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Michigan Eats & Drinks

April 25, 2011
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Jerad and I spent this past weekend on a Michigan road trip. As a beer nerd and food snob, we planned our entire trip around drinking  & eating…of course!

Our first stop was at New Holland Brewing Company in Holland, MI. Of all the places we ended up visiting, this remains my favorite. I liked their beer the best…particularly the new Saison Cacao, which is brewed with spices, chocolate, & cacao nibs. I also tried their pineapple & strawberry infused, house-distilled vodka. Yummy. This was the best pub food we ate all weekend as well. The whiskey beer cheese (a spread made with local cheddar & Leiden cheeses from Grassfield’s farm, Pilgrim’s Dole, & New Holland’s own Zeppelin Bend whiskey) & house-cured corned beef were both spectacular.

After arriving to Grand Rapids on Thursday afternoon, we stopped into Hop Cat. This place has been named the 3rd Best Beer Bar in the World by Beer Advocate. The current beer list features lots of local Michigan beers. I tried one of their seven house brews, a honey/sage pale ale called Sage Against the Machine. For dinner, we had the Buffalo Rolls (crispy wontons filled with roasted chicken, hot sauce, & bleu cheese), Cheese Ale Soup, and “Crack Fries” (peppery beer battered fries). Overall, their menu includes elevated pub food. Everything was good.

Founders Brewing Company was so crowded that evening that we couldn’t find a seat, so we each had one beer & called it a day. I tried their newest brew, Apricot Swarm. It was more sour than fruity or sweet, not my cup 0f tea. Jerad liked it, though. It referred to it as an “apricot version of Cherise.” We went to Founders two more times that weekend, but it was packed every time. We ended up getting sandwiches (Jerad swears by the “Bad Habit”) & growlers to-go before heading home on Saturday.

After breakfast at Sundance Grill in downtown Grand Rapids (chorizo & egg nachos!), we headed out to Kalamazoo to visit Bell’s Brewery. I ordered 6 sampler pours that included several beers which are only available at the brewpub: Red Nose ESB, Smoked Vienna Lager, Wedding Ale (a honey lager), & Mead. I also had the Sparkling Ale (a triple ale) & Oracle (imperial IPA). My favorite was the Mead, which was light, refreshing, not too sweet, and 10.4% alcohol.

For lunch, we tried just a couple small things from Bell’s Eccentric Cafe: the red bean & poblano dip and soft pretzel with porter mustard & spicy feta dip.

Trying to decide on places to eat in a town you’ve never been to before is difficult. Online reviews at places like Yelp and Urbanspoon aren’t very reliable. But, after much searching, I decided to make reservations at Six One Six for dinner Friday night. The main reason that I chose this restaurant is that they use many local ingredients. I was nervous about it…until I tried that first bite of house-smoked salmon sushi. Amazing. The smokey, tender salmon was perched on a bed of pickled ginger rice and garnished with yuzu cream, finely-diced red onion, chives, & shaved egg yolk. The Berkshire pork duo (loin roulade & braised belly) and the duck (confit leg with smoked breast hash) were both delicious.

I was looking forward to eating breakfast at either Real Food Cafe or Wolfgang’s on Saturday, but we slept in instead. I was also unsuccessful at talking Jerad into stopping at Arcadia Brewing on the way home. I guess we’ll put those places on our list for next time!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2011 6:52 pm

    Glad your trip turned out well. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help – I don’t really know the GR area! The funny thing is, I haven’t been to any of the big breweries even though I’m from MI. They’re kinda far from Detroit, but I have been to Motor City Brewing Co! haha they’re good, but no Bell’s obviously.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed yourselves!

  2. Reney permalink
    July 4, 2011 2:57 pm

    I went to college in GR. If you go back, you MUST go to San Chez. The tapas are great, but I make an effort to come back for their whiskey cake (actual name torta something something spanish) every year on my birthday. Also Wolfgang’s spinach eggs benedict are phenomenal. I’ve tried a other places, but haven’t found anything I like better.

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