Jun 20, 2011

A Picture Perfect Father's Day Brunch at Blue Water Grill


I couldn't have asked for a more perfect setting for Father's Day - a sunny day, a riverfront table, amazing food, refreshing sangria, my wife and kids. My kids gave me the option to select the restaurant for our annual father's day brunch. Okay, my youngest really wanted Bombay Cuisine. My oldest daughter was craving the mac-n-cheese at Green
Well. My son (who is the hardest to please and could probably eat at GP Sports, Bombay Cuisine and BW3 everyday) was thankfully in the East Coast for his class trip. My wife would prefer to take a nice drive somewhere. 

Dads, you know the drill. Find a compromise even though "it's your day."

Just like my son, I could eat Indian food everyday. However, I wanted to be sensible with my meal because I could literally pig out on jalfrazi, rogan josh and naan. So I made the call for our favorite alfresco dining spot that doesn't require an hour drive - The Blue Water Grill.

Sheila, one of the servers recognized me from my blog and welcomed us like family. We weren't in her section but she made a point to connect, and to her credit, she made a lasting impression.

With the sun beating down on our table, the house sangria was the refresher we needed to cool us down. Three appetizers arrived first - the flash fried Calamari Hoops ($10.75), the Big Bowl of Mussels ($11.95) and the Tomato Bruschetta ($9.55).  All were presented like a Gourmet Magazine cover. The Calamari was crispy and perfectly seasoned. The Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels with root vegetables and garlic-butter broth danced in my mouth as smoothly as a figure skater's extended one foot glide across the rink. But the show stopper was the Bruschetta. The bread was grilled to perfection and topped with off-the -ine tomatoes and sweet basil pesto (this part sealed the deal for me). That is the best bruschetta I have ever tasted in Michigan. Absolutely a stunning dish.

Francesca devoured the French Toast with a berry and maple syrup compote. Margaux got her wish with the four-cheese Mac and Cheese ($12.95). Elena enjoyed the Tuna Salad on a bed of organic greens, red onions, mango, avocado, sweet soy and a cilantro-ginger vinaigrette ($13.49) A side of mango sorbet accompanied the dish to refresh the palette. I had the Grilled Atlantic Salmon with cous cous, corn-tomato relish and arugula. Other than the arugula lacking any dressing, the salmon is exactly what I was craving.

As much as I go out to eat, this Father's Day meal is worth noting. We will definitely return to Blue Water Grill before the leaves turn to its autumn colors and the parade of kayaks and boats on the Grand river slowly disappear into the West Michigan horizon.











29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you ever eaten a meal you didn't like George?

That salmon looks really over cooked. Was it? My last trip to BWG I asked for it Med Rare and the server told me "we don't do that".

Basically, "we don't cook salmon properly"

My Hotel Life said...

Dear Anonymous,

That's too bad that they didn't deliver on that for you at BWG. They actually asked me how I wanted my salmon (which I said medium) - they probably do that now because of your experience. Thank you.

The salmon was cooked perfectly on the inside. A hot grill could be deceiving so I would have to disagree with you on the overcooking part.

As for liking every meals, please read my restaurant reviews on Girl and The Goat (hottest restaurant in Chicago, Food & Wine) in which I didn't care for the mussels.

Also, my review of the hottest restaurant in LA - Rivera, which was more glitz than flavor (though amazing cocktails).

Check out my experience of Father's Burger in LA, considered the best in So Cal. I'd take In-N-Out any day over Father's Office.

Also, go to MLive.com and read my reviews on Monkey Bar, Viceroy and Mangiamos - do note that I share some of my constructive criticisms - whether it's on service, food or atmosphere.

I try to be constructive with my experiences and I do highlight my observations in writing. My goal is not to be the next Ruth Reichl. I am a blogger who enjoys the FUN in dining. That's all.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response George. I read you MLive review of Mangiamo. You said you wish the salad was plated on the side but also noted it wad heavenly and just the wag you envisioned it. Hardly a hard hitting critique.

But, totally get that's not what you are about.

