Subway, Washington Square, Lansing

Hey, not all meals can be fancy or exciting. A man’s gotta eat, though.

I trudged from my office in downtown Lansing to Subway on the coldest day of the year… until the next day arrived. But I needed a sub, and I was going to get one, frostbite be damned.

I’ve been happy with all my trips to the South Washington Subway. They are fast, and they need to be – with one of the Cooley Law School buildings right across the street, lots of hungry would-be lawyers come in every day.

No toasting for me, thanks – that’s Quizno’s deal. I like my Subway subs the old fashioned way – cold. I almost always get the Classic Italian with lettuce, pickles, jalapenos, and mayo. It works for me, so I stick with it.

And like all the other times I’ve been there, I was happy with the speed and service and food. Some days, just a simple sub will do.

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Beer and pork at The State Room

Andrea and I attend the Beer & Pork Dinner at The State Room in the Kellogg Center on Tuesday. The State Room had done a great job with the wine dinners we had attended before, so we tried the beer dinner, which was a first for us, and them as well. Take a look at the menu:

  • Savory Custard (with bacon)
  • Pastured Bacon Wrapped Scallop
  • Braised Pork Shoulder salad 
  • Cambozola Cheese Stuffed Pork Meatloaf
  • Dragon’s Milk Stout Ice Cream

That’s a lot of pork. Even the ice cream had bacon on it, so it was a meal geared for me, who sees bacon as a sign that God exists.

New Holland was the hosting brewery. Their beers were good overall, but I really enjoyed the Charkoota, and not just because of the name, which sounds like some kind of Zulu warrior king. The beer was smoky and spicy and very good. I had never tasted anything like it, and I’ll be looking to buy that one again.

The beer dinner, like the wine dinners we have previously attended, did not leave us wanting for more food. Though each plate was relatively small, the meatloaf being the exception, there were enough courses to fill us up.

Andrea was so enthralled with the garlic butter that she took it home with us. I cannot say anything disparaging about it, otherwise, Andrea would come at me with a sharp object. She has a fanatical devotion to that butter.

My one criticism of our experience was the pork lady. She was an MSU farm advocate and kept going on and on about “sustainable food.” I’ll be honest – I don’t care if a pig lives on an open field, in an enclosed space, or the Playboy mansion. It’s a pig. It’s my food. I don’t care about its comfort.

If you have a chance to go to one of The State Room’s special dinner (there is one coming up in February), do so. We’ve eaten there for a regular meal and were not that impressed, but the wine and beer dinners have been outstanding.

Enso, East Lansing

Andrea and I ate at Enso  recently. Wow, we were both impressed. In the space that used to be Maggie’s (oh, how I miss the deep-fried pickles) is a completely different restaurant. Instead of a giant lizard staring down at entering patrons, there are now brick pillars topped with flames, which means they are serious about keeping people out. No jumping the fence there.

Before we arrived, I thought we would be greeted and served in a snobbish place where we were treated like we shouldn’t haven’t been there, like our last experience at Troppo. Maybe is was the horizontal bar over the “o” in Enso, or the Zen-like terminology on the menu. The interior was beautiful and well thought-out, but it seemed, I don’t know, too fancy for East Lansing. We’re used to nice-nice, not chic-nice.

But that impression ended quickly. Everyone was very friendly, and our server was attentive as he could – he did have a big table that kept him busy on people besides us. Andrea commented that everyone smiled there, and yes, everyone did smile – even the people in the jazz band – and there was no air of condescension. It was un-Troppoesque.

Okay, the food. Enso serves what it calls American Sushi. They had a variety of rolls, from vegetable to chicken to bulled pork. Pork sushi, who would have thought? We chose with a General Tso’s chicken roll. It was alright, but I would not order again. It was a little plain for my taste, and the sauce didn’t have the kick that I expected from something called General Tso’s.

However, the flatbread chips with queso and salsa were fantastic. They were crispy and plentiful, and we were offered more when we polished off the first batch. We declined – we were already coming close to being full, and we had lots of food left to eat. Our dinner had not even arrived!

For the main course, I had the Asian chicken pasta, noodles and chicken topped with Julienne-sliced veggies. It looked like a mini-mountain of pasta and greens, and it tasted great. Andrea had the shrimp and cantaloupe salad which she really enjoyed, though the bowl seemed challenging. It was an odd looking dish which sat on an angle and just didn’t seem to set on the table right.

For dessert, we split the mousse cups. The menu listed four mousses, but we actually received five: lemon cream, chocolate, raspberry, orange sherbet, and the bonus mousse, vanilla,  They were good, but not over-the-top, gotta have it again good.

We were both very impressed with Enso and talked about going back again very soon. I am reserving full judgment until my second visit, but it could crack my top 5 restaurant list shortly if I have another great meal like the one I had last night.