Dec 21, 2014

New in 2014. Add one more Micro Brewery to the Kalamazoo craft beer scene. One Well Brewing is well located just off the highway on Portage Road and in the large and diverse Millwood neighborhood. Their name comes from the concept of a well being a common meeting place for a community. I think they can become that with the neat atmosphere of rustic woodwork and a neat wrap around bar. They are very into the local arts community and were hosting a Kalamadoodle event the night we visited. No food yet, but they have free popcorn and cheap peanuts so far. I tried the Bad Adz brown ale named for the company that did a lot of the woodwork. Very nice beer. I also tried the SimcoeRillo IPA made with Simcoe and Amarillo hops. Also, a good example of a craft IPA. I finished with the Xalapa which was a jalapeno infused blonde ale. Fairly mild with nice overall flavor. The owners were working behind the bar. Great atmosphere, good beer and nice people! Check out the guide for more details.

Nov 6, 2014

This place has had a lot of people talking and eagerly waiting. Finally Ziingo Urban Asian has opened in Woodbridge Shopping Center in Portage. Created by the Chinn Chinn people of Mattawan, expectations have been high. The concept is completely different from Chinn Chinn and is strictly carry-out. A large chalkboard gives you options as you go to the counter and pick your rice or noodles, sauce, meat or tofu, topping and finishing ingredients. I had the pad thai noodles, green curry sauce, steak, brussel sprouts, onions, topped with sprouts and finished with sesame seeds. You can add soy or sirachi and other sauces at the end. Sodas and waters are in the cooler then you leave. Excellent food, priced reasonably and ever changing options and combinations. When we want carry-out this will be a favorite! Note: long lines move fast. Check out the guide for more details.

Oct 9, 2014

I don't know if this place will revive downtown Constantine, but it is worth getting off the highway to visit. Constantine Brewing Company, LLC has a neat atmosphere with a bar area and a second room filled with picnic tables and a stage. They keep six beers on tap. I had the Emperor's Victory Stout which was very smooth and good. My wife tried the fruity wine which was ok. I missed the BBQ because we got there too near closing time, however they served me a fantastic cup of their chili they call "Matt's Famous Chili". I talked to the cook who said he had worked on that recipe for 30 years. I do want to go back for more beer and BBQ. They have pulled pork and brisket with daily specials. All food is made from scratch with as many local ingredients as possible. The beer is good, the food is good. Nice friendly place. Check out the guide for more details.

Aug 30, 2014

This place was rebuilt in 2011 after a 2010 fire. However it has an inscription on the fireplace about it being a fur trading post in 1809. After the fire that nearly took the owner's life (she was rescued by neighbors who brought a ladder to her window, which she crawled out of with her hair on fire)the rebuild still has an old feel to it. The ceiling is covered in old doors inside, and shutters on the nice screened porch. We sat on the porch with a nice view of Devil's Lake. This classic lake area bar and grill in Manitou Beach used to be called the Manitou Beach Inn and now is the Manitou Bar and Grill. They are known for burgers and their famous soups the most famous being the cabbage chowder. I had a pulled pork sandwich which was very good. My wife had a southwest salad with grilled chicken with housemade dressing. Our friends had fish dinners perch and salmon. Everything was very good and we will go back. Lots of specials mean a constantly changing menu. The atmosphere is great and provides live entertainment after dinner hours. Nice family run operation. Check out the guide for more details.

Aug 15, 2014

New in 2014. This place has as good a location as you can get. Right on the South Haven harbor next to the Idler. Admiral Jack's Bar and Grill has a great view of the harbor, the drawbridge and the tall ship. Notice their dinghy dock runs the length of the business. We tied our dinghy up and walked right up for drinks and dinner. Very cool! I had their perch sandwich with tater tots which was very good. My wife had a chicken wrap with potato salad that she really liked. I had a craft beer from Founder's and she had a cocktail. This is an open air bar and grill with an unbeatable view, good food and a full bar. They have a good craft beer selection, lots of summer drink concoctions and shot specials when the drawbridge is up. This place is owned by the Joe's Bar and Grill people and will be very popular. I will update the listing in the guide when I get more info. This is a must visit while in South Haven! Check the guide for more details.

