Friday, April 27, 2018

Citizen, 2115 Plainfield Ave NE ~ 4/27/18

Grand Rapids now has its own Tiki Bar and Restaurant and it is a cool little spot. Parking is around the back and you have to walk down the side of the building to get to the front door entrance.
There are back doors, and most restaurants with parking in the rear also have a rear-door entrance but not here.
The walk through is nicely decorated, complete with patio lights.
And the patio is now open for business, which should do wonders for their street visibility.
At lunchtime, customers are invited to seat themselves. It was wide open so we picked a table in the middle.
A padded bench runs along one wall, high-tops fill the center, and the bar is located on the opposite wall. The space is long and narrow, and creatively decorated.
There are 17 menu items divided into Small Chow, Big Chow, and Hand Held Chow. We really wanted to try everything on the menu but settled on Fried Peking Duck Spring Rolls to start.
The sweet chili mango sauce nicely accompanied the duck, rice noodles, carrots and onion. Both of our next selections came from the Hand Held column. The Luau Burger arrived with grilled pineapple, marinated red pepper, sliced onion, spicy mayo, and huli huli bbq glaze on a Hawaiian sweet roll. It was big and messy, but pretty tasty. Unfortunately, the burger was overdone, particularly on one side. To be fair, we didn't ask for medium rare nor did our server ask how we wanted it done.
Our second item was Banh Mi. It's not what you'd get at Ly's Sandwiches (4242 S Division) but it was decent and flavorful. Citrus marinated pork, herbed chicken liver pate, cilantro, pickles carrots and daikon with hoisin sauce glaze on French bread.
Of the three sides available with the Hand Helds, we chose spicy togarashi fries, and carrot and ginger salad (the third choice was smashed cucumbers).

The leftover boxes are superb (no styrafoam!) and the bill and receipt came as creatively as one would expect from this restaurant.
So we like this place, a lot, but think coming here for dinner is more interesting (or ordering from the Big Chow list). Thankfully, a group of us did just that a few weeks ago so I'm going to include a few photos from that visit just to round off this review. First of all, the cocktails. The reverse side of the food menu lists the alcohol selections: Tiki Bowls, Tiki Cocktails, Sake, Wine, Drafts, and Bottles & Cans. The cocktails are glorious to behold and even better to consume. Pictured here are Tiny Bubbles, Mai Tai, Little Grass Shack, Snowbird, and a weekend special, Tropical Negroni.
One of us may have poked herself in the face with that long piece of green vegetation in the Snowbird :-) We started with the Ahi Tuna Poke,
and moved on to Pork Belly Ramen, Green Curry Noodle bowl and Pepper Steak Stir Fry. They have a very good chef. Service is also superb (both visits).
You can see why dinner is so much more exciting than lunch (unless you're drinking cocktails and eating bowls of food for lunch). The restaurant opened last November and should not be missed! (P.S. They have a fun instagram account at #citizengr)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Shelley's Kitchen, 1140 Burton St SW, Wyoming ~ 4/10/18

We were looking for breakfast and bandied about the usual suspects: Real Food, Westsider, Peppermill, but we've been to all of them numerous times. Then we found Shelley's Kitchen. It's not new but it was new to us. The building is also not new and somewhat non-descript and a little seedy but there were people in it and we decided to check it out.
And it is as cute as can be. It's tiny, with booths for four on the ends and booths for two the long way along with the counter.
There is one restroom, for one, quaintly called the Necessary Room. It also is small.
We were promptly offered menus and we placed our beverage order. Our server returned in two minutes to take our order but we hadn't even looked at the menus yet. We mentioned we needed a few more minutes. That was fine but then she never returned. Fifteen minutes later we caught the eye of the cook with whom she was chatting and wrapping silverware. He told her to look behind her where we were both trying to get her attention. So there was one snafu but everything else went fine.

The oatmeal sounded good (brown sugar and raisins) on the the daily special page but our server suggested the baked oatmeal instead and offered to bring out a taste. How nice was that!
And it was delicious with raisins, apples, and cinnamon. Sold.
Our toast substitutions were English muffins and we split a side of bacon.
Our other dish was a Western Omelette, and it was so greasy and yes, delicious; the omelette and English muffin were both dripping. This just solidified the whole 'greasy spoon' nomenclature :-).
From a newspaper article on the wall, it looks like this place opened in 2001 and the neighborhood is obviously supporting it. The very large menu includes some Mexican dishes and lunch/dinner items. This is a breakfast-lunch place (due to their hours) but you could grab an early dinner here as well. We laughed at the senior menu (sorry, one pancake?).
Your bill has to be brought up to the counter and you do not know the amount until it gets rung up (ours was $23 something).
So there you have it. An altogether satisfying experience at Shelley's Kitchen and we would definitely return to try some of their lunch/dinner items. If you enjoy an old-school diner experience, this is your place. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

El Globo Restaurant, 2019 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids ~ 3/21/18

We discovered a Mexican restaurant we had never been to so today we ventured in. It wasn't clear if it was just counter service because there were a lot of people clustered in the back by the counter. But we took a seat to find out. Soon enough a friendly server brought us our menus along with a small serving of tortilla chips, salsa, and two sauces, one slightly hot and the other a delicious mysterious avocado concoction.
Wednesdays are $1 Taco days, yup $1, so it was busy. Most people came in for take-out but there were a few other booths occupied. Unfortunately, one other couple sat behind me and every time he leaned back, our shared booth wall pushed me a couple of inches forward.

The restaurant is long and fairly good-sized with booths along one wall and tables filling up the rest of the space. The decor is simple and the walls are covered with large paper posters. It's all tasteful.
Being Taco Day, it's what we had to go with: steak, pork, and tongue.
And Gorditas being a favorite, we had to try one of those, here along with a chicken taco.
We added sauce to all of them, the chicken was slightly dry without it (and the sauces were great), but the ample cilantro, fresh tortillas, and all of the other ingredients made up a fantastic lunch. And don't mind an occasional typo. It won't take away from your enjoyment of the food.
Our bill had to be paid back at the counter where everyone was picking up their take-out orders. There is also a back entrance which opens onto a city parking lot which we used. Parking is limited on Division at this location so just park behind the building. Service was great with a very friendly and informative server, and the place is clean, including restrooms.
Depending on when you come, especially on a Wednesday, you may have a wait. But if speed is what you want, you can always head to Taco Bell. If you want delicious tacos, this place will be worth your while.