Eat! Lansing

October 1, 2008

Chapelure

Filed under: Bakery, Coffee, Desserts, East Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 11:08 am

Chapelure
Ste 10, 4750 S Hagadorn Rd, East Lansing, MI 48823
517-333-7172

My wife and kids and I stumbled into Chapelure after taking a walk around Hannah Plaza after dinner.  And, what a wonderful surprise this was earlier this summer finding this little jem in East Lansing!  I also can’t believe that I’ve forgotten to blog about this place because it is amazing.

Imagine European bakery treats like traditional madeleines offered along with an Asian twist  —  green tea madeleines!  As far as I can tell, they do both European bakery items along with Asian bakery items and they do them equally well.  This is the only place where I’ve been able to find Asian sweet red bean buns in town.  The assortment of goodies is eye popping and wonderfully arranged. 

You can enjoy your pastries with coffee and tea inside a very cozy atmosphere with free wi-fi.  We went on a Saturday night and there was a great buzz inside the place. (And, note to bargain hunters: some items are 30% off after 7pm!)

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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.

July 9, 2008

The Coffee Barrel

Filed under: Coffee, Okemos — dkastner @ 6:11 pm

The Coffee Barrel
www.thecoffeebarrel.com
2446 Jolly Road, Okemos, MI  48864
517-349-3888
M-F 9am-5pm

After the likes of Starbucks swept through the nation, many people developed a better appreciation for good coffee.  After the great wave of coffee chains a new breed of small coffee companies are springing up, primarily in places like Portland, Seattle, and Chicago that focus on roasting small batches of high quality coffee beans for a complexity and flavor that blow the average coffee chain’s brews out of the water.  

After having experienced Intelligensia in Chicago and trying Stumptown‘s offering in Portland recently, I was excited to finally be able to try The Coffee Barrel when I was able to take a day off (I work too far away to visit TCB during regular business hours).  The manager gave me a mini-tour.

The Coffee Barrel roasts somewhere around 300,000 pounds of coffee at a time and ships it to various restaurants around the country.  The coffee is roasted in an air roaster.  For large quantities of beans, this is the preferred method over iron drum roasters that are heated externally as the air roaster roasts the beans more evenly.  Many emerging boutique roasters, however, prefer to roast using the old iron roasters as they provide more direct control of the roasting.  Much more attention is required in this process, but the results are phenomenal.

With that bit of background in mind, the full city Columbian roast I tried, while not the best, stands toward the top of my list.  The beans had the advantage of being fresh, which makes a big difference.  However, the flavor lacked some complexity and left a slightly bitter aftertaste.

The store offers five different roasts – from full city to viennese to french.  Several different varieties spanning the globe are also offered – from Columbia to Guatemala to Ethiopia and Sumatra.  In addition are many flavored coffees.  But then what’s the point of all that?  One notable flavor featured coffee beans coated in specs of white chocolate.  

If you want fresh coffee and don’t want to mail order it or roast your own, this is the place!  They will also grind your coffee for you if you lack your own burr grinder.

April 27, 2008

Biggby

Filed under: Coffee, Desserts, East Lansing, Lansing — dkastner @ 4:10 pm

Biggby
Various locations

www.biggby.com

The coffeehouse formerly known as Beaner’s started out in East Lansing.  The first Beaner’s opened was in a building that used to be an Arby’s on Grand River Avenue, just west of campus (look for the steer’s head in the tile floor).  This location is open 24 hours.  

You won’t see very many Starbucks stores in Lansing because Beaner’s/Biggby’s dominates the market.  Biggby’s seems to have a less formal atmosphere than Starbucks with cuter slogans and promotions and friendly, talkative staff.  Where Starbucks aims for an international, sophisticated feel, Biggby’s de-emphasizes the coffee itself and focuses on the flavored beans and sugary concoctions.  One example is the Butter Bear – a butterscotch-flavored latte with whipped cream, chunks of toffee, and a drizzling of caramel.  You won’t find your prize-winning pull of espresso here, but it’s a friendly place to grab a sweet latte.

Bonus points: free wireless internet (but there’s usually a fight for power outlets)

January 5, 2008

Espresso Royale

Filed under: Best of, Campus, Coffee, East Lansing — dkastner @ 11:12 pm

Espresso Royale
espressoroyale.com
527 E Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823
Phone
: 517-332-5224

Hours: M-F 6:30am-12am, S-S 7:30am-12am

Espresso Royale is a chain, but it does several things that put it over the top of the likes of Starbucks and Biggby.  

First, the quality of their brew is very good.  The fair trade Peru has a strong, but not overbearing acidity and a pleasant aftertaste.  

Second, if flavored coffee is your thing, they offer a few interesting drinks, like the Spanish Latte, which is made with condensed milk.  

Third, they don’t just offer food loaded with preservatives that came off a truck a week ago.  They make sandwiches and breakfast items in the cafe.  

Fourth, they use real dishes and silverware.  Not only is having real dishes a better experience, but it’s also less wasteful as you’re not throwing away paper cups and plastic plates.  

Fifth, it’s just a great place to hang out.  You’ll find a healthy mix of college students and working adults here sitting on plush furniture or sitting outside next to the fireplace on a heated (in the winter) patio.  

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