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  • Post #31 - August 10th, 2009, 6:39 pm
    Post #31 - August 10th, 2009, 6:39 pm Post #31 - August 10th, 2009, 6:39 pm
    The original Fricano's pizzeria in Grand Haven serves one of the best wafer thin pizzas in the business. Very unique. It is the only one of the group that is able for some unknown reason to serve a very crispy pizza. All the rest of their restaurant/pizzerias (owned by other family members) serve a tasty, but soft, limp and often soggy pizza that is no where as good as the original Grand Haven location. On weekends in the summer, the Grand Haven location often has customers waiting in line outside the door to get into their rather large restaurant. And they don't even have air conditioning, which is a rarity in this day and age, especially with their real hot deck ovens which are in full view from the restaurant tables. But die-hard Fricano lovers are willing to forego the comfort of air conditioning for a great crispy pizza meal served only at the original Grand Haven location.

    I heard a lot of good things about Mr. Scribs in Grand Haven, too, but have yet to try them. Will have to do so soon, except when in town it's hard to pass up dining at Fricano's.
  • Post #32 - August 11th, 2009, 11:01 am
    Post #32 - August 11th, 2009, 11:01 am Post #32 - August 11th, 2009, 11:01 am
    Oh brother, now I have a real dilemma. I prefer a crispy crust, so it sounds like the original Fricano's Grand Haven location is the one I have to try. But my problem is that one of the best hamburger joints I have ever eaten at is in Muskegon - The Station Grill and if I am remotely close to Muskegon, I must go there. In addition, I like to get a piece of pie at Grand Travese Pie Company in Norton Shores. Hands down some of the best pie I've ever had. How would I have room for pizza?! :o

    The Station Grill
    910 W Broadway
    Muskegon, MI 49441
    (231) 759-0633
    http://www.stationgrill.com/index.html

    Grand Traverse Pie Company
    Numerous locations in Michigan and Indiana
    http://www.gtpie.com/index.php
  • Post #33 - August 20th, 2009, 11:52 pm
    Post #33 - August 20th, 2009, 11:52 pm Post #33 - August 20th, 2009, 11:52 pm
    I visited my sister-in-law in Grand Rapids recently. Unfortunately, she mostly eats cheese, crackers and popcorn. When we visit, we randomly select some pizza joint out of the yellow pages and it's usually a miss. This year she was ready for us with a recommendation.

    The Nantucket Baking Company is a bakery that also sells pizza. Makes sense to me. It's a little storefront on a one-way street in the middle of a residential area. If you don't know where you're going, it would be tough to find. Plus, with the one-way streets, you end up going five blocks out of your way if you miss your turn.

    We didn't get any of their breads or sweets, but the pizza was great. You can get the pizzas fully baked or partially baked. This came in handy as we had a mix-up and didn't want to wait around while our second pizza cooked. We ordered one partially baked and finished at home while we ate pizza number one.

    1/2 cheese, 1/2 Red Devil (pepperoni, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, roasted red pepper and parmesan cheese)

    Image

    Image

    As you can see, the crust is thin, sufficiently browned with a light dusting of cornmeal. It was slightly crispy, yet chewy, and it held up well while eating out of hand. The sauce had a good amount of spice, and although there wasn't a ton of mozzarella, it didn't need it. The pepperoni was tasty and not overly spicy.

    Pizza number two - Stinking Rose (double whole garlic, fresh mushrooms, tomatoes and parmesan cheese)

    Image

    The pizza looks a little beat up because I slid it in and out of the oven with the aid of the box since my sister-in-law has no kitchen tools to speak of.

    Image

    I baked this pizza for slightly longer than they did at the store, so the crust was a bit crisper. This pizza was pretty darn good, but you gotta love garlic.

    I would definately recommend Nantucket for their pizza. While waiting, I watched people come in for their orders of bread. It looks like they have a pretty regular clientel with standing orders. I definately will go back next time I'm in GR and next time I'll try the sourdough bread that I've read rave reveiws about.

    http://www.nantucketbakingco.com/
    208 Union NE
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503
    Phone (616) 726-6609
    Ms. Ingie
    Life is too short, why skip dessert?
  • Post #34 - August 24th, 2009, 8:22 am
    Post #34 - August 24th, 2009, 8:22 am Post #34 - August 24th, 2009, 8:22 am
    BTB wrote:The original Fricano's pizzeria in Grand Haven serves one of the best wafer thin pizzas in the business. Very unique. It is the only one of the group that is able for some unknown reason to serve a very crispy pizza. All the rest of their restaurant/pizzerias (owned by other family members) serve a tasty, but soft, limp and often soggy pizza that is no where as good as the original Grand Haven location.


    I had a pizza at Fricano's in Grand Haven earlier this summer. It was very good but the crust was anything but crispy -- more like almost impossible to pick up, it was so paper thin. This is a good thing in my book, as I don't especially care for a cracker-crisp crust, so not complaining, just saying the pizza I was served was pretty much the opposite of what you describe.
  • Post #35 - August 24th, 2009, 9:08 am
    Post #35 - August 24th, 2009, 9:08 am Post #35 - August 24th, 2009, 9:08 am
    Train wrote:
    BTB wrote:The original Fricano's pizzeria in Grand Haven serves one of the best wafer thin pizzas in the business. Very unique. It is the only one of the group that is able for some unknown reason to serve a very crispy pizza. All the rest of their restaurant/pizzerias (owned by other family members) serve a tasty, but soft, limp and often soggy pizza that is no where as good as the original Grand Haven location.


    I had a pizza at Fricano's in Grand Haven earlier this summer. It was very good but the crust was anything but crispy -- more like almost impossible to pick up, it was so paper thin. This is a good thing in my book, as I don't especially care for a cracker-crisp crust, so not complaining, just saying the pizza I was served was pretty much the opposite of what you describe.
    Uh oh! :lol: Now what do I do? I was thinking about making to trip to Grand Haven, but maybe I'll just ask for a well done pizza at the Holland location? I'll be in Michigan for the Labor Day weekend.
  • Post #36 - August 24th, 2009, 5:43 pm
    Post #36 - August 24th, 2009, 5:43 pm Post #36 - August 24th, 2009, 5:43 pm
    We're back from our fabulous and relaxing week in Saugatuck and I want to thank everyone for their comments, suggestions and recommendations. We didn't get out for too many meals because the house where we stayed had a nice kitchen, as well as a charcoal grill. We'd brought some meats from home and shopped at the Saugatuck GreenMarket on Friday and Monday for some terrific produce . . .

    Image
    Radishes at the Saugatuck GreenMarket

    A few places we did hit for meals . . .

    Elbo Room
    Probably my favorite place we ate and the only place we ate more than once. Both brunches we had here were delicious and well-prepared, and the picturesque setting -- along the Kalamazoo River -- could not be nicer. Offerings ranged from all sorts of decadent benedict dishes to egg white & veggie omelettes, pancakes, quesadillas, pizzas, as well as a substantial list of burgers and other sandwiches. I really appreciated the 1 whole egg/2 whites combination they refer to as "pastel." On one day we tried the 'regular' pancakes, which were really good. Another time we had the buckwheat pancakes, which were dotted with locally-grown dried tart cherries -- awesome.

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    Benedict on house-made biscuits with sausage and sausage gravy (cannot remember this dish's exact name)


    Pizza Mambo
    Enjoyable, tasty pizza which had chewy crust with a pleasant bit of crunch to it. Toppings and cheese were of very good quality. I also really enjoyed the 'Heroine' sandwich, which is a glorious, multi-meat beauty served on bread created from their pizza dough and garnished with freshly grated parmesan and spinach pesto. The bread had a very satisfying density to it, without being too heavy and the sandwich itself was sublime overkill. A house salad comprised of fresh greens and vegetables, and garnished with tender garbanzo beans, also delivered.

    Image
    'Heroine' at Pizza Mambo


    Everyday People Cafe
    I didn't really love our one meal here. Overall, I found the food pretty bland and sloppily prepared. Risotto had pools of grease floating atop it. Pork belly and egg sandwich had very little pork belly and the flavors just weren't there.

