Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ramona's Table, 2232 Wealthy, East Grand Rapids - 5/22/12

We've described the restaurant and its format on a previous posting (here) but wanted to share our very pleasant experience here again today.

It was a beautiful day and as we ran through our mental list of restaurants with outdoor seating, we decided on Ramona’s Table since we’d only been here once before, last June. The patio has been expanded, and other than the very loud talkers next to us (it’s impolite, people), it’s a very lovely place to sit and enjoy good food.
There is no wait staff service (that is a negative for us) and we were given menus to review while we seated ourselves. One of us stepped back in to order at the counter and pay for the meal. Shortly thereafter the food arrived, and when we were ready for our take home bags, our server wrapped it up for us, like last time, in a paper bag - nice touch (unfortunately, they use styrofoam containers for the salads).

No appetizers are available (there are salads and soups) so we started right in with sandwiches and our first one was the portabella “burger.” The marinated portabella mushrooms came with Havarti cheese (not smothered with it, thankfully, but just a small amount for flavor), tomato, lettuce, and their chipotle mayonnaise. Not being a mayonnaise fan, I was wary of this but the smoked chili pepper flavor came through wonderfully and added a nice kick. 
Our second sandwich selection was the grilled Hawaii Five-O, which nicely blended ham, pineapple, Swiss cheese, bbq sauce, tomato, and wild, mixed greens on sourdough bread. There were no complaints from the ham fan. The textures and flavors complemented each other expertly.
Each sandwich is accompanied by your choice of kettle chips, red skin potatoes, house-made cole slaw or one of their deli salads (they all looked amazing and interesting). The cole slaw was refreshing with its inclusion of chopped pickles and was slightly sweet. The broccoli salad with raisins had a very light sauce and is highly recommended for healthy and delicious eating.

They shop locally, cook creatively, provide very friendly service, and overall offer a restaurant you should enjoy and support. And be sure to check out the old Grand Rapids photographs that populate the walls inside.
Find them on facebook, twitter, and on their website at www.ramonastable.com
Ramona's Table on Urbanspoon

Sandmann's, 1200 Wealthy, R.I.P. - 5/22/12

The big news in Grand Rapids today, at least for food people, is the closing of Sandmann's, by the bank. Allegedly defaulting on a large business loan and not making sales tax payments to the state for some time are not good business practices, but every BBQ fan is sorry to see them go. 

This once dilapidated corner held an old gas station that was renovated into the current Sandmann's in 2004 (they lost their lease in their previous location across the street, opened in 2000). And before that, these enterprising Grill Masters sold their goods on their own to people on lunch break and to festival goers. 

Now the assets are seized and all that could be seen today were people reading the posted court order, and people photographing people reading the posted court order.
Here it is for your edification:
Sending very best wishes to the owners and hoping that things will work out and the restaurant and/or their food, will live on. Here's to sunnier days ahead...
Sandmann's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Taqueria San Jose, 1338 S Division - 5/1/12

Recommended by a friend (thanks, Sarah!), we drove south on Division to find this little restaurant. When we spotted it, we realized that we’ve driven past it dozens of times but always thought it was a vacant, run-down, old drive-in restaurant space (maybe a previous life as an A&W?). We pulled into the parking lot, and almost bailed on the place because it looked like take-out only. But we were told there was indoor seating so we decided to check it out.
The small area seats 16 at best (4 tables for 3, and 1 for four) and ordering takes place at the window. (Outside in the old drive-in serving area are a few picnic tables to be enjoyed in good weather.) Two tables inside were taken and another customer was at the window, so we had a few minutes to check out the posted menu while we waited. 
If you need definitions of Mexican dishes, you won’t find them here. So look up birria de chivo, gorditas, tortas and/or menudo before you go. And having said that, after asking for gorditas and being told it would be a 20 minute wait, we went conservative and carnivore, and ordered asada tacos and quesadillas. Both arrived with cilantro, onions, tomatoes, and a grilled jalapeno, and we think they may be the best we’ve had in Grand Rapids. The jalapeno is grilled long enough to not burn your eyes.
What looked to be three family members (mother, father, daughter) could be seen working in the kitchen behind the window; the daughter took our order and delivered it to us at our table. All of them were incredibly friendly and we could see the mother making tortillas - how fresh can you get. The father came into the restaurant to talk to another customer, checked out our food, and brought us an unnamed sauce that should be used with the quesadillas - nice. 

Don’t bypass this amazing little place, and leave your tips in the jar. Some books can’t be judged by their covers and we’ll be back, specifically to try the gorditas. You’ll also get to watch Mexican soap operas on T.V.
There’s no website or twitter presence but there is a facebook created account, for whatever that’s worth. Look for the sign on Division and stop in.
Taqueria San Jose on Urbanspoon