Aug 1, 2014

Since 2014. Located in the former space of Arie's London Grill. This place has a very Michigan theme. Starting with the name The Lost Raven to honor the lost days when the Raven was common in lower Michigan and is now relegated mostly to the U.P. and the tip of the lower peninsula. The ingredients are mostly from Michigan including the beers, wines and spirits. I started with a "Michigan" mule using Michigan vodka along with their house made ginger beer. My wife had a special cocktail using Michigan made gin and fresh blueberries. For my meal I had a sandwich called the peachy pig made using peachy pulled pork, bacon, onion peach jam and arugula on a nice locally made bun. Very good! My wife had the crispy whitefish with tomato, greens and pesto mayo on brewers bread. I had a taste of that as well and it was also very good. They offer some very original items. Appetizers include pub poutine with nettle-leek gravy, truffle crème fraiche and Michigan cheddar curds. Also, try the great lakes fish cakes made with house smoked Lake Superior whitefish and arugula pesto. Soups include roasted lily using seasonal lilies, herbs, bread crisp and white cheddar. Nice selection of salads like pulled pork or steak and blue cheese. Other sandwiches are offered including veggie or burgers. Pasta dishes looked good with offerings like marinara and primavera as well as chicken and pork belly alfredo. After 4pm the menu broadens to include cassoulet, 1/2 chicken, tomato and fennel whitefish, lamb shank and top sirloin. This is a true Michigan farm to table place with a very nice atmosphere and very good food made in an open kitchen by people who care. A must visit place for our area!

Jun 27, 2014

Since 1907. This landmark bar/restaurant sits on historic North Territorial Road which was formerly a horse trail. The historic Inverness Inn sits across from the Inverness Country Club golf course near North Lake not far from Chelsea. The Main dining room is a log cabin with a stone fireplace and a mounted moose head. This bar/restaurant has good food. I liked the burger with homemade potato chips and a Bell's beer. The menu is large with lots of other burgers, appetizers, salads and sandwiches. They also have lots of interesting dinner items like ribs, steak, fish and chicken. They are also known for their south of the border offerings and are reputed to be one of the best places to get pizza in the area. I have lots of things to try on my next visits! They offer a kids menu and some nice desserts, so take the whole family. Live entertainment on Friday and Saturday. They also offer a lighter menu with smaller sized meals. Full bar and neat history make this a must see place. Check out the guide for more details.

May 21, 2014

New in 2014. Peruvians moved to our area to be close to family after retirement. Unable to find any Peruvian restaurants in the entire state of Michigan, they drove to Chicago when they craved their favorite foods from their homeland. Now, they have blessed our corner of the state with El Inka a Peruvian Bistro in Kalamazoo. Nice comfortable space with native decorations on the walls. They had a rotisserie oven shipped from Peru so they could bring pollo a lo brasa to us. The whole chickens are marinated in Peruvian spices and cooked rotisserie style. This is now their signature dish. I had purple corn drink to start which was interesting. We tried aji de gallina which was a creamy yellow sauce over chicken and potatoes and topped with a slice of hard boiled egg. Also, try the ceviche which is raw fish marinated in citrus and chilis and is the most popular dish in Peru. We did try dessert as well which was rice pudding with a little cinnamon and warm fruit compote on top. Very good! I have never heard of most dishes offered here so this will be an adventure as we return to try many other dishes. They have applied for a license to sell alcohol in the future. Check out the guide for more details.

May 16, 2014

This place opened in 2013 in downtown Chelsea. The building for Smokehouse 52 BBQ is really neat with high tin ceilings, hardwood floors and exposed brick. It is the former location of a small grocery store. Inside this historic location is a true original BBQ joint offering real pit smoked BBQ like pulled pork, brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken and even pork chops. They offer a couple of unique soups like smoked chicken corn chowder or their chili made with their brisket. On the table are four different types of BBQ sauce. They offer a unique salad called the "piggy colada" which has pulled pork, pineapple, banana bread croutons and sliced almonds, then covered with house made coconut vinaigrette dressing! Since Chelsea is the home of "Jiffy Mix" the croutons and cornbread are all made from this local iconic company's mixes. Want more? Our grandson had the chicken and waffles. I tasted his fried chicken and would come back to make that my dinner. How about mac and cheese or even cajun mac and cheese? They do offer some fish like cedar plank salmon or bacon wrapped BBQ shrimp. They also have sandwiches and burgers. Kids menu and a bar round out this place for the whole family. Roomy and comfortable. Check out the guide for more details.

