Eat! Lansing

November 3, 2011

Fork in the Road Artisan Diner

Filed under: American, Diner — dkastner @ 7:13 pm

Website: http://forkintheroaddiner.com/
Location: 2010 W. Saginaw St, 48915, Lansing

 

With the number of diners in town, I’m sure Lansing could easily claim highest number of diners per capita in the nation. But Fork in the Road is one of a kind in Lansing.

No matter how many run-of-the-mill diners there are, they all seem to be slight variations on a single theme – microwaving or grilling whatever comes off the Sysco truck. In August, the Sysco truck still delivers mealy tomatoes that were grown far across the country using virtual slave labor, picked green, and force “ripened.” This despite the fact that Michigan is the second greatest producer in the country next to California in terms of variety of produce and there are plenty of local farms raising sweet, juicy, organic tomatoes. It’s not just with tomatoes that this irony plays out – most food in restaurants comes to you in a similar manner.

What makes Fork in the Road different is that they source many of their ingredients from local farms, many who specialize in organic produce and meat. They reinterpret classics you’d find at your local diner – country fried steak, meat loaf sandwiches, apple pie – using quality ingredients and an artisanal touch. For example, instead of plain tater tots, they serve tots made with rosemary, garlic, and asiago cheese. Yes, they taste as good as they sound. The fried pie should be on your list for dessert.

The restaurant was started by the same guys who run Trailer Park’d, the gourmet food truck that typically shows up in Old Town and the East Lansing farmers market. I imagine the location doesn’t work as well for those in East Lansing/Okemos/Meridian, but it’s really only a couple miles from Old Town and downtown. It’s also close to a bus route.

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June 21, 2011

Trailer Park’d

Filed under: American, Lansing, Organic, REO Town — dkastner @ 9:32 pm

Gourmet food trucks have been popping up all around the country and Lansing now boasts two of its own. One of them is Trailer Park’d, a wood paneled trailer towed by a Chevy pickup. Much of the food is locally sourced and naturally grown, if not organic.

You’ll need to follow the truck on Twitter or Facebook or rely on happenstance to find where they’re operating on a particular day.

The dishes are all very creative, fresh, and taste great. The menu seems to center around American classics and some fusion dishes. Allow several minutes for your food to be prepared.

To provide seating, the owners created a bar that hangs from the side of their truck which is surrounded by stools.

March 15, 2011

Hershey’s Steak and Seafood

Filed under: American, East Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 9:44 am

Hershey’s Steak and Seafood
2682 East Grand River Avenue, East Lansing, MI 48823
517-337-7324
Monday-Thursday: 11:30am – 9:00pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:30am – 10:00pm
Closed on most Sundays

I’ve been to Hershey’s a few times for lunch and dinner and on my most recent visit last weekend, I realized I never sat down to write out a review for this place!  I would call this a good restaurant – not great – but good.

The service has been excellent each time I’ve visited Hershey’s.  The food is where it has been off the charts great or mediocre.  I don’t know of any other restaurants in Greater Lansing that has escargots on the menu besides The English Inn. It’s served with two garlic breadsticks with six escargots in an order.  A great way to start the meal.  My entree also came with a choice of soup, a trip to the salad bar or the Caesar Salad.  I went with the Caesar because I got a choice to add anchovies and bacon – I said yes to both and it was just awesome.  In fact, I may go back just for the old school Caesar!

For entrees, my wife and I decided to split what we ordered.  We ordered the Top Sirloin Broil (good) and the Chicken Wellington (not so great).  The steak was cooked a little more than the medium that we ordered but it was tasty.  The Chicken Wellington sounded great on the menu but it came to our table a little on the pink side – never a good idea for chicken.  Our delightful waitress cheerfully made it right by getting our entree re-fired and she threw in a free dessert to make up for the kitchen’s error.

The wine list isn’t huge but the prices are reasonable.  The decor and the menu reminds me of a country club.  Both have worked for years so why mess with a good thing?

