The Michigan Brewers Guild wanted something very specific when it turned 15: it asked the state’s breweries to concoct a 15th-anniversary ale for its summer beer fest. Chef and home brewer Amy Sherman, host of Great American Brew Trail, went behind the scenes at the celebration, where she interviewed local breweries’ staff members about their celebratory brews. Reports like these are typical of her show, Great American Brew Trail, for which she travels to microbreweries across the country and unveils the creative and culinary processes behind beer.
Named one of 60 Restaurants Worth the Trip by Midwest Living magazine, GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine introduces guests to the traditional, community-focused dining style of Ethiopia. Using injera, a soft sourdough flatbread, diners scoop up bites of robustly flavored stew, or watt, from a bed of the same flatbread. Tibs watt, a dish made of sautéed tender beef and spices, and doro watt, a spiced chicken stew, satisfy carnivores, and lentils, collard greens, and green beans take the lead in the vegetarian dishes. The lamb sampler, GoJo's No. 1 seller, consists of well-spiced lamb and smaller sides of spiced beans and other vegetarian dishes.
At The Local Epicurean, owner Ryan Raredon, who has been profiled in the Grand Rapids Press, began pasta making as a hobby, before success at selling his noodles and seasonings in farmers’ markets inspired him to open his own store, where a panoply of handmade herb-infused sundries now resides. From pasta-making, Ryan has now expanded his store to include a Chocolate Lounge filled with delectable selections of cocoa-based confections. The store's newest space boasts a full chocolate menu with a wide selection of organic coffee and tea. Guests can opt for the Lounge's signature "Cha-Co-Lot" drink, delicately crafted and served in an antique silver coffee pot, a slice of triple chocolate cheesecake, or head to the paring stand to sample hand-made chocolates, dipped berries, cheeses, and breads. Patrons can satisfy their sweet-tooth cravings at The Chocolate Lounge seven days a week.
The Ramona's Table menu is filled to the brim of the page with sandwiches, salads, wraps, and breakfast items that are never frozen and always made fresh to order. Wrap your mitts around the mighty sandwich list, including the eponymous Ramona ($8.45)—spice-rubbed chicken or steak, greens, and bruschetta on a French roll—or the Venetian Swing ($8.45), with its sliced ham, brie, tomatoes, and apricot-wasabi dressing on a gondola of sourdough. Ramona's Table also boasts an impressive selection of grilled-cheese sandwiches, with 10 variations to surprise even the most jaded of turophiles. Sandwiches come with a choice of roasted redskin potatoes, kettle chips, homemade coleslaw, or a salad. Make greens your meal with a Michigan cherry salad ($5.95), containing mixed greens, dried cherries, and feta, or add a sea to the mix with the Mediterranean salad ($6.95), offering peppers, cucumbers, onion, feta, and olives on a bed of spinach and romaine. Breakfast, served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, boasts a creative selection of skillets ($6.95), quiches ($6.95), and other morning fare.
The cooks at Le Kabob prepare an assortment of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern specialties, pairing juicy, charbroiled halal meats with herbal salads and creamy sauces. They grill skewers of shrimp, fry crisp falafel, and roll lamb shawarma into pitas with tomatoes, onions, parsley, pickles, and tahini. Diners can also sip fresh-squeezed juices or rich arabic coffee while seated in the restaurant's ornately decorated interior, or in the sunlight on its outdoor patio.
From malt extract to fermenters and cappers, the art of home brewing involves lots of ingredients and tools to wrap one's head around. That's why Ben, Nick, and Andrew, the three resident experts at O'Connor's Home Brew Supply, offer their expertise to customers crafting their first batches. The trio happily walks beginners through every step of the process and even hosts a seminar that reviews the fundamentals of home brewing. O'Connor's stock of starter beer- and winemaking kits likewise caters to first-timers. Once they're ready to graduate to more advanced equipment, brewers can browse O'Connor's extensive selection of products, which ranges from yeast and hops to bottling equipment and corks.