Jumbo’s, Owosso

One finds themselves in Pittsburg, MI for three reason. 1) You’re going to Perry. 2) You’re going to Owosso. 3) You’re going to a Steelers game and wildly lost. I was in Pittsburg twice yesterday, first for reason #2, then for reason #1, spending a grand total of 20 seconds in the town. And that was enough.

But enough about Pittsburg – that’s probably the most that’s been written about that town in the past year. The real purpose of this post is to talk about the third olive burger I’ve had this year, at Jumbo’s in Owosso, the crown jewel of Shiawassee County. I had walked through town to see what were the most promising establishments in the downtown area for a burger, and this seemed like a good choice. After all, the restaurant had “burger” written all over it:

Jumbo's, Owosso

Jumbo’s, Owosso

There wasn’t much to think about once I got inside as far as what to order. I was in an olive burger mood, and an olive burger I did order. It was a good-looking burger, and the fries matched it in food appeal. The fries looked beer-battered, but they may have been milk battered, or wine battered – they were cooked in something tasty and unhealthy, that’s for sure. The pickle was pretty ugly, and though it looked past its prime, it did its species proud in the taste department.

Olive burger

Olive burger

The beer you see in the top right corner was a Fat Tire. Though good, I should have gotten the $2 24oz. PBR. Regrets, I have a few…

The burger was decent, though not outstanding. It had plenty of olives and plenty of mayo, the latter is a good thing on an olive burger. I put a small amount of blame on the less than stellar burger on myself. I ordered it medium well when my heart was telling me medium. So it was a little dry. That probably didn’t affect the taste much, which didn’t really stand out above an average burger, but it probably would have been better had it been cooked less. The fries were the star of the plate. They were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and full of those carbohydrates that I so love about potatoes.

Jumbo’s was a decent place, and I’d visit again. It’s got that small-town, local feel, probably because it’s a small town, locals bar. They didn’t have a lot of beers on tap, and those were mostly the Bud Light – Bud variety, but they had more than Nick’s in Durand, so that was an improvement over my last restaurant experience.

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Nick’s Hometown Bar & Grill, Durand

It was a dark and cold night in Durand. Our hero walked the streets and alleys, looking for a place of safety and warmth. And there were several, but our hero decided to trust his instincts  and try Durand’s #1 rated bar on Yelp, Nick’s.

Nick's Bar & Grill

Nick’s Bar & Grill

He saddled up to the bar on a comfortably padded stool. On the menu, no olive burger could be found, so despite his better judgement, he ordered the nachos. Bar nachos, especially small town bars, are a dangerously unpredictable dish to order, with ingredients as poor as Flint’s water.

His trepidation increased when our hero learned that they were chili nachos. The horror! A soupy beany meaty concoction whose sole purpose was to soak and weaken the poor, defenseless chips. How would this night end! When the bartender eventually returned to take his order from the distant wilds where she had run off to (a journey that took days), he, with hesitation, order the nachos.

The food came and our hero was bolstered a bit. They looked like a strong showing, thick with cheese and meaty chili and a good mix of vegetables. (No black olives, though – those poisonous bits of detritus come on the nachos by default, but our hero was ready for that and deflected them.) But what lurked underneath the rosy exterior?

Nick's Nachos

Nick’s Nachos

Pretty-goodness is what lurked. The ever-so-slightly spicy chili turned out to match really well with the salty, better than average out-of-a-bag bar tortilla chips. Most chips did succumb to the chili rampage, and our hero raised his glass to them, but enough survived to carry the meal forward. All in all, average nachos, but a stronger showing than our hero anticipated.

But there was something terrible afoot at Nick’s. They had only one tap, and it was… Bud Light! Our hero was not prepared for this setback, but he battled on. Surely, this weakness cannot stand forever, and someone at Nick’s will realize that people like to taste the beer they drink.

All in all, our hero left party satisfied. The nachos were filling and had a decent flavor. The draft beer selection was bitterly disappointing. Will our hero return? Not likely, but who knows what lies in the future.

Tannin, Okemos

Tannin had been on our radar for quite some time, and we zeroed-in last week to eat at the Okemos restaurant. Tannin was my 41st new (to me) restaurant of the year.

I liked the wooden paneling and canned lights surrounded by corks and the pictures of Detroit above our table. Seeing pictures of Detroit usually makes me glad I’m not there. (No offense people who live there.) Service that night was a little slow, but the waiter did have a lot tables, and he was hustling. He reminded me slightly of Zak Galifianakis, a name I was nowhere close to spelling correctly the first time. For the record, he did not slip us roofies, so it wasn’t a “The Hangover 4” situation. And he made a good wine suggestion for Andrea which made her happy. I made a nice choice of white, and I was happy. We were both winning at life.