August 21, 2010

Five Guys is Coming

Filed under: American, Best of, Burger, Campus, East Lansing — dkastner @ 8:28 am

The famous burger chain known as Five Buys Burgers and Fries will be gracing East Lansing in late September.  If you’ve never heard of Five Guys, here’s some background.

Five Guys started out in the mid-80s in Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC.  By the time I was living there, around 2004, the small chain was already legendary among Northern Virginians.  By the time I moved to Michigan in 2007, the chain had expanded all over the Virginia suburbs.  There was quite a bit of fanfare when a location was opened up in New York.  Around the time of the Presidential elections, the public discovered that Barack and Michelle Obama have a penchant for greasy burgers and that Five Guys was one of their favorite stops (Ray’s Hell Burger is now the preferred burger joint).  Since then, the Five Guys has exploded into much of the US, east of the Mississippi.  I have eaten at a Five Guys near Farmington Hills, but I was especially surprised and delighted to find that one would be coming to East Lansing.

The menu is very simple: burgers or hot dogs with regular or cajun fries.  There are a plethora of toppings you can have piled on top of your burger, including grilled onions, jalepeños, and green peppers.  The griddle-fried patties are succulent and juicy.  Great care is required when eating to avoid spilling grease and toppings all over.

The french fries are delivered in a styrofoam cup within a paper bag.  The best approach is to rip open one side of the bag, pour out your fries, and douse them with a healthy dose of malt vinegar.  The fries are “boardwalk style,” following the tradition of fries sold in East Coast beach towns like Ocean City, Maryland.  The fries are fried in peanut oil and it is customary to use malt vinegar, similar to eating fried fish.  The cajun fries are usually the better pick, especially if you like spicy things.

While you’re waiting for your food, there is usually an open box of peanuts in the shell for snacking.  The walls are also graced with issues of Washingtonian Magazine that rave about the joint, reassuring you that you have chosen the best burger in town.

My only complaint with this opening is that it will be located on the far eastern side of campus town, next to Blockbuster and Jimmy John’s.  Not exactly convenient for a lot of people.  However, the crack-like addiction many are likely to develop to these burgers will probably be enough to keep people coming.

East Lansing’s campus town has a glut of cheap, greasy fast food, but I’m hoping Five Guys will be able to outlast the rest, given its allure.

September 27, 2009

Michigan Brewing Company

Filed under: American, Brewpub — dkastner @ 9:57 am

Michigan Brewing Company
402 S Washington Ave, Lansing, MI
Mon-Sat 11am-2am, Sun 12pm-10pm

As I’ve noted earlier, Michigan is home to a plethora of craft breweries.  One of the Lansing area’s own brewery is Michigan Brewing Company.  Up until recently, the only way to get MBC beer on tap was to either find one of the few restaurants that serve it or venture out to Webberville’s industrial park.  I was ecstatic when I learned that MBC decided to set up a pub in downtown Lansing so that fresh, tasty beer is conveniently served only a mile from my house.

The pub itself is a welcome change from the clubby scene offered by neighboring establishments.  There is a couch and cushy chairs up front and dozens of tables toward the back.  The atmosphere is a bit spartan, but there was a good mix of younger people and congregating professionals.  Reinforcing the idea that this is a pub, there are games available, inviting you to relax, have fun, and enjoy a beer.  An acquaintance I ran into told me that at one point in the night, they had turned on some neon green lights, but the new ambiance seemed to do more harm than good, prompting them to revert to the soft glow of white lights.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to sample the food yet, but this post will be updated when that happens.

The brewery offers a good variety of beers, from Belgian ales to stout, to pale ales.  If you just want an old fashioned, American lager (think Coors), you can opt for Kid Rock’s creation – Bad Ass Beer.  We’ll see if I ever get a chance to try it.  My favorite so far has been the Celis Grand Cru – a Belgian-style wheat ale with traces of coriander and orange.

All in all, a great alternative to the coffee house for meeting and relaxing.