    Image
    Risotto with corn, asparagus and shrimp at Everyday People Cafe


    Wally's
    Enjoyable spot (we sat outside) with food which fully met but didn't really exceed my expectations. Perch sandwiches (served on hamburger-type buns) were just fine but they didn't blow me away. House-made chips were good but the 'salsa' served with them was really bland, and the tiny plastic cup of guacamole for an extra $4 made me feel like a tourist-rube. It was the only time during our entire week in Saugatuck I felt like I'd been taken advantage of on pricing.


    Image
    Chips, salsa and guacamole at Wally's


    Kalico Kitchen
    I really liked the 'old skool' diner-like vibe of this place and the fact that most of the food was handmade. Pancakes and biscuits were utterly amazing and I loved the fact that the brats were made in house but they -- and several other items we tried (fried chicken, meatloaf, gravies) -- were incredibly salty.


    Image
    Biscuits at Kalico Kitchen


    Phil's
    I really enjoyed Phil's, where for my money, the fried perch sandwich (served on a Gonnella-like sausage roll) easily trumped the one served at Wally's. Portabella Fries were crispy but still completely tasted like the delicious mushrooms with which they were made, and homemade chips and salsa were really good. The salsa -- a pico de gallo-like concoction -- while not very spicy, showcased some great local produce. I also appreciated the fact that a bourbon other than Jim Beam or Maker's Mark was available. I ordered a Knob Creek (not my favorite but still very nice) and the pour was generous. Service was excellent and very friendly.


    Image
    Chips and salsa at Phil's


    Wild Dog Grille
    We had Sunday brunch here and the Bloody Mary, which was spicy and included a very nice pickle and a blue cheese-stuffed olive, was excellent. Fried calamari was crispy, not greasy and perfectly executed. Bean and rice soup was a bit heavy-handed with the seasoning but still good. Sandwich of grilled chicken with bacon and avocado was less than the sum of its parts, as was the burger, which looked and smelled great but was overcooked (relative to how we ordered it) and had very little flavor.


    Image
    Bloody Mary at Wild Dog Grille

    Taqueria Azteca
    We stumbled upon this place after seeing a movie in Holland on a rainy day and ordered a bunch of tacos, which were all served on house-made corn tortillas (flour is also available). Carnitas, Lengua and Carne Asada were my 3 favorites (in that order). Al Pastor, Picadillo and Chorizo I probably wouldn't order again. 2 spicy salsas -- one red, one green -- were served, too and they were both great.


    Image
    Taco assortment at Taqueria Azteca

    As has been mentioned numerous times upthread, this is not necessarily a place you go for the food. But still, our food experiences in the Saugatuck area were pretty good and compared to other Chicagoland getaways like Lake Geneva, WI, it was 10 times better. Oh, and the scenery was beautiful, too . . .

    Image
    Sunset where the Kalamazoo River touches Lake Michigan

    =R=

    Saugatuck Greenmarket
    400 Culver St
    Saugatuck, MI 49453
    Mondays 3pm - 8pm
    Fridays 8am - 2pm

    Elbo Room
    880 Holland St
    Saugatuck, MI 49453
    (269) 857-8646

    Pizza Mambo
    3465 Blue Star Hwy
    Saugatuck, MI 49453
    (269) 857-4400

    Everyday People Cafe
    11 W Center St
    Douglas, MI 49406
    (269) 857-4240

    Wally's
    128 Hoffman St
    Saugatuck, MI 49453
    (269) 857-5641

    Kalico Kitchen
    312 Ferry St
    Douglas, MI 49406
    (269) 857-2678

    Phil's Bar and Grill
    215 Butler St
    Saugatuck, MI 49453
    (269) 857-1555

    Wild Dog Grille
    24 Center St.
    Douglas, MI 49406
    (269) 857-2519

    Taqueria Azteca
    2027 N Park Dr
    Holland, MI 49424
    (616) 355-7804
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #37 - August 27th, 2009, 4:55 pm
    Post #37 - August 27th, 2009, 4:55 pm Post #37 - August 27th, 2009, 4:55 pm
    Train wrote:I had a pizza at Fricano's in Grand Haven earlier this summer. It was very good but the crust was anything but crispy -- more like almost impossible to pick up, it was so paper thin. This is a good thing in my book, as I don't especially care for a cracker-crisp crust, so not complaining, just saying the pizza I was served was pretty much the opposite of what you describe.

    That's disappointing to hear. Kind of like my experience at all except the Grand Haven Fricano's location. But things change all the time, I guess. I'll remember to order the pizza "crisp" or well done the next time I'm at the Grand Haven Fricano's in the hope they return to making it right. I've tried ordering such at the Holland location (Fricano's Too), but it's never been very crispy even ordering it that way there.
  • Post #38 - October 25th, 2009, 4:41 pm
    Post #38 - October 25th, 2009, 4:41 pm Post #38 - October 25th, 2009, 4:41 pm
    Jonathan and I love the Saugatuck area, but haven't made it there for the last several years due to other travel and obligations here in Chicago. Remedied that this weekend! It's such a great get-away. We always stay with Keith and Sue at the Sherwood Forest Bed and Breakfast and have never had anything less than a stellar experience there. Quiet location, but close to the lake and close enough to shops/restaurants. Great breakfasts too - Sat.'s main dish was homemade veggie quiche and Sunday's a wonderful cinnamon-spiked apple pancake.

    Friday dinner was Phil's - deserving of all the praise above. I loved my Walleye entree with a wholegrain Dijon sauce and red-skinned mashed potatoes. Jonathan went with the pork entree special and thoroughly enjoyed it. Nice wine list and good beers on tap. Packed and a little loud, but it has a festive vibe and service kept up well.

    Saturday morning we headed to Holland to check out the farmer's market, despite the clouds, drizzle of rain, and cool temps. No pics, but I bought some wonderful cracker bread and a box of mini gourds for $1.

    Image


    Image


    The lousy weather gave us a great excuse for hanging out at New Holland Brewing Co and downing a few afternoon beers. I went with their "Full Circle" and found it quite enjoyable. Here's how they describe it:
    "A kölsch-style beer, Full Circle is a refreshing celebration of our brewery’s belief in balance. The soft, well-rounded malt character, light hop profile and crisp finish bring us back around to the familiar tastes of classic, thirst-quenching beer."

    After doing our part to help stimulate Saugatuck's economy in their shops, grabbing a pick-me-up coffee at Uncommon Grounds, and resting a bit back at the inn, we were ready for dinner. Based on a recommendation from Keith and another couple at the inn who dined there on Friday night, we went with Salt of the Earth in Fennville. This spot used to be the Journeyman Cafe. We left very impressed. Warm colors, wood floors, exposed brick walls, fresh flowers on the tables... Lots of local beers and wines, along with an eclectic and interesting cocktail list were available. We shared a fresh organic greens salad with a housemade balsamic vinaigrette, foccacia croutons, and shaved Parmesan. For $4 per person, it was served family style and was "bottomless." Nice homemade breads were brought to the table with butter, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. They sell their whole breads in a small retail and coffee shop in the front of the restaurant as well. Jonathan had a baked pasta entree with fresh mozzarella and spicy Itailian sausage. I had a special of sea scallops "cassoulet-style" with flagoulet beans. This dish was the essance of Fall - really earthy and rich. Service was informed and friendly.

    We took the scenic route home and stopped for lunch at GNR Stop 50. Wow, just awesome. Jonathan had their Sausage with a sourdough crust. I went with the Mushroom on a whole wheat crust.
    Image
    LTH sign proudly displayed at the entrance. I was able to chat with the Chef/owner a bit and he mentioned that he uses the site himself when looking for great spots to eat in the City.
    All in all, a fabulous weekend! I'll just be hitting the treadmill pretty hard this week... :wink:

    Sherwood Forest Bed and Breakfast
    http://www.sherwoodforestbandb.com/
    We LOVE the Log Cabin Suite!

