Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Winchester, 648 Wealthy SE - 4/26/12

This is one of our "go-to" places when we can't decide where to eat, aren't going to necessarily write-up a review, and just want some interesting and unique food.  So we've been here dozens of times, have already written it up twice, but today decided to share our wonderful lunch.

Our service was superb, as per usual, with a friendly and informative server. We love the changing menu and started with the shrimp nachos, which came highly recommended. Our server did not steer us wrong.
Small pieces of black tiger shrimp came atop curried granny smith chopped apples and guacamole (dig down a little so as to not miss the tart apples that combined wonderfully with the guacamole and shrimp). The drizzled sweet soy sauce and house-made tortilla chips made this an excellent appetizer choice. We did run out of chips before we consumed everything else, but we still had our forks.  

And who could resist a crab BLT? Soft-shelled crab was flash-fried and sandwiched with bacon, locally produced lettuce (Vertical Paradise Farms, a greenhouse farm in Caledonia), nicely spicy mayonnaise (specifically, sesame-sriracha kewpie Japanese mayo), and cherry tomatoes. Served on a toasted vienna roll from a local bakery (Nantucket Bakery), the well-prepared and delicious sandwich required multiple napkins and was accompanied by house-made black pepper kettle crisps. 
When asked for an opinion regarding the ordering the gator po' boy or the fish tacos, our server did not hesitate for a second: fish tacos. It's been several years since we've ordered fish tacos after having a horrifying, fishy experience at another restaurant, so this choice was a bold move. 
As it turned out, our server was right again. Just the list of ingredients will make your mouth water: lemongrass coriander rubbed tilapia, latin citrus slaw, saffron aioli, and grilled locally made El Milagro flour tortillas, served with fire roasted vegetable salsa and house-made plantain chips. Although we preferred the kettle crisps over the plantain crisps, the tacos are highly recommended. 

The Winchester looks for local food sources for its ingredients, and in season, looks no further than across the street at its own garden.
And don't miss their fantastic food truck around town and at special events.
Best Food Truck Name Ever
They have a very active presence on facebook and twitter, both as The Winchester and What the Truck (Twitter as @TheWinchesterGR and @tacotruckGR). Find the ever-changing menu on their website:

6/15/12 - Here's a nice shout-out from USA Today.

The Winchester on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bombay Cuisine, 1420 Lake Dr SE - 4/20/12

This is a crowd-pleasing place for lunch as evidenced by the packed room. We found one open booth that put us in a corner of a short hallway (leading into the attached Queen’s Pub) that’s behind the buffet (and a tall plant). So we couldn’t enjoy or experience the main room ambiance (which is charming) but we were happy we had a spot.
The lunch buffet is popular and our server assumed that’s what we wanted. But she brought us the requested menus and our water, and then disappeared. After about 15 minutes she returned and apologized for forgetting about us; she was used to lunch patrons eating from the buffet (service was perfect from then on - attentive, friendly, and informative).

From this very interesting two-page menu, we chose Samosa for our appetizer. The pastry puffs were filled with a slightly spicy combination of potatoes and peas and were hearty and delightful, and very large. The chutneys that accompanied them were just ok for us. We also ordered a side of garlic-topped Naan so had plenty of food before we even ordered our entrees.
Chana was selected from the Vegetarian Specials category and was an excellent choice. Garbanzos, green peppers, and onions were served up in a flavorful tomato sauce with basmati rice and plain Naan. It could have been spicier but we did not ask for it. All the same, it was nowhere near bland and the rice was cooked to perfection. (On the way out we perused the buffet and found Chana to be included; it didn’t look nearly as good as ours.)
From the Traditional Lamb Dish category came the Rogan Josh, also with basmati rice and plain Naan. The mild lamb flavor infused the entire dish, and the sauce came spicy, as requested. The combination of lamb, garlic, onion, ginger, tomato, peppers, and who knows what else made this dish a savory treat.
Nothing came out in a hurry and everything was freshly prepared. The timing between appetizers and main dishes was perfect and we were never rushed. In its defense, the buffet is huge and is your economical best bet.  We prefer to order from the menu, however, sometimes to negative effect (see Palace of India review, 2010.).

But Bombay Cuisine did not disappoint and we can’t wait to go back. They don’t have a website that we could locate but you can access their menu via; the menu there is not exactly identical to that of the restaurant but it's close. Find the menu link on their facebook page.
Bombay Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rose's Restaurant, 550 Lakeside, East Grand Rapids - 4/11/12

Now a member of the Gilmore Collection, part of this building once belonged to the Ramona Amusement Park (1897-1955). Historic pictures line the restaurant hallway, and as a nod to Mr. Rose’s popcorn stand that served customers until the 1980s, the current Rose’s ends your meal with a small cup of caramel corn.  
Located on Reed’s Lake, the main dining area is quaint and a bit rustic; the cozy, heated patio provides year-round seating; and the deck offers the best view of all. Not quite warm enough today for the deck, with no heat lamps running, we opted for the patio, which was a lovely setting on this sunny day.
The menu is reasonably sized and ranges from sandwiches and soup, to pizza and pasta. We bypassed it, however, and selected from the specials, beginning with hummus trio. Fresh vegetables and pita bread chips came along with the trio: edamame, black bean, and roasted pepper. Each flavor was unique and distinctive, with the roasted pepper being our favorite. We didn’t leave much on the plate.
A steak burger, ordered medium-rare, came precisely as ordered. It was deliciously juicy and topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions.  Also listed but barely detectable was orange-jalapeno jam. A bit more of it would have gone a long way to make the burger more remarkable.
From the small plate specials, the described pan-seared diver scallops were irresistible. Being diver scallops, they were sure to be fresh(er), and what a treat they were. A peanut, cilantro, ginger vinaigrette accompanied the scallops along with roasted vegetables; spicy, fried wakame topped off this beautiful presentation. The dish is highly recommended while the scallops are available.
Although the hostess was unfriendly and almost rude, our server was perfect: prompt, efficient, and friendly. This is a very popular place, particularly in the summer time, so plan your visit accordingly and expect a wait time during prime dining hours. Or take a late lunch and walk right in. Either way, you’ll appreciate the view, and the history, of this East Grand Rapids landmark, and you just may enjoy the food as well. 

Find them on facebook and at 
Rose's on Urbanspoon