Flatlanders Barstillery.

When I first stepped foot into this new-ish establishment, I was surprised and really admired the interior. Think modern with a little bit of hillbilly. This barstillery makes their own booze with local organic grains and fruits. It’s been a while since I tried their bourbon. It didn’t wow me, but I did enjoy it. My friend Frankie ordered their white whiskey and…hm. I learned I’m not a white whiskey fan.

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Hillbilly Poutine

I rarely indulge in poutine because there is always a plethora of richness going on, but Flatlander’s version is pretty good! Still a hearty dish, the fries were very crispy, the gravy savory as well as the beer cheese, and the sweet pickled jalapenos were a nice contrast. There was also bacon and a nice fried egg.

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House-made sausage with pretzel bun.

The Kielbasa was dry for my taste and the pretzel bun was heavy and bland. The potato salad was too sweet and not very multidimensional. Yes, I did just use multidimensional as a descriptor for potato salad. Yup.

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Ol’ Fashioned

The Ol’ Fashioned was delicious. There is a spiced and sweeter take on it that I’m not used to, but thumbs up!

I do enjoy it at Flatlanders. The service is always friendly and it’s a fun spot to drink at with a nice feel. It’s also a refreshing change for Michigan Street bars. As far as food, I’m still 50/50.  However, Frankie had their deep fried pickles and he will probably tell you that they are mighty tasty and the best he’s ever had. Was he being genuine, or was it that frightening white whiskey talking? Check it out yourself!

If You Have A Problem With Gluttony, Don’t Go To Ming Ten.

I should really listen to my own sage advice.

Ming Ten is a popular Chinese and Japanese buffet restaurant. This isn’t the place to go to if you’re in want of authentic food, but as far as buffet sushi goes, this restaurant may serve the best in town. (There’s another buffet with sushi that may rival Ming Ten’s but that’s for another time.) But if you’re looking for Chinese food, there are better places around. There is also a hibachi area where you can pick your ingredients, and they will cook it up for you right on the spot.

Sushi Bar

Sushi Bar

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My plate of food. 1

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My plate of food. 2

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My plate of food. 3

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This place is often busy, and the service is always efficient. I think the pricing  is reasonable, considering how many people like myself frequent the place. As I mentioned in another post, many people look down on buffets. Well I love em. Ming Ten is always busy so they change out the food constantly, which is very important. I recommend the potatoes, Chinese dumplings, garlic green beans, mushrooms, and their spicy tuna roll. But by all means, try everything! It’s a freakin buffet!

SpeakEZ Lounge, Inspired By 1933.

As you may guess, SpeakEZ is a take on the secretive and illegal speakeasy establishments that gained immense popularity during America’s Prohibition Era. What makes this bar one of my favorite places to go are their classic and artisan cocktails. Ever since this bar opened, I’ve been impressed with their drink menu. They also have a great selection of beers for, you know, everyone in Grand Rapids. My liking of their food hasn’t been as consistent, however. Sometimes really good, other times just okay, but never bad. I do appreciate the creative aspect of the menu.

Goat Cheese Spinach Artichoke Dip

Goat Cheese Spinach Artichoke Dip

Herbed chevre goat cheese with spinach and artichoke and  served with toast points and butter pretzel rods. Tasty and fun to munch on.

The Greenbriar

The Greenbriar

Seared medallions of beef tenderloin topped with a reduction of balsamic vinegar, garlic, Brussels sprouts, bacon, wilted spinach, apples,  and gorgonzola cheese.  Accompanied with herb roasted potatoes. This dish was fantastic, and everything went so well together. It only got too sweet for me near the end.

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C4

Chocolate chip cookie cake with vanilla bean ice cream a SEZ chocolate sauce. Meh. I need to stop ordering desserts just because they come with ice cream, as I find most desserts to be too rich.

Positively 4th Street

Positively 4th Street

SpeakEZ’s take on the Manhattan. This drink was great.

Long in the Houndstooth

Long in the Houndstooth

Their version of the Old Fashioned. If I thought the prior was great, then this one was awesome! I fell in love with first sip.

