Marcona on Lyon

Marcona on Lyon Street has only been open for a couple weeks now. After I looked at their menu online, I was eager to try it out.

Featuring modern Mediterranean cuisine, that means that their influences are from the countries that touch that particular sea. Italy, Greece, Spain, and North Africa.

ROASTED FETA IN GRAPE LEAVES

They don’t photograph particularly well, but this dish was fantastic.

ROMAINE HEARTS

I really liked the mint yogurt dressing, and the pumpkin seeds added a lot to the flavor to the salad.

SPANISH CLAMS & SPANISH CHORIZO

My entree was disappointing. For the price point, it seemed sparse. The chorizo was tough and dry and there were a couple of empty clam shells in there. The bread didn’t add much of anything.

VIN SANTO & RAISIN, PISTACHIO, TURKISH COFFEE ICE CREAM

For dessert I ordered the Ice Cream, and they give you small scoops of three different flavors. I loved these. I don’t know if they make these in house or not… I’m actually hoping they don’t, so there might be an off chance that I can purchase them in bulk. I’m not typically a coffee ice cream eater but holy cow the Turkish Coffee was good.

The restaurant is pretty small but nice, intimate. They have a a small bar with a full cocktail menu, and another bar right in front of the open kitchen. Service was good, and despite my unenthusiastic feelings about my entree, everything else was great. Nathan had the Hanger Steak and he really enjoyed his meal. (We were both surprised by how tender the steak was!) I’ll definitely visit again later down the road.

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Al-Bos Eurocafe

Al-Bos stands for Albanian and Bosnian, which is the cuisine that this restaurant features. Located on 29th Street in Kentwood, I have driven past this site so many times and always wondered what it was. I’m glad I finally got to check it out!

BUREK WITH BEEF & SAUTEED ONIONS

The Burek was great, although I think the beef and sauteed onion filling was a little scarce. That could be the way it’s supposed to be, I have no idea. The dough was soft yet crispy, and not overly greasy.

HOUSE SALAD

Iceberg lettuce, which is always a bummer. Their vinaigrette, however, was really good.

CEVAPI

The Cevapi is house-made beef and veal sausage with sour cream and onions on the side. The grilled Lepina bread is also made in house. I can’t remember what the red side was, but it was good. I don’t eat veal, but our server recommended this dish because it’s the most authentic item on their menu. I had to go for it. She also let me know that it’s not a sandwich, but more finger food. Well, it was delicious. The bread was wonderful and the sausage with all the sides tasted really good together.

The food was great, although not something I can have on a regular basis. It’s more meat and grease than I can typically handle. Our server was fantastic. Attached to the restaurant is a little bakery and market, selling their own breads, desserts and pastries. You can also buy groceries and packaged foods. They sell wine from Kosovo and Macedonia, which I have never had, so of course I had to try one!

New Hotel Mertens

New Hotel Mertens is a French restaurant that just opened in downtown GR, located on Oaks Street. As their name implies, Hotel Mertens was once a hotel that opened back in 1914, and closed in 1960 when the neighborhood started to decline. Now, it has been re-opened as a modern French restaurant. I love the history and beautiful revitalization they have achieved!

ONION TART

This dish was nice, not really my thing though. However, Nathan found it to be delightful. (That was indeed the adjective he used for it.)

COQ AU VIN

A classic French dish, I’m glad I finally got to try it. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it! I like meat as a side, never the main component of a dish, but the Coq Au Vin was lovely, very tasty. There were young potatoes and mushrooms served with the tender, wine braised chicken. The sauce was fantastic.

CHOCOLATE TORTE

We had a great chocolate torte for dessert that was thankfully not too rich. The garnishes were fun additions to the dish.

SLOE GIN FIZZ

I have always loved the Sloe Gin Fizz. The one I ordered here was a little sweeter than what I typically like, but not bad.

Balinski’s

Balinski’s is a newer Polish-American restaurant that opened in Comstock Park. The space is small and a little bit diner like, very casual. Their menu offers Polish dishes with some American fusion.

Polish food, and the little amount of European food that I have tried, have never been my favorite. Who doesn’t love pierogies, though? To my pleasant surprise, it was not just those popular dumplings that I enjoyed.

CUCUMBER SALAD/ DILL PICKLE SOUP (ZUPA OGORKOWA)

The cucumber salad was fantastic. It wasn’t nearly as heavy as it looks, and there were fresh onions in there as well as cucumbers, so I loved that. The soup was good, sour of course, and served with your choice of bread.

PANCAKES/ CHEESE & POTATO PIEROGIES/ MUSHROOM & SAUERKRAUT PIEROGIES

The potato and onion pancakes were delicious. Balinski’s makes their own pierogies, and they were good. I preferred the sauerkraut and mushrooms ones as I found the cheese and potato variety a little too salty. And of course, you have to have the caramelized onions on there!

“Warmth of the Mitten, Soul of the Boot” Shown By Osteria Rossa.

A new Italian eatery is in town! Located downtown in Grand Rapids, this casual yet beautiful and modern establishment features small plates, pastas, wood fires, and seasonal dishes using plenty of local ingredients for their menu.

