On Our Restaurant Radar: RADIX TAVERN

Farm-to-table Radix Tavern serves up southern-style cuisine with local ingredients courtesy of Chef Jayson Leek, a Kansas transplant and former sous chef of Judson's Steakhouse and Gilly's. Open since September inside the former Queen's Pub in Eastown, Leek has created a strong, slow-cooked menu. The restaurant itself features local works of art for purchase, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the artists.

It's easy to become lost in the smaller dishes at Radix. Small plate highlights include the Louisiana Mussels, Drunken Duck Tacos and Honey-Roasted Cauliflower Crowns, which are bunched with barbecued cashews, arugula, fire-roasted peppers and served with a side of house-made honey-mustard sauce. Local favorite Drunken Duck Tacos feature a seasonal Michigan-beer braised and shredded thigh and leg of duck under a cover of corn, onion and cilantro, seeping with black-eyed pea salsa and jalapeno-lime sour cream. Although the Louisiana Mussels aren't local, you won't care after the first bite of Andouille sausage, mussel with red and green pepper and a swash of creole tomato broth grace your palette.

Stave off the cold and linger in the warmth with larger dishes, such as Leek's Quebecois-inspired Barbecue Poutine of Beef or the comfort food staple, The Meaty Mac. The former features brisket, sirloin and white cheddar atop tavern fries, smothered in gravy. The latter is a robust corkscrew pasta 'n' cheese plate, which includes the same tender beef brisket of the poutine along with pulled pork, barbecued chicken, bacon and sausage in a creamy Great Lakes cheddar cheese sauce. If you'd prefer a sandwich, the pickled watermelon and cucumbers of the Barbecue Pulled Pork will have you licking instead of wiping the mustard from your lips.

Keep an eye on the seasonal featured dishes for unique specialties using such local necessities as pork belly, winter vegetables and Michigan beer. A host of vegan options exist, along with a fully stocked bar. For the truly Southern, just douse it all in the homemade hot sauce for 50 cent per two-ounce portion. 1420 Lake Dr., Grand Rapids; radixtavern.com, (616)458-5583.


Cheap Drinks

Half-Off Bottles on Tuesdays at The Wine Loft
You can't go wrong with half off the price on a bottle of vino at The Wine Loft every Tuesday. Sit inside and lounge about this decadent downtown Kalamazoo spot with one of the best weekly wine offerings in West Michigan. The selection of reds and whites will have you warming up and smiling before the first cork is popped and an appetizer is selected.
161 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo; (269) 343-9227, milleniumrestaurants.com/loft

Foodie Events

Bloody Mary Mix-Off
Old Boy's Brewhouse, Spring Lake
Jan. 19, 12-5 p.m.
slheritagefestival.com, (616) 850-9950

Bloody Mary Mix-Off at Spring Lake Heritage Festival: Vote for the best Bloody Mary at the 7th Annual Bloody Mary Mix Off at Old Boy's Brew House during the Spring Lake Heritage Festival on Jan. 19. Area bartenders will feature their spin on the early day drink of choice. Also wear your best pajamas to vie for the Best Pajamas Award. $2 drink tickets, $10 to judge.

Culinary Classroom
D&W Fresh Market, Grandville
Jan. 18, 6 p.m.
dwfm.spartanstores.com, (888) 296-5850

CULINARY CLASSROOM: CAJUN featuring Jorge Sanchez: Hone your southern cooking skills with San Chez, A Tapas Bistro Creator Jorge Sanchez. Family Fare Supermarkets presents a Culinary Classroom event where Sanchez shares his knowledge of Creole and Cajun cuisine. This hands-on cooking class and wine pairing (must be 21+) with Sanchez imparts tips on the proper blackening technique and feature a wide array of dishes including catfish, crab cakes, jambalaya and a tantalizing Creole Coffee Ice Cream Punch. RSVP online in advance, as space is limited.