Eating Through the Mitten

That thumb looks tasty.

Gimmicks

Location:  Valley Lanes Family Entertainment Center, 5021 Bay City Road, Midland, Michigan 48642

 Phone: 989.496.3940

Hours: Monday 11 AM – 10 PM, Tuesday-Saturday 11 AM – Late night, Closed Sunday.

Reviewed on: Yelp and Gimmicks For Food & Fun on Urbanspoon

Website: http://www.valleylanesmidland.com/dining.htm

L went to Gimmick’s for Friday lunch with a LARGE group of co-workers.  Some of us had places to be after lunch, which is always a recipe for disaster.  Large group + sit-down restaurant + tight time frame = unhappy customers. There isn’t much to say about the place.  It’s in a bowling alley, and better than you expect for a bowling alley restaurant.  Most of my coworkers got hamburgers, which looked fine.  L ordered a toasted ham and cheese with fries, and the fries were pretty good.  The sandwich was toasted bread (no butter) with ham and American cheese.  I was happy it wasn’t greasy, but the sandwich was dry and kinda boring.  It could have used better cheese at the very least. The fries were wedge cut and above average.  Because we were in a large group, the service was patchy, but the place was busy and other patrons seemed to be well attended.

Ham and cheese with fries

In summary, Gimmick’s is a fine place for a drink or snack, especially when bowling.  I’d be happy to discover it in my local bowling alley, but I’m not sure I’d drive there on purpose just to eat.

Long time no update….

I went to France and ate delicious food:

Bone marrow and country bread with sea salt

I verified that Pulp Fiction tells no lies:

Royale with Cheese!

More food reviews to come.  Just gotta close on the house…

And don’t worry, I remember Saginaw exists.  We have three Saginaw and one Flint post coming up!

– L

Brewtopia

Location:  810 Saginaw Street, Bay City

 Phone:  989-893-0872

Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 7 AM – 9 AM, Fri. & Sat. 7 AM to 10 PM, Sun.  Noon – 6 PM

Reviewed on: Yelp and brewtopia Coffee House & Beanery on Urbanspoon

Website: http://www.brewtopiacoffee.com/

KB and L visited Brewtopia on a Saturday morning to hang out and have coffee.  We both love a good coffee shop. Brewtopia has recently re-done their floors and painting, and at the last visit they were closing to remodel their coffee bar, too. Inside, there is a mix of tables and chairs as well as comfy sofas and coffee tables.  I personally like a comfy chair in a coffee shop, and find that it makes people stay a while. I usually run into someone I know at Brewtopia.

L had an everything bagel with coffee and KB had a cinnamon crunch coffee cake muffin with coffee. KB was distressed because they were out of his first choice – an oat bran muffin.  He’s not an old man, but he loves his oat bran. Anyway, Brewtopia’s baked goods are simply adequate. They don’t have much selection, what they have is just ok.  I’d love to see them get baked goods from a local shop like Old World Bakery – I think it would improve their business. The muffin was pretty standard and the bagel was like what you would find at the grocery store, although they will toast it and that improves the quality.

Everything bagel and coffee

Cinnamon Muffin and Coffee

The coffee is good and so are the bulk beans.  They have a variety of options and they make a number of different espresso drinks. What we like best about this place is the atmosphere. It’s inviting and a good place to chat with friends or get some work done.

Summary: Great coffee and atmosphere. It’s a nice place to hang out and listen to some live music, but they could improve their baked good offerings

Oscar’s Bar and Grill

Location:  140 E. Main Street, Midland

 Phone:  989-837-8680

Hours: Mon. – Sat. 11 AM – 2 AM, Sun. 11 AM – 12 AM

Reviewed on: Yelp and  Oscar's Restaurant & Entrtnmnt on Urbanspoon

Website: http://www.oscarsonline.com/

I visited Oscar’s on a Tuesday night for Pub Trivia with some friends.  Oscar’s is a bustling local bar in downtown Midland. It seems to be a popular place to watch sports and has a number of beers on tap. I ordered a Oscar’s Supreme Salad with a side of Mac and Cheese and a Blue Moon. Oscar’s offers a wide variety of pub food with a few unusual options.  The server told me the macaroni and cheese was “awesome”, so I gave it a try

She was right. The macaroni and cheese was homemade, cheesy and gooey, with noodles that were cooked to perfection.  I hear the secret to the sauce is Velveeta, but I don’t care what they put in it, it’s comforting and good (and not mushy!).  Oscar’s supreme salad is chopped romaine, topped with pine nuts, blue cheese, dried cherries and served with a roll and the dressing of your choice.  It’s a good standard salad.