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For a starter, Nathan and I decided on their Crostini, where there are several different choices for an accompaniment. We chose the Roasted Mushroom and the Whipped Baccala. I think the cheese that came with the mushrooms was goat cheese. Whatever it was, it was incredible, and I rarely say anything that positive about cheese. The whipped fish with potatoes was delicious as well. Salty but not overly so for the small amount and I really enjoyed the texture. The crostinis were pretty much perfect. Not too greasy or the slightest bit stale.

Osteria Rossa Pizza.

The Clams Pizza featured not only clams but also Calabrian chilies, dried tomatoes, olives, and asparagus. To my relief and joy, the peppers actually had some heat to them! The pizza was delicious, and there wasn’t anything I disliked about it. The seasoning that comes on the side, however, was too salty.

Osteria Rossa Drink.Osteria Rossa Cocktail.osteriadessertwine

Unfortunately I can’t recall the names but their signature cocktails were good and for dessert, I ordered the N.V Giuli Cocchi Brachetto. It was okay but nothing I would order again. I much prefer indulging in my sherrys and ports.

I always say that I got tired of Italian food years ago, and I rarely ever crave going out for it, but Osteria Rossa is different. Service was friendly and prices quite reasonable. The only issue I had with the new establishment is that it was quite noisy. There were times when Nathan and I had a hard time hearing each other from across the small table. Overall everything was very enjoyable, but there is something else about it that has made me want to go back since we went. What is it?! I don’t know. Maybe I’ll figure it out the next time I go.

Been To Trattoria di’ Stagione Yet?

What is the correct term? Grand Rapiders? Grand Rapidians? Anyway, people from the East GR area most likely know about that one restaurant connected to Bombay Cuisine. The one that never stays open very long, and then shortly after closing another restaurant ventures in. Well, the newest business currently residing in this space is an Italian restaurant, called Trattoria di’ Stagione.

I was happy to enjoy this dining experience with my old friend, Neal. It was the first time for both of us. I have heard both positive and negative feedback from others about the restaurant, so I didn’t know what to expect.

App
Eggplant Caponata.

We started with the Eggplant Caponata appetizer, which was great. Savory and slightly sweet with tart notes. Eggplant, peppers, raisins, pine nuts, parmesan with nice oiliness to it. Served with slices of grilled bread which had good flavor and texture. We both really enjoyed this dish.

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The Romaine Salad was good, but for $8 dollars I think it was overpriced, and the huge chunks of romaine was a little awkward. The bread was moist and a little cooler in temperature than what I’m used to. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be that way or not.

Linguine with Clams.
Linguine with Clams.

My pasta dish was good, but to be honest nothing very special. The oiliness was almost overwhelming but thankfully the flavors of the dish still showed through. There was a good amount of clams, which were tender and delicious.

Chocolate Gelato.
Chocolate Gelato.

For dessert I ordered their Chocolate Gelato. It was rich, thick and tasty and only got sickening at the very last few bites. I asked our server if they make their own gelatos, and she informed us that everything on their menu is home-made.

Neal and I came here on a week day at an earlier dinner time. I was pleased to see that they had a decent amount of diners in there. Overall I enjoyed my time; good food, middle of the range prices, friendly service, and a nice interior and atmosphere. If they offer rotating Features and Specials, I can see myself being drawn back repeatedly.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Some Romanian Wine After.

Carrabba’s is an American Italian chain restaurant. In this area when you think of Italian food you think pasta, pizza, and bruschetta.  I used to love going out for the cuisine when I was younger, which may be why I rarely crave it now. It’s delicious, and I can eat pizza all day long, but I have to really be in the mood when it comes to pasta.

Complimentary bread.
Complimentary bread.

The bread was simple with a nice light flavor and texture, served warm. Bread and olive oil, garlic, and spices is such a wonderful combination of flavors. The oil was light and of good quality.

Caesar Salad.
Caesar Salad.

My salad wasn’t anything special and pretty much a clone of many Caesar salads I’ve had at other restaurants. The plate was cold with condensation, which told me that they prepare their side salads in advance and keep them in the cooler. I probably should have alerted management of my suspicion that a member of staff appeared to eat all my croutons in desperate hunger. I found only one and a half of them, which were buried underneath my salad.

Pizza.
Pizza.

I built my own wood fired pizza. Mushrooms, basil, and sun dried tomatoes. Now, for those who may not know, I am Asian. Being Asian, I love chewy food. There is an exception, however, and that is for pizza. I do not like chewy pizza. My pizza was quite chewy. The sauce possessed warm and inviting flavors, and was not overly sweet. The basil didn’t manage to capture my attention for some reason, and I forgot it was even on there until halfway through.

The atmosphere at the Carrabba’s in Grand Rapids is nice. Our server was attentive, but our food came out very fast, one dish immediately after the other. The pace is so pushed that you are quite reminded that you are dining at a chain restaurant.

Murfatlar Cabernet Sauvignon.
Murfatlar Cabernet Sauvignon.

I felt like imbibing that night so I ordered one of their Blackberry Sangrias. It was too sweet and a little thick. Fortunately I had a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Romania sitting at the boyfriend’s place. Murfatlar, the first Romanian wine I’ve ever drank! The nose was horrendous and made me think of maple syrup. Thankfully, it tasted much better than it smelled. Big and bold, nothing unique but still good nonetheless. It was also seven dollars. Sweet.