Dec 14, 2013

New in 2013. Portage is the 15th location of Grand Traverse Pie Company, however the couple that owns this small Traverse City chain has roots here where the wife grew up and graduated from Portage Northern HS. The company formerly sold only pies in 1996 at the first Traverse City location. Now the café concept offers 40 pies throughout the year along with pot pies, quiche, soups and sandwiches. Not to mention all the other baked goods. They make the best crumb cherry pie I have ever had! The pies are 9" or 6" for a full pie or you can buy by the slice. Nice comfortable dining room. You do order at the counter, but it is worth it for the pie alone. My wife really liked the coconut crème pie. They make most products using Michigan ingredients. Nice addition for great desserts in the Kalamazoo area. Check out the guide for more details.

Nov 25, 2013

New in 2001. However, Timothy's Restaurant at the Gordon Beach Inn is in a building that opened in 1924. Very cool atmosphere in this old fashioned inn. Tim Sizer is a well trained and well traveled chef that has a unique philosophy to cooking which combines contrasting features of color, texture and flavors to make your meal an experience. He was runner up in Best Chef America. I started with the homemade clam chowder which was excellent. They are also known for their fire roasted tomato bisque. They have appetizers like crab cakes, calamari and bang bang shrimp as well. My entrée choice was fish which was a horse radish crusted Michigan whitefish with balsamic glaze and lemon aoli. My wife had the salmon with an Asian sesame sauce. My friend had the walleye with strawberries and a sauce I can't recall. This really is unlike any other fish place I have been. Not that fish is all they do. Also, try the ribs, lamb, duck, steaks, chicken or pasta dishes. All are served uniquely in Tim Sizer style. Other fish offerings include scallops, sea bass or grouper(coconut macadamia nut crusted)! I will try the grouper next time. They have sandwiches, salads and a full bar with a decent wine list. All desserts are made in house. Special 10 entrée's for $10 are offered in the off season reason not to make the trip. The hours are limited off season so be sure to check the guide for more details.

Oct 21, 2013

New in 2013. The latest Millennium Group offering is now open in Portage. The Centre Street Tap House is similar to the Central City Tap House located downtown Kalamazoo connected to the Epic Bistro. Portage has more room than downtown and easier parking. Great atmosphere and lots of TVs to watch the game. I like the lamb sliders or the bangers and mash. Nice burger selection along with many other sandwiches. Lots of great appetizers including tater tots and deviled eggs. For entrees, try the gourmet mac and cheese or the flat iron steak. Like craft beer? Large selection with both local and international quality beers both on tap and in bottles. The wine lovers can buy by the glass and they even have wine on tap! This place did a good job for us the second day they opened, so it looks like a nice addition to Portage.

Oct 3, 2013

New in 2013. The name and location is new, however the downtown Jackson Grand River Marketplace evolved from Sleeping Bear Winery and Bad Bear Brewing Co. which was at the Concord exit. The new place is large and able to accommodate their new deli, winery, brewery and restaurant all under one roof. They also have room for a nice stage for live entertainment. This place has very good food made with top quality ingredients that you can see or buy many of from the deli. They are probably best known for their pizza, which is very good. The brewpub also offers some very nice deli sandwiches and burgers. The winery has a tasting area and a large selection. I am a big fan of porters and this brewery offers a constant rotation of several porters which have all been good so far. They brewer is very creative and has several other unique beers for you to try. This is the indoor area next to the Jackson Farmers Market. Check out more details in the guide.

Sep 9, 2013

New in 2013. At least as a sit down place. Maestro's Pizza at 12th Street and Milham Road by Wedel's Nursery has moved from being a take out place in the nearby party store since 2011 to their own space in the nearby strip mall. The local owners are Matt and Deanna Watson who run this sit down pizza and sandwich place with a full bar. Excellent thin crust pizza cut in triangles so you can fold it and eat it New York style. The dough, sauce and Italian sausage are all homemade. The mushrooms are fresh, not from a can. I am looking forward to my next visit to try the salads and a calzone with a frosty mug of beer. Great location, local owners and excellent food make this a winner. Check out the guide for more details.

Aug 9, 2013

New in 2013. This place has made a serious investment in Portage to become the town's first micro-brewery. Latitude 42 Brewing Co. is a first class effort by Joe Stafford and co. to offer great beers and excellent food to go with them. The atmosphere is very nice. Set up like a cross between a sports bar and a brewpub. I had the burger on the second night they were opened. I had to wait a little for it which was expected, however, I got a very good burger cooked the way I ordered with hot crispy fries. Great job handling a "quiet" opening that resulted in as much as a two hour wait for a table due to the crowds! I tried the powerline porter and the milk of amnesia stout which were both very good. I had tried the red beard before at a city of Portage outdoor concert. The red beard is a good summer beer. Nice place with good beer and good food. I noticed familiar employee faces from around the area. They also did a good job of hiring an excellent staff. Their brewer from Hawaii also knows what he is doing. I am sure more good things will come from this group! Check the guide for more details.