    New Holland Brewing Company
    http://www.newhollandbrew.com/

    Salt of the Earth
    http://www.saltoftheearthfennville.com/
  • Post #39 - January 23rd, 2010, 6:37 am
    Post #39 - January 23rd, 2010, 6:37 am Post #39 - January 23rd, 2010, 6:37 am
    One place to miss for BarBQ is Hiway 31 BarBQue. Breakfast menu looked ok but the barbque was terrible. You can only order a chopped sandwich and the sandwich is loaded with mustard. On a positive note the the ice tea was good.
    Find good food and eat it.
    Sapatero
  • Post #40 - January 23rd, 2010, 6:42 am
    Post #40 - January 23rd, 2010, 6:42 am Post #40 - January 23rd, 2010, 6:42 am
    We stopped on the way up at the New Holland Brewing company for lunch and it was great. We split a charcuterie plate for an appetizer and it had very good flatbread, garlicky french bread, salami, cheese, very good ham and spiced olives. Very good. My lunch was a pork belly sandwich and my better had the vegetarian sandwich. Both were excellent. Beer was good and we tested the malted whiskey made there and it is worth revisiting in the future. A good place.
    Find good food and eat it.
    Sapatero
  • Post #41 - July 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
    Post #41 - July 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm Post #41 - July 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
    Just back from a very spontaneous (as in, we decided at 1:00 on Sunday and hit the road at 2:00) couple of days in Grand Rapids/Saugatuck and thought I'd provide a quick update on things. Due to our last minute planning and desire to use some Marriott reward points, we decided to stay in Grand Rapids for the two nights which turned out to be quite nice.

    Arrived into town at around 6:30 and wanted something light and refreshing within walking distance of the hotel (JW Marriott on the river). Decided on Charley's Crab--YES, a chain, but not a bad one (have been to one of their locations on St. Armands Key in Sarasota, now closed I think...). Anyway, had a very nice meal. Started with the complimentary basket of puffy/crunchy crust bread (mmmm...) and lavash crackers accompanied by a terrific smoked fish (salmon?) spread. I opted for daily special app's for my meal--a lovely lobster salad with a truffle vinaigrette and some saffron grilled shrimp over a chorizo/fennel cake (think latke!). Both were quite nice-sized portions and, along with the multiple skewers of blue cheese and anchovy hand stuffed olives our server kept dropping off to me for my "martini", made for the perfect lite meal. SO chose a fresh caesar salad (more anchovies for moi) and cedar plank grilled salmon with gorgeous asparagus.

    Off to Saugatuck early the next morning to spend the day. Started with brunch at the Elbo Room. Unfortunately, after sitting at our table for over an hour, I still cannot provide a report because we NEVER GOT ANY FOOD!!! Such a shame too. They were busy but not ridiculously so (we only waited 5 minutes to be seated) and there wasn't a "line" or anything like that. Just terribly disorganized. our server AND a water pitcher toting gentleman both stopped by regularly to say they didn't know why our order was taking so long and up to about the 45 minute mark, we kept assuring them it was ok since we weren't in a rush. After an hour though, I finally went and found a manager up at the front and asked what was up. She said, "sorry" but the server didn't put our order in correctly (which was for a breakfast quesadilla and some french toast w/fruit by the way) and it would be a few more minutes. SO was over it and didn't want to wait any more so off we went. :(

    Next stop--Phil's. So now it is lunch time and we're definitely hungry! Seated immediately outside on the little side annex patio and our server promptly appeared, recommended a few things and took our order. Broasted chicken for SO, turkey reuben with mustard(hold the dressing) for me. Success!! My reuben was exceptionally delicious with fresh and thickly carved smoked turkey and tangy sauerkraut. Loved th coated (broasted?) potatoes as well. SO's broasted chicken was phenomenal. As hungry as he was, he still took home enough to provide dinner that night. Elbo Room's loss was definitely OUR gain :P

    Dinner that night for me (SO wasn't about to share his broasted chicken leftovers!!!!) was a pulled chicken sandwich at the Grand Rapids Whitecaps game --and it wasn't bad. It actually came on a fresh Kaiser roll, sauce free (!!) and I chose to add a touch of frank's hot sauce mixed with one of several BBQ sauce offerings. Hit the spot!

    Up the next morning--took a drive through Holland but not having seen any rave reviews for breakfast spots, continued on to Kalico Kitchen. Perfectly fine breakfast of eggs over easy with ham for me and well done hashbrowns for SO. Cute spot--probably wouldn't seek it out again but it was fine for what it was.

    All in all, a lovely couple of days exploring and a "thanks" to all of you who served as our posting guides. As always, it was much appreciated!

    Charley's Crab
    63 Market Avenue Southwest
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503-4027
    (616) 459-2500

    Elbo Room (see previous post)

    Phil's (see previous post)

    Fifth Third Ballpark - 4500 West River Drive, Comstock Park, MI 49321

    Kalico Kitchen (see previous post)
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #42 - July 8th, 2010, 7:10 am
    Post #42 - July 8th, 2010, 7:10 am Post #42 - July 8th, 2010, 7:10 am
    A few Grand Rapids recs:

    Republic and it's 3 sister restaurants:



    The Greenwell:



    Corez for old school cocktails:



    Leo's:



    and as previously mentioned Nantucket bakery:



    enjoy!
  • Post #43 - July 8th, 2010, 7:17 am
    Post #43 - July 8th, 2010, 7:17 am Post #43 - July 8th, 2010, 7:17 am
    I highly recommend Bit of Swiss if you are driving by the St. Joseph, Michigan area. The quality of the breads & pastries is similar to what you would find at Saint Roger Abbey.
  • Post #44 - July 18th, 2010, 4:29 pm
    Post #44 - July 18th, 2010, 4:29 pm Post #44 - July 18th, 2010, 4:29 pm
    Great stuff again at Taqueria Azteca in Holland this week . . .

    Image
    Taqueria Azteca - 2027 North Park Drive, Holland, MI

    Image
    Trio of Tacos on soft corn tortillas - (left to right) Lengua, Carnitas and Carne Asada

    I especially enjoyed the tender lengua and the carne asada with its crispy-charred edges. The carnitas were also very tasty but a touch drier than I prefer them. I was also pleased that I was asked this time if I wanted onions and cilantro or lettuce, tomato and cheese. The picture shows which I chose. I'd go back here in a heartbeat (and probably will). Salsas -- a fiery red (arbol?) and a zippy green (tomatillo?) -- both packed a punch in the flavor and heat departments. Service was friendly and there was a genuine sense of pride conveyed by all the employees (owners?) with whom we interacted.

    Regarding the previously discussed Elbo Room, which was one of my favorites last time I visited, I found it really disappointing this time around. The menu has been rationalized, service was spotty (even though it wasn't particularly busy) and the food was not very good. Hollandaise sauce tasted flat-out weird (could this now be a from a mix?) and nothing really popped for me. It has gone from the only place we visited twice last time to a place to which I'm in no hurry to return. :(

    =R=

    Taqueria Azteca
    2027 North Park Drive
    Holland, MI 49424-8309
    (616) 355-7804

    The Elbo Room
    880 Holland Street
    Saugatuck, MI 49453
    (269) 857-8646
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #45 - July 19th, 2010, 6:44 pm
    Post #45 - July 19th, 2010, 6:44 pm Post #45 - July 19th, 2010, 6:44 pm
    Today being my day off I decided to observe my recent tradition of lunch out and about in the greater Allegan/Ottawa/Kent county area. I was already heading to Holland on errands and after reading ronnie's recent, enthusiastic post above on Taqueria Azteca, it seemed like a timely choice. I must say that it was really good. I ordered alambres which I've enjoyed in Mexico City on several occasions and only ever found on one menu in Chicago at El Potosi.
    Image
    A riot of charred (not al carbon, but good) carne asada and nicely browned and seemingly not-commercially-made chorizo mingled with grilled onions, jalapeno, and bell pepper sprinkled with an appropriately not overdone amount of chihuahua cheese made for a deeply satisfying lunch with creamy beans, standard Spanish rice, and griddled corn tortillas on the side. The only minor adjustment that I might make which can probably be accommodated for with ordering would be a sub of all jalapeno in place of the mix with bell pepper. And maybe there could have been a little browning on the cheese. All said, the meats and veggies were very well caramelized and a unexpected taste of Mexico in a Holland, Michigan strip mall. I plan to return and I also think this may be first stop in a unfulfilled promise I made last summer:
    Jefe wrote:My local friends mention many tucked away taquerias in the area, but I haven't explored these options in a few years. I think I might make a point of putting in some serious legwork in this department before the summer's end, will post as I explore.