The prices here are medium to a little high, and I’ve always received good service here. I prefer coming here when they don’t have that open mic thing, when it’s less busy and more quiet. The space is large so it’s a good option for bigger groups as well. Great drinks, good food, spacious and relaxed atmosphere, and bonus- a pool table in back!

Ireland Part Two.

DINGLE

Nathan and I booked another great spot to stay on Airbnb for Dingle.  We were so lucky to experience not only the town, but the greater surrounding area. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Dingle Peninsula is insanely stunning. My photos and videos truly don’t do justice. Not only that, but being the small town it is, Dingle is turning into a little foodie spot!

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Ashe's Bar App

ASHE’S BAR & RESTAURANT- Ballydavid Crab Trio.

Ashe's Bar Side

ASHE’S BAR & RESTAURANT- Accompaniment of main dish.

Ashe's Bar Special

ASHE’S BAR & RESTAURANT- Asian Hake Special. I’m a little ashamed to say that I was quite surprised when I first tried this. Not only was it delicious but also authentic and harmonious to Asian flavors.

Global Village Oysters

THE GLOBAL VILLAGE RESTAURANT- Michelin reccommended establishment. The oysters were fantastic as was the sauce. However, I still love my oysters completely naked, or with a quick squeeze of lemon.

Global Village Entree

THE GLOBAL VILLAGE RESTAURANT- West Kerry Lamb Plate.

Global Village Dessert

THE GLOBAL VILLAGE RESTAURANT- Three scoops of in-house made ice cream. I can’t remember the flavors but I was quite impressed. Very good.

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CONOR PASS- Ireland’s highest mountain pass. Breath taking.

DUBLIN

The capital of Ireland and its largest city, I loved the laid back feeling of this big modern place.

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Copper Alley Special

COPPER ALLEY- Roast Beef Special. Lots of potatoes, but in my world, there is never too much! I loved this dish.

Toto App

TOTO RISTORANTE ITALIANO- Sauteed mushroom appetizer. Yummy.

Toto Entree

TOTO RISTORANTE ITALIANO- Fettucinie al Frutti di Mare. Nathan wasn’t wild about his entree but I really liked mine.

Toto Dessert

TOTO RISTORANTE ITALIANO- Dessert was okay. By the way, the restaurant isn’t as smoky as it looks. I didn’t realize at the time how dirty my phone camera lens was.

Lee Kee's Pancakes

LEEKEE CHINESE RESTAURANT- Scallion Pork Pancake. On our last night in Ireland, and holy cow was I missing Asian food! Leekee’s was great, although not as cheap as most other Chinese places I’ve been.

Lee Kee's

LEEKEE CHINESE RESTAURANT- Garlic Jelly Fish. It was a little sweeter here than what I’m used to but it was still good. This dish is one of my favorites of all time.

Lee Kee's Delicious

LEEKEE CHINESE RESTAURANT- Steam Fillet Fish and Tofu (with steamed rice). My favorite meal of the entire trip. Omg it was freakin delicious. Seriously.

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DUBLINA- We learned a lot about Vikings and medieval Dublin!

If you don’t mind dining in early, most places serve an Early Bird Menu that usually lasts until 5pm. You can save some money that way, as those menus are lower priced. As mentioned earlier, Ireland isn’t cheap!

I rarely hear Nathan say that he loves something, so imagine my surprise when he recently stated that he loved Ireland. We take our trips in October because that’s when plane tickets seem to be at the lowest prices. However, I would really love to visit again in the summer. I will always prefer cool weather over hot, which is part of the reason why we both enjoyed Ireland so much, but I bet it’s even more beautiful here in summer.

I also learned a lot of history on this trip, such as the history or Dublin, the Vikings, and the Great Blasket. I love learning like I love food. And I love Ireland. The end.

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Oh hey, I’m back from Ireland! Part One.

