Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rafav's Mexican & More Restaurant, 1441 Wealthy SE - 10/22/09

Our first issue when entering the restaurant was finding the door handle. The exterior design is so unusual, and somewhat bizarre, that the door is not that obvious. We finally just went for it and hoped people were not laughing at us inside. Once inside, we found a very casual, brightly decorated room. The painted wall is more Aztec style than Mexican and it is far from boring. On another wall that lined the booths are copies of actual photos of Mexican revolutionaries, particularly featuring Emiliano Zapata. Very interesting, especially if you enjoy photography and history.
But on to the food: we ordered skirt steak tacos, that came with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onion, lime, and cilantro. These were spectacularly good with the meat lightly seasoned to perfection. All the food, including the tortillas, are made fresh at the restaurant and it shows. Our other dish was an order of meat enchiladas and while they came too hot (temperature) to eat for about 10 minutes, they were delicious as well. Chips and salsa were plentiful and good. Service is friendly, helpful, and attentive. Some of the dishes on the menu are typical of any Mexican restaurant, Rafav’s menu has dishes on it that we’ve never seen elsewhere. So besides having delicious food, this restaurant is also unique in its offerings.

Restaurant has Closed

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Peppermill Grill, 4511 Lake Michigan Dr, Standale - 10/19/09

Our second breakfast here. It was great, as always, to be in a non-chain restaurant. The atmosphere is homey, as is the food. You know it’s a local favorite when everyone stares at you when you walk in (patrons & staff) because they don’t know you. That can be a little disconcerting and sometimes gives you a feeling of being unwelcome, but you do have reassurance that it’s a locally popular restaurant.

Breakfast is basic - all the usual egg offerings including a multitude of omelets. But we chose Two Eggs in a Nest with English Muffin Toast, Murray’s Special (Fried Egg and Cheese), also on English Muffin Toast, and two sides of bacon. Strangely, the bacon came out first, but the eggs soon followed. Being a fan of the fried egg sandwich, this was not a favorite - too much grease on the English muffin bread, which was also too thickly sliced, overwhelmed the egg and cheese. The Eggs in Nest was attractively presented but again, too much grease and too much bread.

Service was friendly but brief. Bill isn’t totaled and you pay on the way out. We’ll try lunch there next time. Homegrown Grand Rapids but not that interesting, at least not this time.

Peppermill Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ichiban, 3005 Broadmoor SE - 10/16/09

This Asian restaurant divides itself into a Chinese wing and a Japanese wing. Wanting to experience the full Japanese hibachi dining, we went left. Beginning with a sushi appetizer, soup and a small salad followed shortly. The sushi received mixed reviews.

NY strip and filet mignon were the main courses on the hibachi and were accompanied by fresh vegetables. Seasonings were very tasty and the meat was cooked to order and excellent. And the show.....although there were only two at this table for ten, the chef was personable, entertaining, and engaging. The show is not new - flipping utensils, the volcano onion, the fake-squirting mustard - but it's fun just the same. The server and the chef worked well together on the timings but overall the meal felt slightly rushed. Worth another visit, and to the right wing as well. And for the record, Ichiban is translated Number One.

 Shanghai Ichiban Chinese on Urbanspoon

Fleetwood Diner, 2222 44th St, Kentwood - 10/15/09

Everyone likes a diner, especially if one is nostalgic for that 1950s decor or for that time in one's life. This particular diner sports a few TVs showing Fox News, as a nod to today's interests. The decor and general atmosphere of the place, however, just seem artificial. Fake memoriabilia and the black, white, and red coloring just make it feel like a chain restaurant. But there has to be more to a diner than the decor. One of their features is Tempeh Hippie Hash, which really belongs more to the 1960s era, but it was ordered nonetheless. The hash was interesting, probably not for a daily pick, but worth having again. Also ordered was Eggs Benedict, which did not fare as well. Both the eggs and the accompanying potatoes were overcooked; rubbery eggs with over-fried potatoes. The service was fine and friendly but this diner really doesn't fit into any time period.
Fleetwood Diner on Urbanspoon

One Trick Pony, 136 E Fulton - 10/14/09

This was our 3rd or 4th lunch there this year and was the most disappointing. One "special" of the day, an Italian Panini with chicken, had an imbalance of flavors with the basil pesto overwhelming everything else. The Jerk Chicken Quesadilla also fell short on flavor. However, we ordered bruschetta for our appetizer and it was delicious. The sun-dried tomatoes were amazing but there were too many of them compared to the other parts of the bruschetta. The soup of the day was Tomato Florentine and it was excellent. Maybe the kitchen is trying to go in too many different directions and, therefore, excelling in nothing.

Physically, the tables and chairs are placed entirely too close to each other. We were in the middle of the room and no one could walk past either side of our table. Our waiter ably served us but from behind each of us. One Trick Pony needs some new tricks.

(Our previous visits to One Trick Pony were much more successful and the Thai Chicken Stir-Fry always stands out.)

10-17-12 Edit: The furniture and the menu have changed; there's slightly more room between tables but it's still tight. The food was just ok for us but the crab cakes were beautifully presented.
The Portobello sandwich was creative but not aptly described and ended up being what the waitress described as an open face sandwich. The mushrooms were the "bun" and it was very difficult to eat.
Ah well. They have nice outdoor seating in the summertime and wonderful music year round.
One Trick Pony on Urbanspoon