Summary: Oscar’s is a pretty standard bar, with lots of beer and T.V.s.  They have some interesting menu options, but their service is hit or miss.  It’s a nice place for trivia and a beer with friends.

Heather’s Restaurant

Location: 205 Third St. Bay City, MI 48708

 Phone: 989-402-1116

Hours: Sun. – Thurs. 8AM – 2PM Fri. – Sat. 8 AM – 8 PM

Reviewed on: Yelp and
Heather's on Urbanspoon

Website: On  Facebook

We visited Heather’s two times for this review.  This is mostly because we thought about starting this blog long before we did and took pictures at Heather’s a long time ago. The first time, we went there for a weekend breakfast.  The second time was for dinner on a Saturday night. Heather’s offers many vegan (using no animal products) and vegetarian (using no animal flesh) options.  They also have meat-containing options.  I think it’s the kind of place that if vegan options were important to you, you’d be really excited, and if they weren’t, you wouldn’t really notice anything strange about the restaurant.  What I like best about the place is that they make many things from scratch. They even make many of their condiments – which to me are some of the things that make a difference on their sandwiches.  Try the red pepper almond mayo.  It’s awesome. Anyway, on to the review.

L ordered two eggs, tofu bacon and homemade sunflower wheat bread toast with coffee. KB ordered the apple spice pancakes and fruit salad for his side with coffee. You can add an extra cake for 50 cents, and it’s totally worth it.  I love their tofu bacon.  I love regular bacon, but tofu bacon is less greasy and Heather’s has great taste. I have sampled many fake-meat and specifically fake-bacon products over the ages and this is my favorite. I have no idea how they get the tofu so thin and the taste so salty and smoky.

The eggs were standard fried eggs and the toast was great. They make it from their homemade sunflower wheat bread, and it’s good thick slices of bread. KB enjoyed his pancakes. Even though they look more like muffins, they are tender and warm and delicious.  They are sweet and don’t need much syrup.  The fruit salad had a yogurt dressing and was also sweet and fresh.

The night we went to dinner, KB ordered the Unchicken sandwich with zucchini pasta salad and L ordered the “Tri-tip” special with noodles.  The unchicken salad is a tofu-based breaded patty with homemade mayo.  It is much like eating a fried breaded chicken patty, and is quite satisfying.  The zucchini pasta salad is a wonder.  They shred the zucchini to the size of pasta, and toss it with basil, oil, salt and a little vinegar with tomato.  It a lot better than it sounds, and I can eat large amounts of it. The tri-tip special was pretty good.  It had good, meaty flavor and texture.  However, the homemade noodles were a little to fat for my taste, although they did have good texture.

Summary: Heather’s is a breath of fresh air for the Bay City food scene.  They don’t serve French fries, but they do serve delicious food that is sometimes vegan, sometimes healthy and almost always tasty and always interesting.  They have a little something for everyone, and something out of the ordinary.  They take the time and make the effort to make many of their menu items themselves, and the dedication pays off on your plate.  The most important piece of advice I can give you about eating at Heather’s is this: if you see chocolate cake in the bakery cabinet and you think you might want a slice, order it immediately.  It won’t last through dinner.

Frankenmuth Brewery

Location: 425 South Main Street Frankenmuth, MI

Phone: 989-262-8300

Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 11 AM – 9 PM, Fri. & Sat. 11 AM – 10 PM, Sun. 11 AM – 9 PM.

Reviewed on: Yelp and  Frankenmuth Brewery on Urbanspoon

http://www.frankenmuthbrewery.com/

We visited the Frankenmuth Brewery during a festival on a Friday night with a party of 8.  It was very busy, and one of our party was smart enough to have made a reservation.  The place is huge, and a beautiful old building with high ceilings, brick, lights, beer tanks and lots of wiener dog pictures.