Apr 13, 2014

This place is my favorite breakfast place. I have a lot of ones I really like, but this is the one. Most people do not even know about this place. They have never advertised and I didn't know they existed for their first 21 years even though I had walked and driven by many times. A friend with a cottage in Saugatuck asked if I had ever been to Ida Red's Cottage? I thought it was a rental. After he told me, I had to check it out. I have been going every chance I get since then. It is small with limited hours and the wait to get in is usually long. However, if you like everything made from scratch using only the best and freshest ingredients, you have to go get in line. The homemade raspberry muffins are perfect. Especially with a glass of fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice. Lots of omelets and other egg dishes. (Check the specials board) Great pancakes and waffles. Everything has a unique twist from Asian, Greek, or Spanish to whatever the cook wants to do that day. My wife loves the potato pancakes which are not a regular item. I would drive a hour just to have breakfast here. As long as I have been going, the same people seem to work there. This is as good as it gets. Check the guide for more details.

Apr 3, 2014

This new place has turned the table on a bank. Building a nice restaurant in a former bank building strikes me as irony. The Vault Coffee House and Wine Bar opened in January in downtown Vicksburg. Not only is it downtown, it is also on part of a lake called sunset pond. Overlooking this pond is their very large outdoor patio which will be fun as the weather warms. The owners are former coffee shop people and I think intended this place to be more of a coffee shop and wine bar. While being that, it has also morphed into a popular restaurant. Nice sandwiches with a twist like the wrap my wife had called the Baja with chicken and avocado. I had their soon to be famous stuffed olive burger. On our second trip I had the soup and sandwich special which offered a very nice seafood bisque and a good deli style ham sandwich. My wife had another wrap. This time it was the Thai wrap with peanut sauce that she liked a lot. They are also getting known for their house made potato chips. They offer breakfast with crepes, French toast and their excellent coffee. Dinner includes the sandwiches described above along with steaks and pasta. The daily specials are always worth checking out. Kid and family friendly. Nice space in front with couches for relaxing with your coffee or wine. Growing wine selection and good craft beer choices. Live music sometimes, so check their facebook page. Nice owners Clint and Michelle with a true desire to offer Vicksburg a special place for food and drink. Check out the guide for more details.

Mar 9, 2014

Since 2013. New to Kalamazoo, a Battle Creek mainstay has opened a second location. Hogzilla BBQ Pit brings real award winning pit BBQ to a new market. This place only has 2 or 3 tables and is mostly carryout. The menu is limited but offers some very good items like pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket and rib tips. You can also order 1/4 & 1/2 BBQ chicken or 1/4, 1/2 & full racks of spare ribs. They also offer smoked sausage, chicken wings and Friday catfish fry. I liked the sides as well, especially the mac & cheese. They also have coleslaw, potato salad, spaghetti & bbq baked beans. Cornbread is also good. I had the pulled pork which was very tender with their unique bbq sauce which seems more vinegar based than most in the area. I did request a hot bbq sauce which came out thick and it was as hot as I would want. They do offer a couple of salads with one including smoked chicken. I want to try that on my next visit.

Feb 10, 2014

I have driven by this place many times and thought someday I need to visit. That day came and I was glad to find a neat place near Clark Lake just south of Jackson. In Good Company is a full service spot with many unique items. They are known for one of the largest selections of Bourbon between Michigan and Kentucky. I had the Bourbon BBQ ribs which were excellent! My wife had the Sticky Pecan Bourbon Chicken which was also very good. Other entrees include Bourbon BBQ Shrimp. They do have non Bourbon items as well like pot roast, Delmonico or flat iron steaks, fish or chicken. I was also impressed with their award winning white chicken chili. The pasta sounded good. They offer grown up mac & cheese, deep blue mac or southwest mac. They also offer other pasta dishes like lasagna. Salads, sandwiches and desserts round out the lunch and dinner portion making this a good place to bring the family. Full bar with lots of Bourbon! They do have breakfast, but I will save that for another visit and another review.

Jan 28, 2014

This place just opened in December of 2013. Kevin and Cindee Tibbs have created a neat atmosphere on a great corner next to the State Theater in downtown Kalamazoo. Tibbs Brewing Company seats 55 and offers 3-5 taps each day along with a chalkboard menu with a few items like nachos, sandwiches and some tasty pretzels from Renzema's Bakery in Parchment. You can try small glasses of the beers before committing to a pint. The day of my visit they offered an IPA, a Citra and a very nice Porter. I am a fan of Porters, so that was my favorite. I also really liked the pretzels. I have been to this space many times in my life as it was various restaurants. They have kept the spirit of the space and made a nice addition to the downtown beer scene. Nice place and nice people. Check out the guide for more details.