Category Archives: Going Local

GVSU study: Local economic impact of Meijer Gardens is $75 million 

The crowds that come to Meijer Gardens, shown here for a summer concert, pump money into the local economy, according to a GVSU Study. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Tony Norkus)

By Dottie Barnes

Grand Valley State University

 

The overall economic impact of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on Kent County is $75.2 million, which supports 804 jobs, according to a study by Grand Valley State University researchers.

 

The entrance to Meijer Gardens. (Supplied)

Economics professors Paul Isely and Christian Glupker, who conducted the study, reported that the annual economic impact of Meijer Gardens came from three components: the impact of visitor spending outside of the venue, the operations of the venue (including what visitors spend inside the venue) and construction spending.

 

Isely said one way Meijer Gardens adds to the regional economy is by bringing visitors to Kent County.

 

“As these individuals come to the county to visit, they spend money on food, lodging, entertainment, transportation and other items,” Isely said. “The combined dollar value of this spending translates into greater earnings for area employers and employees, as well as greater job creation.”

 

Glupker said direct spending by all visitors outside of Meijer Gardens is $22.7 million, with more than 86 percent of this coming from people outside of Kent County.

 

“The result is a lot of new dollars into Kent County,” Glupker said. “This happens because the venue draws 445,000 visitors from outside Kent County and each of these individuals spends more as a result of a visit to Meijer Gardens than a comparable local visitor.”

 

David Hooker, president and CEO of Meijer Gardens, commented on the study by saying: “Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has been embraced and supported by our wonderful community. It is with the community’s support that we can further our unique mission of horticulture and sculpture and bring joy to so many people. The Grand Valley study clearly shows the importance and support of the great cultural community that we have.”

 

Details of the study shows The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park supports or contributes:

• 804 jobs in Kent County annually

• A $75.2 million economic output annually

• Visitors from outside the county who directly spend $19.6 million at businesses around Kent County annually

• Construction that created 39 jobs during the last year

• 86 percent of visitor spending is the result of spending by individuals who do not live in Kent County

• Nonresidents spent an average $129 per group outside the venue during their visit to Meijer Gardens while in Kent County.

 

Wyoming boxing club has four Golden Glovers sparring for a state title

The Wyoming Pride Boxing Club will be sending four boxers to the Michigan Golden Gloves state finals this weekend. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

The Wyoming Pride Boxing Club is housed in a nondescript older building barely large enough for a ring, located off the street and in the back of other older buildings in Wyoming’s Porter street neighborhood — you can take a rock and hit the GM Components industrial area.

 

But on a recent Thursday evening, there were about 20 young boxers of various ages — and various ability to fit into boxing gloves let alone actually know how to use them — with club director Alex Fernandez and head trainer Dominic Marsiglia bouncing around giving instruction here and correction there.

 

Also at the club that day were three of the four boxers from the club who made the finals of the Western Michigan tournament and will be fighting for the Michigan State Golden Gloves title this weekend; each staying loose, staying sharp and focused on their individual goals.

 

“It feels great, yes (to have four boxers in the finals),” Fernandez said. “It is rare, to have four fighters going into the state (finals) tournament, three of them were West Michigan champions and they all have a chance to win the title, and three of them are in the Open Division. Any one of them can win a state title, in that Open Division, and move on to the nationals — and get nationally recognized.”

 

WKTV will continue its coverage of the Golden Gloves Boxing Championships Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, with the state title bouts from The DeltaPlex Arena and Conference Center.

 

The start tournament has both Open and Novice divisions. The three Wyoming Pride boxers fighting in the Open Division are Aneudy “Junior” Rios in the 123-pound class, Cody Cross in the 178-pound class, and Monclairson “Haiti” Colas in the heavyweight (201 plus pounds).

 

Justin Pierce will be fighting for a Novice title. (WKTV)

Justin Pierce, the youngest of the four boxers at 18-years old, and with just two fights under his belt, will be fighting in as a novice in the 152-pound class.

 

For the 20-year-old Rios, the state tournament will be a continuation of a young career that already includes a novice title. For Cross and Colas, it is a chance to regain titles they held but lost.

 

For Pierce, it is all pretty new — he won both his Western Michigan tournament fights by decision — but he has learned some lessons quickly.

 

“It was a lot of nerves involved,” Pierce said of his first fight. “However, the nerves, that is always going to be there. That’s what I hear from the more experienced fighters. I don’t think that is ever going to go away, … (but) it was like a few pounds were lifted off my shoulders when I got the first fight out the way. It just made me feel good when I got my hand raised at the end of the bout.”

 

And what lesson will he carry into he finals?

 

“Stay relaxed and remain calm,” Pierce said. “Even if you lose one round, remember you still have two more rounds to go, to make up the difference. You don’t win a fight in one round, nor do you loose a fight in one round. A fight is all three rounds. You have to fight hard from round one to round three. That’s what I learned.”

 

Both Cross, at age 26, and Colas, at 25, have also learned lessons — titles and then lessons. Now they both have the goal of using those experiences to again gain titles.

 

Cody Cross will be seeking to regain a crown he once held. (WKTV)

Cross fought and won a state title as a novice in 2014 and was a 2015 Open state champion, but last year … “Last year, I fell short,” he said. This year, “I would like to repeat (his state open title), I hope so. Getting it is the goal now. Then from there, I’ll move on to another goal.”

 

Cross finished second in the Western Michigan tournament and will fight the winner of the Eastern Michigan tournament in this week’s opening round action.

 

Colas — then nickname “Haiti” comes from a past coworker who could not pronounce his French first name and, somehow, came up with “Young Haiti” — had a walk over in his first Western Michigan tournament fight and then won the title by abandonment (his opponent’s corner stopped the fight), so he will fight the runner-up from the Eastern Michigan side.

 

Haiti Colas will be going for a heavyweight title. (WKTV)

But he, too, was a 2015 Novice champ but he fell short of an Open title last year, learned some lessons, and also has a little something to prove this year.

 

“Now I have had more fights and we made adjustments for the (Western Michigan) tournament,” he said. “This year, I am more confident because I lost last year, so I am going to redeem myself.”

 

WKTV’s coverage will be broadcast on Live Wire Comcast Channel 24 with a tape delayed airing of each evening’s bouts the following day: the Friday, April 21, bouts will air Saturday, April 22, at noon; and the Saturday, April 22, bouts will air Sunday, April 23, at 6 p.m.

 

For complete schedule see michigangoldenglovesboxing.com . For information about The DeltaPlex Arena and Conference Center, 2500 Turner Ave., Grand Rapids, visit deltaplex.com

 

Kentwood 50 talent show gives out ‘Golden Tickets’ to finalists

After an event at the City of Kentwood’s City Hall, the Kentwood 50’s Kentwood’s Got Talent contest now has 11 finalists for the August finals. (WKTV)

WKTV Staff
The field competing in the City of Kentwood’s Kentwood’s Got Talent event, a part of the city’s Kentwood 50 anniversary celebration, got a little smaller Wednesday as 11 finalists were given “Golden Tickets” and an invitation to the August finals.

 

WKTV was there filming the event, held in City Council chambers at City of Kentwood City Hall, and you can see the video here.

 

About 30 auditions — ranging from singing to dancing to comedy — were held prior to the deadline of Friday, March 3. The finals will be Aug. 11 at 7 p.m., at a community event outside at city hall.

 

For more information on Kentwood 50 celebrations, visit kentwood50.com.

 

Wyoming public safety personnel, civilians honored at ceremony

The City of Wyoming Department of Public Safety honored its police and firefighter personnel, as well as civilians, at an award ceremony late last month. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Wyoming Department of Public Safety Director James Carmody, addressing a standing-room-only crowd at the department’s annual award ceremony late last month, made clear his feelings on the role his police and fire personnel have in the Wyoming community.

 

“Tonight you will hear stories of unselfish acts of bravery, generosity, compassion and guy-wrenching determination,” Carmody said at the Feb. 23 event at the Wyoming Senior Center. “The events we speak of tonight are just a few of the many thousands of times that our men and women step into the breach of danger and work to keep our city a safe and comfortable place to live, work and play.”

 

While the evening honored all of the long list of winners of Certificates of Merit, Certificates of Achievement, Life Saving Awards and individual and unit commendations, the highlights of the evening were the five personnel who gained special honors. (See complete list here.)

 

Ofc. Carmen Morales was honored as Officer of the Year, Firefighter Lance Bowman was recognized as Firefighter of the Year, Milt Zaagman was honored as Civilian of the Year, and Det. D.J. VerHage and Firefighter Brad Dornbos each received the Chiefs Award of Professional Excellence.

 

Each of the five had their stories told and, afterword talking with WKTV, reacted to their awards.

 

Officer of the Year

 

Ofc. Morales has been with the department for more than 20 years, serving as a patrol officer, a detective and now in the warrant unit. She has been a long-serving member of the peer support group and awards boards. Carmody, in supplied material, described her as “passionate about bringing justice to the victims of crime and believes in the dignity of all. Her unwavering commitment to professional policing, her fellow officers and the community makes her someone we can all be proud to represent us as our Officer of the Year.”

 

Ofc. Carmen Morales (WKTV)

The award “means a lot to me,” Ofc. Morales said. “Number One: I was chosen from my peers. … I have been with the city of Wyoming for 25 years, so I have dedicated myself to this department for 25 years, even though I consider them my family. It means a job well done, for me. I have been in so many units in this department, that I have to say I am glad I was chosen for this award and not for one specific thing I have done for the city of Wyoming but for a collaboration of things.”

 

“Tonight’s special honorees have been recognized by their peers, this is a peer-driven process,” Carmody said of the award process. “The awards you see tonight are recommended and voted on by their peers.”

 

Firefighter of the Year

 

Firefighter Lance Bowman (WKTV)

Firefighter Bowman has served as the director of the Wyoming Public Safety Fire Divisions Quarter Master Program since its creation in 2014. He is responsible for providing clothing and equipment for full-time, part-time, dual trained and on call firefighters. Of Bowman, Carmody said, in supplied material: “We commend him for his bravery and thank him for his service. His commitment to the department and his continued display of courage in emergencies serves as an exemplary role model for his peers.”

“I am very pleased to accept this award from my peers that I work with everyday,” Bowman said.

 

Civilian of the Year

 

Milt Zaagman is congratulated by Wyoming Department of Public Safety Director James Carmody (WKTV)

Zaagman, a building maintenance worker for the City of Wyoming, has served the community for over 40 years and remains an integral part of keeping the department operating successfully. “Milt defines responsibility,” a release by the Pubic Safety Department stated. “He is often seen before the sunrises and on days off shoveling the sidewalks or sweeping leaves from garages, according to a peer panel evaluation. He is highly respected among his peers. His name is synonymous with kindness, respect, service and selflessness throughout the department.”

 

“I have 41 years with the City of Wyoming, with the police department,” Zaagman said. “Back in the ’60s, when I was in the military, I understood exactly what a brotherhood and sisterhood was, and I have felt accepted and felt that same thing with all these years with the Wyoming police department.”

 

Chiefs Awards of Professional Excellence

 

Firefighter Brad Dornbos (WKTV)

Dornbos, the fire divisions emergency medical technician coordinator, established a mutually supportive relationship with Metro Health. This partnership led to a $10,000 grant, which allowed the department to purchase advanced medical equipment and fund the training of their full-time firefighters as EMTs. “Brads dedication to improved service has been instrumental in enabling our department to save more lives,” Carmody said in supplied material. “The ability to provide improved services to our residents and our community is because of his hard work.”

 

“It is an honor to receive the award,” Dornbos said. “It’s definitely a team effort amongst my lieutenant, chief, and our crew that we all work together… it’s a reaffirmation that we’re doing the right thing and moving forward to help the citizens of Wyoming and hopefully save more lives with the upgraded licensure and with the future accreditation coming forward.”

 

Det. D.J. VerHage (WKTV)

VerHage has served on the department for 24 years and has been forefront on many of its most important criminal cases. “Detective VerHage has been a top candidate of this award many times, but this year was his year,” Carmody said in supplied material. “Each day he embodies our values of honor, courage, duty and trust through his determination and dedication.”