I wish west Michigan had a voice for true restaurant reviewing. Seeking out and demanding the highest care for product and presentation. Sadly so many mediocre restaurants are allowed to skate by with truly subpar food. Grand Rapids deserves better.

When I heard you'd be writing for MLive, I had hoped you were that voice.

As a reader George, and as a Grandrapidian I emplore you to choose your next review carefully. Grab a big restaurant by the horns and make them earn your praise.

What I want more than anything is to dine in the same place you just reviewed and have that same experience. I've eaten at BWG and Magiamo's many time and can sadly say they are not up to par.

George Aquino said...

Dear Anonymous,

I appreciate your candid feedback and it is well taken.All I can say is I have to be true to my experience, such as you are with yours. Trust me, I have had bad experiences and food in GR, but my job is to share my current experiences, and so far, most have been good.

Allow me to rant as I have enjoyed our online conversation.

Will I review Le Bec Fin or Per Se in the same light I would review Mangiamo or Viceroy? Probably not. Is a DB Moderne burger for $120 be reviewed the same way as the burger at BWG for 90% less DB's price? It's all relative.

Grand Rapids has a lot of good restaurants serving good food at reasonable prices. However, we are not a New York, Paris or Chicago when it comes to fine dining options. There is a place for the Ruth Reichl's of the world in the big cities where there is an abundance of competition between the top restaurants charging over $100 per person for a meal; where a critic is feared because a bad review could literally shut down a restaurant.

On the surface, this may be viewed as a wonderful thing for the consumer, but in reality, it all comes down to who you are and how much money you've got.

Ruth Reichl was practically a phantom guest at Le Cirque the first couple of times she visited the place. But things dramatically improved when they discovered who she was (and probably to the dismay of the other restaurant patrons).

The top food critics in the world admit that they have to scale their reviews according to the price and status of the restaurant. The review essentially is for the consumer who will end up paying for their meal.

Let's clarify one thing...I normally select restaurants for my blog as places I WANT to go to (and pay for with my OWN money). Would you intentionally select a bad restaurant if you were paying for it? I have done my homework and there is a good chance that I will enjoy my experience. It's Father's day and I selected a place where I have had good experiences (on my dime).

I have been fortunate that I have had a string of wonderful experiences with my GR Press reviews. I have had one real bad experience with one of my assignments but we have decided to table the review until I have revisited the place for a second chance.Even the best restaurants have their bad days. But there is a huge difference and responsibility when what you're writing is read by thousands and not simply your inner circle of friends.

Before publishing a big restaurant review, the NYT critic may visit the restaurant countless times (I believe 6 in the Le Cirque case). I don't think GR Press has the same advertising revenues as NYT.

I try to be constructive in my opinions and not spiteful for the sake of being "the tough restaurant critic." Let's face it...it's a veal, pounded, breaded and sauteed in a pan...it's not an intricate lamb dish from Taillevent or a molecular gastronomy dish from Alinea. One costs the price of a martini, the other may include a second mortgage on my house.

The best critics in the world literally took decades and hundreds of reviews to finally find their true voice. Mangiamo was my fifth restaurant review.

It's been a nice journey, my friend. Someday, you might find me in a corner table in Barcelona surrounded by anxious and threatened servers and maitre d's. Perhaps Danield Boulud might open a restaurant in GR in the near future. For now, I am just going to enjoy the best of what Grand Rapids has to offer. Even if the next exciting food venue to come to town is a PF Chang's.

I appreciate your time and thank you so much for your patronage. It has been a fun dialogue.

Bon appetit.

GA

Anonymous said...

I agree with all you said. And let's be clear, I'm not suggesting you become the next Ruth. Also nobody expects per se or daniel's to be reviewed the sane as Mangiamo's.

What I do expect is that you as a writer/critic/dinner/etc expect the best from these restaurants. What's concerning is that we live in a place with so many wonderful resources - fresh produce, meats, cheeses, etc. So many great farms in our backyard and on our door step and places llike Magiamo's or Leo's "the best restaurant in town" do not take advantage of it. They buy all their stuff off the Gordon Foods truck.

