Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Landing, 270 Ann St NW - 2/4/11

Formerly known as “Holly’s Landing,” the restaurant is located in The Radisson Hotel and has been open since 1968. Because it’s been around so long, the place tends to be overlooked. We thought we would check it out today, and it was a very pleasant surprise.

The large room is divided into several sections. The ambiance is warm and subdued, complete with wood trim, carpet, and upholstered chairs. Glass covering the cloth tablecloths is a fine improvement over crinkling paper. Decor is nautical, including a ship’s wheel and a lot of artwork, but it’s not overdone. The management does need to do a little updating/cleaning of the chair seats, however, as many of them are stained.  
There are about six tables situated at the glass wall that overlooks the Grand River, and we took one of those. The other tables were vacant, and yet our hostess shortly thereafter seated a couple right next to us. We know it benefits the server but it’s still a pet peeve of ours.

The menu is small and interesting. We like to compare crab cakes, so from the five starters we chose the cakes. Lump blue crab served with arugula-root vegetable salad and accompanied by blood orange vinaigrette and horseradish cream was beautifully presented and very well prepared. The salad was fresh without a hint of bitterness, and the horseradish cream was nicely enhanced by the orange vinaigrette.
From the ten Signature Selections, our first choice was the Lobster BLT. Tempura fried lobster was served on toasted sourdough bread with basil aioli, applewood smoked bacon, and vine-ripe tomatoes. It was good but the star of the sandwich, the lobster, was a bit tough and chewy. House potato chips and pickle spear were the accompaniments.
Our second choice was vegetable lasagna. It was made with fresh roma tomatoes, squash, zucchini, baby spinach and basil, mozzarella and alfredo sauce, and layered with pasta sheets. The pasta was cooked perfectly. The sauce slightly overwhelmed the other flavors and was a tad salty, but overall it was a satisfactory dish.   
We were there late for lunch and there was one server for the entire room. But she had only three tables to wait on and did a fine job. She refilled our beverages without asking and was polite and friendly.

The lunch menu contained nothing over $10.00, and the only item that hit that mark was the Ahi Tuna appetizer. It’s a lovely setting and worth a visit.

The background of this location concerns a 64 foot paddlewheel river boat that made charter and excursion runs on the Grand River between Holly’s Landing and Ada from 1967-1973. It was an 11 mile trip that cruised at 7 miles per hour, and was powered by a 1938 John Deere diesel tractor motor. That would have been a pleasant trip.

The Radisson Hotel website has an inaccurate menu posted but the site referenced below is up to date.
 The Landing on Urbanspoon

Rockwell’s Kitchen and Tap, 45 S. Division - 1/27/11

The restaurant emphasizes locally produced, fresh ingredients, which means the menu changes with the seasons. We hadn’t been there since last April and thought it was time for a return visit.

It’s a long, narrow, two-story restaurant with wonderful dark wood booths, tables, chairs, and a lovely bar. When the outdoor deck is open, it’s accessed from the 2nd floor. The ambiance is that of a welcoming, neighborhood pub.
We took a booth with a street view and were promptly served.  From the ten “shared plate” offerings, we selected kobe steak rancheros for our appetizer. The grilled marinated steak was served with spanish rice, roasted salsa, crispy onions, and a poached egg. The combination was delicious, and the dish was exquisitely presented and prepared.  
We didn’t want salad or sushi for our main courses so we were left with the nine sandwich selections. The Niko sounded interesting with prosciutto cotto, mortadella, cappicola, spinach, tomato, red onion, olive spread, and provolone, served on Nantucket sour dough bread. It was an interesting combination of flavors and an enjoyable change from more mundane sandwich fare.
Braised pork loin, garlic greens, spicy giardiniera, provolone, au jus on a Nantucket French roll made up the Italian pork sandwich. The overall taste was slightly muddied because there were so many competing flavors. It was a bit over-complicated. The pork was lightly seasoned and the roll was very fresh. Orzo salad or chips accompany the sandwiches, and fries can be added for an additional $2.00.
Other than the idle hostess continually staring at us, we had no complaints about the service. Our server was helpful and attentive. The kitchen and the deck are shared with the adjacent Republic, which is not open for lunch. Check out the basement to see a very interesting part of this old building. You will feel as though you’re in a catacomb while searching for the lower level restroom.

Great pub atmosphere and interesting food choices make Rockwell’s worth a visit. Menus are online, and the restaurant will validate one hour parking in the parking ramp behind the restaurant.
Rockwell's Kitchen & Tap on Urbanspoon