After a day of horseback riding and walking through Meijer garden, it was time for dinner. We tried a new (to us) place, Reserve, in beautiful, mysterious Grand Rapids. Reserve is a small plate – big plate kind of place, where you can get regular sized entrees, not-quite regular sized entrees, and not even close sized entrees. Or mix and match, like we did. And had I not used my camera phone, you would see some pictures to show all the glorious food of which I am about to describe. But you’ll just have to use your imagination this time.
We started nicely with a plate of mixed meat and cheese from Reserve’s “Pick 3” menu. You can also “Pick 5”, but we didn’t have that much room – there was a lot of food coming. The waitress was helpful in describing the types of meats and cheeses, because I hadn’t heard of most of them, and if their meat – cheese menu was online, I could tell you what we had. I know there was some tasty gouda and some duck pate, along with a third that sounded vaguely holy, like St. Antoine, or something like that. In any case, no stinky cheese touched our palates, and we were most happy with our selections.
The highlight for me was the Vanilla Bacon. They had me at bacon, but add in vanilla, and I knew we had a winner. And who doesn’t love Ugandan vanilla the most? Boy, I sure do, not like that Kenyan vanilla, which is just awful and smells like socks. The bacon was thick-cut and not the least bit chewy, full of that great pork flavor that your favorite childhood pig tasted like. Add in the vanilla sweetness with the bacon bacon-ness, and you have something truly wonderful to behold. And eat – don’t just look at it.
The plate I was most looking forward to was the one I liked least. The smoked rabbit ravioli sounded and looked great, and wasn’t terrible, but there wasn’t much flavor. It was bland rabbit, not the bunny I was hoping would just leap off the plate. (See what I did there?) it was tender with a nice texture, it just needed something else to make it stand out. Perhaps my palate isn’t refined enough to detect the intricacies of whatever the chef was trying to do – that’s possible, too.
I would definitely visit Reserve again. And I didn’t know this until we got there, but there is outdoor seating upstairs, if it’s that week in Michigan where the weather is not too hot, not too cold, or it’s not raining. An interesting menu and an impressively large collection of wine are the big draws, but don’t forget the odd-looking light fixtures and cool-vibe feel to the place.