It's not a money issue because much of these small family owned farms are affordable and even better sustainable to our community.

Places like these are selling mediocrity. Chophouse is selling choice steaks as Prime. I also know that they keep bottles of wine open for weeks at a time because in management's words "GR diners won't notice or care". That's dispicable... But sadly true.

As someone who grew up here I do care. I care about this community. About it's growth and about the food we put out.

I know you care too George which is why I posed the question.

Anonymous said...

In fairness to all, I should point out that my comments about Chophouse are not first hand knowledge. Rather from several current and past employees. I do not know if these practices exist or not anymore or truthfully at all.

I will say that the open wine issue was recent, as a friend employee dissuaded me from getting a certain glass of wine on my last visit, stating that it had been open for at least a week. This was followed by the comment about "managements" stance on the freshness of the wine served.

EatingOurWayThroughGrandRapids said...

It's a fantastic setting in the summer and one we have enjoyed many times. We think they do it up right and enjoy the garden fresh produce. Very nice write-up!

George Aquino said...

Thanks EOWTGR. BWG was a fun meal experience on Father's Day.

Anonymous, I appreciate you backing up your secondhand comments about the Chop House but damage has been done because you already published it and probably told all your friends - it is not necessarily fair to the establishments. It's just like people saying something horrible about you because so and so said so.

I am all for farm to plate and buying local but please don't be naive in thinking that big companies like Gordon Foods just buy junk. They support a lot of local companies who produce products for the entire country. GFS also supplies more than just food that "farm to plate" restaurants use everyday to serve their customers like you and me. Where do you think restaurants buy most of their cleaning equipment and supplies? Can you name a restaurant in town that buys 100% local? You should boycott Meijer and Spartan Stores too because they don't sell all local.

I don't personally know the Gordon family but they do employ a lot of local people from admin assistants to lab techs to truck drivers to warehouse helpers.

Just be careful with your generalizations unless you can truly back it up with facts. A lot of people and companies do a lot of amazing things in our community.

I challenge you to back up your statements about Leo's, Chop House and the Gilmore Collection. Show us some proof that the CH buys Choice for Prime (besides I heard it from past employees). Prove to us that Gilmore and Leo's just buy crap. Buying local is one thing but think about Employing Local? How about paying Local taxes? I can guarantee that employees who work for these companies go to the Fulton St market to support our farmers.

It's very easy to criticize all these companies behind a phantom name. It's time to tell us who you are so we could qualify your statements. Speak up and be bold. Do something about all these things that bother you. Tell us what you are doing to make a difference in our community. Actions speak louder than words.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the other Anonymous, but i guess i'll be a new one.

My husband and I enjoy dining out at several of these places quite often. BWG is a great spot with delicious food and a wonderful view. I do enjoy your blog George.

I will say that i'm interested to see the responses from places like Leo's about where they get their product from, and how many local farmers they use. We have celebrated many special occasions at Leo's.

I was recently at the Fulton's market and recall a farmer telling me that his business is doing ok but could always do better. He said that he sold a lot of his produce to restaurants in Chicago which was helping. i was kind of taken aback and asked about GR restaurants. He told me not as much as I would think.

George you should review The Winchester! I love their food and they have their own garden across the street.

George Aquino said...

Thanks other Anonymous. I agree that local restaurants need to continue to figure out a way to support more local farmers. We are getting there. I am on the board of the Grand Rapids Urban Market (year-long farmers market project) and this exciting project should help build more awareness to the abundance of products we have locally. I went to the University of Iowa (thoiugh I'm from the California and Manila) so I know a little about the plight of our farmers.

I love Winchester. I have review coming up but here's one I did awhile ago.

http://myhotellife.blogspot.com/2010/01/birthday-party-at-winchester.html

Thanks for chiming in.

George

Jenna Arcidiacono said...