    I already have a list going, will check back in.

    Jefe wrote:My favorite spot in GR would probably be Little Africa, a vegetarian Ethiopian place. The wat dishes at this place have complexity and depth of spice that surpasses most of its kind that I have had in Chicago. You won't miss the meat.
    They are closed Mondays.

    And in other recent Western Michigan day off lunch adventures: I returned to Little Africa in Grand Rapids for the first time in a few years now that they are open on Mondays. The place was as charming as ever- a homey vibe where the single cook/host/server/seeming owner is very welcoming. My memory might serve me wrong, but it seems as though the food here has gone all the way vegan, missing was rich nit'r qibe spiced butter as well as cottage cheese from the gomen. I must say that a certain richness that I associate with the cuisine was missing from the dishes both in the alecha and in particular that gomen, where I feel the dairy helps cut the astrigency from the collards. A red lentil wat was awesome though, cooked down to a paste-like consistency with deep spicing, chili burn, and an acidic note. The injera was nice and sour and bubbly, yet lacked the mocha coloring and nutty flavor lent by traditional teff flour, which this bread seemed not to be made from. All in all a satisfying and healthful meal. And at $8 with enough food for two lunches its definitely worth the stop. You can do a lot worse in Grand Rapids.

    ronnie_suburban wrote:Regarding the previously discussed Elbo Room, which was one of my favorites last time I visited, I found it really disappointing this time around. The menu has been rationalized, service was spotty (even though it wasn't particularly busy) and the food was not very good. Hollandaise sauce tasted flat-out weird (could this now be a from a mix?) and nothing really popped for me. It has gone from the only place we visited twice last time to a place to which I'm in no hurry to return.

    I've only been once this season and the crab/spinach/havarti omelet was as good as ever, a perfectly fluffy omelet stuffed and smothered in all sorts of indulgences.

    And in non-lunch area dining notes:
    Jefe wrote:Wendy, please don't hold this against me, but I have had some pretty lousy experiences at Everyday People lately. The service I mention above has been an issue. It seems like they have become too high volume to produce consistent plates at this point as well, rubbery, fishy mussels, dry pork chops, not so good. As a maybe once a year since they opened customer, I must say that the menu has remained remarkably unchanged and is getting pretty stale. The only menu item that is 100% on for me is the tapas platter, which as a glorified cheese plate really speaks very little of the kitchen's skills.

    aschie30 wrote:I won't hold it against you , but I have to strenuously quibble with your assertion that EPC's menu hasn't changed since they opened. I mean they opened in the '70s as a diner - you surely don't mean to imply that the menu hasn't changed since then? Also, in the three or so years I've been eating there, the menu has changed seasonally (although I won't say that they serve "seasonal" food per se), and sometimes, quite drastically. I agree that the kitchen can be wildly inconsistent, sometimes turning out Chicago-level dishes on the one hand, and on the other hand, failing to execute others. I do note that they have been dealing with an increased volume beginning with, well, the departure of Chaps a couple years ago, following up with the Journeyman. I don't know if that accounts for some of the inconsistency (the amount of covers they do on a weekend night is astounding).

    Still not in love with the food at EPC. To follow up on the above argument, I know why I have quibbles about the menu. I much prefer to sit on the chilled out back patio than to wait to eat in the more hectic interior. On the patio they only serve an app. menu and low and behold- yet another season of tuna tartare, mussels, tapas plate, and shrimp saltimbocca. I think some of these items are beloved and I don't doubt that the main menu features more rotation. But there isn't much flair or seasonal this-or-that going on here, just upper tier Sysco products. All said, though I really love hanging out on the back patio and the appetizer menu provides decent, large portioned, good value nosh to accompany their excellent wine list and reasonable cocktails. And you can get a seat on a Friday night at 8 and conversate without raising your voice. Oh and our server was much more low key than what I describe above.

    Also checked out Salt of the Earth. The place has a good vibe, great beer list and good cocktails. I had an M-89 named for the restaurant's address, which was a super refreshing blend of gin, Pimm's, housemade lemon sours, and cherry concentrate. The menu was broader and not as creative as Journeyman's. No specials. Also, similar too high for middle of rural Michigan prices. We ordered a small plate of walleye, a salad for two, and a 14" pizza. Mysteriously we were never served our small fish plate. I would have mentioned it but the huge portions of the rest of our order popped up pretty fast along with a stellar bread service. The house favorite of the previous restaurant's "seedy salt" bread fortunately made an appearance. Our house salad was great, featuring amazing croutons obviously cut from house made bread. I recognized all the local greens, cucumbers, and radishes from the Holland farmer's market. Our pizza was topped with sopressata and "wild" mushrooms (read: buttons and portabellas, well browned to their credit). The center was runny and fell apart, but the outer crust was bubbly and charred. We liked it just fine.

    All in all I'd say I am less grumpy about the local dining scene than last year. Stay tuned for more local taqueria sleuthing, perhaps to be featured in its own thread.

    Taqueria Azteca
    2027 North Park Drive
    Holland, MI 49424-8309
    (616) 355-780

    Little Africa Cuisine
    956 Fulton Street East
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503-3572
    (616) 222-1169

    Elbo Room
    880 Holland Street
    Saugatuck, MI 49453
    (269) 857-8646

    Everyday People Cafe
    11 West Center Street
    Saugatuck, MI 49453
    (269) 857-4240

    Salt of the Earth
    114 East Main Street
    Fennville, MI
    (269) 561-7258
  • Post #46 - July 20th, 2010, 10:54 am
    Post #46 - July 20th, 2010, 10:54 am Post #46 - July 20th, 2010, 10:54 am
    Jefe wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Regarding the previously discussed Elbo Room, which was one of my favorites last time I visited, I found it really disappointing this time around. The menu has been rationalized, service was spotty (even though it wasn't particularly busy) and the food was not very good. Hollandaise sauce tasted flat-out weird (could this now be a from a mix?) and nothing really popped for me. It has gone from the only place we visited twice last time to a place to which I'm in no hurry to return.

    I've only been once this season and the crab/spinach/havarti omelet was as good as ever, a perfectly fluffy omelet stuffed and smothered in all sorts of indulgences.

    Good to know. Maybe we caught them on an off day. We'd never ordered their benedicts before, either and maybe that was our wrong move in this case.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #47 - July 20th, 2010, 11:19 am
    Post #47 - July 20th, 2010, 11:19 am Post #47 - July 20th, 2010, 11:19 am
    Jefe wrote:Still not in love with the food at EPC. To follow up on the above argument, I know why I have quibbles about the menu. I much prefer to sit on the chilled out back patio than to wait to eat in the more hectic interior. On the patio they only serve an app. menu and low and behold- yet another season of tuna tartare, mussels, tapas plate, and shrimp saltimbocca. I think some of these items are beloved and I don't doubt that the main menu features more rotation. But there isn't much flair or seasonal this-or-that going on here, just upper tier Sysco products. All said, though I really love hanging out on the back patio and the appetizer menu provides decent, large portioned, good value nosh to accompany their excellent wine list and reasonable cocktails. And you can get a seat on a Friday night at 8 and conversate without raising your voice. Oh and our server was much more low key than what I describe above.


    Eric, your clarification explains a lot -- their appetizer menu (only on offer on the back patio) remains virtually unchanged year after year. For some reason, they hit on the perfect menu because those apps are extremely popular, so I can understand, from a business perspective, why they won't fix what isn't broken. On the other hand, if you regularly eat only on the patio, it gets old. As for the rest of the menu, I wish that would change more often, but again, I don't know how much free time the kitchen has during summer to get trained on new dishes -- as I've said before, the number of covers they do are astounding. Although, like virtually all West Michigan restaurants, there is some reliance on Sysco for standard items at EPC, in reality, they do source a lot of items from local farmers, and/or carry grass-fed beef and local cheeses, and chickens from a nearby farmer, probably more items than they state on their menu. As for seafood, I know they use Fortune, which supplies a lot of Chicago restaurants.

