Great ready for another fun new series on CLA! This series is all about things happening around Detroit & the surrounding areas. Conveniently it’s going to be called “Around Town“. I’ve vow’d to myself to be more of a tourist of my hometown this summer and I’m hoping to bring all of you the down-low of what’s fun/ new and worth seeing in the area!
Starting off this new series is a fun trip towards the north-east side to Royal Oak. Myself and a fun group of bloggers hit up Blaze Pizza (Opened October 2013) to give it a try.
Blaze pizza is the brain-child of Executive Chef Bradford (Brad) Kent, a man that grew up with a passion for food. Kent started cooking at the wee age of seven and quickly learned that food was more than just ingredients thrown together. We were told that his natural talent quickly evolved from dorm room creations at the University of Southern California to his first small plate catering company. Kent later went on to study at the culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and then studies at Cal State Long Beach earning a food science degree. So basically this guy knows his
Darla, the Marketing Director for Blaze in Royal Oak told us that the company is super proud of their penchant for not only healthy, quality, fresh ingredients but also for their dough. We were told that their dough ferments for over 24 hours before being put to use. Then it’s rolled out, topped and thrown in the oven for 180 seconds (yep, 180 seconds… crazy fast!) before being pulled out, sliced and delivered to you.
The pizza dough here is a thin crust, making it quick to cook. Kent’s whole idea behind blaze was not only giving his customers a quality delicious, CUSTOM pizza, but giving them a pizza that they could order and eat on their lunch hour. Speaking of custom pizzas, one of the biggest winning points about blaze for myself was the ability to customize your pizza in smorgasbord of different ways all for $6.95 a pie. Yep, that’s right. There are no additional fees for 20+ ingredients. It’s unlimited ingredients, your way, all for $6.95.
But enough about the pitch stuff. Lets talk about my experience.
Being the over anal person that I have then tendency to be, I showed up WAY early to the event and was the first person to arrive. This worked for me because it gave me the chance to really check out the place and chat with Darla before anyone else showed up!
One of the biggest things for me with restaurants is BRANDING. And I’m pleased to say Blaze totally passed my branding test. From the exterior to the bathrooms the restaurant kept to a modern industrial theme with high integration of typography. Below are samples of the to-go pizza boxes & menu.
The interior of the restaurant was definitely industrial & modern with the wood and metal mix of the tables, chairs & benches. The lighting was fun industrial lights in mural colors on the outside and fun pops of red on the inside. Right now Michigan has two locations in Royal Oak and Novi (with one coming soon to Kalamazoo), and this location had a private room up front for events. The wall of windows even open up for the classic RO restaurant feel during the warmer days.
Once we arrived we strapped on wristband (showing we were part of a special party) and hopped into line. Blaze has some signature pizzas on it’s menu with fun names such as the Meat Eater, Art Lover, Link In and Green Stripe. All looked very appetizing but I felt like being my own chef and decided to Build My Own.
The best way I could describe the building process is to say it’s very Chipotle-like. You start at one end with a staff member and choose your dough. Blaze has gluten-free dough available and they are quick to find out if your choice of the dough is for allergy reasons or a preference. Which is great, because those with allergies know that even the slightest mistake could ruin your perfectly good afternoon. Once you pick your dough and give your name you’re passed down to the next staff member to choose your sauce and cheese. (Another item to point out is that it’s great that once person doesn’t do all the pizzas, thus keeping any allergens separate for those allergic.)
Just like with the sauce and cheese after choosing your options you’re passed onto the meat station and then onto the veggie station. I should also mention that at each station the staff member made sure to call you by your name. Which at first was weird, but is definitely a nice touch after the first time.
Blaze also has a nice selection of salads near the checkout and I grabbed a small caesar to taste test. Once you get to check out they ring you up and offer you a smores cookie for dessert. GET ONE. And have them warm it for you by the oven (Note: maybe get the cookie after you eat and have it warmed, because it tends to cool down while you’re eating.)
You wait all of maybe 3-5 minutes for your pizza to cook. Those ovens are gunning anywhere from 400-600 degrees on any given day, talk about HOT!
They call out your name when it’s pulled from the oven. And your handed your very own pizza. Pretty much maybe 10 minutes after you get in line. SUPER FAST.
I was so hungry at this point I almost forgot to take pictures. But don’t worry! I caught myself after I saw others making sure to get their shot!
Delicious looking isn’t it? Well It tasted even better than it looked. I’m pretty much a huge fan of thin crust pizza, but this was definitely by far some of the better thin crust I’ve had in a long time. The outside crust was crunchy enough that it held up the weight of the ingredients, but not overly crunchy that you broke a tooth just trying to get a bite. The dough was sweet, and flavorful and divine!
Before I knew it more than half my pizza was gone! I swear someone was stealing my slices. I definitely couldn’t have eaten all that myself, right? I tried the salad and was please that it tasted fresh and the caesar was one of the dressings I liked. But the star of the show was definitely the pizza and the crust.
Suddenly I found myself with only two slices left and I made myself put down the rest so I’d have something for lunch later this week. Plus I still had my cookie to try.
I thought the cookie was pretty good, but I wish I had eaten it earlier, because it and cooled down by this point and was a bit harder to bite into.
One of the bloggers attending had gluten allergies and made a custom gluten free pizza. Once we had all started eating the staff brought out more of their signature pizza pies for us to try. They also made sure to bring out a gluten-free version to compare. I was so impressed that the gluten-free version was so similar to the regular that I found it hard to distinguish the two. Can you?
Because of her allergy this blogger couldn’t eat the smokes cookie that contained graham cracker. She mentioned (along with others) that Blaze should server dessert pizzas as well and the staff graciously offered to make her a dessert pizza. In fact they made dessert pizzas for everyone. This is an item totally not on their menu, but they were so eager to please and make sure that we were satisfied that they went above and beyond. Behold, the very first Smores Dessert Pizza from Blaze Pizza in Royal Oak.
I basically wanted my own. But, I shared. #stupidmorals. I doubt they’d make these for just anyone, but maybe if they get enough feedback they’ll add it to the menu??
Overall we had a really great time. A HUGE shoutout to Chef Kent, Darla, Jeff & Tim for making us feel oh so welcome and for the wonderful meal. I will most definitely be back for more.
And here’s the kicker… Not only will *I* be back for more… but a few of you will be headed to Blaze pizza for a free Pizza Pie of your own! Courtesy of Blaze Royal Oak, 3 winners are going to win a pair (that’s two ;)) of free pizza coupons to Blaze Pizza Royal Oak! And ONE lucky winner will win a pair of Free Pizza Coupons AND a Free Blaze hat! Just like the one Chef Bradford Kent is wearing below. Great date night out spot!
To enter to win a pair of Blaze Pizza Coupons just click the link below (it’ll jump you over to Rafflecopter). Giveaway is open until Tuesday April 15th 11:59PM and the Winners will be announced Wednesday! You can enter daily! Good luck!!
Until next time,
** I was offered a free meal to test out Blaze Pizza in Royal Oak without the expectation of a post or social media integration. All opinions are my own. Giveaway made possible by Blaze Pizza in Royal Oak**