Four of us got there a little early and had a seat at the bar to wait.  We ordered their seasonal bock, and an American Blonde. This isn’t my favorite brewery in Michigan, but their beer is acceptable.  Their seasonal Bock wasn’t my favorite Bock – I wanted it to be a bit maltier.

  

Once we were seated, the best server I have had at the brewery attended to us by bringing us hot fresh pretzel rolls and water. KB and L ordered mushroom fries, a small olive, mushroom and onion pizza, two side salads and a bottle of the house Cabernet Sauvignon.  TM and LM ordered mac and cheese, a small pizza and buffalo chicken rolls with an American Blonde beer.  JB and MB had burgers with their beers.

MB said the burger was “fine” and JB said the bread on the burger wasn’t great, and it wasn’t toasted, but it was a fine burger with beer. LM liked the pizza and buffalo chicken rolls, while TM, a mac and cheese addict, thought the brewery had great mac and cheese because it had a crispy topping, something he really appreciates.  It did look pretty tasty.

L and KB found the pizza to be pretty average and the wine was not bad. The mushrooms were pretty heavily breaded for my taste, and the dipping sauce was sweet. The side salads were pretty standard, nothing too special.  Over all, this is a fine place to eat in Frankenmuth, but below average for what I expect from a brew pub.  It’s a huge place, so it fills up during festivals, but on a normal weekend in Fun Town, it feels cavernous and empty.  We have found the food and service quality to be pretty variable, as well.

Summary:   The Frankenmuth Brewery is a place to eat in Frankenmuth where you can get pretty good beer and decent pizza.  They also offer a variety of other bar foods, but nothing too revolutionary or creative. It’s a beautiful building and an okay addition to other Frankenmuth offerings. I personally don’t love this place, but I eat there because it is the best available option in Frankenmuth.

Old City Hall

Location: 814 Saginaw Street

Phone: 989-892-4140

Hours: Mon. – Fri. 11:30 AM – 10 PM, Sat. (Lounge) 3 PM (Dining room) 4 PM  – 10 PM

Reviewed on: Yelp and Urbanspoon

Old City Hall Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Old City Hall Website

We visited Old City Hall on a Thursday night with an interview candidate.  Candidate J was a good sport and let me photograph dinner.  This means if I had anything to say about it, Candidate J would get the job.

Old City Hall was pretty busy on both sides of the restaurant – the “lounge” side and the restaurant side – for a weeknight. The atmosphere is old Bay City, with exposed brick, wood, and low lights. It’s very nice. To start, we shared the Thai lettuce wraps and all of us ordered drinks.  L, KB and Candidate J had wine, while AS had the smurf-colored Blue Lagoon martini. I am personally very skeptical of blue food items, but AS insisted it was “naturally blue” and quite good.

Thai Lettuce Wrap

The server, while a little nervous, was very good and made sure our food items came out in the right order and not too close together – the appetizer was enjoyed, a brief time passed, the salads and soup came out with bread, then after we were finished with those the entrees came out a little bit after.  Everything was the right temperature, not cold or dried out from sitting under a heat lamp too long. This is a subtle point, but in a place like Old City Hall that advertises itself as “casual fine dining” and charges a bit more, it’s an important one.  For me, more than the quality of the food (although that’s crucial), fine dining distinguishes itself in good service and attention to the details of the dining experience. This particular visit was very good in that aspect – other times have not been as good at OCH, and I’m hoping that this is the start of a trend.

On to the food. (Sorry about the dark pictures – still working on my photography skills in mood lighting.) AS ordered shrimp pad thai with the Blue Lagoon Martini, KB ordered Thai crusted salmon (there’s quite a Thai trend there!) with a salad, Candidate J had the twin medallions of beef with two sauces with a salad, and L had the New York strip with tomato bisque.

Tomato Bisque

AS said the Shrimp Pad Thai was very good, but she wished it was a bit more spicy and a little less salty.  Candidate J liked the two medallions, and found the two sauces to be a nice contrast to each other, one a more heavy mushroom gravy and the other a fresher lemon herb sauce. KB, not usually one to order salmon, was pleased with the salmon and the vegetables that came along side. Both KB and Candidate J found the salads to be standard.  The tomato bisque soup to start my meal was very good, one of the best versions of that soup I’ve ever had.  My NY strip was also excellent, medium rare as I requested. I was also pleased with the vegetables – someone is paying more attention at OCH because the last couple times I have been there, the vegetables have been lacking – this time that was not the case.  The blue cheese hash browns were also good, not your average potato side dish.

