Black Lotus is a little brewpub at the corner of 14 Mile and Main Street in downtown Clawson. I’ve been going to this place since it opened about six years ago and it’s been interesting to watch evolve. When it opened, they had no food, just beer. They eventually added some little panini grills behind the bar and started making sandwiches. Over time, the pub entered a golden age of tasty thin crust pizza, and they even had a Chicago style hot dog! However, the changes kept coming. A remodel resulted in a real kitchen (good) and the menu has been updated repeatedly (bad). The sandwiches are still very good, but the pizza and hotdogs are long gone.
The beer has been the one constant throughout all of the other changes. They usually have six different styles on tap and rotate through seasonal and special brews, as well as their standard fare. My perennial favorite is the Detroit Hip Hops, an American Pale Ale that is consistently tasty, reasonably hoppy, and is usually on tap. The other styles can be hit or miss. I’ve liked their occasionally brewed ESB and Black IPA styles, but some of their lighter beers strike me as notably bland. On a recent visit, I had a White Wheat Session Ale that could be described as crisp and refreshing, but so could a cold glass of water. The last couple of years, they have been making a Birthday Beer around the anniversary of their opening, and I liked it previously, but this year it has a distinctly “off” bitter flavor. I usually like bitter, I am a huge IPA fan, but this is not a good bitter and the flavor just doesn’t work.
I was going to order a BLT (have been very good on previous visits) for lunch on this trip, but was tempted by their special of Lobster Mac & Cheese. I was a bit surprised by the large bowl I was served. It was pretty good, but did not wow me. There were a good number of langoustine chunks, but I would have liked it to be a bit richer in the cheese department. I think they try to get fancy with their food offerings, but can’t quite pull it off. My wife ordered their soup of the day, which was some sort of roast pepper tomato something or other. It was way to thick, and she said it was like eating tomato paste.
So, in summary, the place is not perfect but I will continue to visit on occasion. I will however stick to the old standbys I know they do well. So, it will be Pale Ale and sandwiches for me.