 

“It is very humbling. The chief was very gracious, by what he said,” VerHage said. “I am very thankful and grateful for my coworkers, everybody I get to work with. This is a team effort and anything that I did is only possible because of my coworkers and everybody that helps out with every case. Every complaint, everything that comes into the police department from our civilians, to all of our police officers, detectives, and the admin as well. It’s very nice what he said and very gracious and there’s many many more deserving of this award, so, thank you.”

 

For more information on the City of Wyoming Department of Public Safety, visit the city’s new website at wyomingmi.gov .

 

Wyoming parks and rec adult softball spring leagues now registering

The City of Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department is taking registrations for its spring softball leagues. (WKTV)

WKTV Staff

 

The deadline is looming for signing up for the City of Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department’s spring-season adult soft-pitch softball leagues, which includes both coed and men’s leagues.

 

Registration deadline for adult softball leagues is Thursday, March 16.

 

The coed league will play Mondays and Fridays while the men’s league will play Mondays and Thursdays. These are both 10-game leagues with a $475 cost per team. An additional men’s league, running Mondays and Tuesdays, will be a 12-game league and with a $525 cost per team. They will all include a single-elimination tournament at the end of regular season.

 

For more information, or to register your team, please contact recreation programmer Kenny Westrate at 616.530.3164 or westratek@wyomingmi.gov.

 

For more information about other Parks and Recreation special events or programs, please visit www.wyomingmi.gov.

Kentwood 50: Railtown’s golden ale a natural fit for celebration

Railtown Brewing’s Gim Lee, at the brewery’s tap room, will be serving up some spacial Kentwood 50 golden ale this year. (K.D. Norris/WKTV)

By K.D. Norris

ken@wktv.org

 

Following the City of Kentwood’s special City Commission meeting Monday, held as the kickoff event of the year-long Kentwood 50 celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary, the reception was held at Railtown Brewing Company and the beer of choice was — naturally — a golden ale brewed with a touch of mango.

 

Two reasons for the beer being the natural choice of the celebration: a 50-year anniversary is considered a “golden” anniversary, and the brew was the pick of some staff at the city’s Park and Recreation Department, which has, shall we say, a relationship with the 2-year-old Railtown.

 

The addition of the mango flavor? Well, the parks people also liked it so that was good enough for the brewery.

 

“A lot of the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department are actually mug clubbers here, they have a mug on the wall over there, they are just regulars,” said Gim Lee, who along with his partner Justin Buiter opened the brewery in late 2014. “They are friends and they asked if we would like to do something special (for the anniversary celebration) and we said ‘absolutely.’

 

“A group of them came, we sat down and collaborated on what they were celebrating and what kind of beer would work with that. They threw a whole bunch of different styles on the table, what they might want to try. They, as a team, actually landed on the golden ale — this is their golden 50th — and the mango being a golden fruit, that would be a perfect pairing. They wanted something unique and mango is a flavor not used too frequently.”

 

Railtown is located at 3555 68th St., in Dutton but just across the border with Kentwood. Since it opened it has grown to be a 3,500-square-foot space at the east end of the Village Mall plaza. The brewery’s tap room has 10 taps and usually 10 different brews available, and it has started to distribute kegs to other restaurants.

 

While the special Kentwood 50 brew was tapped at Monday’s invite-only opening ceremony reception, Lee said it would be available to the public — just maybe not until they brew up some more.

 

“We will have it on and off throughout the year, so people should be able to come in here and get it through the rest of the week — assuming we do not blow it out that first night,” he said. “We’ll see.”

 

If you fill the special Kentwood 50 growler at Railtown Brewing a donation will be made to the city’s Park and recreation department. (Supplied)

Also debuting on the night of the reception were growlers with a special logo, which are part of the brewery’s continuing support of the Kentwood 50 event. The brewery will be donating a portion of its growler sales as the celebration continues.

 

“We are raising some money for the parks and recreation department by doing this,” Lee said. “When you buy a growler, we will be donating a couple bucks back to parks and recreation every time you fill that growler, regardless of what beer it is. It doesn’t have to be the golden ale. This will be an on-going promotion.”

 

As far as the process of developing the new brew, Lee admitted it was pretty much like Railtown decides on any beer it brews — they like to drink it, so they know other people will like to like to drink it. Although, he said, this time they had to satisfy more tastebuds than just the staff’s.

 

“We have brewed golden ales, we have done a lot of that. That part is easy,” he said. “We took a different golden ale, we racked it off to what is called a firkin, a 10-gallon cask, it is an old-fashioned way of serving beer. In the firkin you can dose whatever you want in it, that is part of the fun of using a firkin — you can add a little fruit, extra hops, a little coffee, whatever you want. It is a really good way to experiment with different flavors. … based on that, that flavor profile, we can scale it up to a bigger scale” for brewing.

 

“The (Kentwood 50) beer has been done for quite a while, and that was intentional,” he said. “I wanted to make sure if they did not like it at all, I would have time to brew something else if I had to. Its been done for a month. They came in and tried it, and I tried it, and my brewers tried it. We all thought it was pretty nice.”

For more information on Railtown Brewing Company, call the taproom at 616-881-2364 or visit railtownbrewing.com (leads to a Facebook page).

 

Locally-produced sewing craft show back for 2nd season on WKTV

OnPoint focuses on host Nancy M. Roelfsema’s “Learning to Quilt” lessons. (Supplied)

By Thomas Hegewald

 

 

When OnPoint Tutorials, Tips & Tours debuted in 2015, the production team had no idea what the audience reaction would be to the show. While the team pledged to focus on all things creative, they didn’t know they would create a following which would look forward to a new tutorial, tip or tour every week.

 

From the start they have endeavored to demonstrate host lessons to a broader audience. By showcasing these lessons, the show has created a large “classroom” for viewers and novice quilters alike. OnPoint will complete these lessons in the course of the second season along with showcasing other crafts.

 

The OnPoint production team includes team Bill Roelfsema, Gina Greenlee, Karen Giles, Nancy Roelfsema, Athina Morehouse, Michelle Sheler, Eric Sheler, and Thomas Hegewald.

 

The OnPoint production team includes team, from left to right, Bill Roelfsema, Gina Greenlee, Karen Giles, Nancy Roelfsema, Athina Morehouse, Michelle Sheler, Eric Sheler and Thomas Hegewald. (Supplied)

Each month the production team records a number of segments for a half hour program. In addition to providing viewers with step-by-step tutorials on a particular technique, they also feature helpful tips and an insider’s view of local trade shows, quilt stores, quilt guilds and artist’s studios.

 

For this, the second season, they’ve produced additional episodes featuring demonstrations that were recorded in October at the 2016 Quilts on the Grand Show held at the DeltaPlex.

 

Season 2 of OnPoint Tutorials, Tips & Tours debuted last week on WKTV and will continue weekly with initial broadcasts on Monday at 6 p.m., with an encore broadcast on Friday at 10:30 a.m.

 

For more information on OnPoint, visit onpoint-tv.com or on FaceBook at OnPoint.

 

Going Local: Lindo Mexico

lindomexcioshirtJoanne’s Portion

Joanne@wktv.org

 

Being it was Mike’s last week here at WKTV, I let him decide on which restaurant we would visit. So we did not pull Lindo Mexico out of the hat, but let me assure everyone that it was in there.

 

Actually, I had heard a lot of good things about the restaurant, which along with several Wyoming and Kentwood business is up for the Celebrated Service Award. Having moved earlier this year to its new location at 1742 28th St. SW., Lindo Mexico is a family-owned business known for its familiar Mexican dishes along with beer and margaritas. The new location is beautiful…no gorgeous. It looks and feels like some swanky restaurant you would find in New York or even downtown Grand Rapids, but the best part is you do not have to fight the downtown traffic to get there, just 28th Street, which on a bad day is still better than traveling U.S. 131.

 

The place is bright, cheerful and features a gallery of artists’ work on the walls that appeared to be available for purchase. (I did not get that up close to check.) My biggest regret is that it was raining the day we went so we could not take advantage of the really cool patio that reminded me of the ones I saw on a recent trip to San Diego. Since the weather will be turning cooler soon, I probably will not be able to take advantage of that patio until the spring. Sigh.

 

I also completely understand why Lindo Mexico is up for the Celebrated Service Award – our waitress, Lupata, was just a doll. She had a full section but still took the time to explain menu items and checked back on a regular basis to make sure we were doing fine. Due to the fact the restaurant was hopping, I could bet that the service is consistently top-notch.

 

lindomexicoWe stuck to the lunch menu and I settled on #10, the Chimichanga Lunch Special. So I dare admit this while writing about a “Restaurant Mexicano,” but I grew up on Chi Chi’s and one of my favorites was the chimichanga which is a flour tortilla filled with your choice of meat, refried bans, and cheese then deep-fried. I got the chicken and had it topped with mild sauce and melted cheese. I was not enthralled with the chimichanga for a couple of reasons: one, I should have had the sauce on the side, which would have let the chimichanga have more of a crunch. I love crunch and vegetables, which brings me to  reason two: I was in love with Mike’s choice, the Alhambra lunch Special, which had green peppers, onions, meat and cheese. It reminded me of a nacho I order from another restaurant and I knew I would have loved it.

 

So with my next plate decided on and knowing the service is exceptional, I’ll be back with hubby in tow just so he too can dream with me about a lazy summer evening sitting on Lindo Mexico’s patio, sipping a margarita. Who knows, we might even invite Mike to join us.

 

Mike’s Portion

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

My time here at WKTV has opened me up to a whole new word here in the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood. Growing up north of Grand Rapids, I wasn’t aware that both cities are teeming with a mixture of different cultures. This quickly becomes apparent when looking at the local restaurants and food choices, and Going Local opened my eyes and taste-buds to the diversity both cities have to offer.

 

Lindo MexicoFor my last week, Joanne allowed me to pick a restaurant. No random drawing from the hat, but an actual choice on where we would Go Local for the week. The choice was easy and came about due to our visit to Maya Mexican Grill two months prior. I loved Maya – the food, the wait staff… the margaritas – and willingly shouted it from the rooftops. It was during that shouting that someone mentioned to me, “Have you tried Lindo Mexico?” I had not, at least, not yet.

 

Lindo Mexico quickly became a destination spot. “I need to compare and contrast,” I told myself, but in reality I just wanted to stuff my face full of delicious Mexican food.

 

The restaurant was very clean and inviting upon entering, and the place was packed! Lindo Mexico was busier than any restaurant Joanne and I visited over the last five months. I’ll give you a hint why… it’s because of the food. The lunch menu is quite large, the price is reasonable, and the portions plentiful. After surveying the menu, I zeroed in on number 13. My salivary glands are activating themselves just thinking about it – A mix of marinated pork, marinated chicken and steak strips, cooked with tomato, onion and your choice of jalapeño or bell peppers, then topped with cheese; served with refried beans, mexican rice, guacamole and tortillas.

 

Talk about a flavorful adventure!

 

Lindo MexicoThe meat and vegetables came out on a hot skillet with the beans, rice and guacamole on the side. My mouth was throwing a party and only the zestiest of flavors were invited. I savored every bite and even came back to work with a box filled of leftovers. That was quickly devoured two hours later at WKTV. I’m like a Hobbit, second lunch is a real thing.

 

I’ve also heard their margaritas are amazing… not that I had one or anything. I plead the fifth!

Going Local: Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery

albos3Joanne’s Portion

Joanne@wktv.org

 

Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery was one of the first restaurants I ran across in doing my search of local eateries to put in the Going Local hat.

 

The Albanian/Bosnian restaurant, located at 2930 Shaffer Ave. SE, is one that I actually have driven past several times, wondering what was inside, and Wednesday was the day I was finally going to find out. The inside was beautiful with dark wood accents and a mix of hi-tops and regular seating along with a bar.

 

The two-page menu is loaded with items, none of which I had ever tried, making it a little intimating even after our waiter came up and pointed out some of the top suggestions. I struggled in trying to make a decision and looking back, I believe I was afraid of moving out of my comfort zone. The waiter was so gracious in trying to help with a strong push for the stroganoff which had mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes would have to be phenomenal for me to even try them, so that was a no. I finally decided to go with the Mesano Meso or the mixed grill plate. “Good choice! Good choice!” our waiter said. With visions of lots of food, I figured I could take the rest home to the family or have it for leftovers the next day.

 

albos4When the meal finally came, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was not a heaping plate of meat but a reasonable portion of samples from the various items offered at Al-Bos.