Overall, we were very happy with the experience and KB and I both felt this was the best OCH experience we’d had.  It’s a bummer to pay that much for dinner and be unhappy or unsatisfied, so we were pleased with this experience.

Summary:  Old City Hall is a good place for business entertaining, a date or a special occasion dinner. The beer, wine and drink selection is extensive and the meals were really good this time.  While the service has been spotty in the past, we had excellent service this time and we were happy with our dinner. It is living up to the “fine dining” in it’s “casual fine dining” catch phrase.

G’s Pizzeria and Deli

Location: Multiple locations across Michigan. This review is for 1005 Saginaw St., Bay City, MI

Phone: 989-891-9400

Hours: Mon. – Thu. 11 AM – 11 PM, Fri. & Sat. 10:30 AM – 1 AM, Sun. 11:30 AM – 11 PM

Reviewed on: Yelp and Urbanspoon
G's Pizzeria & Deli on Urbanspoon

G’s Website

We visited G’s on a snowy Friday night when we didn’t have much left in the house, as is often the case for us on a Friday.  It had been a long week and we were both grumpy. G’s menu is huge and can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you want.  They have Italian dishes, pizza, salads, sandwiches, some Mexican specialties and some house specials.  The G’s in Bay City has a large, bright dining room as you enter on the left, a more intimate dining room straight ahead and a small bar to the right.  We sat in the bar.

KB ordered a  large Spinach Salad and a glass of wine, and L ordered a large Greek Salad with romaine and a glass of wine. The default lettuce is iceberg, but you can get romaine or spinach for a small up charge. Our server recommended the romaine and it was a good choice.  We shared an order of garlic spears.

Garlic Spears

Garlic Spears

The much needed wine came first, followed shortly by screaming hot garlic spears.  The garlic spears are basically the pizza dough cut into spears and baked, then covered with garlic butter and some parmesan, and they come out to your table hotter than you can handle, which I felt was excellent for a cold night. They make all their bread and pizza dough at the restaurant. I love that people make things like bread from scratch in their restaurants.

Garlic spears and pizza sauce for dipping

The salads were enormous, and the greens were very fresh. My Greek salad came with beets, feta, olives, red onions, croutons and a Greek dressing on the side.  I don’t think of beets as Greek, but I love beets, so I was pretty happy.  KB’s spinach salad had bacon, tomato and very fresh spinach.  He was ecstatic.  It was exactly what we wanted and went well with our full order of garlic spears.

Greek Salad with Romaine

Spinach Salad

On other visits, we have had their noodle dishes, and while their noodles are a bit past done for my taste, their sauces were very good. I also like that you can share the meals or order different sizes of entree.  They are very happy to get you what you want and making substitutions is no problem.  Their prices are quite reasonable. It’s also one of the few local places open on Sunday in Bay City.

Summary: For the price, G’s is a nice neighborhood restaurant to stop in and have dinner. It’s not fancy, it’s not gourmet, but most people can find something they like there.  For me, the garlic spears are the star and what keeps me coming back.  Well, that and $3 wine on Thursday.

Café American

Location: Two locations, Midland Towne Center and 1525 Washington St. Midland, MI.

Phone: 989-633-9665

Hours: Mon. – Fri. 10 AM – 8 PM, Sat. 10 AM – 3 PM

http://cafeamericanrestaurant.com/index.htm

Reviews at: Yelp and Urbanspoon

Cafe American Restaurant & Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon

I (L) visited Cafe American on a Wednesday for lunch.  They feature an extensive homemade soup, salad and sandwich menu.  They have two locations, one in the Midland Towne Center and one off Washington Street, both in Midland.  The Washington Street location is just outside the gate from Dow Chemical and can be quite busy during lunch time. There is often a line, but it moves quickly and your food comes quickly, too. Get in line, and you’ll get a table assigned to you before you order. This works better than at other places where you hunt for a table before you get in line for food.

