Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cranker's Restaurant & Brewery, 454 68th St SW - 9/17/13

Sometimes we meander around to see what we might find and today we happened upon Cranker's via a smart phone. It looked like an old drive-through something and we discovered it was a Schlotzsky's Deli in its previous life.  Back in 2008, the Crank family purchased it and opened another Cranker's Coney Island.
Last year the family added a brewery to its Big Rapids location, and this year they did the same to their Mount Pleasant and Grand Rapids locations. We haven't been to the other locations, but this restaurant has a very weird vibe to it.
Walk in and it will feel like you are in a New Beginnings or Anna's House, and the menu confirms your feelings - a full breakfast menu, a 15-minute guaranteed lunch menu, and lots of retired people in the restaurant - but with beer! There are about 21 booths located in 5 short rows, and behind that, the kitchen and small brewery. A very small outdoor patio is also available.
There is a small bar tucked in the corner but no one was partaking of its goodness this afternoon but us, and we thoroughly enjoyed the Ambrosia Honey Kolsch and Professor IPA.
The 6-beer menu suggests pairings with menu items, which is so appreciated, but the appetizers consisted of typical bar food, except for the Saganaki, so that was our choice.
We subsequently decided to go with burgers, and thanks to Stella's, it's difficult to resist a stuffed burger, particularly when it's filled with cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers.
Our other choice was the simpler, but not much smaller, bacon cheeseburger.
The Cranker's version of onion rings (Lager rings) was most impressive, with thickly cut onions, well-presented.
The soundtrack playing easy listening, pop hits was fine for us but I doubt anyone else in the place, other than staff, recognized any of the songs. We're assuming that a different crowd rolls in at night. Our server was excellent - friendly and efficient - and pretty much worked the room herself with a little assistance from a manager and the take-out window order-taker.

When we asked about seeing the brewery, we were told that most of the beer is brewed at the Big Rapids location but a little is brewed here (with its 3-barrel nano-brewery). Lastly, this sign was bothersome grammatically.
They have several facebook pages, a twitter presence, and an outdated urban spoon page. We feel the need to visit them in Big Rapids.

Crankers Coney Island on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant, 216 Van Raalte Avenue, Holland - 9/10/13

Located next to Kollen Park on Lake Macatawa, the location is irresistible on a summer day. You can arrive by boat, if you have one, or by car, which we did today.
Walking in shortly before noon, we found a few people waiting to be seated by two hostesses. The patio fronting the lake was reasonably full, the large interior not so much. But still we waiting at least 10 minutes to be seated. Hostesses were awkward, slow, and just semi-friendly. While we waited we looked into the glass-enclosed kitchen, where chefs were checking the computer screen for orders.

We choose to sit on the wrap-around patio that had one table in the shade available. The wind was fierce so no umbrellas were permitted but we had a lovely view of the water, and the condos and homes of the very wealthy.

Starting with a Sam Adams Octoberfest and an Oberon, we enjoyed the ambiance but not our server’s continual use of the royal “we”, e.g. “do we know what we’re having yet?” She tried to rush us at first but then realized that was not possible.
The appetizer ‘house specialty’ is seafood chowder and we both began with a cup of it. According to our server, the ingredients vary depending on what is available fresh. Today we believe it consisted of tilapia, salmon, crab, shrimp, calamari, potatoes, and carrots. It was thick and delicious, and very filling, and was served with two dinner rolls that may have arrived warm but cooled off in two minutes with the wild patio wind.
We were happy we waited to order our main dishes because they were out in two minutes - microwave suspect. Great Lakes perch was fresh and delicately fried. (The great flavor held over to the next day when the leftovers were consumed.) It was nicely enhanced by the tasty dill and caper remoulade. Nonetheless, five pieces for $17.95 is a bit pricy.
The lightly breaded fantail shrimp platter also fared well but the fries accompanying both dishes were completely underdone. Pale, semi-raw, and inedible, we left them for the trash. And placing the lemon in the creamy cole slaw may be creative to look at but messy to pull out in order to spritz the seafood.
The crowd outside was mixed with workers on lunch hour, and retired people, and then a David Crosby look-a-like arrived.
Outside the restaurant we found a boat parked in the carry-out location, and a sign crediting the boat manufacturer to a non-existent town in Illinois (Tinley Park, perhaps?). Photograph yourself in it at your own risk.
Lastly, we recognized an old ArtPrize sculpture which apparently found a permanent home. Too bad people are taking souvenirs from the “fingers.” It’s a great location for a restaurant, and the interior has glass all around so you can take in the lovely view (except for Padnos) but you will take your chances on the food and service.
Boatwerks Water Front on Urbanspoon