 

The plate included Chicken Raznjici, a chicken skewer; cevapcici, smaller grilled meat sausages made of lamb and beef; Kranjska Kobasica, a Carniolan sausage similar to kielbasa; pljeskavica, a beef patty, and a breaded chicken that I did not get the name of. Topping it off was Djuvec rice and french fries.

 

There is a person who wrote on Al-Bos’s Facebook page that they could eat the food “until they were put on a stretcher.” After tasting everything on my plate, I could totally relate. The food was amazing. It was properly seasoned without being overpowering bringing out the full flavor of the individual dishes. Basically a “wow” factor times ten and I loved every bite.

 

I did manage to save some for the family and watched sadly as my daughter saddled up next to my husband and began to steal everything off his plate. As my husband looked at the empty plate of which he got only a few small bites, I said, “We’ll go there. I promise.” After all, I believe there is a stroganoff with mashed potatoes calling my name.

 

Mike’s Portion

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

With the camera on and the Going Local hat nestled in my left palm, I dove my right hand deep into the paper abyss to choose our next location. As my hand finagled through the options, it finally settled on one destination, Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery

 

Another week, and another brand new location I had never heard of. I’ll take ‘A New Experience’ for $200, Alex.

 

The authentic Albanian-Bosnian restaurant – located at 2930 Shaffer Ave. in Kentwood – has a menu loaded with my favorite thing in the whole wide world… Meat! A power-packed protein binge in always in my wheelhouse and Al-Bos had a selection that was sure to satisfy.

 

The menu was overpowering, not going to lie, and I don’t mean that as a negative. A whole host of meats and preparations filled the menu and left me slightly dumbfounded. Not only was I struggling to make a decision, I had difficulty pronouncing what I was even ordering. Thankfully our waiter was extremely helpful. He immediately sensed my indecisiveness and pointed me towards a few menu items I would enjoy.

 

img_2079It felt like a blind date and my waiter was the matchmaker. I couldn’t pronounce my meal’s name, and I wasn’t quite sure what she was going to look like, but I had to trust that there would be chemistry between us. My lunch date ended up being Stufed Pljeskavica-Punjena Pljeskavica. It consisted of stufed pljeskavica (beef), with feta cheese, onion, ajvar, djuvec rice, and french fries.

 

When the meal was set down in front of me, I was quickly reminded that true love was universal. We may not have spoken the same language, but body language needs no interpretation and my meal and I were on the same page.

 

The beef was tender and juicy and stuffed with feta cheese. It went down quickly as each bite was followed by an immediate need for another. The rice was delicious and had a more tempered flavor. It complimented the meat quite nicely. The french fries were an add-on seemingly from left field, but I’ll never complain about a batch of french fries and they went down seamlessly.

 

Fortunately for me, Joanne ordered what was essentially a buffet of meats and allowed me to try some. I was thankful to have two different sausages and devoured them like a ravenous lion.

 

In all, Al-Bos left a very fine first impression. With all of their menu options, I’d be a fool not to head back for another round.

Going Local: Daniele’s Pizza, the D-Burger Edition

danielles4Mike’s Slice

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

Three months ago we drew Daniele’s Pizzeria out of the Going Local hat and gave it the full treatment. There was a Facebook Live video of the drawing, an order of scrumptious pizza and cheesy bread, and a Friday write-up for the masses to consume.

 

However, something caught my eye three months ago while diving into the Daniele’s menu that caused me to pause and think “Is this love?” It was a masterful creation of carbs and grease called the ‘D-Burger’. A half pound slab of sausage topped with jalapeno and onions and sandwiched between two 7-inch pepperoni pizzas. A taste bud’s dream and an artery’s worst nightmare.

 

An executive decision was quickly made to add the D-Burger from Daniele’s into the hat. Fate would decide when the delicious monstrosity would make its humble abode in my belly, all I had to do was wait. So, you could imagine my excitement when the D-Burger was drawn out of the hat this week. While I tried to contain it, it was to no avail, Joanne and Victoria could see that I was smitten. My only question was, “do I call now or wait three days? I don’t want to seem needy or too available.”

 

Joanne made me wait until Wednesday per our ‘rules’ for Going Local. Rules don’t matter when love is in the air. Time is a physical construct that can’t measure longing. Does it really matter if it’s one minute or 48 hours? When one second feels infinite, it’s truly unbearable.

 

Somehow, through sheer will and grit, I made it to Wednesday.

 

After driving to Daniele’s Pizzeria – now at a new location located at 1429 60th Street, Grand Rapids – and picking up the goods, the sheer girth of the box caught me slightly off guard. A quick peek inside showed a greasy pepperoni pizza, what was underneath would stay a mystery until I returned back to WKTV to share with the staff.

 

danielles1As my teeth sunk into the burger, fireworks went off  in my head. The pizza, sausage, pizza trifecta was a sensation with every bite. Juicy, salty, and carbo-loaded for the ultimate eating experience. The jalapeno added a slight kick of heat that triggered the taste buds and took them on an unexpected roller coaster ride of flavor.

 

The D-Burger was shared between five of us at the station as none of us wanted to keel over of a heart attack after eating too much. However, death by eating a D-Burger might not be the worst way to go…

 

Joanne’s Slice

joanne@wktv.org

 

In full disclosure, I have to state this upfront: I am not a fan of sausage on a pizza. I prefer my pizzas to be simple, usually with just pepperoni or, if making them at home, with green pepper, onion, ham, and pepperoni. Sausage just does not make the list.

 

danielles2With that said, when Mike talked about the D-Burger at Danielle’s, I assumed it was a burger — as in hamburger — between two 7-inch pizzas. Once I took a bite, I quickly realized it was sausage, which only made sense for a pizza-style burger. And the sausage was very good, very favorable, and even though sausage is not my thing, I have to give kudos to Danielle’s for thinking outside of the box in creating the D-Burger. I did try the pizza separate and it was amazing. The bread was fresh, the sauce was perfect and it was just the type of pizza I would enjoy.

 

So while the D-Burger won’t make it on my repeat list (I do encourage everyone to at least try it and make their own decision) I will be heading over to Danielle’s Pizza’s new location at 1429 60th St. SE for a pizza…or two, as I do need to share with the family.

 

Going Local: The Food Truck Edition

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Joanne’s Portion

joanne@wktv.org

 

With the news of that food trucks were descending on Kentwood for its Bags & Bites event this Saturday, Mike and I made the decision to taste test some of the items before the trucks arrived.

 

Unfortunately, finding a food truck after owners have spent two and half weeks at ArtPrize proved to be a little difficult. We also were too lazy to get up at 6 a.m. to go visit River City Cup & Cake which usually can be found at the Amtrak station. However the owner of River City Cup & Cake, Lorin Tate, who is a Kentwood resident and Kelloggsville graduate, was gracious enough to stop by the studio.

 

He makes a mean hot chocolate (sorry folks, I do not drink coffee or tea). Unfortunately, Lorin had sold out of all his pastries, so I would wait until Saturday.

 

Still I wanted to try one more food truck and our choices narrowed down to driving to Allendale for Patty Matters or heading to Two Scotts Barbecue’s brick and mortar home at 536 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids. The minute I said “Two Scotts,” Mike was quick to make the “executive” decision.

 

two-scottsTwo Scotts is only open from 11 a.m. — 3p.m. We were planning to get there around 11:30 a.m., but a friend said to be there before it opens as the place is known to run out. We managed to walk through the doors at 11:07 a.m. and the place was starting to jump. When we left about an hour later, the outside patio was filling up and the parking lot was packed with cars circling in hopes someone would leave.

 

I wanted a menu item that would be on the food truck. The order taker was quick to tell me the menu is usually the same with offerings varying depending on location.

 

With Two Scotts you can either get your pulled pork, pulled chicken, sliced brisket, burnt ends or sausage as a sandwich or just the meat with homemade pickles and bread. I opted for the burnt ends sandwich ($10) making it a combo (add $3) that included a drink and side because I wanted the homemade tater tots.

 

We grabbed some sauce, I tried the house, verde, and an orange sauce that tasted like it had mayo. After I sat down, I noticed the tips already had sauce on them so I really did not need any of the sauces I picked but I tried them anyway — they were all yummy and I really could not pick a favorite. As for the sandwich, well burnt ends do not make for a great sandwich. (Something Mike, with a laugh, pointed out.) So after a couple of bits, I discarded the bread, speared the pieces with a folk and dipped them in the sauces. The meat melted in my mouth, and to be honest, I have not had meat taste that good since my husband took me to a really nice steak place.

 

sandwichI was so happy about the burnt ends, I almost forgot about the tater tots, which were a crunchy delight. I popped them like candy as we sat and chatted about the week. And since I essentially had meat and potatoes, I was full for the entire day.

 

So if you are headed to the Kentwood Bags & Bites at the Kentwood City Hall (5900 Breton Rd. SE), Two Scotts is definitely one to try. I’m thinking of snagging some for my husband’s dinner since he’ll since be at work when my daughters and I head over. As for me, well I am planning to hit either Patty Matters, offering up an array of burgers, or Gettin’ Fresh, for its burger with bacon grounded in. And of course, hopefully get my hands on one of those River City Cup & Cake pastries.

 

Mike’s Portion

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

This Saturday, the City of Kentwood is hosting  their first ever ‘Bags & Bites’ at Kentwood City Hall and a horde of food trucks will decent upon the area. Joanne and I decided to take advantage and visit a couple of food trucks for this week’s Going Local.

 

On Tuesday afternoon, Lorin Tate stopped by the station after making his morning runs with his traveling business River City Cup & Cake. Unfortunately for Joanne and I, but a measure of the truck’s success on the road, Lorin was clean out of pastries. However, he did make a mean mocha and filled my mental appetite with insight into the food truck business.

 

rivercity9For starters, food trucks have a lot of room to move around inside! And it makes sense, it’s a one-man restaurant that needs all of the amenities of a kitchen. Space might be limited but it’s packed together like a well-played game of Tetris, everything in the right place. They also aren’t cheap – Lorin’s espresso machine by itself cost $15,000 – and they can struggle to run in the winter due to the water pipes freezing. If you can’t store your food truck in a warm garage during the cold months, better shut it down all season.

 

Once the mocha was finished, I topped off the rest of Joanne’s hot chocolate as it was just a little too rich for her. I didn’t know there was such a thing as ‘too rich’ when it came to hot cocoa. I guzzled it down. With how delicious the fresh brewed coffee and hot chocolate was, I’m bummed the pastries weren’t available. Guess I’ll just have to stop by the Amtrak early in the morning!

 

The next day Joanne and I scooted out to Two Scotts Barbeque. Yes, I know, their restaurant on Leonard isn’t a food truck, but their food truck will be at Kentwood on Saturday and we made sure to order what would be on that food truck. We’re always thinking.

 

Two Scotts has a slight history with me, a year and a half ago I moved into a house about a stone throw away from the barbecue joint. Whenever I wanted barbecue, which is pretty much all the time, I would stop by to see if they were open. With hours slated from 11am-3pm, I struck out every single time. This was my chance to finally the famed joint.

 

twoscotts2It did not disappoint.

 

The brisket sandwich called to me and I threw in an order of homemade tots as well. The brisket was flavorful and went down quick – I think I ate it in 30 seconds or so – and the tots were INCREDIBLE. Even if you aren’t a fan of smoked meats, you absolutely need to stop in for their homemade tots. The outside crunched and the inside melted in your mouth. Simply delectable.

 

Two Scotts, I think we need to make this a weekly thing.

 

Citizen Journalist Rob’s Potion

 

Waiting can be one of the most difficult things, especially for more hyperactive people like me, and when you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can be a time of dread. Most of the time, in these waiting situations, I often look for something to do like drink or eat to pass the time. So, you could imagine my excitement and curiosity when I spotted a food truck while waiting for the Megabus to take me back to my hometown Chicago.

 

rivercity6If you are not familiar with the Megabus pick up location, it’s a parking lot diagonal from the old Amtrak station with very little around that could occupy a wondering mind. River City Cup & Cake sat in the parking lot as a beacon of adventure during my time of waiting. The food truck combined two of my all-time favorite things in the world all wrapped into one catchy name on the side of a truck. Who could possibly deny the insatiable combination of a cup of coffee and a piece of cake? Besides my friend John, of course, who somehow detests both. Truly one of a kind.