Aug 3, 2013

New in 2011. This place near Gun Lake in the former O'Neil's Restaurant has quickly become a favorite. Called Sand Bar & Grill, they have renovated this place inside and out including a very nice outdoor deck. It is both a family welcoming restaurant with a kids menu and a nice place for drinks in the comfortable bar area. They patty their own burgers including one made with Italian sausage. These are served on a pretzel bun. Try the housemade white chicken chili which has won several awards. They have a long list of appetizers including a meatball bucket, sliders or thick cut onion rings. We tried the all meat skewers in a bucket. We ordered 3 with shrimp and 3 with steak. On a second visit my wife had the shrimp and chicken. The bucket was filled with grilled veggies and the meat was quality and cooked perfectly. I highly recommend these. They have lots of other sandwiches, wraps and paninis as well as steaks and pastas. Nightly specials and a full bar with several craft beers makes this worth a trip. Nice place and nice people! The owners work there everyday. Check out the guide for more details.

Jun 30, 2013

New in 2011. This place is connected to one of my favorites that has been in the guide for awhile called La Perla in Benton Harbor. That favorite of mine is run by Esteban Blanco's father. He worked for his father for 13 years before coming to Kalamazoo and opening El Gallo Blanco on Portage Road. This is very authentic Mexican food with unique offerings like fried cactus. I like the Alambre dish made with ham, bacon, shredded pork, onions, peppers and cheese. I also like the Steak Bistec. They have your favorites like tacos and burritos, but they offer some items not found on our "Americanized" Mexican restaurant menus. They also make their own soft drinks like horchata and hibiscus. This place is worth a drive if you like the real authentic experience. Check the guide for more details.

Jun 3, 2013

This place is new in 2013. In a great spot on top of the hill overlooking South Haven's harbor and lighthouse is Taste small plates & martinis. They do have big plates if you like with offerings like a filet, catfish, ribs or blackened chicken. We went for the small plates. My wife had their chicken sandwich with avocado and swiss on a butter roll and would go right back for that same one again! I had the pork flautas which were tasty as well. Others are mussels, Cuban shrimp, catfish or bay scallops scampi. They have several others and even cold plates with cold smoked salmon, crab napoleon or meat, cheese & olive. The last one uses brie and manchego for the cheeses. Soups include their signature tomato parmesan bisque and a daily special. They offer some salads like the goat cheese and beet or heirloom spinach. Small kids menu. Full bar with martinis being the specialty. Last but not least check out the desserts like blueberry mouse or bananas foster crepes. Great view from the front west corner seats. Check out the guide for more details.

Apr 24, 2013

New Southern Comfort place

This place does not look like much from the outside with need of updating and a gravel parking lot, however HamBone Café near Fennville and Saugatuck is redone on the inside of the building which is very nice and comfortable. The menu is the draw with meats being slow cooked on site along with biscuits made from scratch. How about the lunch I had, featuring a bowl of pinto beans with their delicious ham served with a grilled cornbread muffin and green onions. Soup or salad came prior.  Try their hand breaded chicken fried steak for breakfast or dinner. Cover the biscuits or the chicken fried steak with their homemade sausage gravy. Lots of omlets, pancakes and French toast offerings for breakfast as well as your toast or lunch sandwich will be made with house baked bread or some from a local bakery. Even the bacon is thick sliced and smoked. Use for lunch as well on their xtreme BLT with five slices! The ham is "bone in" and so is the ribeye steak which is offered for dinner. You could even get the ribeye with tiger shrimp either grilled or deep fried. For dinner they also offer pork chops with apple chutney, pot roast  or roast turkey dinner with stuffing. Kids menu available. No alcohol. Don't miss desserts like Texas sheet cake, peach cobbler or Kentucky butter cake. The cook is proud of his food and will come out to see how everyone liked their meal. Check out the guide for more details.

Mar 25, 2013

I had heard the Tapas place in Benton Harbor had closed and a new, very good restaurant had opened in the same space. Near the Pipestone Mall is Cravings Bistro and Pub which opened in 2012. This place is a little hard to describe so here goes...casual, steak and seafood with a Cuban emphasis. Very unique menu with appetizers such as plantain chips & salsa or jumbo blue crab & corn cakes. One of their salads features goat cheese. I started my meal with their signature lobster bisque made with real crab and a touch of sherry. Excellent! Main dishes include lime cilantro chicken breast, guava BBQ chicken, plantain encrusted salmon or try the 20oz porterhouse. For pasta lovers how about portabella mushroom ravioli or Thai shrimp penne. I went for the house paella with pulled pork, sausage, saffron rice and ficama which they kicked up to extra spicy per my request. Also excellent! They have seafood or vegetarian paella as well. Sides include South American green rice, fried sweet plantains or mac & cheese. They are open for lunch with burgers like the South American burger using a  mix of chorizo and beef or other sandwiches like pulled pork or their Cuban. Kids menu, full bar and live entertainment on Thursdays make this a happening place. These people love food and love sharing it with you. Check out the guide for more details.

Feb 22, 2013

This place has caught on quickly and is well deserving of the great reviews. The Four Roses Café in Plainwell is locally owned and operated by people with great pride in what they offer. Steaks and fish dominate the menu, however they are changed frequently on a paper and chalkboard menu. Very creative offerings like whitefish Grenoble, maple mustard ribs or Guinness beef. They do offer chicken or pork options as well, all of which are very unique. The appetizer list is long and features things like calamari. One of the most impressive things to me was the approximately 20 desserts offered. They actually have a pastry chef. I have not seen a dessert list like this since R. Stanley closed in Kalamazoo. Try the sticky toffee pudding. They have sandwiches and are open for lunch. Full bar and nice wine list as well as a nice selection of craft beers. I was able to get plead the fifth from Darkhorse Brewery here. Look for their frequent menu changes on their facebook page. Be prepared to wait for a seat, this place is popular. Check out the guide for more details.