What can I say about my eight day vacation in Ireland? A lot, actually. In fact, if I was still there that would be fantastic. Ideal, even. More specifically, in or near the Dingle Peninsula. It’s insanely stunning, a must visit for all travelers and vagabonds alike. But! This blog is about food, so photos of nearly everything I ate in Ireland shall commence.

During our trip Nathan and I stayed in Kinvara, Dingle, and Dublin. We also took short trips to Athlone and Galway. Irish food isn’t known to be the most exciting, flavorful or complex cuisine in the world, but you know what? Ireland isn’t the bland food factory that I had expected.

ATHLONE

On our way to Kinvara from Dublin, we had to stop at Athlone where Sean’s Bar is located. This town was quite charming and quaint!

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Sean's Bar

The oldest pub in Ireland, and allegedly all of Europe. 900 A.D.

Sean's Melody's Lamb Stew

MELODY’S- Sean’s doesn’t serve food but they team up with Melody’s next store! Lamb Stew that was surprisingly flavorful and tasty!

Sean's Guinness

I’m not a beer drinker but contrary to popular belief, Guinness in Ireland tastes like Guinness in America. Or so Nathan says.

Sean Award

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KINVARA

A small little fishing village right by the water. We booked a great little thatch roof cottage on Airbnb, which was located just a five minute scenic walk from town.

The short stroll from our thatch roof cottage stay into town.

The view from our short stroll into town.

Gentian's Chowder

THE GENTIAN- Seafood chowder. Their homemade bread was delicious.

Gentian's

THE GENTIAN- Fried chicken dish. I unfortunately forget the name.

Keoghs Oysters

KEOGH’s- Oysters

Keogh's Lamb

KEOGH’s- Lamb Special

Keoghs Dessert

KEOGH’s- Dessert was awesome.

Tide Full Inn Pizza

TIDE FULL INN- An Italian eatery. The food and cozy little ambiance were nice but our server was kind of a douche.

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Dunguaire Castle

GALWAY

We spent a short visit here so we didn’t get to explore the whole town. But the parts we experienced were bustling, vibrant and touristy.

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Mr.Waffle Latte (1)

MR. WAFFLE- Latte

Mr. Waffle

MR. WAFFLE- The Vegetarian Cheese. Great service, sandwich was okay.

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Did you know that Ireland, and all of Europe, isn’t cheap? Penang it is not, and dining out and drinking in the Emerald Isle costs the same and more! than say, here in Grand Rapids. And travel? The cost of gas alone was around 8 bucks a gallon! We had to get a rental car because we drove three hours one way, twenty minutes another, another three a different way, and four hours another. Insurance was high as well, but considering the country’s penchants for narrow and winding roads and plenty of on street parking, Nathan felt it was needed.

Am I trying to deter you from visiting this fantastic country? Absolutely not. Just be sure to be prepared if you have a certain budget!

A New (And Only) Sichuan Restaurant in Grand Rapids Called ChuanCai Fang.

There once was a wonderful Chinese restaurant in Grand Rapids called Peking Wok. Serving authentic Chinese cuisine, this establishment served fantastic food with friendly service and incredibly low prices. Unfortunately, they were located in a dead strip mall in an area hardly anyone goes to, and it was very sad but not surprising when they closed down. Alas, Grand Rapids went back to only having American Chinese restaurants in its growing foodie roster. Until now.

Chuancai Fang is a new Sichuan restaurant that has only been open for a couple of months now. Located on 28th street, it’s not an ideal area but it’s not bad. I first read about the new establishment from EatGR (big thanks to whomever posted this blog on there!) and I was appalled and even a little angry that I hadn’t known about  it earlier. I had a new mission.

Spicy Boiled Wontons

Spicy Boiled Wontons. Some of them were just shy of being completely cooked, and there was a sweetness in the chili oil that I wasn’t crazy about.

Spicy Boiled Wonton

Spicy Boiled Wonton

Cucumber in Garlic Sauce

Cucumber in Garlic Sauce. One of dishes I will always love. So simple but so tasty.