 

As a latte and cupcake/pastry lover, I found the River City Cup and Cake to be inviting with its bright color and simple, but very cool, logo . The espresso sign was magnetic to my soul.

 

A line had already begun to form as many of us waiters found this to be the best location to wait for our bus. While I can’t remember exactly which cupcake I had, I do remember it was good, baked with the fluffy and buttery flavor that one would expect from a really good cupcake and the latte was also very good. I also remember the customer service being outstanding with an owner who was engaging with his clientele and seemed to be an owner/operator who really enjoyed what he was doing.

 

I would highly recommend that when you see this vehicle, RUN TO IT!! Get yourself a cup & cake and enjoy. I know I did when I saw it parked in the parking lot while volunteering at WKTV on Tuesday.

Going Local: Load A Spud Potato Bar

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Joanne’s Portion

joanne@wktv.org

 

I thought I had seen it all when it came to restaurants since in my past life I was an entertainment editor. But the Load A Spud Potato Bar was a new one for me.

 

And it makes sense. After all, you have Subway that makes customized sandwiches and Qdoba that does the same with tacos and other Mexican-style cuisine. Also, when you think about it, potatoes do make a perfect base for just about any taste combination you could imagine.

 

loadaspud1Load A Spud Potato Bar, which is based in Grand Rapids, has six locations with one right in Kentwood at 1710 44th St. SW, just east of the Kalamazoo Avenue and 44th Street intersection. Enter in and the place is immaculate. Posters of various potato combinations and boards of potato quick facts adorned the walls. Centerstage was the potato bar itself.

 

The first thing we were told is that there are 20 different potato combinations or you could create your own. The most popular combinations are the Meat Lover’s, with chicken, bacon, ground beef, and steak; the Steak and Cheese, seasoned steak and cheese topped with A1 Sauce; the Cheese Broccoli with melted cheddar cheese and broccoli pieces; and the Taco featuring seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onions and taco sauce. For $5 you can get a potato with any cheese or any veggie or with butter and sour cream only.

 

I opted for the Gyro ($7.99) which had gyro strips, feta cheese, onions and tomatoes. I also added lettuce and broccoli. The only hiccup I ran into was that Load A Spud puts butter on all of its potatoes, otherwise “it is going to be a very dry potato.” I am not a butter person, meaning I rarely put butter on anything. I agreed to just butter — the restaurant has several kinds of butter including a sour cream butter — and to be honest, I could not taste it. So the next time I go, I’m going butterless.

 

loadaspud2I did opt for the yogurt sauce — it’s a gyro so you must have yogurt sauce — and my traditional Diet Coke. Once fully loaded, Mike and I found a seat and dug in.

 

It was good. The favor combination of the meat and onions with the potato was a nice mix. However, a third of the way in, I fell into the majority of Load A Spud’s customers — I couldn’t finish the meal. The meal comes in a carry out container, so you can snap a lid on it and take it home for snacking later or tomorrow’s lunch. I actually had more at dinner with my daughter snacking on it as well and we still had about a third left.

 

My entire meal came to $9.53 and considering it ended up becoming three meals, I certainly got quite a bang for my buck.

 


Mike’s Portion

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

My first experience with a baked potato bar came at a high school graduation party four years ago. The potatoes were baked, covered in tin foil, and ready to be dressed in the amenities laid forth on the bar. Bacon, cheese, ham, lettuce, spinach, green peppers, onions, sour cream and lots of butter were jovially added and I pondered to myself about the lack of a consistent potato bar in my life.

 

Fast forward four years to Joanne and I walking into Load A Spud Potato Bar at the corner of 44th Street and Kalamazoo. It had been far to long, but alas, me and my long-lost flame were about to be reunited once again.

 

img_2016As we entered the restaurant, potato facts lined the walls. No, seriously, there are facts about potatoes and the nutrients they provide all over the inside of the restaurant. Did you know that a potato has as many calories as a large apple? Or that nutritionists have shown that potatoes are low in calories and are an excellent source of carbohydrates? They are high in vitamins and contain no fat or cholesterol.

 

The wall of facts made me feel good about myself and the large quantities of food I was about to throw down the gullet. That’s all that matter in a restaurant, right? To make you FEEL good about what you’re about to eat. Load A Spud get’s an A+ for the feels.

 

To give you an idea of what Load A Spud is all about, it’s much like a Subway or Qdoba but uses a potato as its base instead of bread or a tortilla. This is no skimpy potato either. We’re talking a full pound that is then mashed together at the bottom of a bowl and topped with ingredients.

 

About those toppings, because a potato is a high quality base, there’s a lot of treble that can be added on top. In fact, Load A Spud has 20 signature combinations including a taco potato, shrimp alfredo potato, pizza potato, gyro potato, and many more. These signature combinations can then be further customized by a choice of four separate butters – regular, house (with cilantro), garlic, and sour cream – and a bevy of vegetables.

 

img_2017I decide to give the jerk chicken potato a whirl at $6.99 and added garlic butter, spinach, lettuce, red onions, green peppers, broccoli, colby jack cheese and tomatoes. I took the ‘load’ part in Load A Spud very seriously.

 

The meal was placed into a large bowl with a microwavable top just in case you couldn’t finish and needed to bring it home to heat up for later. How difficult could it be to finish a one pound spud and an assortment of goodies on top? Turns out, pretty dang hard. I shoveled the food into my mouth with no regards for Joanne or my own dignity. I dug into the spud with vigor and passion. As my stomach began to send the signals to my mind and mouth to stop destroying the bowl in front of me, I took a step back to see the damage inflicted upon my prey. My eyes bulged and my heart sank, how could it be that I hadn’t even finished off half of the meal? What is this sorcery!?

 

My mind quickly recalibrated and realized that what I had in front of me was now a meal for another time. One potato, one invoice, two meals.

 

One signature combination down, 19 more to go.

Going Local: Taco Bob’s

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Mike’s Portion

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

When I first pulled Taco Bob’s out of the Going Local hat on Monday, I didn’t think much of it. I envisioned a small restaurant that specializes in tacos and deduced that it would be a tasty way to spend the Wednesday lunch hour. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

My expectations were raised later that night when talking to my girlfriend, Mary, about where Joanne and I would be Going Local this week.

 

“Taco Bob’s? The one down in Kalamazoo is very good! You’re going to like it,” Mary quipped. She grew up in Kalamazoo and is a bit of a food aficionado herself. If Taco Bob’s brought back immediate positive memories for her, I was now expecting the same for myself. The bar had been raised.

 

From the street, Taco Bob’s doesn’t look like much. You’d be forgiven if you missed the taco shop at 900 52nd St. entirely because of the car wash in close proximity. I should mention, you will only be forgiven if you apologize, admit you were wrong to glance over Taco Bob’s, and stop by sometime in the near future to try the delicious offerings presented on the menu. I’ll be the first to admit it, I glanced over Taco Bob’s many-a-times and only saw the car wash. I have seen the light and it is marvelous!

 

At Taco Bob’s you can order at a drive-thru or at the pick up window and sit outside. Wednesday may have been windy, but it was sunny enough to enjoy a bite outside, so Joanne and I chose the pick up window. The whole menu looked enticing and I felt each item whispering sweet nothings into my ear. However, I can only date one item at a time as I believe in a monogamous relationship between a man and food. In order to help me make a decision, I called upon the owner himself, Kyle Hemmes.

 

“The funny tacos are really popular. They’re a hard shell taco wrapped in a warm soft shell taco and sandwiched with nacho cheese in between,” My heart skipped a beat as butterflies began swarming in my stomach. I was getting nervous and excited all at the same time. Some call it love at first sight, I call it a typical Going Local afternoon.

 

Taco BobMy heart made its decision with the #4 meal that consisted of two funny tacos, a side of rice and beans, chips and a drink all for $6.69.

 

The tacos were warm, zestful, and crunchy in all the right places. I consumed both tacos in an instant and immediately pondered if I wanted more. My taste buds wanted more, and they wanted it NOW, but my stomach, eyes and mind were telling me no as there were still rice and beans in front of me. I finished the rest of my lunch and went back to work with nothing but Taco Bob’s on my mind.

 

At work the next day, my heart couldn’t shake the impression Taco Bob’s made on me. Joanne sat and listened as I poured my heart out about a love that ended too soon. Did that meal mean more to me than it did to those tacos? I couldn’t help but think maybe I fell too fast, too soon. I was craving Taco Bob’s but I didn’t want to come across as desperate. Thankfully, Joanne was there for me. She swung by Taco Bob’s for lunch and picked up two tacos to bring back to the station. I ate in peace and my heart was full once more.


Joanne’s Portion

Joanne@wktv.org

 

With the announcement that the downtown Fifth/Third building is being turned into a hotel, Kyle Hemmes was forced to move his restaurant Taco Bob’s from Grand Rapids to Kentwood. All I can say is Grand Rapids’s loss is a heck of a gain for Kentwood and all of us who love to eat local.

 

I became familiar with Taco Bob’s when in my previous life I was working in Kalamazoo and a co-worker took me to the original. The owner, Bob, told me of the location in Grand Rapids, but I was never able to eat there as the lines were too long and the hours were limited to lunch only.

 

Fast forward and I have been driving past the Taco Bob’s location at 900 52nd St. SE for several weeks, not realizing its famous connection, until we were on our way for lunch. When Hemmes confirmed it, I was so excited I could barely focus on the menu board.

 

“Most people get our Funny Tacos. That’s what we are known for.” Hermes said. Nah, not what I wanted. “Or the Nachos Supreme. A lot people like our nachos.” Bingo! The item I always got in Kalamazoo was just singing to me.

 

At the Kentwood Taco Bob’s, you have the choice of take it and go or sitting outside. The location is actually the former Java Cone ice cream stand. The day we were there, it was a beautiful fall day and if you sat in the sun, it was warm enough to sit outside. We gathered our food, took a table and dug in.

 

Taco BobThe nachos were a nest of tomato, lettuce, cheese, meat, and chips all nicely layered with sour cream zigzagged on the top. It was happiness in a square styrofoam container. I munched away contently.

 

Taco Bob’s is open year around and offers an array of Mexican fare: tacos, burritos, tostadas, taco salad, quesadillas, and a “Quick Fix” selection that includes tortilla chips, nacho cheese, and small drink.

 

I ended up visiting Taco Bob’s the next day as someone, whose name starts with an “M,” had to mention tacos. Actually, he started his taco talk soon after returning from our first Taco Bob’s adventure. It brought a chuckle to Hemmes when I drove up and said “I’m back.”

 

“That’s a good thing,” he said. In fact, during our first foray, I mentioned how I was definitely bringing my family to Taco Bob’s. It became a definite when I read the description of the Cheezy Taco: soft shell with ground beef melted shredded cheese and sour cream, which is my daughter’s definition of the perfect taco.


Victoria’s Side

victoria@wktv.org

 

I’m the person on the sidelines, the one who has to hold down the fort while these two do their foodie happy dance each week. But I don’t mind, because every so often, you gotta take one for the team, right? Besides, I get so much more work done than they do. And as a bonus, when they come back from their Going Local thing, they’re always happy, and I love working with happy people.

 

But this week was different. When Joanne and Mike came back from Taco Bob’s, I could tell they were inordinately happy, much happier than usual — almost frighteningly so, eyes bright and shiny, a peppy step to their gait, smiles a mile wide. Luckily, I had an editing project to do upstairs, so their squeals of laughter didn’t get on my nerves.

 

On Thursday, I was still editing upstairs when Joanne popped her head in and asked if I wanted some takeout from Taco Bob’s. Well, heck, yes! I wanted to feel what they were feeling.

 

I tried a crunchy meat taco. OMG. I cannot stress enough how awesome it tasted, even without taco sauce. The meat is seasoned to perfection, the cheese cheesy as cheese is wont to be, and the lettuce fresh and crispy.

 

Well, that does it. I’m going to head over to Taco Bob’s. Mike and Joanne have hit on a winner.

Going Local: Woody’s Press Box

going localJoanne’s Portion

Joanne@wktv.org

 

I did not know Spectrum Lanes had a restaurant until one day, while bowling with some students, a waitress came by with a menu. We ordered and the food was good, like tasty good.