Ciao George -
I am a restaurant owner who supports local farms year round. I love the fact that I know where my produce comes from. I believe more restaurants should be better at supporting local farms and I try to frequent the ones who do. I also understand why a lot of places don't buy local - IT IS MORE WORK for the chef! I do have to say that no matter which restaurant you go to - some of the food will come from GFS or Sysco. There is no way you can buy every single thing locally. For example, we are an Italian Trattoria and I get my amazing crushed tomatoes from a company called Stanislaus out of California. They call me every month to see how I am liking their product. This product comes in on the truck - but I still know where it comes from.
I am so thankful that you are an understanding writer. It is true that even a good restaurant can have a bad night. When it comes to a local place, it is much more important to give constructive criticism than to really try to shut them down with a horrible review. Their restaurant is their life and to do such a thing would be horrible. Mangiamo, Monkey Bar and Blue Water Grill are Gilmore collection restaurants. There are a ton of other places that aren't Gilmore that are worthy of reviews, too. I know you will get to them soon enough!
I also love going out to local restaurants on my night off and am always looking for a new place to try. Thanks for taking the time to show your passion for local food!

George Aquino said...

Thanks for the valuable input Jenna! It's always good to see an owner's perspective.

Actually, I have reviewed many local restaurants - Winchester, San Chez, Granjero (best burritos), Green Well...it's all on the blog. I just happened to have a string of Gilmore assignments from the Press. Catch a copy of the new Shore Magazine with my "Pub Crawl" article.

I am looking forward to visiting your place. My wife is Italian and nothing is more "comfort foods" for her than Italian cuisine. I just need to get my butt to that part of town.

Keep doing what you're doing. I look forward to meeting you in person.

George

Jenna Arcidiacono said...

I read the pub crawl article and it sounded like a super fun idea! I would love for you to do a late night eats guide, too. I am dying for a place that I can go after work for a good local meal!
We do plenty of comfort food at Amore and just rolled out a chef's tasting menu that I will do daily with a vegetarian and meat option for $25. It doesn't cost as much as the French Laundry, but it's a great way for people to try 5 different things in one night. We also do a wine flight add on for $15 to teach people a little more about Italian wines. If we keep educating people about good food and they will go out of their way to find it!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the first Anonymous.....most of the food in Grand Rapids is fair at best. I also find it interesting that you have no problems stating what you didn't like at incredible restaurants around the country but you won't give honest feedback to local restaurants on sub par food. What does that say about you as a writer? You can have negative feedback about The Girl and the Goat, as an example, because you don't have a personal connection to those people. Have you ever said a negative thing about any of the local restaurants you reviewed? Because as I see it, the list you gave on negative feedback didn't include one local restaurant. That makes your reviews questionable at best.

George Aquino said...

Dear Friend of Anonymous,

You obviously haven't read my blog:) As I said, you can't rant when you can't back it up. Please read my two years of entries before passing judgement.

Also do note that when I blog on a restaurant, I am paying for the meal with my own money. I do my homework to make sure that I have a good chance of having a pleasant experience with my family and friends. You don't go to a restaurant expecting to have a horrible experience and then pay for it. Right? So most of my reviews will probably be positive since I have done my homework by reading reviews, asking friends for their opinions etc.

I try to be constructive and not spiteful (which seems like what you guys want to see). Sorry, wrong guy.

To save you the agony of reading two years of blog posts, here are some "negative" feedback on some local restaurants to appease your pessimistic delights.

Here is one example from Green Well (I believe is a local restaurant):

"I have a soft spot for soup, and despite the fact that asparagus wans't in season, I went ahead and ordered the Creamy Asparagus soup to warm me up during one of the coldest days of the year. Unfortunately, the soup was too salty and I had to have chef Justin reassure me that it wasn't just my taste buds that were being too sensitive.

Here's Bloom (a local restaurant that used to be downtown):

" The charming feel of the original is replaced with a loft like setting with cold red floor tiles. Bloom has tried to cozy things up but the space just doesn't have the soul of the original."