Stir Fried Shredded Potatoes with Green Peppers

Stir Fried Shredded Potatoes with Green Peppers. I was spoiled growing up by my mom and dad cooking these, so there was a high bar that wasn’t fully met. But still good!

Sichuan Cold Noodle Salad

Sichuan Cold Noodle Salad. Addicting! A new love.

Green Onion Pancakes

Green Onion Pancakes. These will always be one of my favorite foods of all time.

Spicy Beef Tripe

Spicy Beef Tripe. A little bland.

Mala Spicy Chicken

Mala Spicy Chicken. Eat with rice!

Five Spicy Beef

Five Spicy Beef. Much better when eaten with the sprouts hiding underneath.

Lamb with Cumin Seasoning

Lamb with Cumin Seasoning. This was Nathan’s dish but he absolutely loved it. I was actually surprised at how enthused he was.

Spicy Poached Fish

Spicy Poached Fish. I want some right now. Rice is a must.

Boiled Wonton

Boiled Wonton. The filling tasted old and flavorless.

Gele Shan Spicy Chicken

Gele Shan Spicy Chicken. Terrible, completely overcooked.

The photos are taken from a combined three trips, excluding repeated dishes. One lunch with Nathan, a dinner with my friends Jose, Jen, and Eddie, and the last visit was take out. The first two times were great! Delicious food, friendly service, and reasonable prices. Not to mention that hey, Grand Rapids has a Sichuan restaurant now. Hell yeah! The last two pictures are from my take away order and it felt like I ordered from a different restaurant. However, that just means now I have to go a fourth time to see if it was just a fluke, right? If you’ve been to Chuancai Fang, let me know what you think!

Why Haven’t I Been To Raad’s Mediterranean Grill Sooner?

Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, Raad’s in East Hills has been open for about a year. For the majority of that time I didn’t know this place existed. When I saw a posting on Craigslist from them looking to hire new staff, I was incredibly confused; it says that this place is really close to my house, but I’ve never even heard of it! Is this a scam?

Turns out that no,  Raad’s certainly does exist, and yes, I am sorry that I didn’t know about this restaurant sooner! But better late than never, right?

Garlic Dip.

Garlic Dip.

Not my favorite garlic dip but still very good nonetheless. They make theirs with egg white, garlic, lemon, and seasonings. Served with large pieces of thin bread that were crispy on the bottom and soft on top.

Lamb & Beef Jambalaya

Lamb & Beef Jambalaya

Off the lunch menu, I ordered their Lamb & Beef Jambalaya. I was actually deterred from this dish at first because of its name. It’s not that I don’t like the traditional Creole dish, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for. After some hesitation I ordered it anyway because the description just sounded too good. Lamb and beef sauteed with garlic, mushrooms, peppers, saffron rice and topped with fresh onion, tomatoes, and herb. I am so thankful that I went ahead and ordered this dish because it was freakin delicious! I was a little shocked when I took my first bite. Flavorful, vibrant, savory but not heavy. I also ordered the dish to be spicy. Loved it! I chose to have mine plated, as opposed to put in a wrap, and you can choose two sides with the dish. I chose more saffron rice and hummous. The latter was okay. I’ve never been a hummous fan and have only tried maybe two in my entire life that I enjoyed. The saffron rice was good and different from any of tried so far. Do they season it with cinnamon, perhaps? I couldn’t place it, but I was also too distracted to really focus on it.

The chef who prepared my dish also gave me a complimentary side of their Raad’s House Salad, and after trying it I immediately knew why. Because it was incredibly delectable! He must have known it was my first time dining there. Otherwise, why wouldn’t I have ordered it? He got me hooked, and I owe big thanks for that. A mix of Mujadara and pomegranate with parsely, chips, radish, veggies and olive oil. Light, fruity, citrus-y with a great texture.