 

But I have not eaten at Woody’s Press Box, located at 5656 Clyde Park SW, in some time, so when we pulled it out of the hat, I was somewhat excited about visiting.

 

The restaurant was not full — it’s a big space — but it was busy. The day’s specials featured a lunch buffet and an all-you-can-eat spaghetti meal.

 

pizzaThere was a special lunch menu that included an array of fare from pizzas to sandwiches to burgers, but what got me were the prices. Lunch meals were arranged in three categories, $4.53, $5.52 and $6.46, any of which comes with homemade potato chips or onion straws. You could upgrade to fries, loaded potato, coleslaw, macaroni salad, potato salad or baked beans for $1.75 more.

 

Let me repeat: You could have lunch for $4.53. With tax, it is still under $5 which is way cheaper than many of the large chain restaurants. The bargain hunter in me was doing back flips.

 

“Who would order only a half order of chips & cheese,” Mike asked as he looked over the menu. “That’s like a snack.”

 

“Me,” I thought in my head as it would make me feel less guilty with a half order. Then again, I don’t run a lacrosse team four days a week, burning off a gazillion calories.

 

receiptWhen I came in, I was thinking burger but the personal, one-item 10-inch pizza at $4.53 stole my attention. Was it the price? Hmm, maybe, but I went with it. You could add extra toppings for $1.05 but I stayed to just pepperoni. It also came thin crust or hand tossed and at our server’s suggestion, I went with thin crust.

 

It didn’t disappoint. It was end-to-end cheese coverage with a nice sprinkling of pepperoni. Afterwards, I discovered I could have added a small side salad for $1.75, which I might have done and brought half the pizza home. Heck, I could see myself bringing a salad to work and snagging one of those pizzas and being very happy for a couple of lunches.

 

The price point alone is reason enough to pass all those other chain places by and head to Woody’s, the quality is the bonus for doing so.


Mike’s Portion

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

“Would you like the lunch menu or were you planning on having the buffet?”

 

More attractive words have never been spoken into my ears. A lunch menu and a buffet? There had to be a catch. Fortunately for me, my stomach and taste buds, there wasn’t a catch as Joanne and I sat down for lunch at Woody’s Press Box.

 

img_1983When we first pulled in to the parking lot at Woody’s, I immediately noticed how big the building was. I was expecting a small, local sports bar but instead was presented with a behemoth of a building. However, once inside, the seating area wasn’t nearly as large as the outside portrayed. Joanne noticed my inquisitive focus on what we just walked into, how the size didn’t match up with what I saw from the outside, and mentioned that a bowling alley — Spectrum Lanes — is attached to Woody’s. The great mystery was solved and my focus could now shift back to what truly mattered, the food!

 

My eyes filtered through the lunch menu while occasionally peeking up at the TVs lining the walls. My eyes also caught a glimpse of the bartenders pouring generous amounts of beer into massive cups. Calling it a cup might be the understatement of the century, like saying the Titanic hit an ice cube. The portion sizes were truly a sight to behold, but Joanne and I were on the clock and we would like to stay gainfully employed. We opted for a water, with lemon of course, and vowed to come back another time.

 

So, about that food — as Joanne mentioned, the lunch menu had meal options that ran $4.53, $5.52, and $6.46. The lunch buffet cost $7.74 and could also be added to anyone of the meal options at a slight up-charge. Woody’s is essentially giving food away. Eventually I settled on the spicy chicken sandwich for $6.46 that came with homemade kettle chips and a pickle.

 

img_1986When I ordered my sandwich I was expecting something small but what was put on my plate may as well have been the full chicken. The meat protruded off of both ends of the bun and was stacked high with Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. The chips were bountiful.

 

The first bite into the chicken sandwich was juicy with a kick of heat. I’ll be honest with you, the sandwich was significantly better than I was anticipating. After every bite I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the next one. The chips were crisp and added a hint of salt to fully complement my taste buds. To get a better idea of how much food there was, I wasn’t able to completely clean off my plate.

 

Eventually the bill arrived and I was pleased to see the price stay under $7 with tax included. After including the tip, the bill was still less than what I would’ve expected to pay for the size of sandwich I received.

 

Woody’s Press Box, I will be making my way back for lunch. This time I might even try the buffet!

 

Going Local: Gursha

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Joanne’s Portion

 

By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

Joanne@wktv.org

 

I would have loved to have seen a picture of our faces when the server at Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant presented our food. He brought it out in two bowls, poured it onto a large pizza-size dish with bread on it and walked away.

 

“Now what do we do?” Mike said.

 

We do what the Ethiopian do, grab some injera – an Ethiopian sourdough flatbread – and dig in…with our hands. Yep, that’s right, with Ethiopian cuisine, utensils are optional with most such restaurants not offering any unless asked.

 

Located in the area that seems like it should be Kentwood but is really Grand Rapids – in other words the Town and Country Shopping Center, 4301 Kalamazoo Ave. SE – Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant brings a unique dining experience and is housed in a mall that is full of interesting finds such as the Mediterranean Island, one of the best international grocery stores in the area.

 

We drove up, parked in front of the restaurant, which had a large blue-and-white sign, and walked in. While small, the entire place had a really cool feel reflecting the heritage and culture of Ethiopia. Our server quickly seated us and brought out two glasses and a pitcher of water on a silver serving trade.

 

img_1976After some explanation and a review of the menu, I selected a “tib” dish that featured beef chunks with sautéed onions and spices. The description reminded me of Mongolian Beef, which I like so I felt pretty confident this would be a winner. I was right, the dish was very favorable without being heavy on spice. I loved it and couldn’t get enough. The meal came with some side dishes which were not explained. One was a corn dish and the other was spinach, both being pretty good.

 

What surprised us both was how quickly we got filled up on our meal. I figured it was because using the bread as the utensil, it forced us to eat slow. Mike also felt it was because we had bread with each bite.

 

Prices were a little higher, it was $12.99 for my dish, but the chance to experience an entirely different way to enjoy food made it worth it.

 

Mike’s Portion

 

By: Mike DeWitt

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

“Do we use our hands?”

 

As I stared at the plate of food prepared community style on a plate in front of Joanne and me. Utensils were nowhere to be found, but there was a basket of spongy bread on my left. I was perplexed and yet awfully intrigued.

 

When we pulled into Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant out of the Going Local hat, I had no idea what to expect. When it comes to food, I usually have a good idea of what will be placed in front of me. There’s usually a slight pocket of memory dug back in my brain that at least gives a slight hint of what I might be eating. Whether I saw it online, on TV or in person, an idea of food isn’t too far removed from my frontal lobe. However, Ethiopian stumped me. I’ve never eaten it nor have I seen it.

 

Going Local was about to be a true blind date, maybe I should’ve paid more attention to Joanne’s foretelling throwaway comment, “hope you enjoy eating with you hands!”

 

Gursha, located on Kalamazoo just north of 44th Street, is authentic Ethiopian. The Ethiopian colors of red, yellow and green invite you in and cover the chairs. There is seating available at a mesob – a hand-woven Ethiopian dining table – for those interested in a more authentic experience.

 

img_1968The menu is full with vegetarian, fish, lamb, chicken, and beef options. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what any of it truly meant. I ended up choosing a beef option called Sega Wat that was a beef stew in a spicy, dark berbere sauce. The owner said it had some kick. A beef stew with a little spice seemed like a relatively safe choice, so I went with it.

 

Our sides were brought out to us on a communal plate and my meal, along with Joanne’s, was poured out on plate. A basket of injera, a spongy sourdough-risen flatbread, turned out to be our utensils for the meal. After staring at each other for a good ten seconds, we both ripped off a piece of injera and dove on in to the plate in front of us.

 

The sega wat was juicy and tender with a powerful kick. That dark berbere sauce doesn’t play around! I made sure to dive into Joanne’s entree which was a more mild beef sautéed with onions. It was splendid but didn’t pack the punch I was craving, so I went back to my entree.

 

After some time had passed, I realized how full I was and took a gander down at my plate to notice it still half full! How on  earth could my stomach be so stuffed already? A mixture of the injera and eating slowly instead of shoveling my face full with a fork must’ve been why.

 

If I ever need to worry about my portion control, an Ethiopian themed menu will do the trick.

Going Local: 616 Sports Bar & Grill

goingl ocalJoanne’s Portion

Joanne@wktv.org

 

Brentwood Mall, on the corner of 44th Street and Breton Avenue, has been the home of many things, a fitness center, retail shops, and restaurants.

 

And as of May, it is also the home of the 616 Sports Bar & Grill, a place I joked with Mike that we should come back to when we visited Tokyo Grill and Sushi at the beginning of August.

 

The bar at 616 Sports Bar & Grill is located in the back.
The bar at 616 Sports Bar & Grill is located in the back.

Walking in, I felt like I was entering a “Cheers” episode with the only thing missing was the bar and someone shouting “Hey Joanne.” After a couple of minutes of waiting, our host/server came from the back and encouraged us to sit in that area which is where the bar is located. Actually it appears that the 616 Sports Bar is broken into two distinct spaces, a restaurant in the front and a bar area in the back which I thought was a nice concept. The dark tones gave the place that almost “where everybody knows your name” feel. I say “almost” because it could have had a little more Sparty green to offset that glaring gold (Editor’s Note – It’s MAIZE!!! Joanne: It’s corn to me) and blue, but I digress.

 

Ever the bargain hunter, I spotted the sign for the $4.99 lunch special which had several options: cheeseburger, turkey panini, gyros, fish sandwich, three chicken strips and two coney dogs all served with homemade chips and a pickle. Our server quickly told us that it was $5.99 the day we were there as the restaurant was substituting fries. The extra dollar was worth it as the handmade fries had the perfect crispness with me savoring every single one.

 

After a short debate — Me: Turkey panini or coney dogs? Waiter: Well that depends, do you want to go healthy or do want something really good to eat? —I went with the Coney dogs because there was two and I could save one for my lunch tomorrow. Our waiter heard that and brought one out with the fries and had the other one in a takeout container — bonus points!

 

A Coney dog and fries from 616 Sports Bar & Grill.
A Coney dog and fries from 616 Sports Bar & Grill.

The Coney dog had all the ingredients of a Coney dog: chili, relish, mustard, onion, cheese on top of a beef hot dog wrapped up in a steam fresh bun. It was messy, which made it all that much better and the second was just as good the next day.

 

In the end, 616 Sports Bar reminded me of those old neighborhood bars where people hung out over a beer, burger and fries celebrating team victories or just together. Since the bar has only been open for a few months, I did ask our server why the Brentwood location. “Why not?” he said, pointing out that 616’s current location had been a Chinese restaurant for 25 years until the owners decided to retire. So cheers to 616 Sports Bar & Grill and here’s hoping it’s around at least as long as the former tenant.

 

Mike’s Portion

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

Going Local has taken Joanne and I through a gauntlet of cuisines and delicacies. We’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean, Southern BBQ, Thai bubble tea, Mexican, and a hometown favorite pizza joint. However, one glaring omission has tested the true patience of my taste buds… Hot, greasy, fatty, and delightfully tasty American bar food.

 

Unfortunately for my heart and arteries,  616 Sports Bar & Grill was drawn out of the hat.

 

My arteries and my taste buds have been frenemies since as early as I can remember. It’s a true love-hate relationship. If the food tastes great and is also healthy, they’re best buds. If the food tastes great while also clogging the major highways for red blood cells throughout my body, it creates some understandable tension between the two. I’m happiest when the taste buds win.

 

616 Bar and GrillOn the walk in to 616 Sports Bar, their $4.99 lunch specials posted on the door immediately jumped out. Let me say that again – $4.99 FOR A MEAL! And we’re not talking about a salad or soup here. No, the lunch specials are actually legit items like a cheeseburger, 2 Coney dogs, beef burrito, turkey panini, BLT, 3 chicken tenders and a gyro. Oh, and they come with chips.

 

Sign me up everyday of the week and twice on Sunday please! (Note from Michael’s arteries – He didn’t actually mean that, right? RIGHT!?)

 

As we were seated at our high top next to the bar, my eyes couldn’t help but drift to the arcade games lining the walls. They looked awfully enticing, but I was a man on a mission. That  lunch special was begging to be signed, sealed, delivered and devoured.

