Harmony Hall.

Grand Rapids’ Harmony Brewing Company recently opened their second project, Harmony Hall, located in the West Side. Considering that I imbibe like it’s my freakin job, beer is surprisingly a scene that I don’t partake in. I know, what a waste of a GR resident, amirite?  What I can attest to, however, is the the food and enjoyable ambiance here.

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PEAS AND CARROTS

I was very pleasantly surprised by the Peas and Carrots appetizer, and will order another one to myself the next time I visit. No sharing. The pancakes were more savory than I had expected, and these were my favorite part of the entire meal. Served with sweet potato puree, the dollop of creme fraiche was perfect with the pancake. Good stuff.

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BRAUN MI

Of course I ordered the Braun Mi, as everyone knows that I am a huge Banh Mi fan. I ordered extra jalapenos so the sandwich was stuffed pretty full. The freshness of the ingredients was great, and the pate was nice, but I wasn’t crazy about the kimchi in there. The kimchi itself was good, I’d just prefer the sandwich without. What mildly killed the sandwich for me was the sauce, because there was just so much of it. I think banh mi and variations of it are amazing because of the lively flavors of fresh greens and tangy pickled vegetables. With the heavier sauce (in flavor and amount), all the prior is inadvertently snuffed out. The fries were pretty overdone as well, but the curry ketchup was good.

I did have a bite of the Che’s Baret, Harmony’s version of a Cubano sandwich, and it was fantastic. I will definitely order that the next time. The menu is heavily inspired by German cuisine, which  I’m not typically a fan of, but I love that there is also plenty of unique, global influence going on, such as Asian and Latino fare. They do fusion here very well!

The ambiance is wonderful. With two stories, Harmony Hall is just that; a grand hall that is comfortable, modern, laid back, and pretty. It just feels so nice being in there. The cocktail menu is fun and they do have a full bar as well. So far I’ve only received good service. What else? Their menu consists of food from local farms and suppliers, and they highlights those ingredients on the menu. I love that! So it is safe to say that Harmony Hall has already become one of my favorite spots in town.

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Curry Leaf.

In my mid to late twenties, Indian food was an obsession. I couldn’t get enough of it. As time went on, the diversity of my food choices was greatly broadened and my love of the cuisine quietly slipped away from the spectrum. On top of that, the last two or three times I had  Indian food  were disappointing and only compounded my dead desire for the cuisine. That is, until Curry Leaf opened.

Located in the old Fleetwood Diner in Kentwood (R.I.P. Fleetwood Diner) it’s confusing when looking at it from the outside. They haven’t remodeled at all so it still looks like a restaurant from an era ago. When Nathan and I walked in this past weekend, I was very surprised to see how busy it was. At an off time on a Sunday afternoon, the place was nearly packed! And with about 80 percent of the customers being Indian, I took that as a very good sign.

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MIRCHI-KA-SALAN AND MUSHROOM MUTTER MAKANI

We didn’t know that we would receive complimentary dosas in the beginning of our meal. A thin crepe with a layer of cheese and filled with spiced potato, they were fantastic. For an appetizer I ordered the samosa, typical I know, but I was really craving potatoes. Next time I’ll go with the dosas instead, and I recommend for you to do the same!

Everything was great. From the appetizers to the naan to the entrees to the tea, so delicious! And what really surprised me was Nathan’s enthusiasm about the whole meal, especially about his Mushroom Mutter Makani. There have been times in the past when I craved Indian food and he never wanted it. I have a feeling this restaurant will likely change that.

The only tiny negative we had about the meals was the spice level. I asked for mine spicy, and it was good, but I would have enjoyed a little more. Nathan said the same about his dish, and keep in mind that he’s kind of a wuss. He asked for medium spice, and found it a little lacking. But you know, something like that is subjective, so take it with a grain of salt. (See what I did there?)

After only one visit, I can say that I love Curry Leaf. The food was awesome and the service was warm and friendly. You can tell that they are genuinely excited and happy to be there. I think the prices are typical for an Indian restaurant. As Nathan said, he will surely miss his Hippie Hash from Fleetwood, but, Curry Leaf is quite a welcome addition to the neighborhood!

