Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bobarino’s - at the B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave NW - 3/19/10

It was 60 degrees in Grand Rapids - in March - we had to find outdoor dining for lunch. Our first stop was Rockwell’s where we’d enjoyed lunch several times last summer on the upper level outdoor deck. Today there were barricades placed in front of the stairs and we told to sit anywhere, except upstairs. We couldn’t pass up the day so walked over to the B.O.B. in hopes that Bobarino’s deck was available. On the 2nd floor, we asked if we could sit on the deck, and received an affirmative response. After about 10 minutes alone on the deck, we thought this might be a “Pink Panther” moment:

“Does your dog bite?” “No.” “Nice doggie.” (*chomp*) “I thought you said your dog did not bite.” “That is not my dog.” So....we could sit on the deck but no one would serve us :) But we were patient and a server finally appeared, and he was great from then on.

Being a Friday afternoon on a “summer” day, we ordered a couple of B.O.B’s beers (for those not familiar with "The B.O.B.", they have their own brewery), an Amber and a Blond, along with the most interesting-sounding item on the appetizer menu, Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps. It was a pretty presentation and easier to eat than at Olive’s (because it was already gathered into three servings) but it was not as good. Olive’s served up stir-fried chicken, green onions, shitake, water chestnuts, wontons, asian dipping sauce, and drops of sriracha sauce. At Bobarino’s, we received grilled chicken, asian slaw, cilantro, sesame, peanut, & lemon grass dressing, with peanut sauce & thai sweet chili sauce. It was served with a small dish of sriracha sauce along with a warning from our server about this hot sauce. There are very few people who could use this much sriracha sauce in any dish (compare Olive’s that gave us several strategically placed dots of same sauce) but maybe those people are out there.

We both chose sandwiches, Chicken Pesto Panini and a TBA. The panini was fine: grilled chicken, smoked bacon, provolone, tomatoes, pesto aioli, and red onion on sourdough. The TBA consisted of smoked turkey, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo on multigrain bread; it was ok but nothing extraordinary and had too much mayo. Both sandwiches were served with sweet potato chips and pasta salad. In general, neither of us are big fans of sweet potato chips - they’re just too sweet. The pasta salad was excellent - flavorful and not overly “mayonnaised”.

So here’s the upshot - we chose outdoor atmosphere over food, and it was very pleasant overlooking Grand Rapids, sipping a beer, enjoying the sun. The reason we tried Rockwell’s first is that their food is more interesting than Bobarino’s. Sadly for Rockwell’s, we could see their current “view” is now reduced to looking at a new parking garage instead of a city scape. But once they let us back outside, we’ll still enjoy some Grand Rapids summertime on their deck. Also, we’ll only go back to Bobarino’s when no other interesting (food-wise) outdoor venues are available. (In all fairness, they do have wood-fired thin crust pizzas, a few pastas and signature dishes, and several salads that may be better offerings than the sandwiches and appetizers.) We left with a $36.00 tab.

This is a Gilmore Group Restaurant and you need to search out Bobarino’s menu at the main B.O.B. website at

Bobarino's at the Bob on Urbanspoon

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