I had the Olympic Gyro and a cup of the Tomato Bisque for lunch with a water, and the total came to about $10.30.  (Sides don’t usually come with sandwiches, unless it’s a special.) The tomato bisque was hot, well seasoned and chunky without overbearing creaminess.  It came with oyster crackers, which I enjoyed. I’m a crackers in the soup type of person.

The Gyro came wrapped up in paper, with soft pita, ample onion, crisp lettuce and tomato and a nice tzatziki sauce.  The meat itself was pretty good, with the right texture.  If you are not an onion person, this might have had too much for you, but I like onion and felt it gave the sandwich some bite.  The pieces were a little large for my taste, but the amount was good. The sandwich lacked a little grease for a gyro, but that’s something I like about Cafe American, especially for a mid-week lunch.  On other visits, I’ve had their salads, and those are also quite good.  We find that everyone we work with can find something they like here, from Philly cheesesteak sandwich and fries to a salad and a cup of soup.

The only thing I don’t like about this place is that it can be a little pricey for lunch.

Summary: Good for lunch, especially with a group of picky people or if you are looking to eat something healthy.

Nino’s Restaurant

Location: 1705 Columbus Avenue, Bay City

Phone: 989-893-0691

Hours: Open Wednesday-Sunday, 4 PM to 10 PM, closed seasonally, website.

Reviews: Yelp, Urbanspoon

Nino's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The atmosphere is quite comfortable.

Four of us went to Nino’s for dinner on a Friday night before seeing a play at the Bay City Players Theater.  (Good play!) In attendance were L, KB, JB and MB.  JB ordered pasta with spinach and garlic in an olive oil sauce, MB the beef tortellini special with sausage sauce, KB the whole wheat pasta with sun dried tomato sauce and L the italian style trout with broccoli. We also had a bruschetta appetizer and two bottles of wine.

The atmosphere was quite nice and the server came to us quickly.  The wine was quite good, and I thought there were a number of interesting selections on the wine list.  The bruschetta, however, was very onion-y and garlicky and overbearing to some at our table.  The bread had good texture and was quite warm, while the garlic/onion/tomato topping was cold, which we found pleasing.  The tomatoes weren’t good, but that’s what we get for ordering them in the middle of winter, I guess.

Bruschetta

With our dinners came soup and salad.  JB and MB had Minestrone, while KB had the lentil.  The lentil was very under salted according to KB, but was quite good after adding salt.  The minestrone “tasted canned” and neither JB or MB was pleased with it.  I got salad with my entree, and it was standard iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion with oil and vinegar dressing. The garlic bread was the same bread as the bruschetta bread and well buttered.

Our entrees came out rather quickly after the soup, and were generous portions. KB ordered a sun-dried tomato sauce, but what came out was a pretty standard red sauce on top of linguine.  (They were out of the first two things he ordered – an interesting sounding mushroom sauce and whole wheat pasta.) He found the noodles to be overdone to his taste, and there was significant pasta water in the bottom of his bowl which he didn’t like. JB found her spinach and garlic dish to be pretty good in theory, but the execution wasn’t to her liking.  Her noodles were overdone as well, and she found the garlic to be burned-tasting.  (Although MB liked it, so it depends on your taste.) MB liked the pasta in his dish, but wasn’t pleased with the sausage.  He noted he usually cleans his plate but in this case left all the sausage.  I liked my trout and found it to be very good.  It was very nice that steamed brocooli was offered as a side in place of potato or spaghetti – I like that sort of option.  The sauce on the trout was a mushroom sauce and was bland and contained canned mushrooms.  It was just ok.  I think I was the happiest about my meal out of the four of us.

Italian style trout and broccoli  Beef tortellini and sausage sauce "Sun dried" tomato sauce Spinach and garlic pasta

Summary: We liked the atmosphere, the service, the wine and the bread. The rest of the meal felt like they took a lot of shortcuts (canned soup, canned mushrooms, probably canned sauce) and were out of many of the things they had on the menu.  I don’t mind that they don’t make their ravioli or their own pasta, but I think a restaurant should make something themselves and they don’t seem to make much of anything themselves – none of the desserts were made in house either. They do try to serve some things that are unusual, and for that we give them credit.  The overall sentiment was that for the price (each entree was $15-$18/each) we all felt we could find food we’d be happier with somewhere else.

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.