On Little Mexico (another local restaurant on the West side):

"The waiting area was bare, cold and resembled an apartment building entrance. The large dining room (pictured above) featured a new set of murals which fit the restaurant perfectly, however, I question the choice of painting life size, bare breasted women on the wall next to my booth. Just like the entrance, the main dining room lacked warmth with banquet style tables and window treatments more fitting an office installation than a restaurant. The new bar, unfortunately, was uninviting and resembled a basement bar."

More on Little Mexico Food:

" The salsa, on the other hand, was bland and the consistency was more like a tomato sauce than salsa. We didn't go through our chip basket.

Jimmy ordered the fajita, and thank goodness, it was good! Nice and crispy beef with fresh cilantro and sauteed peppers and onions. My enchilada and chimichanga combo plate was just okay. It is something I would normally never order because I don't like enchiladas, but for some reason, I thought this was going to be different. The combo plate was definitely filling, but lack any depth in flavors."

Oops...one more on LM:

"Just like an over-hyped movie, I left empty handed. I was hoping for a wonderfully designed Mexican restaurant I could confidently take my foreign friends to. "

see more....

George Aquino said...

Part 2 for Friend of Anonymous:

Oh my...J's Steakhouse, a Gilmore Collection critique:

"Here's our verdict: the strip steak was cooked and seasoned perfectly, however, it's lower grade quality was evident the moment I sliced my first piece. The steak was tough and dry - especially for a medium-rare piece. It was firm with hardly any marbling. My daughter's $12.00, 4-ounce filet shrunk to the size of a lacrosse ball and was even tougher (it was medium well - so it wasn't the kitchen's fault). The generous portion of green beans were delicious. The $12.00 steak menu brings people in, but not enough to bring people back. My suggestion: stick to the the regular steak menu. "

Oh wait...in the GR Press about Monkey Bar's lack of management presence. I believe another Gilmore collection restaurant:

"We arrived at about 6:30 p.m., and the restaurant was empty; three tables occupied the brewery section. We watched a cluster of staff gathered around the bar, but no one approached us until our eventual server, Ashley, managed her way to greet us and escort us to a booth in the brewery side.
When a restaurant is slow, it’s hard to hide minor “sins” that would be easily corrected with the proper guidance from upper management. A host or a manager staged at the podium to greet guests can go a long way to welcome and thank patrons. It was obvious the restaurant was focused on servicing the late-night rush of bar revelers and not the few dinner guests who found their way to the lower level."

Another local one - on Viceroy's cheese sandwich:

" I was expecting the pesto to add a layer of garlic infusion to the sandwich, but its flavor fell flat."

On Mangiamo, your friend neglected to quote the rest of the sentence so here it is:

"However, I wish the chef had plated the salad on the side versus on top of the veal because the lemon vinaigrette eventually soaked its way through my veal. " Soggy veal!

Let me stop. I rest my case.

George Aquino said...

One more thing for Friend of Anonymous,

My blog is a creative outlet for me. I do it because I love to write, take photos, promote GR and also feature all the places I visit.

I intentionally do not have advertising because I want people to know that I do this for the sheer fun of it. However, blogging is like another full time job. I do my writing mostly at night, or as my wife calls it, my third shift job. I do not make any money for writing on my blog. I simply do it because I love it!

I try not to take things too personally when "anonymous persons" fail to be constructive, and frankly, might have a hidden agenda (disgruntled former employees of restaurants, friend of a disgruntled employee, or simply a negative person). But I do have a responsibility to defend myself when anonymous people state baseless claims such as claiming that I never write anything "negative" about local restaurants because those people that own the restaurants are my friends. Constructive yes. Spiteful no.

This exercise has been a lot of fun for me and I thank you (and anonymous 1) for helping me find that fire inside to continue with what I've been doing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1...

What restaurant(s) to you savor? ...Local, national, and international? And, why? Show some street cred.

Anony #3

Chris Pawlisz said...

Hey George, anonymous 1,2 & 3,

First, for better or worse this is a super interesting debate and very much a fun read.

Please take this for what it's worth as a former Grand Rapidian and continued advocate for all the great things about GR.

