Friday, April 25, 2008

Making the most of Michigan

The above picture doesn't do Bell's Eccentric Cafe justice, even though it's ripped from their website. Kalamazoo has become one of my favorite Midwestern towns. It's a college town located only two hours from Chicago with plenty of natural beauty, at least one great local brewery, a bohemian feel, and the potential for locals to enjoy a free college education. What else can anyone ask for?

The Cafe offers a very large selection of Bell's beers as well as some better-than-decent and interesting food choices. It's also great for vegetarians. The beer samplers are generous, and the bar and outside seating areas couldn't be more comfortable. There's music too, but I haven't had a chance to enjoy that yet.

Overall, a great bar/brewpub worth a long drive to visit. While it may not offer the best food in town, that's not really what the place is there for. Also, the store attached to the Cafe has plenty of high quality Bell's gear, beer, Michigan wines, picnic food, and a great selection of home brewing supplies. Both times I've been there I've wanted to pick up some funky brewer's yeast for some no-kneed bread. Maybe next time. There's also a nice little coffee shop across the street if you're more of the caffeine type.

After a day in Kalamazoo we (this was a work trip) were off to the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. I've been trying to make it to Zingerman's Roadhouse for a while, and the opportunity finally presented itself. It couldn't have been much better, with the only problem being how to choose just one entree from the menu. We shared an appetizer sampler that included some ribs, blue and yellow cornmeal hush puppies, onion rings, mini crab cakes, and some quesadilla (the only disappointing thing on the tray), all accompanied by some solid sauces. For a main I went with the server recommended Niman Ranch brisket. It came sliced, piled, and dressed with a house tomato based bbq sauce along with some quality greens and mashed potatoes. Simple and very good. We finished the meal with some lovingly cared for cheese and terrific dulce de leche gelato. Also, it's worth mentioning that the bread they put on the table was excellent, as was the service.

For me it doesn't get much better than sustainable barbecue. It really was a perfect meal with some great company. And the pic is from their website.

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