Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wine, Food, & Friends - 10/20/12

Lying in wait ...
Having an executive chef, wine/beer connoisseurs/home brewers,
and great cooks among your circle of friends can lead to a very fortunate
and delicious turn of events.
The menu and photos speak well enough for themselves.
Later, we were just mystified by the empty bottles :)
As someone said tonight - sometimes the best food
is not found in restaurants - cheers!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Kitchen 67, 1977 East Beltline - 9/25/12

Located in a free standing building, the café shares its retail space with a phone store. We had not read much about the new restaurant and almost pulled away when we saw the drive-through window. 

Against our better instincts we decided to go in and check out the menu. We discovered that it is counter-service and menus were laying about on both sides of the entry, as well as at the counter. The space opens into the phone store which was a little weird. We again dilly-dallied about staying or going. We finally decided that the menu looked interesting enough to stay.
It’s a cool space with a lot of partitioned privacy, ever-changing lights above, large screen TVs, and music playing a bit too loud. (I did get called out on complaining about the music only when it was something I didn’t like :)
We stepped up to order and were then given a number to place on our table that a server came by later looking for a match. She brought just one of our orders, and without the fries, and thought our other orders had not been placed. But a few minutes later, the rest of our order appeared.
The Sizzling Bowl with steak came with the option of habanero sauce or asian ginger sauce. After being advised that the asian ginger sauce was hotter, this was the choice. To accompany the bowl, a garden salad was ordered. No Italian dressing was available but a balsamic vinaigrette was offered as a close substitute.
The Bowl contained pan-fried noodles, steak, portabella mushrooms, sautéed peppers and onions, green onions, and sesame seeds, with the afore-mentioned asian ginger sauce. Many diners complain if the meat portion is too small, but this bowl was too meat-heavy to maintain a nice balance. Flavors otherwise melded nicely but the sauce was mild and nowhere near the promised hot.
Our second entree was the Black Jack Burger accompanied with Asian Ginger Slaw and fries. Ordered medium-rare, it arrived close to that. Joined by pepper jack cheese, jalapeño bottle caps, sweet habanero sauce, chipotle mayo, and shredded lettuce on a brioche bun, it was an excellent burger that arrived with the requisite heat. The slaw was tasty but too wet, and the late-arriving fries were delicious, seasoned with a special Brann’s concoction. Our only other negative was the small, fast-food napkins that were available. The burger in particular was a 10-napkin event.
As we read the restaurant materials on the tables we discovered that the restaurant opened the drive-through for breakfast coffee & pastry seekers, and the counter-service lunch converts to full-service dining at 4pm, along the lines of Schnitz Deli transforming into Ada Grill. Great idea, and we’ll have to stop back to enjoy the dinner experience.
So - cool space, interesting menu, and good food (but a sloppy lunch presentation today - see pictures and commentary). The name is derived from the year John Brann, Sr, sold his first sizzler steak and we think his grandson, Johnny Brann, Jr, has a good thing going here.

Kitchen 67 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Osta’s Lebanese Cuisine, 2228 Wealthy St SE, East Grand Rapids - 8/23/12

This is a sweet, little setting in which to enjoy mid-eastern fare. It’s casual space and holds about 11 tables. The take-out window was busier than the dining room when we visited.
Our server promptly brought us menus but didn’t take beverage orders and didn’t bring us water until we requested it when she returned a while later. Other than that initial bump, the service was perfect, attentive without being over-whelming, and well-timed dishes.

Beginning with the falafel appetizer, we enjoyed the three deep-fried fava bean patties served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and tahini.
Fast upon this were our salads, fatoush and lebanese. Both were delicious, fresh, and lovely creations, and although there was too much of it, we ended up preferring the lemon vinaigrette dressing on the lebanese salad. The ingredients for the “zestier” fatoush dressing would not be revealed (but you can find their hummus recipe on their website).
We both chose pita sandwiches for our entrees: grilled lamb (marinated lightly in red wine with hommous - spelled differently in various places on their website so pick your spelling :), tomato and onion; and shawarma (thin slices of beef marinated in lebanese spices) with tahini, tomato, and onion. Visually identical, both sandwiches took a few bites to reach the onion and tomato but were excellent combinations of flavors. And don't miss the home-made, pickled turnip served on the side!
A woman who appeared to be an owner was very familiar and friendly with customers and spent a bit of time in the dining room. She greeted the two middle-schoolers seated next to us by name, and later we had the pleasure of helping them figure out what to tip the server, after they had an awkward moment with her. This friendly place is welcoming, offers freshly-prepared food, and is worthy of your business. 

Find more information about the background of the restaurant and view the menu at:

Osta's Lebanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon