Eat! Lansing

September 14, 2008

Grand River Coffee

Filed under: Coffee, East Lansing, Italian — dkastner @ 5:08 pm

Grand River Coffee
515 W Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823

In the spring of 2007, I was looking for a good coffee place to hang out at.  I saw a lot of billboards for Cornerstone Coffee and decided to try out the one in Holt.  I wasn’t impressed.  The decor seemed to come straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog (no character), the wireless internet was a no-go, and the owner/manager rubbed me the wrong way.  Since then, I drove by the Grand River location in East Lansing without stopping.

Now, the cafe sitting on Grand River is named Grand River Coffee.  I never would have stopped in, but my wife suggested it.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  The atmosphere is cozy – leather chairs and couches, a fireplace, and a sheet of falling water surrouned by stone masonry.  However, it’s still a little bit soulless and the light jazz piped through overhead speakers requires a pair of headphones to drown out.  

The coffee here is the best part.  It’s probably the best brewed coffee I’ve tasted here in town and there are plenty of varieties to choose from.  

On the dining front, there is a case full of tasty pastries or they’ll grill up a panini for you.  I had the Italian panini and it was good.  The dill bread was buttery and crisp with pesto spread on the inside.  The meat was pleasantly spicy.  The sandwich was served with salt and pepper flavored kettle-style potato chips.  

Overall, it’s a great place to study or hang out, especially if you enjoy good coffee.

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September 2, 2008

Memo’s – The Döner Company

Filed under: Best of, Campus, East Lansing, Mediterranean, Turkish — dkastner @ 8:25 pm

Memo’s – The Döner Company
http://memosdoner.com
Grand River Avenue, next to Barnes & Noble

Update: Memo’s is now closed!  Such a shame!

The Döner is legendary in central Europe.  It has become the new fast food hit in Germany, rivaling the mighty wurst (sausage).  After World War II, Germany’s population, especially its male contingent, was greatly reduced.  The West German government started a Gastarbeiter (guest worker) program in the 60’s and 70’s to help reduce the labor shortage resulting from a booming post-war economy (Wirtschaftswunder).  As a result, many Turkish immigrants came looking for work and a sizable Turkish population remains in Germany’s urban centers.  The döner kabob originated in Turkey (similar to plain shawarma), but was adapted to German tastes by putting the kabob meat and salad on fluffy pita bread.

I was extremely excited when I saw the newly placed sign over Memo’s storefront this summer, but it seemed like I waited forever for this place to open.  I looked forward to something a bit unique to appear in Lansing. To be honest, my only döner experience was a chicken döner in a backwater train station in Austria.  It wasn’t anything exciting, but I still wanted to experience the legendary döner.  Now, I could experience the legend right here in East Lansing!

Memo’s is definitely a unique restaurant.  The walls are brightly colored in red, green and yellow.  Small, simple furniture provide plenty of seating.  Food is ordered at a main counter and döners are prepared sub shop-style.

The döner itself is served on a fluffy pita or dürüm (like a flour tortilla).  Beef or chicken can be piled along with yogurt sauce, cucumber, tomato, onions, lettuce, cabbage, and chilies.  The beef I had in my dürüm had a depth of flavor that was far more interesting than the gyro meat you get at typical Mediterranean joints.

In addition to the kebabs are Turkish style pizzas and desserts like baklava.  The baklava I had seemed drenched in a lot more honey than what I’ve had before.  A word of warning to non-Turkish taste-buds: the yogurt drink is not a carbonated, milky-tasting drink (as I was used to), but is very salty.

Overall, Memo’s is unique enough and has good quality ingredients that will keep me coming back.  The owner plans to start a chain, so it’ll be interesting to see if this takes off.

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