Trailside Restaurant, New Era

For a special vacation edition of Michigan Foodies, I’d like to pay a visit to Trailside Restaurant in New Era, MI. Conveniently located near the Hart – Montague rails-to-trails pathway, it’s an ideal picture of what a small town mom and pop place looks like. I’m assuming there were both a mom and a pop – I saw neither. I especially liked the Christmas tree with markers and pencils hanging from it, and the walls covered with old photos showed the  history of the building and the town.

Trailside Restaurant

Trailside Restaurant

There were a fair number of choices on the menu, but I decided to go simple and get an olive Swiss burger with fries. The burger was good and both cheese and olives were generously heaped on the beef. And if you look closely, you will notice that it’s not an artisan bun. And if you have some kind of X-ray vision, you will see chunks of olives, not olive sauce, and if you can see that, you should probably be out saving the world, not looking at pictures of food.

Trailside Restaurant Burger

Trailside Restaurant Burger

The downside was the lemon meringue pie. The meringue was good and the crust was flakily fine, but the pie mixture was a little off. The word that comes to mind is faded, as in it wasn’t lemony enough.  More lemon! More lemon! That’s what I wanted. Of course, I still ate my fair share of it, until my daughter devoured the last big bit without sharing. Must be bad parenting.

Lemon meringue pie

Lemon meringue pie

Champ’s Pub, Brighton

I saw the sign on the Champ’s Pub in Brighton that said “Voted Best Burger for 23 Years”. So I knew what I needed to do – order the nachos.

I also read that Champ’s (not Champps) had been voted the “Best Neighborhood Bar” as well, so it was a real honor to visit such a highly decorated establishment. When I walked in, it looked how I imagined it, like a “bar bar”. Nothing fancy, but lots of TVs and your typical bar food. That’s what I was looking for. But watch out for the bathroooms. You know the saying that three’s a crowd? Well, in their bathroom, one’s a crowd. I think the pub is a “BYOT” establishment – bring your own toilet.

Champ's Pub, Brighton

Champ’s Pub, Brighton

When the nachos came out, I was skeptical. They looked like the below-average nachos you usually see in bars. The queso dip instead of cheese did nothing to increase my confidence. But they turned out to be not too bad. The queso dip tasted better than it looked with a little bit of kick to it. The chips were crispy and salty, what chips should be. Onion, lettuce, and tomatoes rounded out the healthy part of the nachos. Itty bitty sour cream and salsa were included.

Champs Pub nachos

Champs Pub nachos

My major criticism is that the ground beef was lacking something – taste. It was just ground beef thrown in a pan, then thrown on the nachos. No spices at all. For $3 extra, I expected a little more than plainly cooked cow. Other than that, though, I enjoyed the meal.

Should I return, I would try a burger. After all, being voted as having the best burger for 23 years in a row is quite a feat, especially with a Red Robin just down the street. Despite my beef with the beef, it was a pretty good meal. I haven’t been to all the bar’s in Brighton, but it was a good one.

Catfish at Texas Roadhouse, Lansing

It is a fact so true that it could be the 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Eat Catfish Before Watching Star Trek.

I entered the confines of south Lansing to experience two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation being shown at Celebration Cinema. There are two restaurants very close for the pre-theater meal that my stepmom and I enjoyed. It was either Hooters or Texas Roadhouse. So I think you can guess we went with the latter. After all, who can resist loud country music and peanut shells on the floor before watching twenty year old science fiction? No one, that’s who.

We started with the onion blossom, of which I was a fan. Who knew that eating a deep-fried onion could taste so good? And it doesn’t hurt that whatever the “special sauce”  was, it was mighty tasty.

Though my normal fare at Texas Roadhouse is a burger – they do have good burgers – on this visit, I decided to eat healthy and try the fried catfish. (Healthy is relative with me.) I made a good choice. Crispy breading and tender fish – excellent stuff. And there were three pieces, enough for lunch the next day. For my sides, I had fries and corn, both tasty. The fries were wide-cut and soft – if you’re a crispy fry fan (and you know who you are), you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed them. The corn was, well, corn. And do try the pre-dinner rolls as well, if just for something to hold the cinnamon butter.

Catfish at Texas Roadhouse

Catfish at Texas Roadhouse

It was still summer, and they had Summer Shandy on draught. That’s a good beer right there, people. I’ve got a few 12-packs in my garage, as a matter of fact, but that has nothing to do with the Texas Roadhouse.

So there are other things other than red meat at the Texas Roadhouse, and they are worth eating. And drinking.