January 6, 2009

The English Inn

Filed under: American, Best of, Fine Dining, Steak — Jack Lumanog @ 11:57 am

The English Inn
http://englishinn.com

677 S. Michigan Rd., Eaton Rapids, MI 48827
(517) 663-2500
Lunch:  Monday – Friday: 11:30am to 1:30pm
Dinner: Monday through Thursday: 5:00pm to 9:00pm; Friday and Saturday: 5:00pm to 10:00pm; Sundays: 1:00pm to 7:00pm

(I reviewed this restaurant back in October  —  forgot this in a draft folder that I rarely check.  Oops.)

The English Inn is just minutes away from Lansing and is totally worth your consideration.  I’ve seen their ads in the Lansing State Journal for dinner specials and none of them looked all that enticing.  However, after accepting a dinner invitation there with some friends, and getting very excited about checking their menu out online, I was very excited about our upcoming trip.

We were a bit early for our reservation so my wife and I took the opportunity to explore the grounds of The English Inn.  They operate a small bed and breakfast with an adjacent catering hall with a charming pub in the basement of the main building.  The grounds are just extraordinary.  The view from the restaurant is just amazing  —  it makes you forget you’re in Eaton Rapids!

The atmosphere is wonderful for a night with friends or for a special occasion.  At first, our table of 6 was the only table being used in the restaurant.  We were whispering for a while until some other tables started to fill up and then the piano player took her place to provide some much needed background noise.

The dinner menu reminds me of what you would find at a country club or an old school bistro.  The wine list is very comprehensive and decently priced  —  our table split a bottle of Hess Collection Cabernet at $30.

To start, I ordered the Escargots for $10.  It was classic preparation with herbs and garlic butter.  Delicious.  My entree was the Entrecote Cafe’ de Paris  —  14 oz. NY Strip with Café de Paris butter at $30.  My steak was perfectly prepared medium rare and there was more than enough for dinner and the rest was the next day’s lunch for me.  The side dishes were uninspiring  —  mashed potatoes and steamed cauliflower.

I skipped dessert after loading up on the escargots, calling it quits on my entree and eating more bread than I care to admit (all the while dipping away at the remnants of the escargots butter).

October 10, 2008

Curtis Original Barbecue

Filed under: American, Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 6:28 pm

Curtis Original Barbecue
Saginaw & Cawood, Lansing MI
(in the parking lot of American Print & Copy – west of St. Lawrence Campus of Sparrow Hospital)
517-333-9287
Thursday, Friday & Saturday: lunch and dinner hours

“You don’t know what you got until it’s gone” applies to me and barbecue.  I lived in Kansas City for 8-1/2 years before moving to Lansing.  Kansas City is one of the capital cities of barbecue along with Memphis and Austin.  Every so often, I have a craving for some good BBQ and usually have to settle with Smokey Bones at Eastwood Towne Center in Lansing (a chain operation that is underwhelming and overpriced … not a great combination).

Enough backstory  —  let’s talk about Curtis Original Barbecue!  At the Old Town BlueFest, after a few bites of a horrible gyro purchased in the vendor area (wow, I’m full of reminiscing tonight!) I moved on to Curtis’s white catering truck with a reasonably priced menu of barbecue.  I settled on the rib tips and I was suddenly transported to Kansas City in a single bite!  It was an amazing meal that could have easily fed 2 adults and it only set me back $5. 

I was looking for something out of the ordinary for dinner tonight (i.e. I didn’t feel like cooking) and thought of Curtis Original Barbecue!  I drove up to his catering truck parked at Saginaw & Cawood and looked over the menu.  So much to choose from:  ribs, chicken, rib tips, beans, potato salad and green beans.  While I was trying to decide, Curtis was so kind as to give me a sample pork rib and rib tip  —  both were heavenly and made my decision all the more difficult.  I eventually settled on the Rib Dinner:  a massive serving of smoked pork ribs, green beans and potato salad for $11.  Everything is served from the catering truck with the grill/smoker right beside the truck.  It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

The drive home to enjoy my barbecue dinner seemed like an eternity but it was worth it.  I uncorked a bottle of Provenance 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon  —  a fine pairing to go along with my rib dinner from Curtis Original Barbecue!

