Bar food has come a long way since the days of raw onions and cheese served up at McSorley’s Old Ale House. These days, you can find anything from fish tacos with champagne slaw to confit duck nachos — and let me be the first to admit that even veggie-centric dishes like the sprout tacos at Donkey are some of the best bar eats you could ask for.
Like music, movies and fashion, the culinary industry is prone to inescapable season-defining trends. Suddenly, a relatively innocuous foodstuff will get to bask in its 15 minutes of fame, with appearances in farm-to-table restaurants, fast-food joints and everywhere in between.
Each year, the National Restaurant Association releases data on the predicted top food trends. Many of these trends were inspired by viral videos on Instagram, including Thai Rolled Ice Cream and unusual flavor-filled doughnuts. And while we may not see rolled ice cream hitting the streets of West Michigan anytime soon, one of the list’s trends fits right in with our local food scene: quality sourced ingredients and a hyper-focus on locality or ethnic cuisine.
If April showers bring May flowers, now’s the perfect time to start a garden. With produce, flowers and herbs all readily available from local stores, you may ask yourself if starting a garden is necessary. Brandon Iker offers up a resounding, “Yes!”
The founder and creator of the Single Girl’s Guide to Eating Out encourages women to dine out confidently, helping you worry a little less about where to go and a little more about what to order.
Admittedly, I’ve never had a banana. Foie gras? Non, merci. But there are those out there who eat pâté like it’s pudding. These are the sort who point at me and laugh. I gave haggis a try once. The offal’s flavor tasted like a rusty bicycle. I spit it out. Still, I felt it, that thrill of exposing my palate to the dark side. Pushing the gastronomical boundaries, even an inch, can feel like a point of pride. And burgers and pizza do grow drab when a world of strange awaits. So take a break from the usual, make a risky pick, and you might discover a new favorite. To the adventurous foodie, here are some regional selections to challenge your curious taste.
This month, we sat down with Keith Allard, proprietor of Wikiwiki Poke Shop, Grand Rapids’ first of the kind. At the risk of rambling, I will briefly say that Wikiwiki is as singular a dining experience as I’ve ever seen in this town. Playfully serious, the atmosphere Allard’s crew has curated feels like a meme Instagram page opened a restaurant. And it’s good. I shamelessly heaped the contents of my “La The Darkbowl” onto Migos’ Sour Cream and Ranch flavored Rap Snacks and just could not believe how well the two paired. Before Wikiwiki, that sentence would have been grammatically correct, but semantically useless. With Wikiwiki, it could just be lunch.
Forty Acres Soul Kitchen, a modern adaptation of traditional Southern-style food opening this month, will be Grand Rapids’ only African American-owned full-service restaurant — that means a host, waitstaff, full bar and food menu. Let that sink in for minute. In the state’s second-largest city of 200,000 people. In 2018.
When suckling the last globs of sauce from a rib, gnawing at the thing for remaining bits of meat, circling a good clean bone, it becomes hard to imagine any cuisine quite as savage as barbecue. It wears no disguise. Order up a joint’s three-meat platter and look at your dish. What you’ll find is a plate of animal parts torn asunder, plus a square of cornbread as distraction. Meat. It’s so obviously central to barbecue that you’re not wrong to wonder why anyone bothers with baked beans at all.
Tucked away in a nondescript strip mall in Holland’s Beechwood neighborhood, Brewery 4 Two 4 takes experimentation to the max. That’s somewhat out of necessity, since the brewery produces its beer on a tiny half-barrel system at its 321 Douglas Ave. taproom.
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