    I'm glad you mentioned the wine list -- it's fantastic, and one of my favorites anywhere for this caliber of restaurant, in terms of variety and price. Matt is a real wine connossieur, and when he tells me he has something new for me to try, I listen, and usually love whatever is offered. As an avowed wine lover, for this reason alone, EPC has a special place in my heart.

    Jefe wrote:Also checked out Salt of the Earth. The place has a good vibe, great beer list and good cocktails. I had an M-89 named for the restaurant's address, which was a super refreshing blend of gin, Pimm's, housemade lemon sours, and cherry concentrate. The menu was broader and not as creative as Journeyman's. No specials. Also, similar too high for middle of rural Michigan prices. We ordered a small plate of walleye, a salad for two, and a 14" pizza. Mysteriously we were never served our small fish plate. I would have mentioned it but the huge portions of the rest of our order popped up pretty fast along with a stellar bread service. The house favorite of the previous restaurant's "seedy salt" bread fortunately made an appearance. Our house salad was great, featuring amazing croutons obviously cut from house made bread. I recognized all the local greens, cucumbers, and radishes from the Holland farmer's market. Our pizza was topped with sopressata and "wild" mushrooms (read: buttons and portabellas, well browned to their credit). The center was runny and fell apart, but the outer crust was bubbly and charred. We liked it just fine.


    This pretty much sums up SotE. The pizza is not as extraordinary as it was under Matt's hand, but it's still good. Service is still bumbling, but the bread still amazing. I recall enjoying both a good cocktail there, as well as a glass of local Bowers Harbor semi-dry Riesling. I love the lazy, country cafe vibe, which reflects Fennville's rural setting, and sets it apart from the relatively swankier boating and recreation atmosphere of Saugatuck/Douglas.
  • Post #48 - July 20th, 2010, 8:21 pm
    Post #48 - July 20th, 2010, 8:21 pm Post #48 - July 20th, 2010, 8:21 pm
    Went back to Pizza Mambo, originally recommended by Jefe upthread. Tried it last year and really enjoyed it but this week's visit was stellar. We ordered a 9" sausage pizza, which was really effing good . . .

    Image
    Pizza Mambo - 3465 Blue Star Highway, Saugatuck
    They share a space with the bakery in a small strip mall but the bakery was closed on the day we visited (Monday).


    Image
    9" pizza with sausage
    The pizza was oozy, bubbling and very aromatic.


    Image
    A closer look
    The sausage had a fairly pronounced fennel note, which I don't normally love but it was just fantastic here. There was a sweetness -- almost maple-like -- in the sausage which worked really well with the rest of the components in the sausage, as well as the rest of the pizza, too.


    Image
    Short, dense and very crispy along the edges
    Wonderful ultra-crispiness near the edge contrasted nicely with the complexly-flavored crust that was closer to the center of the pie. The textures and flavors were satisfyingly varied from edge to edge.


    Image
    A toasty, golden brown finish
    A wee bit of char and again, a wonderful crust with varying textures and complex flavors throughout the chew.

    I really like this place and plan to return often.

    =R=

    Pizza Mambo
    3465 Blue Star Highway
    Saugatuck, MI 49453-9400
    (269) 857-4400
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #49 - July 20th, 2010, 8:32 pm
    Post #49 - July 20th, 2010, 8:32 pm Post #49 - July 20th, 2010, 8:32 pm
    Ronnie-

    Glad you (still) love Pizza Mambo. One of the proprietors of Pizza Mambo, Margaret, is the originator of Everyday People Cafe, which she now co-owns with her son. Margaret is one of those dyed-in-the-wool cooks who took over EPC many years ago (might have been in the '70s), which was a casual breakfast-lunch place, and helped make it what is today. Pizza Mambo is her current project. I spent a week alone at my house up there this spring, when the area was generally empty, and ended up sharing the bar with Margaret one slow night at EPC when she had off from Pizza Mambo. We discussed food in general, her deep love of cooking, and she shared her insights on getting Pizza Mambo started, including the many pounds of dough she chucked in experimenting, the right ratio of flour types, and how she found a local cheese producer to supply her cheese. That night, I felt like I was in company with a kindred spirit who shared a love of quality food and cooking. I have a high respect for Pizza Mambo and Margaret in general.
  • Post #50 - July 21st, 2010, 5:35 am
    Post #50 - July 21st, 2010, 5:35 am Post #50 - July 21st, 2010, 5:35 am
    Ronnie, that pizza looks great, but what's up with the crazy way they cut the pie? :wink:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #51 - July 27th, 2010, 7:03 pm
    Post #51 - July 27th, 2010, 7:03 pm Post #51 - July 27th, 2010, 7:03 pm
    aschie30 wrote:Although, like virtually all West Michigan restaurants, there is some reliance on Sysco for standard items at EPC, in reality, they do source a lot of items from local farmers, and/or carry grass-fed beef and local cheeses, and chickens from a nearby farmer, probably more items than they state on their menu. As for seafood, I know they use Fortune, which supplies a lot of Chicago restaurants.


    I don't hold this against any West Michigan restaurants. As I know from experience, there are a lot of things that have to be procured through the big evil S. I am also aware of how local EPC goes since I see Matt and Margaret frequently at the Holland Farmer's Market and I know first hand how local and fresh a lot of what they buy is. Unfortunately the apps. for the most part do not showcase this strength of their menu. As for their seafood, after checking out their raw bar brunch this past Sunday, I can attest that they are sourcing much better than Sysco product. The brunch was dynamite and scored major points in my book. Fantastic bloody mary, always a plus. Well balanced and spicy, I've had hard luck finding as good in Chicago. The oysters- a selection- were very good. One quibble would be that our server did not know the provenance of individual oysters. The real knockout for me was the daily ceviche:
    Image
    A mix of high quality citrus marinated raw shrimp and scallops tossed with carrot and celery (which reminded me of a take on Nayarit style). It also had a reasonably chili hot temperament, which suits my taste. Served with super crisp cut lengthwise plantain chips, which were the perfect scooping utensil for the ceviche. The best dish I've ate at EPC and probably the best I've ate in several summers of dining in the area. I should note that they also offer bottomless champagne plus one menu item for $20, not a bad deal. The menu is a la carte raw bar style though, so I ordered two dishes which was an appropriate amount of food. A must try in the area!
    aschie30 wrote: I have a high respect for Pizza Mambo and Margaret in general.

    Agreed!

    In local taqueria news- I checked out Fajitas in Douglas since it is conveniently located next to Laundrytyme and I was too lazy to drive to Holland. Add to this that the daily specials were huaraches and gorditas. I've had serviceable food here before that shows signs of being authentically good grub. But like the area in general, this place has an identity crisis. Its Mexican owned and I've witnessed local Mexican folks dining there. They also service the resort set, so wet burritos share menu space with real Mexican items. The table salsas demonstrate this symptom- one green with serious roasted jalapeno burn, the other thin, insipid, zero chili whatsoever tomato sauce. I ordered a chicken gordita and a steak huarache.
    Image
    The masa preparations were really solid, fried and grilled fresh, quite good. The steak was fine, decent quality but lacking character. The chicken was dried out, fakey- seasoned breast meat, not so good. The toppings were almost comical- missing was the sour cream which I didn't mind and I suppose shredded iceberg is par for the course. It was the pre shredded cheddar cheese, pretty funny, so Michigan. Beans and rice were meh to fine. Back to Holland nest week!

    Fajita's
    102 Blue Star Hwy
    Weathervane Mall
    Douglas, MI 49406
  • Post #52 - February 21st, 2011, 3:26 pm
    Post #52 - February 21st, 2011, 3:26 pm Post #52 - February 21st, 2011, 3:26 pm
    Two places to report on from this past weekend's trip to Saugatuck/Douglas:
    1. Salt of the Earth: We only picked up the salt bread, which was the same recipe as the one made at the former Journerman's Cafe, and the bread was just as good. Can't report on the restaurant itself, although it looked very pleasant. (Was told the Journeymen's chef now works in Grand Rapids).
    2. Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery: http://www.evergreenlanefarm.com/
    I highly recommend a visit to this small artisanal cheesemaker. They sell nearly all of their small production to local restaurants, including Salt of the Earth. During the summer, they have a more extensive line of goat cheeses from their own goats. During the winter, they get milk from a local dairy to make Poet's Tomme, a fine semi-hard cheese, and a fabulous camembert, which I believe is from goat's milk. Cut into the camembert and it oozes out a creamy buttery goodness. That cheese alone is fully worth a visit.