July 20, 2008

Peanut Barrel

Filed under: American, Campus, East Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 1:34 pm

Peanut Barrel
www.peanutbarrel.com
521 E Grand River Ave East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 351-0608
Mon-Sat: 11:00 am 2:00 am,
 Sun: 12:00 pm 2:00 am

I’ve often looked forlornly at the outdoor patio of Peanut Barrel while strolling along with my wife and two daughters.  The place looks like a lot of fun  —  but not super kid friendly (not meant as a criticism).  I don’t think they have a highchair and the patio doesn’t look big enought to accomodate our stroller.  But, thanks to a babysitter and a night enjoying the beautiful weather in East Lansing, my wife and I finally were able to give Peanut Barrel a shot.

I had Sal’s Memorial ‘Shroom Burger with fries and a Long Island Iced Tea.  My wife had a sandwich (can’t remember which one) and a Long Island Iced Tea.  The meal and drink were delicious and the patio vibe was a lot of fun.  Total cost for dinner and drinks with tip was about $23.  Not a bad deal at all and a great spot to people watch.  Service was fair but in their defense, the 2 waitresses were covering the entire patio and trying to keep track of the seating order between them.  I suggest being on the ball to make sure you’re getting your order in and being proactive to get your check when you’re ready to cash out.

July 12, 2008

Amici’s New York Deli, take 2

Filed under: American, Lansing, Uncategorized — Jack Lumanog @ 9:22 am

Amici’s New York Deli
521 N Clippert St Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 332-1000
Monday-Saturday, 10 am-8 pm; Sunday 11 am-6 pm

OK, I felt enough remorse about my last post (stay away from the corned beef is all I’m saying) about Amici’s that I stayed true to my promise about coming back to try the pastrami.  As soon as I posted my first review of Amici’s yesterday, I felt bad enough that when contemplating my lunch I had to return to try to find a redeeming item off the menu.

The pastrami is the main event here and should not be missed.  OK, I plunked down another $9.74 for a sandwich and a soda but this time went for the #3 “The Westsider” (basically it’s the #1 with pastrami instead of the corned beef).  The pastrami on its own was wonderfully moist and it didn’t need the Russian dressing and the cole slaw  —  though it added some depth and flavor to the great flavor of the pastrami.  The corned beef definitely needed the cole slaw and dressing which is why I thought they were trying to make up for bad meat by putting all this other stuff on it.

I will gladly return to Amici’s after finding some heavenly solace in their pastrami.  Sorry to be so harsh the last time around, but I knew I was missing something here where it seemed they were trying so hard to do something right.

July 11, 2008

Amici’s New York Deli

Filed under: American, Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 7:40 am

Amici’s New York Deli
521 N Clippert St Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 332-1000
Monday-Saturday, 10 am-8 pm; Sunday 11 am-6 pm

I was born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey and spent an awful lot of time in New York.  I like to think that I know a fair amount about “New York deli food”.  So, I was really excited about trying Amici’s New York Deli.  That is, until I had their hot corned beef sandwich.

The corned beef was very thin, dry and bland.  And, there was a lot of it on the sandwich.  I’m told that the pastrami is the main event and to give it another shot.  I wasn’t impressed with my first visit there.  The restaurant is trying to clearly go for that NY deli vibe.  The prices were certainly in line with New York (nearly $10 for my sandwich and fountain drink) and they offer Dr. Brown’s sodas and salt and vinegar chips. 

The ambiance is pretty nice with free wi-fi and a flat screen TV on one side of the restaurant and a bustling lunch crowd the day I was there.  Though I wasn’t feeling the NY deli vibe the first time, I’m still willing to give the pastrami a shot the next time I’m there.

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