Gojo Ethiopian Cuisine

Ethiopian food is easily one of my favorite types of cuisine. I went to a festival years ago that was held downtown in GR, and Gojo Ethiopian Cuisine was one of the vendors down there. That’s how I first tried Ethiopian food, and I immediately fell in love. However,┬áthe popular restaurant Little Africa became my go-to for African fare. Only recently I visited Gojo again, and I found out that there are new owners that took over the little restaurant in East Town. Gojo was good before, but you know what? After my two recent visits, this place has jumped to the top of my list; definitely not pushing Little Africa from its throne, but more so forcing room so that they can both sit comfortably in the same spot.

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VEGETARIAN PLATTER
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MY FAVORITES

The new owners at Gojo plan on changing the menu gradually, where you can choose what dishes you would like. Currently, they are still using the old menu where they don’t have individual sides as much as they have platters. Because of that, I don’t know all the names of the dishes that were served with the Vegetarian Platter I ordered, so I just circled the ones that I found to be absolutely delicious. Alicha, spicy green beans, salad with fresh jalapeno, beets, and stewed lentils. So good.

The new owners have been very friendly, just like the prior ones. So far it seems that the new menu will reflect lower prices; I feel like higher price points was a reoccurring complaint about the old menu, but that’s just what I gleaned from reading old reviews.

If you ever think about visiting Gojo again, or for the first time, I highly recommend it! They have plenty of meat dishes as well, like tibs wats and siga wats. If you’re going vegetarian and not knowledgeable about the names of dishes, like me, show them the photo above with the circles. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Seoul Market Cafe

Hey. Hey! Korean food in GR! Korean food in GR!

I visited Seoul Market Cafe about two months ago, within their first week of opening. Located inside one of my favorite stores, Seoul Market, they put up some walls and made a tiny space into a dining area that offers a large selection of traditional Korean jjigaes (stews), soups, Korean BBQ, and stir fried foods.

So don’t hate me. Actually, if you do, I legitimately couldn’t care less. I did have a couple minor complaints about my meal.

First of all, the banchan (side dishes) were good and most importantly, fresh. The complimentary mackerel that comes with jjigaes was fantastic. It made my mind and feelings hurtle back through a portal of time to my childhood. It’s amazing when our senses do that to us, isn’t it? For my meal, I ordered the Kimchi Jjigae. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was good. But, the meat was marinated and sweet, which I didn’t like. And there was much more kimchi than anything else in the stew , so it was actually a bit too sour for me.

Do I still love this place? Yes I sure do. Overall everything was great, and  in my opinion, Grand Rapids needs more cuisine that is culturally diverse and authentic. Not to mention the fact that my opinion is based on only one visit, within their first week of them being open! I’ve only heard great things from others about the place, and the excitement of a legit little Korean restaurant opening here in town cannot be denied.

While you’re there, take the time to look around and see what the rest of the market has to offer. I highly recommend the Cuttle Fish Snacks. Trust me.

 

Wolfgang’s.

I have mentioned before that I’m a very rare breakfast eater. I’m never awake during the time reserved for the early bird meal, and if I am, it entails me rolling out of bed and heading straight to work.

Grand Rapids is crazy about their breakfast spots! All the ones that I see on a regular basis always seem to be packed out. The long line for typically bland or oddly sweet food has never appealed to me. However, Wolfgang’s  is an exception. This incredibly popular breakfast and lunch joint has been a part of East Town since 1977!

You’re probably thinking that my choices look a little boring, especially in comparison to the large menu boasting more exciting (and some creative) choices such as skillets, omelettes, burritos, pancakes, and loads more. But what I really like about Wolfgang’s is that here, even the simple is flavorful. The redskin potatoes are fantastic and the homemade granola was so tasty too! Mo’s sandwich really hit the spot.

Usual long line in the morning? Yes. Worth it? Surprisingly, yes! The food is great, and I’ve always had good service as well. You can always dine in after the busy hours too. The last visit I went around one in the afternoon on a Saturday and there was plenty of seating available!