 

There was no debate once I was seated, it was the cheeseburger and nothing else. The bar was out of chips and offered fries for a dollar up charge. I’m going to get this out-of-the-way right now, order the fries. Oh my gosh you need to order the fries. They are absolutely incredible. I don’t care if the up charge is $20, you need to order the fries.

 

img_1957The burger came out stacked high with lettuce, onion, and tomato. This was not a skimpy burger either. It had quality size and girth to properly fill the stomach.  Along with the incredible fries, it made for a lunch well worth the trip. The other positive? The higher concentration of Maize and Blue than Green and White.

 

Go Blue forever, Joanne!

Going Local: Bagel Beanery

goingl ocalJoanne’s Portion

 

By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

Joanne@wktv.org

 

This week we headed off to Bagel Beanery, 5316 Clyde Park Ave. SW., which is almost right across the street from the office. So when Mike hit his remote to unlock his car, I was like “Dude, what are you doing? We can just walk there.” The sun was out, it wasn’t raining, and Mike agreed to walk. So we had a “power” lunch with food and exercise.

 

The restaurant has a bakery featuring bagels and it does not look that much different inside from other similar type restaurants with a mixture of booths and tables. The exception being that Bagel Beanery was here long before those other places and it is locally owned having started more than 20 years ago in downtown Grand Rapids. The Clyde Park location has been open since 1998.

 

With breakfast and lunch options, you come in and order your selection which is made fresh and then delivered to your table. I was tempted by the August specials but actually ordered off the menu the Bacon Smokehouse Turkey on Tomato Basil. OK, not entirely off the menu as I did swap out the Tomato Basil bagel for an Everything bagel because to me that is the best bagel to have for a bagel sandwich. Bagel Beanery features several of the traditional bagels such as Cinnamon Crunch, Asiago Cheese and Cheddar Herb along with speciality bagels.

 

Bacon Smokehouse Turkey on an Everything bagel from Bagel Beanery.
Bacon Smokehouse Turkey on an Everything bagel from Bagel Beanery.

My sandwich included turkey, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato with a honey dijon mustard all on top of an Everything bagel accompanied with a pickle spear and bagel chips. It came out within a few minutes of ordering and was delicious. Everything tasted fresh and the salt, sesame seeds and poppy seeds on the bagel complimented the entire sandwich.

 

The meal came to $6.79 and I have to say, it’s nice to know there is a place just across the street that offers a nice lunch option that is not $10 or more. And to be honest, I have been a longtime fan of Bagel Beanery since it opened its doors in 1995 and was a regular at the Breton Road location between 28th and 29th streets. It’s been a while since I ventured into one and it was great to discover the quality and selection have not diminished. In other words, I can definitely see future walks to Bagel Beanery.


 

Mike’s Portion

 

By: Mike DeWitt

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

I’m a man who enjoys a good bagel sandwich. I mean, what’s not to love about replacing slabs of bread with a big, hearty, and beautiful bagel? Sure, bagels have more calories and carbs than bread slices – apparently that’s ‘unhealthy’ – but they also have more flavor and options.

 

Bagels are to a sandwich what chocolates are to life, they just make the experience so much more enjoyable.

 

As Joanne and I exited the station, I immediately pulled out my keys to unlock my car door. Joanne was quick to call me out about needing a car for a walk across the street. I was happy she did, but little did she know, it was a test! (It wasn’t, but hey, whatever helps me sleep at night.) We casually strolled across the street and entered the doors to what I hoped was bagel heaven.

 

Bagel Beanery doesn’t look much different on the inside than a Big Apple Bagel or an Einstein Bros. Bagels. There are a beavy of bagels staring you in the face upon arrival with booths and tables mixed throughout. However, Bagel Beanery is locally owned and has been for more than 20 years. That little factoid gives the restaurant a more homely feel than entering a large bagel chain.

 

Bagel Beanery
I know it’s not technically a bagel, but it was so good!

My first initial look at the menu left me a little flustered. There were so many options to choose from! I needed to find something that stood out, and “NEW” written in bright red letters did just the trick. The new sandwich was a Baja Chicken Club on Ciabatta. I know alright… I KNOW! Here I am bringing up all of the joys of bagels and I ended up choosing a sandwich on ciabatta, obviously not a bagel. You know what, sue me, it tasted amazing.

 

The Baja Chicken Club came with oven baked sliced chicken, pepper-jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a fiesta cream cheese with the perfect amount of kick. It was wonderful. The sandwich came with bagel chips (also top-notch) and a sliced pickle. For $7.73, it’s a hard meal to beat.

 

What I love most about Going Local is exposing myself to new restaurants around the area. As of Wednesday, I had never been to Bagel Beanery. I passed it hundreds of times driving to work, but I never took the time to stop and see what it had in store. This morning I made sure to stop for some coffee.

Going Local: Maya Mexican Grill

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Mike’s Portion

 

By: Mike DeWitt

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

With the Metro Cruise filling 28th Street this weekend, we figured it would only be right to pick a restaurant right in the heart of Roger’s Plaza. One restaurant, Maya, jumped out to both Joanne and I as neither of us had been and we were both craving Mexican.

 

Maya is an authentic Mexican restaurant located in Roger’s Plaza where the old Big Boy used to be, but you wouldn’t know it upon entering. When you walk through the restaurant doors you are transported to another world outside of Roger’s Plaza, the City of Wyoming, and the United States. The restaurant is decorated to feel like Playa del Carmen with authentic chairs and themed paintings filling the walls.

 

Talk about setting the mood.

 

Once seated, we were greeted by our wonderful waiter named Reuben and given a basket full of chips and salsa. Reuben was fluent in spanish and quizzed Joanne and I on our own ability to speak to the language… my Spanish teachers from Michigan would’ve been very disappointed in what I’ve retained.

 

Enchilada and a mini burrito, I barely knew the
Enchilada and a mini burrito, I barely knew the

The lunch menu was quite large and very reasonably priced. I ended up choosing lunch item number four – excuse me, numero quatro – which included an enchilada, mini burrito, rice, and refried beans. It was wonderful and quickly filled the hunger building deep inside me. As I finished my last couple of spoonfuls of refried beans, I felt as though my stomach might burst.

 

Then Joanne thought it would be a good idea to order desert. I was suddenly hungry again.

 

Okay, so it didn’t quite go like that. Joanne just didn’t decide desert was necessary, it just kind of happened organically. One second we’re talking about churros with Reuben and the next second he’s bringing us both our own massive servings of Chimi Cheese Cake with vanilla ice cream. Reuben claimed he gave us each a half order. I’m telling you right now, if what we were given was a ‘half order’, I actually fear for the person who orders the Chimi Cheese Cake on their own. May you rest in peace.

 

Maya's Chimi Cheesecake
Maya’s Chimi Cheesecake

The Chimi Cheese Cake was top-notch. It was rich cheesecake folded into a deep-fried tortilla and covered in cinnamon, sugar, and drizzled with chocolate and carmel syrup, and I think some saliva just spilled onto my keyboard as I typed this sentence.

 

Maya had tasty food and a wonderful atmosphere. I will be going back. However, next time it won’t be for work… I hear their margaritas are top-notch.

 

Joanne’s Portion

 

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

joanne@wktv.org

 

The transformed space at Maya Mexican Grill literally made me feel like I had walked right into a restaurant in Old San Diego. Orange walls with wicker-style seating and bold black booths made this a place that I wanted to hang…for a while. And Mike and I kind of did, spending about an hour and half enjoying the atmosphere, the food and the company of our waiter, Reuben.

 

Even though Reuben did mistake Mike as my son, I have to give him a lot of props for making our visit entertaining. He is the kind of waiter you want at any restaurant, funny, informative, attentive and even tried to teach me a little Spanish.

 

Ever the bargain hunter, I once again zeroed in on the daily lunch specials, which are $6.99 (regular lunch specials start at $7.99). Wednesday’s special is either flautas or two min-burritos. Now I love Mexican food but in all my food adventures, I have not tried a flauta, so I decided to be bold and take the risk. That and Mike had a mini burrito coming with his meal. The flautas are rolled-up tortillas with filling — I had chicken — and then fried. It came with refried beans and rice.

 

The Flautas which are the Wednesday special at Maya.
The Flautas which are the Wednesday special at Maya.

The flautas were perfect, fried to be just crispy enough with the chicken — I tried just the filling — being melt in your mouth delicious. If a Mexican restaurant is going to fail it is with the refried beans, which if canned or processed can taste waxy. Maya’s refried beans easily passed the taste test and went perfectly with the tortilla chips.

 

So happy with the meal that I asked about churros, which Reuben sadly told us Maya does not offer. It does however have a Chimi Cheese Cake, which Mike and I split. The cinnamon-encrusted chimi — which was deep-fried and accompanied by a scoop of ice cream with sprinkles and drizzled with syrup — was the perfect substitute and took care of my sweet craving.

 

So Maya has made it to my repeat list mostly because Reuben told us about the restaurant’s “best in town” margaritas. I am all too happy to judge that claim for myself. In fact, Mike and I are planning our return visit to be after the DreamWheels! show Saturday, Aug. 27 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. If you can’t find us, just ask for Reuben’s section as we will be sitting there.

 

Victoria’s condiments

 

Just a quick note here to say that my dear co-workers were kind enough to bring me some takeout from Maya, and YUM! I really scored big! I normally hang back from participating in these in-person taste tests because, let’s face it, somebody has to work here, right?

 

I chose the Maya Rolls and I was really glad I did. The blackened chicken breast was cooked and seasoned to perfection, the spinach, sprouts, tomatoes and other veggies rounded out the presentation, and there were even bits of avocado that surprised my taste buds (in a very good way). Dipped into the cajun sauce… sinfully delicious.

 

And as a tasty bonus, these very same awesome co-workers (who now have a very special place in my heart) had saved me a piece of Chimi Cheese Cake, and I can honestly say that I got high off of that. The high lasted the rest of the afternoon. Well, almost.

 

I will definitely be checking out Maya Mexican Grill. Can’t wait!

Going Local: Tokyo Grill and Sushi

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By: Mike DeWitt

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

Going Local seemed a little more like Going Lonely the past couple of weeks without Joanne, the genius behind the entire project, there to join Victoria and myself. Victoria and I held our own for the time being as our partner rejuvenated herself by soaking up the California sun, and she was welcomed back with open arms as we expounded on our next adventure.

 

The contents of the hat continue to grow as our faithful readers pass along local food ideas in Wyoming and Kentwood. The food has been a treat and, more importantly, given me greater options to choose from when I’m asked to take the lady friend to dinner. Each week has been a brand new experience and this week was no different as we visited Tokyo Grill and Sushi located at 4478 Breton Road.

 

From the outside, Tokyo Grill and Sushi is tucked into a strip mall and feels hidden with curtains covering the windows. Once inside, the restaurant immediately welcomes you with cooks preparing food behind the bar. The interior opens up nicely with more room than meets the eye. The lighting is inviting with well themed decor giving off a strong sense of peace and relaxation.

 

The lunch menu is quite large with appetizers, salads, soups, hibachi, katsu, teriyaki, noodles, and a full sushi bar at your disposal. After perusing the menu, my eyes fell upon Yaki U-Don, a dish with stir fried Japanese thick noodles with chicken and vegetables. Safe to say, I found my soul mate.

 

A salad came with the dish and was… well, a salad. Not much else to delve into. A salad is a salad. It’s a tease before the true meal arrives.

 

Tokyo Grill and SushiWith the salad gone, I was ready for my stir-fry and I was not disappointed when the hot skillet was set down in front of me. It was still sizzling, packed with food, and ready to be devoured. Quick word of advice, when something is sizzling, its contents are still very hot. My brain decided not to pass along this information onto my watering mouth. Thank goodness for the glass of water that was seemingly always filled to the brim.

 

The first bite bursted with flavor and texture and I immediately knew I made the right choice. The noodles were thick and soft, the vegetables were excellently seasoned, and the chicken was plentiful. In all, the meal was huge! About halfway through the meal I wondered if I had enough space left in my stomach to finish. Spoiler alert! There was room.

 

Once we made it back to work I was dangerously close to falling into a food coma. This seems to happen every time we Go Local. However, in the name of journalistic integrity and discovering all the food options Wyoming and Kentwood have to offer, I will continue to sacrifice in my service to you, the readers.

 

Put Tokyo Grill and Sushi on the Going Local list of great places to eat.