As someone who takes food, service, wine and all the wonderful things about this business very seriously i can say in my professional and personal opinion GR has both ends of the spectrum from mediocre to really, really good as most major cites do. And as many major cities some really good places go unnoticed and some mediocre places get by when they shouldn't.

I think there is some validity in Anonymous 1 & 2's passion behind their statements. (Clearly i have no idea or comments about The chophouse, Leo's etc on where they buy or how they use product. I can only say that they are bold statements and hopefully most are not true.)

The validity kind of ties into Jenna's comments about so many great restaurants going unreviewed.

(This isn't directed at you George), but the concept of so many "great" restaurants in town getting a lot of press and fan fair that I found to be, for a lack of a better word, mediocre.

I totally agree with you George, it shouldn't be about negativity or spite but about growth. It should be constructive but we should also expect more from GR restaurants getting the press because so many GR restaurants are doing it right and getting far less press. So i get the fire and spirit behind these anonymous comments. I think the worst thing any restaurant industry anywhere can do is settle.

I will point out a perfect example. When GR Magazine did the best of poll and Starbucks ranked in the top 2 or 3 coffee houses in town (neither madcap or Rowsters mentioned) that was so sad to read. Even if they didn't qualify for being too new, or whatever. Starbuck shouldn't have been there in my opinion. I've got no problems with people liking Starbuck, I drank it, but to say it's the best GR has? That's concerning. If that's the expectation for great coffee houses where does that leave the little guys wanting to do it better, smaller and with more care?

For me, when I read that i don't blame people for voting for that place, I blame GR Magazine for not excluding them. As a leading magazine they have an obligation to the readers to truly promote GR. Starbucks is not GR. Why was Panera Bread listed as the best sandwich? Their sandwiches are fine, but the best GR can muster? That does such an injustice to a great town.

I don't think I ever had a bad meal at Marie Catrib's, or how about Electric cheetah? I had a damn good sandwich there on many occasion.

As for questioning a place like Leo's on where they get their produce and how much is fresh vs frozen... yes, i think being aggressive in the expectations are reasonable. NOT blindly accusing, not destroying, but expecting a lot. When GR Magazine crowns you best in town you should be under some scrutiny because weather intended or wanted you are now thrust into position of leadership. Leo's is a restaurant leader in the GR community. So my hope is that places like Leo's can easily respond to criticism because they have hopefully earned that top spot. If not, then there are bigger issues to be had.

To jump back to your role George, a guy I like, respect and enjoyed knowing. You are also thrust into a role of a leader in the GR community and restaurant industry. Simply because you are a voice when there really aren't many other voices. I think you do a good job with it, and hope you continue.

You mentioned Ruth and great critics taking hundreds of review to get their true voice, i'm sure they also heard a lot of criticism and negative comments along the way. I'm sure they had their share of hatters as well. Don't take it personal. Take what you can from it, filter out the BS and grow. That's all we can do.

George Aquino said...

Well said, Chris.

Given GR's size compared to Chicago or San Fran, we are progressing just fine in the restaurant arena. We just need to keep pushing the envelope in the right direction.

When Starbucks was introduced to GR in the mid 90's, locals thought that the "European"style coffee is too strong and it will never make it in GR. Look what happened.

I think mediocre is too harsh of a description for the food scene in GR. We may not be able to compete in the ultra premium dining category as Alinea or El Bulli but our best wine bars such as Reserve can go toe to toe with other cities' wine bars. Our best locally owned casual restaurants can stand next to the best in New York. Our best breweries definitely can make a statement. We just don't have as many options as a city with 10 million residents. It's all relative. Give credit where credit is due and I am very pleased with what's happening in GR's food scene.

We have come a very long way in the past decade and I only see it getting better.

Thanks everyone for the fun dialogue. I never thought my Father's Day brunch post could stir up such animated conversations.

Anonymous said...

