China Wok closed

A bummer in the Lansing food scene, China Wok has closed. It was located on Washington and Kalamazoo, and had excellent and cheap lunches – I was especially fond of the honey chicken.

I discovered this while treating myself to eating out instead of making yet another sandwich at work, only to find my favorite downtown Chinese restaurant (OK, there were only two) had closed its doors. So I went to a restaurant representing a different part of Asia – Sultan’s Express – and had the chicken schwarma. Not what I had intended for my lunch, but still good.

Rainforest Café, Auburn Hills

If you are looking for a nice quiet meal, you know one place to avoid – the Rainforest Café. If you’re looking for someplace to entertain the kids and do something out of the ordinary, then you probably can’t go wrong with eating in the jungle. My daughter was scared by the thunderstorms that rolled through every half-hour, but she liked watching the animated animals. I liked the waterfall, and the fact that it provided white noise to help block out a restaurant full of small children.

The closest Café to my home in Lansing is Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills. As a large aside, the mall is a good place to bring kids. We made the trip to exchange a shirt at Bass Pro Shop, which had lots of stuffed animals (real animals that had been stuffed, that is), an aquarium, and live ducks swimming in the man-made river. The food court had a large play area filled to the brim with kids, with plenty of seats for adults to rest. And the carousel was a big hit, too.

Back to the food.

I had the Awesome Appetizer Adventure which was surprising good, and there was enough left over for lunch, too. The Chimi-Cha-Chas reminded me of spring rolls, and the spinach and artichoke dip, cheese sticks, and chicken tenders were all your standard appetizer fare, but they all solid in the taste department. Next time, I’ll try the nachos, being the nacho fan that I am.

We shared the Sparkling Volcano dessert, which was ice cream served with brownies stacked like a pyramid with a sparkler on top. It looked better than it tasted, and it cost more than my dinner. If you have children, then go for it – it’s certainly big enough to share, and kids probably won’t care that it isn’t a top notch dessert.

Grand Rapids Brewing Company

I was in Grand Rapids, one of my favorite places, for a computer class on Tuesday. Since I was already in GR, I decided to stay for dinner. I drove west down 28th Street from the site of my training to the Grand Rapids Brewing Co., not far from the Woodland Mall.

First off, it looks like a brewery, with those big tanks.  They’re big and welcoming, saying “We have LOTS of beer, so stop on by.” It’s like home, just with less comfortable furniture. And more beer.

Grand Rapids Brewing Company

Grand Rapids Brewing Company

The interior was very bar-like. I’m a fan of “bar bars”, it makes me feel like I should be drinking, that it is right that I’m drinking. And there is this guy in the hat. He looked friendly. I don’t know for sure since I don’t talk to strangers in bars, but maybe he was the “Norm” of the GRBC.

Grand Rapids Brewing Company

Grand Rapids Brewing Company

Onto the beer. I had the Lumberjack Dark, a porter made with chocolate and caramel malt. It was very good, had a robust flavor but wasn’t overpowering. No aftertaste, either. If I were a regular at the Grand Rapids Brewing Co., this would be my go-to beer…

Unless I had pizza. The beer went awful with the Three Meat Pizza. Really, really bad. Don’t do what I did, learn from those who came before.

Now the pizza itself was good, and at 9″, it was enough for lunch the next day. They were generous with the pepperoni, bacon, and sausage, and I was happy not to see a vegetable in sight. It was greasy, so be warned, even though I personally don’t find that a problem. The pizza was spicy, which I enjoyed, and I was happy with my selection. Next time, though, I’m going to try the gyro nachos. Slightly disturbing, having lamb on nachos, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Pizza!

Pizza!

Bootlegger’s, Traverse City

I was up north, snowshoeing around Traverse City, and my random selection of a restaurant on Union Street led me to Bootlegger’s. Being in the mood for a burger, it seemed like the right place. It had an old school feel to it, with its tin ceiling and wooden bar, along with a large mirror fronted with lots and lots of booze.

Bootlegger's, Traverse City

Bootlegger's, Traverse City

The burgers were named after mobsters, appropriately enough, and I decided on the “Eddie Green”. Eddie was filled with cheese, green olives, and Grey Poupon mustard, a bizarre twist on the olive burger, of which I’m a fan. It was excellent, perfectly cooked with lots of olives and lots of flavor. Ditto for the fries, except they didn’t have olives. Also served with coleslaw and a pickle.

Eddie Green burger

Eddie Green burger

With my food I had a Keweenaw Pix Axe Blonde which stood out among the dozen or more beers on tap. The Blonde reminded me of Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, just less shandy and more beery, along with a little bit of fizz. And I didn’t have to drive to the Keweenaw peninsula to get it, because that’ s a long drive from Lansing.

Speaking of beer, I stopped by Right Brain Brewery after dinner to see what interesting beer they had brewed. There were plenty, but I decided on the Naughty Girl Stout, made with chocolate and mint, and it was one of the best beers I’ve tasted. Really, really good. Had I not needed to drive to my hotel, I would have had another. But get it while you can – RBB changes their beers frequently.