By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

Joanne@wktv.org

 

When you walk through the doors of Tokyo Grill and Sushi you are transported to what I imagine is pretty close to what a restaurant in Japan would be like – complete with both Western and traditional Japanese seating. While located in the strip mall on the southeast corner of Breton Avenue and 44th Street, the restaurant design has eliminated those big store front windows with light colored walls and round windows that allow just enough light in to make the place warm and inviting. Topping it off is the light wood accidents and furniture that makes Tokyo Grill a place you want to sit, relax and enjoy a good meal.

 

Unfortunately relaxing was not on the agenda this week as we were on a bit of a time crunch with all that was taking place (elections, National Night Out), but that was alright as the staff was able to move as quickly as our needs required. Our biggest hold up was deciding what to eat. Being a Japanese restaurant, I quickly discovered you do not get an egg roll with every lunch meal but instead a salad. Apparently the homemade dressings are so popular, you can purchase some to take home.

 

IMG_5916Going on the waitress’s recommendation, I selected one of the Hibachi Lunch Specials, Beef Hibachi, $7.95. It came with a salad, white rice and stirred fried beef and vegetables with a homemade sauce. I selected the onion salad dressing and I could taste why someone would want to purchase a bottle for home. The dressing was sweet and favorable with no overbearing onion flavor.

 

The meal came quickly and was exactly what I was looking for. Fresh off the grill, the flavor of the vegetables exploded in my mouth. There was zucchini, broccoli and to be honest, I could have eaten a whole plate of just the veggies. (I brought a Chicken Hibachi ($7.95) with fried rice ($2.95 extra) back to the office for Victoria who gave it a thumbs up.)

 

The portion size was just perfect for me. I could polish off the whole meal feeling satisfied and perfectly able to function after lunch unlike my Going Local partner. Anyhow, Tokyo Grill also has a large selection of wines and beer for enjoyment as well. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. and dinner is from 3 – 10 p.m. weekdays and dinner only on the weekends from 12 – 10 p.m. Saturday and 12 – 9 p.m. Sunday.

Going Local: Daniele’s Pizzeria

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By: Mike DeWitt

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

Before Joanne left on vacation she made one request — pull Daniele’s Pizzeria out of the Going Local hat until she came back. I had to remind her that we run a legit operation here at WKTV News. We couldn’t let a personal request ruin the integrity of our newest feature. The name would stay in the hat and the Going Local Gods would decide our next locale.

 

Fast forward a few days and the hat made its decision… Daniele’s Pizzeria! Sorry, Joanne.

 

Four weeks into Going Local and the flavors have been all over the map. My tastebuds have taken a trip from Chinese, to barbecue, to Mediterranean, and now pizza. It’s a world tour right here in Wyoming and Kentwood.

 

While our last three locations were all sit-down restaurants, Daniele’s Pizzeria located at 846 52nd street is built for takeout and deliveries. There is a small bar area inside that seats up to four and one table outdoors if you wanted to stay and eat, but a majority of patrons choose takeout or delivery. Their hours are also geared towards dinnertime as they don’t open until 4pm throughout the week.

 

Scanning over the menu, Daniele’s makes more than just pizza. They have dinners with spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, and manicotti, wings and appetizers, stuffed riceballs called arancini, salads, subs and dessert. It’s a small operation, but it packs a lot of punch. With all of those options, we chose to keep it classy and original — a deluxe pizza and cheesy bread.

 

Daniele's PizzeriaThe deluxe pizza came with mozzarella cheese, ham, sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and they did not skimp at all on the toppings. The pizza was packed with toppings all the way to the crust line. I measure a pizzas quality on how well the cheese stays on the crust. There is nothing more frustrating that picking up a slice and having all of the cheese and toppings fall off and land in the box. Daniele’s passed with flying colors as the cheese stayed on the pizza. It’s the little things.

 

When it comes to pizza, it’s almost impossible to make a bad pie, but you KNOW when you eat a good one. Daniele’s pizza is in that category with their flavor, crust texture, amount of cheese and toppings, and the richness of the sauce. The pizza came out to just under $15 and easily fed three of us.

 

Daniele's PizzeriaNo pizza is complete without the cheesy bread to accompany it. First off, the cheesy bread is a generous size with 16 pieces of thick, fluffy bread. It is well seasoned and adds the perfect side complement to the pizza for an added five dollars.

 

Overall, Daniele’s Pizzeria makes wonderful pizza and needs to be tasted if you consider yourself a pizza lover. While the pizza was great, there are two things on the menu that I need to try. The arancini, or deep-fried riceballs, look and sound exceptional. Honestly, I’m bummed I didn’t order one along with the pizza. There is also one other gem on their menu that is only available Monday through Wednesday and it’s called the D-Burger. It’s a 1/2 pound sausage patty sandwiched between two 7-inch pepperoni pizzas.

 

Joanne, when you come back we’ll need to put the D-Burger in the hat. It’s a perfect creation that is begging to be devoured.

 

Post Script

By Victoria Mullen

 

Just my luck, I missed out on yet another Going Local foray. So far, I’ve missed China City, Le Kabob and now, Danieles. But who’s counting? So, maybe the food gods are being brutal but Mike, ever the gentleman, kindly saved one piece of pizza pie for me to try — along with several slices of cheesy bread — and that I surely did. I find that the proof of a pizza is in heating it up again the next day.

 

Our microwave here at work isn’t the greatest, and I unintentionally left the pizza slice heating for a bit too long. (I just can’t win!) I can say this, however: The cheese still stayed on the pie, and the crust was scrumptious. I’m not a fan of sausage, but the other toppings were flavorful and satiated my hungry belly. The cheesy bread was amazing, even the second day.

 

Joanne, when you come back, we’ll need to get another pizza pie and try the arancini.

Going Local: Le Kabob

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By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

Joanne@wktv.org

 

When Mike pulled Le Kabob out of the hat, I was happier than a freed canary. I love Mediterranean food. Tabouli, hommous, shawarmas…bring it on!

 

That enthusiasm probably showed on the way over. “Should I start looking?” “No, we have three miles.” “Should I start looking?” “We have about a mile.”

 

Located in a strip mall near the corner of 28th Street and Shaffer Avenue, we finally got there and the place was humming with activity. Upon entering, the aromas immediately made me smile — these are the smells I know from Dearborn when visiting the restaurants there.

 

Le Kabob has only been at its current location for about two years — before that it was located on Alpine — but the owner has made it feel like home with some Mediterranean touches.

 

Le Kabob saladWe were seated at a booth and Mike immediately spotted the $6.99 lunch special that included a soda, any sandwich and soup or salad. Our server informed us the salad was a traditional side salad but for a dollar more you could select any of the other salads such as tabouli, fattoush, or Greek. I was sold and went for the fattoush salad paired with the falafel, hommous, tabouli wrap cause a girl has got to have her falafel! For those who do not know, a falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. I prefer my falafel with a little hommous, so this wrap was screaming my name.

 

Expecting half portions, I was surprised that the salad was full size. What really makes a fattoush salad is the cumin and baked pita bread and Le Kabob’s had a nice mixture of both along with lettuce, onion, tomato, and cucumber. I was loving it. In fact, I was loving it long after Mike had finished his soup and moved on to his first shawarma wrap. Finally moving on to my sandwich, I was delighted to find the bread was slightly toasted with the wrap getting a thumbs up for freshness and uniqueness.

 

One of the servers thanked us for being patient as they were short-staffed that day. I actually thought for the good-size lunch crowd they had the staff did pretty well on serving everyone and handling take-outs. There was a wait for us to be seated, but the food certainly made it well worth it.


By: Mike DeWitt

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

We’re only three weeks into Going Local, but it has already been a massive success in my opinion. Granted, that opinion is based solely on my own selfish joy of eating lunch at local havens and being able to call it “work”.

 

Seriously though, I had absolutely no idea the quality of food that exists right in our backyard. Sure, everyone talks about Grand Rapids being beer capital and the food that comes with it, but Kentwood and Wyoming has knocked it out of the park three weeks in a row. The best part is that all of our lunches have been very reasonably priced. So much so that I might even call it generously priced, and Le Kabob was no exception.

 

I’ll admit, I was never big on Mediterranean food until my girlfriend brought me to a place in Detroit last year for some chicken shawarmas. It’s not that I didn’t like Mediterranean food, more that I had never really given it a chance, and I quickly realized what I had been missing. I had a new love, her name was Mediterranean and I can’t thank my girlfriend enough for introducing us.

 

Le Kabob garlic pasteWhen we walked into Le Kabob, I was caught off guard by the size of the restaurant. The last two places we had been to were small and we were the only people there for lunch. Le Kabob was not only much bigger, but it was packed with people there for lunch. Apparently we weren’t the only ones Going Local. We had a slight wait before we were seated and the $6.99 lunch special immediately caught my eye. The picture of the shawarma looked small, so I decided I needed to order two, a chicken and a lamb, on top of my lamb chili. I did not need to order a second one. I repeat, I did NOT need to order a second one.

 

Fresh toasted flatbread was brought out to the table as a starter along with a crush garlic paste to spread. The paste was 98 percent garlic and had some other spices and jalapenos thrown in for good measure. It was crushed up to spread like butter across the bread. It was phenomenal and a second basket of bread was quickly brought to the table after the first was engulfed almost immediately.

 

The lamb chili was good, not exceptional, but it had a little bit of heat and was a great size as a precursor to my two shawarmas. When the shawarmas were set down in front of me, I knew my eyes were bigger than my stomach. However, in my defense, they didn’t look THAT BIG in the picture on the menu. That is my excuse and I will stick with it. But I ordered my meal and I needed to finish the whole thing… my job depends on it.

 

Le Kabob ShawarmaBoth shawarmas were exceptional. The meat was tender and the pita was baked with the right amount of crisp. The lamb shawarma comes rolled with onions, tomatoes, pickles, parsley and tahini sauce. It went down smoothly as the chicken starred me right in the face. The chicken shawarma is rolled with pickles, lettuce, and garlic sauce – I think I hit my yearly garlic intake during the meal. The second shawarma was just as good, but my stomach said no more! Fortunately, I was able to take half the sandwich home in a box and have it for another Going Local lunch the next day.

 

If you even remotely like Mediterranean food, you need to stop in to Le Kabob. The food is prepared daily and the lunch special is very fairly priced. The entrees are a little more expensive ($11.99 – $26.99), but I would imagine they’re every bit as tasty as the lunch.

 

Le Kabob is located at 3122 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512. Their phone number is 616-272-4135.

Wyoming teen wins college scholarship from Ronald McDonald House

Taylor Keppel
Taylor Keppel

By Victoria Mullen

WKTV

 

All those nickels, dimes and quarters placed into the canisters at your local McDonald’s restaurants are helping to fuel ten, $8,000 college scholarships for some of the state’s most extraordinary high school graduates, including a trio of recent graduates from West Michigan, one of whom is a Wyoming student.

 

Taylor Keppel of Wyoming — along with Heather Price of Caledonia and Hanel Yu of Grand Rapids — was selected from a pool of some 200 applicants for outstanding academic achievement, community involvement and financial need from the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Outstate Michigan. RMHC is a non-profit that supports programs and efforts which improve the health and well-being of children from birth through age 18.

 

The canister funds, which collect approximately $550,000 annually from McDonald’s restaurants throughout Michigan, fund the Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholars program, and support RMHC’s other grantmaking efforts to children’s causes.

 

The trio will be honored along with seven other scholarship winners at a July 20 scholarship dinner for the scholars and their families at Amway World Headquarters in Ada, Mich. Each recipient will receive $2,000 a year for four years at a college of their choice.

 

“It’s a privilege to reward these young leaders for their extraordinary accomplishments,” said Lesa Dion, executive director of RMHC of Outstate Michigan, “Everyone involved with the Ronald McDonald House Charities takes pride in helping these students toward their goal of higher education.”

 

Keppel maintained a 3.96 grade point average at Calvin Christian High School, while volunteering with the Adaptive Tennis Clinics at Mary Free Bed Hospital and working as a part-time nanny during the school year. She’s been intrigued with the human eye since middle school and is headed to Grand Valley State University this fall to pursue a career in optometry.