    Jonah
  • Post #53 - February 21st, 2011, 5:28 pm
    Post #53 - February 21st, 2011, 5:28 pm Post #53 - February 21st, 2011, 5:28 pm
    Jonah wrote:Two places to report on from this past weekend's trip to Saugatuck/Douglas:
    1. Salt of the Earth: We only picked up the salt bread, which was the same recipe as the one made at the former Journerman's Cafe, and the bread was just as good. Can't report on the restaurant itself, although it looked very pleasant. (Was told the Journeymen's chef now works in Grand Rapids).
    2. Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery: http://www.evergreenlanefarm.com/
    I highly recommend a visit to this small artisanal cheesemaker. They sell nearly all of their small production to local restaurants, including Salt of the Earth. During the summer, they have a more extensive line of goat cheeses from their own goats. During the winter, they get milk from a local dairy to make Poet's Tomme, a fine semi-hard cheese, and a fabulous camembert, which I believe is from goat's milk. Cut into the camembert and it oozes out a creamy buttery goodness. That cheese alone is fully worth a visit.

    Jonah


    I've been to Salt of the Earth many, many times over the past year or so, and my visit there this weekend (I must have just missed you, Jonah), was my best. I've been a persistent lamenter of the loss of The Journeyman/Rye and Matt Millar, as I've long been a fan of his simple, local, no frills philosophy of preparing food, and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. But this weekend, I feel like Matt Pietsch, the chef of SotE, has come into his own, and the menu and execution now has a more casual, confident flair. I'm really happy with their pizzas (they've since altered the crust recipe to be more like the old Journeyman's recipe, which is to say it's more bready). Whereas The Journeyman was unquestionably high end, even local families can now eat reasonably there, as a pizza and salad is not expensive. I just love their family-style salad service with local greens, a simple vinaigrette, pungent pecorino romano, and large croutons that have been crisped in an herb oil but are soft inside. With a pizza, it's a great, artisanal homage to an East Coast-style pizza and salad dinner:

    Image
    Salad, Salt of the Earth by aschie30, on Flickr

    [I wish I remembered to take a picture of the pizza, but oh well, next time.] SotE also has a lot of community events, local beer and wine dinners, and on 2/28 will have a community block party featuring local beers (New Holland is one of them, and their brewmeister, Fred Bueltmann, is a Fennville resident, a neighbor of mine, and all-around great guy). I can't wait for more people to discover them as the weather warms.

    I got to reconnect with and say hi to Matt Millar last weekend, who is currently the chef at Reserve, an upscale wine bar, in Grand Rapids. Reserve's claim to fame is that it serves over 100 wines by the glass, using a nitrogen-based preservation system similar to that used with beer. As a result, you have the opportunity to take tastes of wines that would normally never be served by the glass due to price and spoilage considerations. I've been to Reserve a couple of times already, and have enjoyed the food and wine experience immensely. I also know Allie Merrick, the Wine Director, and I have a lot of respect for her palate, and know that she very much sees Reserve as an educational experience, as people have the opportunity to try wine, priced at about $3 per taste, and be able to, say, stack up a taste of Pinot Noir from Oregon against Burgundy from France. It really is a lot of fun, even if you only kind of like wine. Also, I got to talk with Matt a little, and he is doing some whole hog butchery at Reserve (who isn't, right?). I was able to try some of his house-cured Mangalitsa coppa (which is going fast), made from a pig purchased from a Hog Festival near Traverse City. It was a little salty for my tastes, but still managed to showcase the sweet depth of flavor to this style of pork. Only a half-hour or so from Saugatuck, it's definitely worth a journey in my book. Here is a picture of the charcuterie plate (From L-R: Mangalitsa coppa, La Quercia proscuitto and Fra'mani Toscana Salami), a generous and filling selection for the price:

    Image
    Charcuterie Plate, Reserve by aschie30, on Flickr]

    Finally, I've been crowing to whoever will listen on Twitter about Evergreen Lane's goat cheese. This cheese is made from LaMancha and Alpine goats that forage amongst the organic apple orchards on the farm. The cheese is rich, creamy, and sweet, and is distinct from the normally one-note tang and grainy texture of most goat cheeses. I've only found it on the menu in Chicago at Publican and West Town Tavern, but it is much more widely served nearby Fennville.

    It sounds like you had a good weekend, Jonah, and maybe I'll run into you sometime up in Allegan County!
  • Post #54 - March 11th, 2011, 1:15 pm
    Post #54 - March 11th, 2011, 1:15 pm Post #54 - March 11th, 2011, 1:15 pm
    Had a brief trip to Western Michigan this week...

    Found myself in Holland, MI and had a pretty poor lunch at DeBoer Bakery & Cafe. The "Best Reuben in Town" was quite sad. Think stringy strands of corned beef resembling nothing so much as Twizzlers. "Dutch Frites" were food service wedge fries. We had some tasty pastries to take away, but I'd skip the cafe.

    Thankfully, with the help of this thread, I was able to convince my colleague to try Taqueria Azteca. They are still going strong. Very good carne asada, lengua and chorizo tacos. The tomatillo salsa is fantastic. I hadn't seen it mentioned above, but they have a small grocery with many Mexican specialty items attached to the restaurant. I didn't get to explore, but it looked promising at first glance.

    A business dinner landed me at the Chop House in Grand Rapids. The lobster bisque was exceedingly rich and the NY Strip au Poivre was very well prepared. A 2001 Vaque Coranya Priorat received raves from the entire table. While I'd never call it a bargain, the quality lived up to the hefty price.

    DeBoer Cafe & Bakery
    360 Douglas Ave
    Holland, MI 49424
    (616) 396-2253

    Taqueria Azteca
    2027 North Park Drive
    Holland, MI 49424
    (616) 355-780

    Chop House of Grand Rapids
    190 Monroe Avenue NW
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503
    (616) 451-6131
  • Post #55 - August 5th, 2011, 10:27 am
    Post #55 - August 5th, 2011, 10:27 am Post #55 - August 5th, 2011, 10:27 am
    How about a non-recommendation? I had the misfortune of lunching at Saugatuck Brewing Company this week. I sampled two of their beers and the Irish hamburger. What a waste of money. The Blonde had very little flavor at all and the Pale Ale was way unbalanced to the hop side. I like a good Pale Ale (O'Dells, Sierra Nevada, etc) because they feature a good balance of hop and malt - but this was not a good pale ale.
    The burger pattie clearly came off the truck and the ciabatta bread began to disintegrate on the first bite. They keep the ketchup refrigerated (a pet peeve).
    I didn't try more of the menu or more of the beers (I had to drive) but I wouldn't go back when there are other much better options.

    But hey - they had free wi-fi :wink:

    Davooda
    Life is a garden, Dude - DIG IT!
    -- anonymous Colorado snowboarder whizzing past me March 2010
  • Post #56 - August 9th, 2011, 10:31 pm
    Post #56 - August 9th, 2011, 10:31 pm Post #56 - August 9th, 2011, 10:31 pm
    Some more Western Michigan stops, pictures and all for this already very informative thread filled with photos. There's quite a few mentions of Fricano's Pizza Tavern in Grand Haven found in the bowels of LTH and it's a place thats always been on my to-get-to list. The two times I had a chance to stop in were Sunday's, they're closed, so it never happened until now.

    Image
    Grand Haven

    As is discussed and mentioned in other threads, Fricano's claims to be Michigan's first pizzeria. Started in 1949 they now have multiple locations but as is always the case you gotta go to the original (Grand Haven) if you wanna get the best picture and taste of an old time place. It's without a doubt got the 'feel' down right. As you can see it's an old house and a pretty big one at that. There's a few rooms with tons of tables in each as well as the bar and pizza ovens which are centrally located.

    Image
    The house bar in the center of the building

    I loved the old school pizza tavern feel as it brought back memories of a long gone place in Lincoln Park I loved in my early youth. Red and white squared table cloths and paper placemats with your options. Fricano's entire menu is pizza, available with six different toppings.

