About Me

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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.

Monday, October 8, 2012


            I love meat. 

            That doesn’t feel right. Let me try this again. I love Meat

            On a recent Friday evening before a show at the Riverwalk with two of my favorite men, our plan was to meet at Old Town’s hottest restaurant, also the one most recently visited by 90s dreamboat Gavin Rossdale. I had a few moments to cool my heels while waiting for my men and I poked my head inside to case the joint. A cow skin covers much of one wall, and the posteriors of diners covered all seats. Fortunately, just as my companions showed up a table emptied and we were able to sit right down.

            The menu is straightforward- lots of meat and a few sides. The three headliners are brisket, pulled pork, and something called Texas Hot Link that the waitress informed me is a kind of sausage. Upon her recommendation, I chose the brisket combo plate. The combo plate, which you can order with any of the three meats, also comes with two sides. You step right up and make your choice between macaroni and cheese, blue cheese and bacon potato salad,  bourbon baked beans, ranch slaw, hand-cut fries, or the “seasonal vegetable” offering. The seasonal vegetable offering that night? Glazed apples. 

            I was confused too.

            Our waitress hit me with some serious side-eye when I asked her to “talk to me about the ranch slaw.” Her response of “Well, it’s cole slaw,” didn’t exactly sell me, so I chose the bourbon baked beans and the fries. Don’t get me wrong, I am a human being and I obviously wanted the blue cheese and bacon potato salad, but it had run out. I hear that is Meat’s biggest problem, so don’t be mad when they’re out of something that you wanted. We want to encourage fledgling restaurants in town, and if they’re running out of food, they’re doing something right.

            Our orders came out relatively quickly and the waitress gave us a rundown of the five sauces held in a little bin on our table. One was a traditional Kansas City BBQ, and as the presentation continued my brain turned off until she said the words “hot garlic.” I know it ain’t ladylike, but this lady loves garlic and loves spicy. This sauce, while flavorful and welcome in limited increments, was seriously flirting with the line between “pleasantly spicy” and “too spicy for you to even enjoy what you’re eating because you are concerned that sweat has permeated your shirt and nobody is ever going to want to kiss you again because you’re an animal.” Be warned. 

            The brisket portion was massive. I counted six thick slices of beef, which was tender to the touch of a plastic fork. That’s necessary at Meat because the only cutlery provided is plastic forks, housed in the sauce bin. Alongside the slices were what I would call “burnt ends,” the pieces that fall off the brisket and are charred and full of fat and flavor. The burnt ends were explosions of intense flavor. The brisket itself was delicious, tender, a little spicy, and those six slices didn’t stand a chance against me.

            My sides were a mixed bag. The bourbon baked beans were absolutely delicious- some of the best baked beans I’ve ever had. I was concerned that they might be a little too sweet and my concern was unfounded and stupid. The beans were smoky-tasting, with chunks of bacon in a thick, rich sauce. The texture, which can be so hard to nail on baked beans, was perfect. Nothing was mealy or mushy, and when the hot garlic sauce got to be too much I dipped my brisket into the beans for a little taste of Heaven right there on Turner Street. 

            The fries were a disappointment. I have nothing against shoestring fries, but they definitely don’t blow my skirt up. These in particular were overcooked, dry, and completely flavorless. I left more than half of them on my plate (which was fine, because I estimated my caloric consumption at that one meal to be about 8 zillion calories. Worth it.)

            My dudes loved their pulled pork and macaroni and cheese. They agreed with me that the beans were bangin’ and informed me that that was an improvement over their last visit to Meat. I’m dying for the potato salad, so as soon as I run 10 miles I’m running myself right back over for a little more Meat.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Artie's Filling Station

Until I was 25 years old, I never thought I would drink coffee. I hated the smell and taste of it and, from my senior year of high school until 5 year ago I got my caffeine from Mountain Dew and Diet Pepsi.

It's embarrassing, but I drank the hell out of both of those. It's a wonder I didn't give myself the 'beetus.

I remember living in France and having my friends over for Thanksgiving (or, as it is better known by the French, "Thursday.") I knew that I needed to offer coffee and cheese, even though I hated both of them, so I bought some instant coffee granules. To the best of my recollection, all my guests passed on this offering in favor of more Beaujolis Nouveau. I was totally clueless.

When 25 rolled around, I was clocking a lot of hours working for a certain U.S. Senator from the Great Lakes State. You know him, he looks like Benjamin Franklin. I lived in Oakland County, where I didn't have any friends, so I worked nonstop. In the morning I would wake up and struggle to get out of bed, so I decided that it was time to grow up and start drinking coffee.

I started drinking lattes. Specifically, I started drinking "Grande Skinny Sugar-Free White Ligntnings with Mint." I. Am. Disgusting. These puppies were like $5 a pop and had 87 chemicals in them. The amount of coffee itself was negligible. I literally drank one of these every single day, and now I wish I had all of that money in a giant jar so I could go buy a million butternut squashes and turn myself orange from the inside out.

I don't remember what the impetus was for my abandoning these monstrosities, but I eventually did a 180 and dropped the lattes for plain black coffee. A few weeks after trying to convince everyone in the city that I was a badass, my mother's friend told me that coffee wasn't worth drinking without a little cream. She was right, and every day I have several cups with a little cream.

I have become a coffee fanatic. I'm frequently the psycho trying to track down a server before dessert comes so I can enjoy my cake with a cup of pleasantly cooled coffee. I mean honestly- is there anything better than a baked good and a cup of coffee (particularly as soon as you wake up in the morning?)

The banana bread that I have been assaulting for a week.

For weeks, I've been hearing about Artie's Filling Station. Truth be told, I'd been hearing that this dude was serious about his coffee and wouldn't take any crap. So I was intimidated and stayed away, continuing to give my Keurig, Bodum French press, and Bialetti stovetop espresso maker (THE BEST) a workout.

I realize that the stovetop is dirty. My apologies.

Last week the Grand River Connection (board member what) and Lansing Chamber held our annual 10 Over 10 awards. One of the winners was John Miller, Artie's owner. It was back on my radar and on Thursday, after cardio jump rope and before going to work, it was time. I told him that I'd never been there before and needed guidance, he suggested their Tahitian Vanilla Nutmeg latte.

You guys.
Nutmeg shavings on top.
Thank God I had gotten back into my car before I took a sip, because I literally made a keening sound. Gross word, I know, but that's what I did. It was too good. I took the lid back off and stared at it, sent a text to my bff telling her to go there, and licked nutmeg and foam off the bottom of the lid.

I can't even. . . it's not normal coffee.

By the way, I could see the vanilla beans (vanilla bean seeds?) on the sides of the cup. I'm getting grosser by the minute, but I ran my finger around the cup and licked them off. I would have eaten the paper cup if I hadn't already had my morning fiber in the form of oatmeal.

Look at those cups. Obviously cooler than I am. Oh, and they only slang whole milk, so deal with the fact that you're going to get fatter. However, it's a small cup, so just tell yourself that you're European and deal with it. Also, it was close to $6, but if that's going to stop you then just get the hell out of here.