 

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“I love school and I’ve always excelled,” said Keppel. “I was so excited to learn I won a scholarship, and so were my parents. They’ve always pushed me to do my best, and it’s finally paying off.”

 

In addition to academic excellence, extracurricular activities and volunteering, Keppel played varsity tennis at high school and loves making art when she needs a break from her studies.

 

“It’s great relaxation from all the stress,” she said.

 

And she excels in that area as well. Her high school art teacher submitted one of her drawings for the Michigan Art Education Association (MAEA) Region 9 Highlight Show — which showcases top student art — and the piece was selected to show at the Grand Rapids Art Museum this past February. The piece was also selected to be a part of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival visual art exhibition in May. The show featured the top 100 artworks by high school artists for the entire state of Michigan.

 

“While volunteering in a school and orphanage in Guatemala, I met a boy named Esdras who taught me how to really appreciate the joys of life,” said Keppel. “I used a stippling technique which reminded me how our lives may not be perfect in every area, but life as a whole can be such a beautiful thing. I wanted to recreate the contagious smile and joy that erupted from this little boy.”

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
‘Preciosos Momentos’ by Taylor Keppel

 

In addition to studies and art, Keppel played four years of varsity tennis in high school, and she loves to be adventurous.

 

“I recently went on an amazing spelunking trip in Mitchell, Indiana,” she said.

 

This is the eighth year that RMHC has awarded college scholarships for a total of $624,000 since the inception of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholars program. Interested students may begin applying for the 2017 scholarship on October 1. Go here.

 

 

Going Local: Dallas Deli

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By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

Joanne@wktv.org

 

“Make sure to tell your friends about us,” said the blue-and-white Facebook sign above one of the tables at Wyoming’s Dallas Deli. Have no fear Dallas Deli, I shall take to the modern-day form of shouting it from the rooftops, a.k.a. Facebook.

 

Yes, our traveling troupe, Mike and joining us, Victoria, moseyed on over to 3660 Byron Center Ave. SW, home of Dallas Deli and Lions Mane barbershop (separate owners). I learned a long time ago that some of the most amazing food places are small. In fact, a friend had warned me that the seating space at Dallas Deli consisted of three tables — one that sat about six and two that sat two. Even with the warning, I was surprised how small the space was. According to owner Sam Barnes, the place started as an ice cream parlor then was a pizza parlor, before Frank and Mary Weikert opened Dallas Deli some 30 years ago. Sam and his wife Kim took over the place – along with Weikert’s original Texas-style barbecue recipes – in 2003.

 

Chili Dallas DeliWhat Dallas Deli lacks in space it certainly makes up for in food — at least my chili packed a wallop of flavor being voted best meal selection by our little group and leaving Victoria and I planning chili runs in the winter. I had the World Class Chili which was topped with the restaurant’s signature brisket, cheese and onion. With the right mixture of heat and sweet, it was perfect even for our blistery hot summer day visit. (By the way, the air conditioning was not on while we were there but the place stayed pretty cool with the door open and a breeze moving through the building.)

 

After the first bite, I really did not want to share but Mike and Victoria were being generous with their selections, so I did…a little. I did order the medium-size portion to share, but could have easily eaten it without any help.

 

This little Wyoming gem is garnering quite the reputation. Most recently, Dallas Deli was part of the Grand Rapids’ Barley, BBQ & Beats and named one of the top 12 Hole In the Wall Restaurants in Michigan by onlyinyourstate.com. “After that we had about 500 people come in in about a week. It just about killed us,” Sam said with a laugh. So let’s keep the stampede to perhaps a trot.

 

But do come because even if you can’t find a seat, take-out — along with catering — is a big part of the Dallas Deli’s business and quite honestly, I can not think of better way to saddle up and go then with a half rack of ribs. Oh heck, we’re make that full. Yippee-ki-yay!


By: Mike DeWitt

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

When Dallas Deli was drawn out of the hat earlier this week for our Going Local location, I almost fainted. I love meat, I love BBQ, and I love it smoked. This is my job? Seriously!? In the words of the great Belinda Carlisle, “Ooh heaven is a place on earth!”

 

Joanne already covered the decor and atmosphere above, so let’s dive right into the only thing that matters… the food!

 

Taking a glance at the menu feels like trip through the meat market with Oprah as your tour guide… “You get a brisket, and YOU get some pulled pork, and YOU get some ribs!” How on earth am I supposed to fit it all on one plate?

 

The combo dinner isn't playing around
The combo dinner isn’t playing around

Two words, Combo Dinner.

 

The Combo Dinner comes with two different meats, two sides, and a choice of bread. The two meats can then be enjoyed with one of three BBQ sauces available at each table, Dallas Deli Mild Sauce, Sweet and Tangy, and Hot & Spice. All three have their own distinct taste and are worth a try. My meal consisted of rib tips, sausage, collard greens, baked beans and corn bread. Talk about a full house on a plate!

 

The rib tips were excellent and very rich, but I’m still kicking myself for not taking the brisket as my second meat choice. Don’t get me wrong, the sausage was good, but passing up the brisket at a BBQ joint? Rookie move, DeWitt.

 

As for the sides, the collard greens and baked beans were excellent compliments to the overall meal. While the meat and BBQ added a rich flavor, the beans and greens kept things at even keel with a consistent texture and flavor.

 

Now, about that corn bread, it was warm, full of taste, and melted in your mouth. Cornbread for me is very hit or miss and Dallas Deli hit one out of the park.

 

Dallas Deli BBQThanks to the size of the meal, I had some leftover for lunch the next day (that doesn’t happen very often) and it kept its taste upon a second serving. The corn bread tasted even better the next day, if that’s even possible.

 

Overall, Dallas Deli lived up to the hype. It’s well priced – only $12 for my whole meal – tastes great, and it feeds the beast. I will be making a second trip.

Summertime is the perfect time to try new recipes at Downtown Market GR

downtown market

 

August is just around the corner… and it’s Downtown Market’s mission to introduce you to some refreshing new recipes. Whether you want to become more confident in the kitchen; have the desire to eat healthier, be greener, cook more; or simply want a new and fun activity for your next “date night” or “girls’ night out”, you’re sure to find something you love among all the fun classes and programs offered here.

 

Click here to download the full May-August Class Schedule. Learn more by going here.

 

adult ice cream and sorbetsADULT ICE CREAM AND SORBETS

Thursday, August 4, 6-8:30 pm – $40

 

Downtown Market GR teams up with Love’s Ice Cream to teach you all about what goes into making great ice cream while enjoying a few light snacks along the way. Must be 21 or older Register here.

 

summer bbq essentialsSUMMER BBQ ESSENTIALS

Tuesday, August 9, 6-8:30 pm – $55

 

Head outside and heat up the grill! You’ll learn to make a variety of marinades for grilled chicken, learn the perfect cooking technique for mouthwatering burgers, and create a light, refreshing coleslaw to put right on your burger. Then you’ll wrap it all up with a grilled pound cake with seasonal fruit. Register here.

 

hot nights in spanish rivieraHOT NIGHTS IN THE SPANISH RIVIERA

Wednesday, August 17, 6-8:30 pm – $65

Take a food journey to the Spanish Riviera with Spanish style grilled meats and seafood; baby octopus salad, sweet potato empanadas and torta Santiago (the classic Spanish almond cake). Register here.

 

intro to home cocktailingINTRO TO HOME COCKTAILING

Tuesday, August 30, 6-7:30 pm – $35

 

You’ll learn the top techniques and tools to become an expert at your own bar. Get hands-on experience in shaking (classic Margarita), stirring (traditional Manhattan) and muddling (seasonal smash) your way to a better home bar. Register here.

 

AND THERE IS SO MUCH MORE IN STORE…

Check out the August schedule here.

 

 

Going Local: China City

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Going Local is a new feature where the WKTV News staff visits a local Wyoming-Kentwood business for lunch.

 

By: Mike DeWitt

Mike.DeWitt@wktv.org

 

When Joanne pitched the idea of Going Local during an editorial meeting two weeks ago, I said yes faster than Google’s response time (.84 seconds) when you type “food” into the search bar. I almost came up with as many results (1.9 billion) too.

 

My love for food cannot be quantified, and the thought process behind it is simple – if people eat it, it must taste good! People don’t prepare and eat things they don’t like. I treat every meal as a date with the contents on the plate and my eagerness to try local delicacies makes my heart flutter and taste buds melt.

 

Joanne, you had me at “Local.”

 

The inaugural lunch trip for Going Local was to China City in Kentwood. After hearing rave reviews from co-workers and commenters on Facebook, it’s safe to say my excitement was through the roof. A quick visit to the restaurants Yelp! page had me giddy as a school girl. However, there were a couple of reviews that were negative and completely off base from what others had personally told me. Turns out there’s a China City in Grand Rapids as well. Those commenters were probably commenting on the wrong page.

 

China City is located in a small strip mall on Eastern Avenue. The restaurant has been around for 10 years, seven in the current location. The neon glow of the “Open” and “Bakery” sign greet you from the window. Yeah, that’s right, a Chinese bakery as well! We hadn’t even walked in the door and I was already head-over-heels.

 

Upon entering, the contents of the bakery greeted you with their sugary delight – temptation before we even sat down. The seating area is small and homely with four booths lining each side and four tables in the middle of the room. It presented a quiet feel and a pleasant place to hold a conversation throughout the meal.

 

Egg Drop Soup and TeaOnce seated, we were able to dive into the menu. One thing that immediately jumped out was how affordable the lunch prices were. All of the dishes were under $7.50 and included a choice of soup (egg drop or hot & sour), choice of crab cheese or an egg roll, and a choice of fried or white rice (not included with a noodle meal). Top it off with hot tea and a fortune cookie and no one leaves with an empty stomach.

 

After a quick glance at the menu, my eyes locked in on chicken lo mein and my mouth began to salivate. I had found a my date for lunch and was sure we would hit it off!

 

First came the egg drop soup and it was packed with flavor. While some renditions can taste a little bland, the soup was sweet and a nice primer for the main course.

 

Lo MeinAbout that main course, it was a larger portion that I was expecting for the price and it wasn’t overly salted. In fact, the taste was quite soothing. Some might describe it as “bland”, but I loved it. The taste wasn’t overpowering and it was effortless moving from a bite of the lo mein to the egg roll. The tastes complimented one another.

 

When it’s all said and done, I leave every restaurant asking myself two questions:

 

1. Am I full?
2. Would I go back?

 

The answer to both of these is a resounding yes, and it only cost $7.

 


 

By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

Joanne@wktv.org

 

China City Bakery and Restaurant on Eastern Avenue, just south of 52nd Street. Not to be confused with China City Chinese Restaurant in Grand Rapids.

 

I thought the restaurant’s sign was adorable with the green and white giving it an old road-sign feel.

 

China City BakeryInside, the restaurant was cleaned and inviting with the owner showing us to a table. I lingered a little as China City has a bakery case that included little heart-shaped strawberry and lemon cakes along with rather large almond cookies for 35 cents. “Life is short, eat dessert first” ran through my head as I pulled myself away from the bakery case. Besides, I have to pass it on the way out anyways.

 

We scanned the two-page lunch menu – well I scanned, Mike took photos of the menu. My goto Chinese dish is chicken broccoli or some variation of that. I went with the variation, pineapple chicken, which had broccoli, chicken, pineapple and water chestnuts. Lunch servings all come with a choice of soup, crab rangoons or egg rolls and white or fried rice.

 

Just by tasting, you could tell the soup was made fresh. It also had just a touch of sweetness.

 

Pineapple Chicken and BroccliThe lunch meal came out fairly quickly. It was a nice portion size with at least a cup and half of the entry and fried rice. I don’t normally order fried rice, but a friend had recommended trying China City’s, so I opted for it and was not disappointed.

 

With many Chinese restaurants, the lunch version usually has a small egg roll. This was not the case as the egg roll was very plump, another obvious sign that the food is made fresh daily. The pineapple and chicken was a little on the bland for me, but some soy sauce kicked it up a notch.

 

A couple of items: if you are allergic to shellfish, check to see if the egg rolls have any. I found a couple of small pieces in mine. Also, the food is not overly salted so if you like salt, you may need to add it.

 

On the way out, I decided to get a small box of almond cookies to “share” and try the vanilla cake, which had a coconut filling. The almond cookies literally melted in my mouth and I had eaten four before I knew it.