    Image
    Your menu, topping options on bottom

    Everything here seems to be done the same original way which was cool. We took a spot in the middle of the place near the bar and ovens where the pizzas are made. I knew it was still really old school when I saw how the old ladies still cut the pie with scissors. We went with a EBA which is their most popular pizza ordered. It's everything but anchovies. I also got a sausage to go since this is the pie I use to judge all pizza places. Pizza's come in one size which is what a small normally is elsewhere.


    Edward is said to have had a job here during his teen years...

    I liked Fricano's but didn't love it. I thought the EBA was too much toppings and the peppers were still pretty raw tasting like they were put on after and thus dominating the taste of the rest of the pie. The best bites were the crust which was crispy but as RAM4 mentioned in another thread, their pie just doesn't get crispy in the middle even though they are all smaller sized.

    Image
    Fricano's "everything but anchovies" pizza pie

    I thought the sausage was just ok on the EBA but then liked it alot more when I tried it with just that as a topping. The "bird seed" as they call the seasoning really stood out without all the other stuff. I liked the just sausage one enough to the point where I would go back if I didn't have to wait too long. Although the night we visited was quiet I guess the place is packed most summer nights. Next time I'll order one with just anchovies as well like someone from Sicily would. The pizza did pass the "next day cold taste test" and made for a great eat at the beach. I'm also going to have to see whats up with Pizza Mambo in Saugatauck which ronnie_bourbon rec's upthread. GREAT looking pics of hteir pie and that Western Michigan sunset, I'll have to stop in if they're willing to cut it the proper way :lol: How's Marro's in Saugatauck? Certainly looks great from the outside in that old tavern way.

    Image Image
    Fresh Anchovies ready to go, Fricano's pizza at the beach next day

    On the way to Fricano's we passed by Ray's Drive In which was a cool looking spot so I had no choice but to stop. When I saw the best burger mentioned in the old neon along the road and then lake perch painted on the building I made that quick turn into the lot that I make all too often.

    Image
    Ray's Drive In (Grand Haven)

    Another cool old time spot. Ray's has been around for a while. There's no room to eat inside so it's in your car (no car hops) or at a table outside. Ray's claims best burgers in Grand Haven and has won that honor from local publications a few times thru the years. According to FB reviews it was sold in or around 2000 and hasn't been the same since. Burgers were cheap with a triple being only $3 or something so I went with a double cheeseburger and a dinner order of perch to share.

    Image
    Double cheeseburger from Ray's Drive In

    The burger was ok, I guess that's all you can expect when the price was around $2. It reminded me of the burgers at Dairy Queen on Lake ave in Wilmette which I also happen to like if for anything nostalgia. I ate them almost daily after summer school at Loyola for a couple years back in the day. They arent the same burgers as a DQ off a major interstate somewhere. They taste old fashioned, cooked in steam, or left in there until ordered, I would guess since that's how that old DQ does theirs. The perch wasn't much better. I doubt that its still lake perch like the outside of the building proclaims, I guarantee its not fresh. But at $7.50 for the dinner it was alright. If I was a local I would stop in now and then for a burger and or perch sandwich, if for anything a quick cheap eat.

    Image
    Ray's Perch dinner

    Michigan has some great farms with excellent local produce. So with it being blueberry season a stop into Earl's Berry Farm in Fennville, located along the Blue Star Highway was a must. Earl's is a fourth generation owned family farm. The family that runs it has been around the area for sometime.

    Image
    Earl's Farm in Fennville

    Berries are the specialty here and the blueberries were blooming during my visit. Available in U-Pick form as well as ready to go in their open air retail shop. Fresh veggies from other local farmers as well as jams, fresh baked breads and pastries and everything else you would find at a place like this are available. The blueberry crumbcake I bought to take home was amazing. Next door inside is an ice cream shop where they also make all the baked goods including some great looking pies. Both the blueberry milkshake which I had outside on the hot day we were there and the blueberry donuts, which I enjoyed the next morning after some other blueberry fun 8) were phenomenal.

    Image Image
    Blueberry daze in Michigan

    aschie30 wrote:Thanks for the report. My house is in Fennville, not too far from Douglas, and I have to second your recommendation for Kalico Kitchen. It is mostly packed with weekenders seeking a breakfast fix, but I've only been in the afternoon. I recommend the juicy hamburger with mushrooms and bacon, cooked to your ordered temperature.


    From another thread.

    I've had your rec on my radar since it was made so I was able to check another one off on this visit to Mich. This was my second stop to the Kalico Kitchen with this one being in the afternoon. They were out of biscuits and gravy which I was going to get with a burger so I just got the burger with a side of cheesey hash browns with onions mixed in instead. Well as the boards unofficial burger buff do let me say, that's a burger! Excellent hand patted patty, fresh as could be chuck burger cooked to a perfect medium rare. Top notch bun, excellent toppings with juice dripping down the arms. Add in some of the best hash browns I've had, we got a winner. It takes a great burger to get me to stop in for one again while on the roads, I'll most def be back for this diner like burger and those biscuits and gravy I missed on this trip.

    Image
    Kalico's signature bacon, mushroom, Swiss burger

    Another excellent visit to the Western Michigan area. I love it over there in the summertime.

    Fricano's Pizza Tavern
    1400 Fulton St
    Grand Haven, MI 49417
    (616) 842-8640

    Ray's Drive-In
    20 North Beacon Boulevard
    Grand Haven, MI 49417
    (616) 842-3400

    Earl's Farm Market
    1630 Blue Star Highway
    Fennville, MI 49408
    (269) 227-2074

    Kalico Kitchen
    312 Ferry Street
    Douglas, MI 49406
    (269) 857-2678
  • Post #57 - August 10th, 2011, 8:56 am
    Post #57 - August 10th, 2011, 8:56 am Post #57 - August 10th, 2011, 8:56 am
    Da Beef wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:Thanks for the report. My house is in Fennville, not too far from Douglas, and I have to second your recommendation for Kalico Kitchen. It is mostly packed with weekenders seeking a breakfast fix, but I've only been in the afternoon. I recommend the juicy hamburger with mushrooms and bacon, cooked to your ordered temperature.


    From another thread.

    I've had your rec on my radar since it was made so I was able to check another one off on this visit to Mich. This was my second stop to the Kalico Kitchen with this one being in the afternoon. They were out of biscuits and gravy which I was going to get with a burger so I just got the burger with a side of cheesey hash browns with onions mixed in instead. Well as the boards unofficial burger buff do let me say, that's a burger! Excellent hand patted patty, fresh as could be chuck burger cooked to a perfect medium rare. Top notch bun, excellent toppings with juice dripping down the arms. Add in some of the best hash browns I've had, we got a winner. It takes a great burger to get me to stop in for one again while on the roads, I'll most def be back for this diner like burger and those biscuits and gravy I missed on this trip.

    Image
    Kalico's signature bacon, mushroom, Swiss burger


    Da Beef-

    If I'd known you were headed to Kalico, I might have cautioned you, because I believe that they've changed hands or have done some reshuffling of the menu since my last visit there, and sometimes you never know how that shakes out. But -- I'm glad to hear that the burger is still worthy -- it's relatively buried on a breakfast-heavy menu. Kalico has (or at least had, until recently) some type of an adjunct butcher shop -- I think they even sold retail. So, the fresh ground, loosely packed meat is a result of them doing at least some butchering/meat preparation close to their kitchen. I haven't been to Kalico in awhile, but I'll be up there next week, so I'll be sure to stop by and get a burger fix. As for the biscuits and gravy, the biscuits have always been prepared well in my experience, but the gravy tends towards the salty side. You might have done better with da beef patty than the porky gravy. :wink: But all in all, IIRC, Chicagoans would line up for their B&G if they were offered in the city (and they'd probably sell for $5 more).


    Da Beef wrote:Another excellent visit to the Western Michigan area. I love it over there in the summertime.


    Me too!
  • Post #58 - August 11th, 2011, 11:46 am
    Post #58 - August 11th, 2011, 11:46 am Post #58 - August 11th, 2011, 11:46 am
    aschie30 wrote:
    Da Beef-

    If I'd known you were headed to Kalico, I might have cautioned you, because I believe that they've changed hands or have done some reshuffling of the menu since my last visit there, and sometimes you never know how that shakes out. But -- I'm glad to hear that the burger is still worthy -- it's relatively buried on a breakfast-heavy menu. Kalico has (or at least had, until recently) some type of an adjunct butcher shop -- I think they even sold retail. So, the fresh ground, loosely packed meat is a result of them doing at least some butchering/meat preparation close to their kitchen...