Seeing as how I have worked at BWG, Rose's and Six.One.Six. Maybe I can shed some light on the situation. Something that is overlooked when dining at BWG is that it is a CASUAL fine dining establishment. Which means big portions for the lowest cost possible. So not everything is going to be 5 star quality. There are going to be corners cut, just like there is at most restaurants of similar stature. Its not that the chefs do not care about the food they are putting out, but rather some one always breathing down there neck in a corporate structure. The restaurant business is the business of pennies and nickels, meaning any shortcut or cheaper replacement will be found. Not so much the case at the JW but more so with the gilmore collection. To anonymous: I am right there with you on wanting more fresh local produce in GR, I see the GR dining scene as a seedling right now slowing growing into something special. Instead of criticizing a food bloggers review, share the news of the farmers markets with your friends, find the best local breweries and cheese makers and relish in their hard work.

Unfortunately, I moved away from West Michigan, my home to go out and work at some of the best restaurants in the country. I have spent time with James beard nominated chefs, my current chef spent two years at the French Laundry ( Thomas Kellers Restaurant in Yountville, Ca) and the food I am cooking now i just cant see in WM. Not to generalize but i have always seen GR as a town filled with frugal folks who like their steak and potatoes and there is nothing wrong with that. I am hoping GR proves me wrong and one day I will be able to return and open my own restaurant.

George, I thoroughly enjoy your reviews keep up the good work!

Jenna Arcidiacono said...

I agree with Chris about certain "awards" that are given locally. It is hard to see a "food service company's chef" win G.R.'s chef of the year when there are so many restaurants with chef's trying to use local products, give to local charities etc. And I agree that only locally owned business should be up for the awards - not franchises like Panera. I also think it was a poor move for the Amway to buy into a franchise for the hotel, when the 1913 Room could have been a place for a beautiful new local more affordable restaurant. We can only hope that we are gently moving in a healthier culinary direction where locals support other locals and we can grow together. One doesn't have to look far for locally raised meat, handmade cheese and beautiful (even organic)farms! So glad you opened up this topic for discussion, George. Aren't you?

George Aquino said...

I think we should have an "Eat Local" awards in town.

Anonymous said...

As a Michigan dad, I just wish someone would spend half this energy getting our Michigan children their "rightful" funding for education. Ex: Note what funding cuts are being done in Lansing to our schools.

Anonymous said...

How about you? rather than posting anonymously on a food blog, how about you publicly take a stand about school funding?

What a strange place to put a totally unrelated post.

Kurt Stauffer said...

This conversation illustrates the need for honest discussion among our rapidly growing food culture. Readers want someone with authority and readership to stir the pot and call a spade a spade. George does a very good job blogging about our city's dining spots through the lens of mainstream media, which is an important function for the general public who may not have a clue what's going on and need an authority to present them with the safest bets. A lot of readers probably have careers, kids, other obligations and don't know what's new or going on around town. What GR is craving is a voice of authority that can dig a little deeper. For example, the taco stand inside La Mexicana on South Division has some of the best Mexican food anywhere but you will never see a review on it, IMO. A high profile person has to protect their image and can't be hanging out in and reviewing greasy spoons and dives. A person like George has an image to uphold for his brand. Maybe there's a medium for GR's own version of Anthony Bourdain? Or, maybe we are asking too much from a city of GR's size? There's certainly an interest. Maybe someone on this thread wants to step up and take a shot at it? A magazine (or website or video blog) that ONLY reviews GR food. Who's in?

My Hotel Life said...

Thank you so much for the words of wisdom Kurt. Actually, there's a blog called Eating Our Way Through Grand Rapids that has been reviewing a lot of restaurants in GR.

As for dives, I have to try La Mexicana. I love these kind of places. I do hit the dive scene in my blog - El Granjero on Bridge st. has the best burrito in town and the Asian Palace on 28th street makes XO look like a fine dining restaurant.

El Granjero: http://myhotellife.blogspot.com/2009/07/best-meat-in-town.html

Asian Palace:
http://myhotellife.blogspot.com/2011/06/pho-and-soul-train-weekend.html

Eating Our Way Through Grand Rapids:
http://eatingourwaythroughgrandrapids.blogspot.com/

The Grand Rapids Press, I believe has a cheap eats section.

Kurt Stauffer said...

Thanks George. I look forward to future posts!

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