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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.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Food Dance, Kalamazoo Restaurant Week

A few weeks ago, the lovely city of Kalamazoo held their Restaurant Week. If you're not familiar with this concept, it is a week when several (think 20ish) restaurants in a particular metro area each create a special prix fixe menu for $25ish, and you eat at as many restaurants as possible before the week expires. In many of the cities they get the pricier restaurants to participate, so you have the opportunity to eat somewhere that you normally wouldn't experience unless your parents are footing the bill.

Detroit has an incredible restaurant week. Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo's aren't too shabby either. If I had any motivation, I would lead the charge to create one here. Maybe someday. . .

Anyway, in honor of KRW, a friend and I headed to Kzoo to have dinner at Food Dance. Since birth, Kalamazoo is the one city that I have visited the most frequently, but those visits are usually spent shuttling between houses of my aunts and uncles and grandparents. We eat a lot of turkey sandwiches and breakfast casserole. However, I have been to Food Dance twice in recent years. Once for dinner with a girlfriend from college, which I remember being a great meal. Once for breakfast on my way out of town, which I remember as being better than average.

On the night that we went, the restaurant was packed. Through absolute fault of our own, we were considerably late for our reservation, but I had called from the road and told the hostess of this. When we got there, I gave them my name, and we proceeded to wait. For an HOUR. While everyone around us was seated.

My companion finally asked the man behind the stand what the holdup was. I knew he had forgotten about us. He had. There were a thousand open tables, so he quickly showed us to one where we proceeded to wait again. We waited for thirty minutes for the waitress to acknowledge our existence.  When she finally came to the table, she said "Oh, I'm sorry. I was in the other room."

Oh, I'm sorry. My head just fell off.

We quickly ordered (since I had memorized the menu by then) and started with the curry-dusted popcorn chickpeas. These were- and I do not exaggerate- the bright spot of the meal. They could have used a hit of salt, to which I granted them, but they were delicious.

Any thought of ordering above and beyond the special $25 menu was banished from my thoughts by the tepid service we were receiving. For my first course I had the fennel rosemary soup with truffle candy stripe beet salad-

I love beets. I love fennel. It was good. Nothing to tear my hair about. My next course was a salad of roasted winter vegetables. The server told me that this salad would be cold, but it was warm. It was good. I like my vegetables.

Obviously I didn't eat the cheese topper. Few things get me as heated as cheese on a salad. It doesn't make any sense! My entree was a buttermilk fried cornish hen, with a buttermilk biscuit, gravy, and stewed smokey greens. The hen was in a mini fried chicken bucket, which sounds gimmicky and stupid but was actually pretty cute.

 The hen was juicy. The greens were good. I haven't had fried chicken in a thousand years, so maybe you are supposed to be underwhelmed? Our desserts were gingerbread for me and a mini chocolate pecan pie for her. I love gingerbread- LOVE it- and this was incredibly dry and not very palatable. The pear gelato provided an odd flavor combination.

I can't figure out how to rotate this photo. Whoopsie.
 We also had lattes. Along with the chickpeas, the lattes were the best part of the meal.

Food Dance, I want to love you. You use local, organic stuff. You have Jeni's Ice Creams. Your building is gorgeous and I go to Kalamazoo so frequently. I'm hoping this was an off night, that the food wasn't great because you don't want to blow your stack on the people who only come out when a meal is $25. But this was not good. The service was horrendous (I forgot to mention that I ordered a club soda, was given a Sierra Mist, and the waitress didn't apologize, but said that her friend, who poured it, must have made a mistake.) She gave us the $5 chickpeas gratis, because she was "sorry [we] had to wait."

I think, the next time I go to Kalamazoo, I will stick with Grandma's kitchen.

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