But when it came to the food, there was only one winner. That winner happened to be me and the choice of champons, chicken carbonara. Though its gray-colored pasta shells didn’t look appetizing (they looked like undead button mushrooms, a food I dislike weather a member of the undead or just a normal fungus), but the taste made up for that. it was cheesy with super tender chicken, and though not among my favorite pasta dishes in Lansing (Red Cedar Grill’s mac & cheese and Bravo’s braised beef ravioli come to mind), it was a decent dish.

Tannin

Tannin

Andrea ordered the hard-to-pronounce amatriciana. I had considered ordering the same, but I have a thing where I don’t like ordering what my wife orders. It’s nothing personal, I assure you. The problem with her pasta was the taste, which is kind of a big thing for a meal. The red sauce seemed like plain tomato paste, and there was an overwhelming amount of it. It had plenty of flavor, just not a good one. Perhaps they were trying to cover up the underwhelming noodles. There were a lot of those noodles, but a lot of something you don’t want isn’t much of a deal.

I’m torn on a return visit. The wine selection looked strong, and the appetizers also looked appealing even if the pasta didn’t impress. There was more on the menu than just pasta, and that would be my target dish. Service and ambiance were positive, it just fell a bit flat on the food.

Field House, East Lansing

Field House, East Lansing

Field House, East Lansing

Oh Peppino’s, I hardly knew you.

But things change. Where once Bilbo’s and The Post stood is now East Lansing’s equivalent of a skyscraper. And HopCat’s current neighbor is Field House.

There were two factors that led to my visit to Field House. One, MSU was on Christmas break. Lowering the population by 40,000 raises the chances of me going entering East Lansing. And two, I had a buy one, get one free appetizer coupon. That is a good draw. I like free stuff, especially when it’s edible.

I took a seat at the bar and was faced with plenty of TVs and taps, both of which raised my level of happiness. The lurking bartender (not as creepy as it sounds) knew more about beer than just how to fill a glass. He recommended Arcadia’s Cheap Date, and it was a good suggestion.

Appetizer #1 was the cheesey bread (the spelling is correct). They didn’t skimp on the cheese (or the bread, either, both of which are crucial to having cheesy cheesey bread). On top of the already impressive layer of cheese was more cheese, a dusting of parmesan. It was cooked nicely and even warmed up well the next day.

 

The main event, though, were the nachos. But they were no mere “nachos”, they  were “MONSTER NACHOS”. But had a half-order, so they were just “monster nachos”. They were better than I had expected. Atop the multi-colored chips was a generous helping of cheese and ground beer. The chip to good stuff ratio was perfect, and I didn’t have many chips that were missing the key nacho ingredients. And you can see a nice array of veggies on top. I was overall impressed with my meal at Field House, and particularly the nachos.

Field House may have downtown East Lansing’s best nachos, right up there with Beggar’s Banquet’s chorizo nachos. Definitely worth a try if you’re a nacho fan. If not, perhaps burgers may be your preference, and FH had a nice looking selection of those, too. In any case, I’ll make a return visit. How long until spring break?

Goodbye R Club

I had written this a few months ago and it got lost in the shuffle. If you hadn’t heard, the R Club closed last month (December 2015). But I wanted to write this post from my last R Club experience.

The breakfast burger at The R Club, Lansing

Most meals are made better with multiple meats in the mix. That’s why I like my burgers with bacon. And if you add egg, that’s like a potential meat. And it’s also like breakfast on your burger. And add cheese, too? Yes, you should do that, because it would make even more better, and more better is better than less better.

So when I saw the bacon, egg, and cheese burger at the R Club, of course I would order it. And it was burger-rific. It was cooked to my liking (if it hadn’t been, there would have been hell to pay) with every bite full of something good. Interesting flavors are really what I’m after in a burger (perhaps that is why I like olive burgers so much), and the combination of all these good tastes really worked.  The fries were tasty as well, and the water was non-poisonous, a feature I like in my water. It was lunchtime, but service was fast and close enough to friendly to matter.

I wasn’t surprised at my good experience at the R Club. I’ve been there many times, both for lunch and for complaining about work (not my current job, BTW, and that ain’t no lie) with equally annoyed coworkers. They have a good menu with lots of choices and easy access to the freeway in case you need a quick escape, in case you need to stop at Speedway to get something for you anniversary. Doughnuts, gift cards, Hostess Ding Dongs – they have everything a spouse could want.

Go, eat the breakfast-like burger, and be happy.