cube trays may sound unnecessary, a waste of money. Don't rush to judgment. The lids on these stackable trays prevent spillage on the way to the freezer, and make removal of a few cubes possible without dropping out more cubes than you need. The clear lid shows how many are left. Perhaps the most important aspect is keeping out the odors that emanate from other foods in the freezer. We have also used them to freeze cubes of homemade pesto, baby food and fruit juice. They're $4.99 at

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