|© J. Adrian Wylie|
by Jenna Dixon
You can call yourself a roadhouse, but that doesn't make you one. On the other hand, the Northfield Roadhouse could call itself the Automat, but it would still be a roadhouse. For decades, the unassuming cinder-block building on North Territorial Road, within spitting distance of US-23, has been both a destination for the local citizenry and a way station for travelers heading north or south. In its old incarnation as the Whitmore Lake Roadhouse, it was a part of Michigan's music history. Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5 was a regular there, as was Scott Morgan, plus a host of other artists and bands. Today it's under new
management, and it's where you want to go for a smoky, gritty, townie-style, biker-infused night of brews, grease, and blues.
This is also a restaurant see Bix Engels's review, p. 50 so plan on getting there early and hungry, and then stay for the band. Hell, I guess you could just move in. The waitresses won't mind. The night we went, when it was March, wet and cold, our waitress warmly called me "Hon." At least I think she did. If she didn't, she was thinking it.
I don't believe any designers were hired to work on the interior of the Northfield Roadhouse. There are no shelves holding knickknacks and fake-old beer steins. There are no racks of pretend books, nor do I recall any plants. No one stopped us and asked how many were in our party. No one said, "I'll be your server tonight." People smoked and
drank proudly. They were loud. They looked as if they'd been living on the planet for longer than nineteen years. Damn, it was refreshing.
The man in charge of the food was, as it turns out, the man we'd come to see play that Sunday night: Chef Chris. Known throughout the Detroit area and far beyond for his high-octane bluesmanship and his ace Nairobi Trio,
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