Turkish Coffee

Turkish Coffee

View From Bar Seating

View From Bar Seating

The interior is nice looking and cozy. They have bar style seating right up against their front windows that offer a nice view of East Hills. I find the prices to be reasonable, and I went in during an off time so the food came out at a good pace. I don’t think they serve alcohol. Raad’s focus is on serving some of the finest traditional and fresh food, and I believe they deliver. I really like this place, and if you haven’t been here yet, I strongly recommend that you go asap!

Part Two: Hong Kong and Dim Sum At The Airport.

Last year I asked the WordPress World on recommendations on great eats in Mongkok, Hong Kong. I received a lot of helpful responses, mostly involving dim sum. I was pretty excited to feast on authentic Chinese fare during our one night layover. Nathan and I wanted to go somewhere to eat within walking distance from our stay, and being smack dab in the center of the Ladies Market I didn’t think it would be an issue. Unfortunately, the popularity of the city and area had it’s backfires, such as every single restaurant being packed to the point of no available seating

So where did we finally get some dim sum? At the Hong Kong International Airport, right before our flight back to the States. And how was it? Good! Nathan and I enjoyed the food and the tea was delicious and trippy. The esthetics was pretty as well with a fancier setting.

Jade Garden In Hong Kong International Airport.

Maxim’s Jade Garden In Hong Kong International Airport.

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Ginseng Oolong Tea

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The location wasn’t ideal, and the food was good, although not the best. But airport dim sum is better than no dim sum, right?

The Third Time’s The Charm At Terra GR.

Terra GR is a farm to table restaurant that strongly focuses on using locally sourced ingredients with a menu that changes with the seasons. Located in the Cherry Hill/East Town/East Grand Rapids area (somebody please tell me which one it is), Terra has been open for over a year or two. I have dined here a couple times and never left impressed. The interior and set up is beautiful, modern and refreshing. I was also impressed with the creativity and deliciousness of their cocktail menu. The service was always good. But the food? Meh. Not bad, but not great.

My friend, whom I affectionately call Meggers, was in town and visiting from Texas. I wanted to bring her somewhere she had never been but still close to where I live. We decided on Terra, and I’m so glad we did.

Terra GR Buffalo Cauliflower

Buffalo Cauliflower

The Buffalo Cauliflower was quite tasty, and I liked that the sauce wasn’t thick. The greens were dressed in a bleu cheese vinaigrette and it was delicious. Everything on the plate went well together. 

Terra GR Braised Beef Shoulder.

Braised Beef Shoulder

My entree consisted of braised beef shoulder with potatoes, arugula, roasted beef and chimichurri. I loved this entire dish. The beef was tender with some mouth watering fatty parts and the greens, vegetables, and the chimichurri were all fantastic. I want to go back to have this meal again.

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Brown Butter Tea

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Terra 75

 I mentioned earlier that I have always admired their cocktail menu, and this visit wasn’t any different. 

Meggers enjoyed everything as well and after this last dining experience, I’m happy to say that I am officially a Terra GR fan!

 

Indonesian Street Food at Rickshaw Republic!

Oh my gosh I loved this restaurant. I wish we had one in Grand Rapids.

In Chicago and visiting Joe, we went to an Indonesian restaurant he had heard good things about. Located within walking distance from his place in Lincoln Park was a plus, but we almost didn’t find it. If I recall correctly, there was nothing with it’s exterior to draw attention to the establishment. However, when we walked in it was a completely different story. 

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We were sat at a small two top tucked off to the side so we got plenty of views of the gorgeous Asian interior. I was a bit in awe, and noticed others taking pictures as well. 

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Rickshaw Apps. rickshawwrap Rickshaw Wrap. rickshawcurrychicken Rickshaw Rice. Rickshaw Smoothie.

Everything we ordered was fantastic! Focused on traditional Indonesian street food, their menu is broken up into sections such as Side Street, Main Street, Satay Stall, and Rice Table. Clever theme! Our server did a good job and was very welcoming, warm and helpful. The prices are reasonable. I don’t believe they serve alcohol, and you know what? I don’t even care! I’m in love with the place, and I can’t wait to dine here again. There are so many dishes I need to try. Why oh why are you so far away, Rickshaw Republic?