This place has been open since 2012 and we finally made our way there. Its location in a strip mall makes it feel like a national chain and you might continue to have that feeling when you first enter. Walk in the first door and you are greeted by a second, very heavy, needing-help-to-open glass door, through which we found the hostess desk.
The space is much smaller than its sister, Twisted Rooster, and is divided into bar and dining areas. The bar is attractive and holds a row of high tops. The dining area contains a row of booths and a row of tables with a combination of both in the back. Flat screen TVs are everywhere, at least 15 of them, and they showed sports (no surprise) and news (surprise). Music was playing but not at a volume that made us raise our voices. The dining area is set off from the bar by glass screens, which is a nice touch.
And, there are stuffed animal heads on the wall. We weren't clear on the purpose but were later informed that the management believe they contribute to the feeling of this being a neighborhood pub. You be the judge. We were promptly seated and just as promptly were waited upon. Our server was friendly and informative, and when she learned this was our first time there, she quickly reviewed the menu for us, emphasizing the local Michigan connections, and we loved that.
Appetizers were semi-interesting and the Gator Tail stood out: tender batter-fried spiced alligator tail with Ancho Aioli sauce. We asked our server about the Gator and she told us it tasted like chicken, but it didn’t. Its consistency was more like calamari, which was fine with us, but the batter was slightly salty. The sauce was a delicious enhancement, and altogether it was a fine and unique choice.
Shortly after our appetizer arrived, the manager stopped by to introduce himself and to bring us a complimentary Crooked Loaf, since he heard this was our first visit. The herb/garlic baked loaf of bread, served in a bag, was deliciously greasy, as was reflected on the bag (which also served as its own take-home container), and was a nice touch by the manager. The bread was piping hot, fresh, and flavorful. If you don’t get your own free loaf, please order it.
The menu is fairly large but after some consideration we decided first on the Red Hot Honey Chicken Club sandwich, described as follows: grilled chicken breast, smothered in red-hot honey sauce, chopped bacon, caramelized sweet onion, cheddar cheese, and lettuce and tomato on a sesame seed bun. Only the end of that description will remind you of the McDonald’s Big Mac :-)
Overall, it was a good sandwich with a large piece of chicken, a thick slice of cheese, and double tomato slices. But the chicken was a little bland and the sweet honey sauce wasn’t hot enough to quality as red hot. Steak fries were thick and nicely spiced.
Our second dish was the Crooked Chicken Pot Pie, which consisted of slow-braised chicken, sweet peas, carrots, and onion, topped with a crispy puff pastry. The menu lists asparagus as being included but our server gave us notice that asparagus was not yet available. We loved that the restaurant adjusts to in-season produce. The available vegetables were crisp and nicely prepared, and the pastry was better than you'll find in most pot pies anywhere. This is highly recommended.
The aforementioned Michigan emphasis extends to their rotating selection of Michigan craft beers, which we’ll have to return to enjoy. We liked this place and understand that they are catering to their Grand Valley student population with their TVs and happy hour offerings. That is their demographic. And dinner time probably will probably afford you a very different experience. But our service was lovely, and this manager actually responds to negative and positive comments on UrbanSpoon. The restaurant name was chosen at random to connect to Twisted Rooster, which was chosen at random (see Twisted Rooster link below).
The Crooked Goose is owned by Meritage Hospitality Group, which owns 100+ Wendys restaurants throughout the country, and also Twisted Rooster here in Grand Rapids. Using fast food money to open fresh food restaurants ~ alrighty. We support the latter but not the former. We'll be happy to return here but probably not to Twisted Rooster. Here is our visit there back in August, 2010: