About Me

My photo
Lansing, Michigan, United States
I am a Lansing townie, lawyer, and restaurant reviewer for the City Pulse. I love traveling, reading, yoga, and baking, but my favorite hobby is stuffing my face.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Harrison Roadhouse

Last week I had lunch with my cousin. He is living the dream of being a senior at MSU with a post-graduation job waiting for him, in short, he has hit the jackpot. Ahh, college.

When I called him at 12:15 and heard his voice, I knew that it had been a late night and he was hungover. I made the executive decision that we would head to the Harrison Roadhouse so he could get the fries that would surely cure what ailed him.

It's been a few years since my last meal at the Harrison Roadhouse. I remembered it being pretty good, but sadly, this wasn't the case last week. I had a Philly cheesesteak, which was oddly served on ciabatta bread and which disgustingly included a layer of cream cheese. I scraped as much as I could out of the sandwich after my first bite, because the flavor was distracting and the texture wasn't doing the sandwich any favors.

The fries were quite soggy and nothing to write home about. Isn't the Harrison Roadhouse known for something? Is it chicken wings? Judging by the state of my sandwich, I can't imagine that anything there is widely renowned. Blech.

Friday, January 20, 2012

SBux at Michigan State University

I know, I know. We're supposed to eat at local restaurants, shop at independently-owned stores, only eat chicken that was born on the actual serving platter and lived a carefree life. I know that, and I am usually all for it. But I have a confession- I love Starbucks.
I love their coffee, I love their lattes, I LOVE their oatmeal, and those cake pops (especially the birthday cake) can't be beat. I like that you know that it's always going to taste the same. And maybe it's because by virtue of living in Lansing I don't actually see Starbucks very often, but when there's one in the vicinity I want to go.

For the next few months I am spending all day Thursday and Friday back on the campus of MSU, where I terrorized parking enforcement daily for five years. Yes, I was an undergrad for five years. I also have two Bachelor's degrees. Back off, MOM. A friend of mine who works on campus asked me if I wanted to get coffee this week and, of course, I agreed. This lady was calling my name-

It's in Wells Hall. You know, the one where you can find the man screaming about the Bible to passersby in the warmer months. Charming, that guy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

French Laundry, Fenton

I have this crazy girlfriend with whom I've eaten some important meals. When I turned 21, we ate dinner together with a group of our girlfriends in Tours, France, at a seafood restaurant on the Rue Nationale.I went to visit her in California after my first term of law school and we ate here. Because I'm a weirdo, I always thought of this billboard from The Great Gatsby when I saw the restaurant's owner.

Is this why nobody wants to be friends with me?

A few years after that meal, we got together again in the Old West and ate here.  This is when I became a grown-up. We have also had some not-so-glamorous meals together, mainly consisting of Mexican food, steaks at 3am, and Flap Jack skillet breakfasts.

Although she now leads an east-coast life, this little lady is a Michigander at heart, and a Fentonite (Fentonian?) specifically. I've had my eye on The French Laundry in her hometown for some time and while she was home over the holidays I offered to come to her neck of the woods to eat everything in site and hear about her recent world tour. 

"World tour" is not an exaggeration. She went all over the place, including a week-long stint at a yoga retreat in Sri Lanka. I am green. I despise the phrase "bucket list," but throw that on mine.

The French Laundry is shocking. I, frankly, expected it to be a dump. Come on- it's in Fenton, in the middle of nowhere, and nobody knows nothing about food over there! How wrong I was. Fenton is a charming little town and the restaurant is beautiful. The waitress was incredible. She was throwing recommendations around right and left, she knew the menu backwards and forwards. She suggested the scotch eggs as an appetizer, which I had had stuck in my mind since the first time I laid eyes on the menu. Scotch eggs, while they sound weird, are DELICIOUS. If you think you don't like them, then get away from the table and leave the rest of them for me.

I started with a sliced tomato salad, mainly because I was so excited that it didn't have cheese in it. I hate cheese. I know, string me up. The vinaigrette was perfect. My entree was the New York strip, which was ok. I usually have a filet when red meat is an option and was trying to branch out here, but a strip isn't my favorite cut of meat. Stupidly, I have tested this hypothesis all too frequently in the last few weeks. (Is a NY strip supposed to have that strip of fat on it? Is that where the name comes from? Help me.)

Next time, I will get the coffee-crusted tenderloin. I'm a sucker for horseradish. For dessert, we got a half serving of the bread pudding and a creme brulee. Maybe I've been utterly spoiled by the bread pudding at the Soup Spoon, but this stuff was seriously lacking. It was dry and unappetizing. I didn't eat more than two bites.

Ok, I ate five bites, but that was in the name of scientific research.

The creme brulee was creme brulee. Not much more to say about that. But the company was what made the meal sweet. Cheers, Anna.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Opus One, Detroit

Sorry about my extended absence. I was studying/doing yoga/sleeping/watching "White Christmas" twice a day and eating a thousand molasses cookies. Take your pick.

A few weeks ago I was in Detroit around lunchtime. I used the Urban Spoon app on my iPhone (I love this app) to find a restaurant nearby, because, although I am a dyed-in-the-wool Michigander, I am completely ignorant when it comes to geography in the city of Detroit. I was driving to my destination, turned a corner and was completely shocked to see The Spirit of Detroit punching me in the face. I had no idea where I was. 

Anyway, Urban Spoon told me that I was two blocks from Opus One. I've been wanting to try this place, and even though it was raining a miserable drizzle outside, I decided to hoof it over.

The restaurant is BEAUTIFUL. It was completely decked out in Christmas decorations. I slipped into a little booth with a view of the entrance because when I'm eating alone I like to have an option to do some serious people watching. During my first interaction with the waiter, however, I should have known that something was fishy. I told him that I had never eaten at Opus One before and asked him for some recommendations.

He told me that he doesn't normally work the lunch shift and wasn't terribly familiar with the menu. Oh, ok. Ignore me. That's cool. I studied the menu like I was actually thinking about it (I wasn't. 90% of the time, I know what I'm going to order within 10 seconds of looking at the menu) and ordered what I knew I was going to order all along- the chilled quinoa and avocado salad. With grilled salmon on top. Because I never met a fish I didn't like.

The bread was ok, but it takes a pretty solid effort for a roll to knock my socks off. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but the salad was fantastic. No, fantastic. After weeks of eating nothing but turkey, ham, potatoes, coffee cake, and the above-mentioned molasses cookies, this salad was just the ticket. It was lemony, parsley-y, and the quinoa had some bite to it.

A classic problem of mine is that I don't carefully read menu descriptions. I would have begged them to leave the olives out. As it was, I pushed them to the side of the plate and left them in a soggy heap. I can't abide olives.

The salmon was great. Flaky, slightly buttery, just short of medium. The avocado, however, left something to be desired. As an ingredient that warrants top billing, I imagined there would be more than two measly slices. Alas.

I'm a slow eater, but this salad didn't keep me occupied for more than 25 minutes. I then SAT, ignored, banished, for another 30 minutes. The waiter paid attention to every table surrounding me. I knew that he had somehow forgotten that I was there. And I was pissed. I tried to assuage my rage by paying attention to the woman working at the coat check. People came in, many of them obviously for their office holiday lunch, and they didn't want to check their coats. If they did decide to check their coat, they wanted to get their phone out of the pocket first. "Leave your phone!" she would tell them. "It's the holidays! We don't always need to be texting!"


After I decided that I really couldn't wait any longer, I got up and asked the maitre'd to have the waiter bring me my bill. As I sat down the waiter turned towards my table and the look on his face was one of utter shock. "OH!" he said. "I'm so sorry, I forgot you were there."

Why would you TELL ME THAT? Apologize and give me some free cake, for the love of Pete.

He did neither, so his tip suffered and I stalked out. But I would go back. I've been recreating the pairing of quinoa, avocado, and lemon juice at home, and I'd give Opus One another shot in case they have another genius recipe for me to emulate.