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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Detour - Grand Rapids Michigan

We took a trip away last weekend, hence the lack of posting. But for a change of pace I thought I’d talk about where we went and what we did.  We ate some yummy things, but nothing super special, and didn’t take any pictures of food, but we had a wonderful time and really enjoyed the trip.
Grand Rapids, Michigan

I love to travel and love visiting new places.  On four occasions I have travelled to a place for the first time and felt I could live there. These are the places I tend to travel back to – or plan to travel back to – as often as possible.

My husband is a beer fanatic, so the main reason for the trip was to visit Founders Brewery, one of the top breweries in North America.  I was delighted to find out that the city has a terrific tourism website with tons of info on food, drinks and things to do. 

On the way we did some outlet shopping and then stopped at the Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, MI for lunch.  This location is just off the highway, tucked in an office park, but it was busy on this beautiful Saturday afternoon and the service, food and drinks were terrific.

I had a Celis Raspberry and Matt had a Russian Imperial Stout. The beers were delicious and the food was really good too. They have a nice menu of sandwiches, burgers and pizzas.

I had chicken sliders and Matt had a twisted turkey sandwich on pretzel bread. This was a great lunch stop and, refreshed, we headed on to Grand Rapids.

Even though we read about great restaurants in Grand Rapids, we were more interested in the beer scene and we visited a few great pubs.  The hotel we chose was the JW Marriott. It is one of several downtown hotels and very highly rated. It cost a little more than we’d normally spend on a hotel, but it was so worth it.  What a beautiful place!  Our room was lovely:

And we had a wonderful view of the river.

Once we checked in, our first stop was Hopcat, a highly rated brew pub only a short walk from the hotel. We happened to be there on St. Patricks Day so we were lucky to get a seat at all, but they led us up to a small section upstairs with a few tables and couches.  We  got amazing service up there from a wonderful server with a tattoo of Michigan.  She also gave us great advice on other places to check out in town.  

That's a view of the bar from our table on the floor above.  Matt had a farmhouse ale and I had a framboise, then I tried a coffee milk stout on nitro. I don't usually like beer, but this one was so delicious! It was basically like a mocha milkshake. So creamy, light and tasty.  I loved it.  

While there we also had a couple of snacks.  A Jumbo Jalapeno Pretzel, soft with a delicious cheese sauce and Loaded Crack Fries which lived up to their name covered in cheese sauce, jalapenos and bacon.  Healthy!

Because it was St. Patricks Day there was a huge street party going on, but we skipped that in favour of a walk to Founders Taproom, one of the top breweries in North America. (RateBeer rates it #2 in the world!)  This place was busy as well, but we managed to find a table. 

Founders Taproom only serves beer. I tried a dark beer and then had a shandy (beer and lemonade), but Matt was in heaven trying all their dark beers.  We also tried the beer cheese dip that was perfectly tasty. A band started playing and we stayed a while, then stumbled back to our hotel via the riverfront.

The next day we did a little more shopping then headed to the Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden to visit the Butterflies are Blooming Exhibit.  This place was spectacular.  

132 acres of gardens with a variety of sculpture and a huge greenhouse currently housing the butterfly exhibit. 

We got some great butterfly pictures...

Then headed out to the sculpture park.  

It was a beautiful day and we had a wonderful time. I love public art and it is great to see so much on display in one place. They also have a wonderful children's garden with interactive stuff for kids to explore.

Next we headed to a beautiful brew pub just outside of downtown Grand Rapids in an old church.

Brewery Vivant is a Belgian style brew pub with a lovely atmosphere and terrific food.

Inside there are long communal tables as well as a bar with a gorgeous stained glass window.  I was thrilled to see hard cider on the menu. 

I believe Matt had Solitude Belgian Amber Ale.  He also had a beer flight.

Once again the service was just great. We ordered a late lunch/early dinner.  I had the croque monsieur and Matt had a yummy burger. Both were served with amazing fries. If this place was near our house, we'd be here all the time. It was fantastic!

We had concert tickets at Van Andel arena, just around the corner from our hotel. Before the show we popped in to Bar Divani for a quick drink. They have a nice atmosphere and great menu, especially at Happy Hour. The arena is very nice and seems brand new.  Afterwards we went back to Hopcat for a quick drink but it was incredibly busy again so we headed over to Pyramid Scheme where we had beer, cider and played pinball!  It was a lot of fun and we once again weaved our way back to our hotel.  

On our last morning we took a swim in the lovely pool at JW Marriott they also have a eucalyptus steam room that was very refreshing. We took one last walk around the riverfront and then headed home.

We loved this town and can't wait to return to Grand Rapids. Next time we'll try more food, not just drinks.

1 comment:

  1. I agree wholeheartedly about trying more and better and diverse food next time. We'll be back, Grand Rapids. You can count your awesome food and beer scene and wonderful downtown on it!