    Ya this was my first visit in almost five years. I didn't notice the butcher shop back then but forgot to mention I did take a stroll by on the way out this time there. Its around the corner and I was very tempted to go in but feared leaving with more stuff than I ever could eat or fit in my small cooler I keep in the trunk. The ham club sandwich my friend got was was alright and I liked the biscuits and gravy the first time but the Kalico burger and hash browns is the way to go. The best part of the burger was that extra kick of fresh tasting beef. Which you gotta guess comes from their butcher shop.

    Image
    Kalico Cuts Butcher Shop in back of the Kitchen
  • Post #59 - July 9th, 2012, 3:49 pm
    Post #59 - July 9th, 2012, 3:49 pm Post #59 - July 9th, 2012, 3:49 pm
    Just got back from a long weekend with last minute reservations (Days Inn Benton Harbor, you are unlikely to be reserved by me again -- nothing particularly wrong except for lack of pool, but just a little more downscale than I'd like).

    Thursday evening, we capped off a too-hot day on the beach at Grand Mere State Park (a hidden gem, not as crowded by a factor of 100 versus nearby Warren Dunes, but no facilities, and a little hard to get to -- drop me a line for some tricks to getting there) with the Grand Mere Inn. Wonderful fried perch and crispy duck (although SueF wasn't fond of their peppercorn sauce). Baked spuds weren't crisp-skinned but were otherwise tasty, and salads had a top-notch blue cheese dressing.

    Grand Mere Inn
    http://www.grandmereinn.com
    5800 Red Arrow Highway
    Stevensville, MI 49127
    (269) 429-3591

    On Google's new Zagat ratings, we went for some ice cream later in St. Joseph. Very quaint town, very family oriented. Across the St. Joseph River, though, Benton Harbor is a bit of a wasteland -- not much there at all, if there's a tourist district we didn't see it. I can highly recommend Cabana's. Good ice cream (I don't think anything is house-made, but tasty and rich). Portions are generous, prices reasonable (a cone and a float were $6 total; the float was three scoops of ice cream and I was handed a can of Coke, there was no room in the cup for the soda).

    Cabana's
    http://cabanasicecream.com
    512 Broad Street
    St. Joseph
    (269) 985-0161

    Friday's adventures included tubing the Paw Paw River (pretty darn secluded for a well-settled part of Michigan), followed by visiting a couple fruit stands (local cherries were plentiful, as were blueberries, nectarines and apricots, and boy were the stone fruits good!), and the Vinyard Chocolates and Chocolate Garden. We got a dark chocolate turtle (with chopped pecans on the outside, sort of strange but tasty) at the former, and a tasting platter of truffles each at the latter (four quartered truffles for about the price of one). Very fond of the "Darkest" and their sherry (milk) and wine (dark) flavored ones, but didn't buy any more, since they wouldn't last 10 seconds in the car's heat.

    Vineyards Gourmet Chocolate
    http://www.vineyardsgourmet.com/
    3251 Friday Road
    Coloma, MI 49038
    269-468-4778

    The Chocolate Garden
    http://www.chocolategarden.com/
    2691 Friday Road
    Coloma, MI 49038
    (269) 468-YUMM (9866)

    Dinner was in St. Joseph at The Buck - build your own burgers. Good, but don't top Chicago's best. Onion rings were outstanding, as was the beer cheese soup.

    The Buck
    http://eatatthebuck.com/buck-burgers/
    412 State Street
    Saint Joseph, MI 49085
    269.281.0320

    Saturday, we hit several wineries. I'm not much of a wine guy -- unlike Thomas Hayden Church in "Sideways" I rarely find one I can say "Tastes pretty good to me!" although Pinot Noir is one that usually does. Few of these rang my bells, but SueF bought a couple bottles.
    • Lemon Creek Winery goes by a $5 stem you keep, with up to five tastings. We picked up their table red, quite refreshing and fruity. They sell produce also, but nothing there was that amazing looking.
    • Hickory Creek mostly specializes in whites, we didn't love anything here. I think here it was $5 for four tastings, refunded if you buy a bottle.
    • Round Barn also does some spirits (but their black walnut cream wasn't ready yet), makes their own beers (no tastings on weekends, but they have $3 half-mugs), and has a cafe where we decided a baked brie would soak up the wine we'd been sipping. They're a little pricier for tasting, $10 for five, and there's a $5 refund on a 3-bottle purchase. We picked up their reserve Cab, and hey, another souvenir glass (stemless). Very pretty grounds, worth a visit.
    • Gravity is a newer winery, and pairs theirs with cheese (whites) or Vineyards' chocolates (reds), four for $10, and a little healthier pour. None of the wines here grabbed us, but we got some of the salted almond dark chocolate bark, which went in the cooler. Give them a couple years, and the wines may be a bit more refined.
    Lemon Creek Winery
    http://www.lemoncreekwinery.com
    533 East Lemon Creek Road
    Berrien Springs, MI 49103
    269.471.1321

    Hickory Creek
    http://www.hickorycreekwinery.com
    750 Browntown Road
    Buchanan, MI 49107
    269-422-1100

    Round Barn Winery
    http://www.roundbarnwinery.com
    9185 Union Pier Road
    Union Pier, MI 49129
    269.422.1617 800.716.9463

    Gravity Winery
    10220 Lauer Rd.
    Baroda, MI 49101
    (269) 471 WINE

    Saturday night we hit Cozumel Restaurant in St. Joseph (shares a parking lot with the Holiday Inn Express) -- the heatwave had broken, and it was a comfy evening on the patio. More than just the usual tacos/burritos, but not much more. Nachos were weak (beef and cheese nachos had merely ground beef and a white cheese sauce, no onions, lettuce, etc.). Enchiladas suizas were cheese with bits of fried pork on top and a green sauce, tasty. Carnitas were very good, with a side platter of "guacamole salad" (lettuce, tomato, onion and guac). Portions generous, service fair to middling.

    El Cozumel Mexican
    http://www.cozumelmexicanrestaurant.net/
    3029 Lakeshore Dr.
    St. Joe, MI

    We left on Sunday morning after a too-big but very good breakfast at Sophia's Pancake House across from our motel. SueF's platter of over-easy eggs, juice, bacon, sausage, hash browns and pancakes had double yolks. My spinach and feta omelet was excellent (and more than I could eat), accompanied by hash browns and griddled biscuits. Not cheap, but an excellent place to fill up for the morning (worlds above the motel's continental breakfast).

    Sophia's House of Pancakes
    http://www.sophiashouseofpancakes.com/
    1647 Mall Dr.
    Benton Harbor MI (also Kalamazoo and Michigan City IN)
    269.934.7688
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #60 - July 20th, 2012, 12:00 pm
    Post #60 - July 20th, 2012, 12:00 pm Post #60 - July 20th, 2012, 12:00 pm
    Hi- Somehow I missed this post from Joel F. My sister lives two doors down from the Chocolate Gardens, and their truffles are to die for. My sister used to get free truffles from Tina for Christmas, and so I have sampled her truffles on a few occasions. I agree though, as hot as it has been lately, they would not last very long in the heat. I have not been to the other chocolate shop on Friday road though. Supposedly he makes his own fudge, and somebody that comes to the Evanston farmer's market from Coloma told me that he has had the fudge, and it is good.

    There is also a winery right next to the fudge place named Contessa. They have a tasting room right there. My sister is friends of the owner, and I have had their wine a few times, and it is not bad, and I think it is very reasonable.

    Hopefully you stopped at my sister's fruit stand, Fruit Acres at the Coloma, I-94 exit, and sampled some of her peaches. She should be having free stone peaches in a few days, but all her Red Haven peaches froze out. She has a number of varieties that she has bred herself, that are just as good as the Red Haven peaches though, and some of her peach orchards have 75% of a crop, which is way more than most of the other peach growers have this year. Hope this helps, Nancy

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