Cherries from Michigan bedeck rainbow trout from a farm in Harrietta. Mrs. Dog’s Disappearing Mustard, from Grand Rapids, drapes across sausage made from lamb raised on a family farm in McBain. Though many of the ingredients at Bar Divani are local, the chefs draw culinary influences from around the world. They dunk Bay of Fundy salmon in walnuts and apple horseradish relish, and combine dollops of aged cheddar-cheese grits with small plates of cajun-spiced black tiger shrimp. The trio of lamb sliders prance through a range of flavors, from sweet cinnamon honey yogurt to pickled carrot and pistachio butter.
The earthy scent of simmering bourbon barbecue sauce suits the warmly hued dining room, where light dances off rich wooden accents. An illuminated wine cellar showcases 40 varieties, allowing patrons to find the ideal pairing for any dish or discretely cheat through the Wine Connoisseur Weekly crossword. Servers cut among bronze columns beneath exposed-brick walls, leaving a wake of aromas that hint at alligator and exotic grains of paradise as they visit curved booths swaddled in ornate fabrics.
January 30, 2013 was a big milestone for the team at Cranker's Restaurant & Brewery. The date marked the release of their first-ever bourbon-barrel-aged beer, appropriately titled the Barrel #1 Bourbon Porter. But Cranker's taps were no strangers to innovative beer or the high-pitched squeals of happy pint glasses. The brewery had already racked up awards at the World Expo of Beer for their Professor IPA, Crankenstein Amber Lager, 5th Voyage Coconut Porter, and Honey Kolsch.
That last brew, the Honey Kolsch, is the beer of choice when ordering a basket of Cranker's fish and chips with homemade tartar sauce. Indeed, the bartenders and servers are always happy to make beer-pairing suggestions for their homey entrees. For Detroit-style coney dogs, for instance, they recommend their Bulldog Red Irish Ale. Or if diners show up early, they pour Oakenshield Stout to go with eggs, sausage, and other breakfast staples. They also have the perfect substitute should diners want a less potent beverage: a cool glass of homemade root beer, either served by itself or as a float.
With 19 signature sauces on traditional or breaded wings, there are more than 35 ways diners can sate wing cravings at Wing Kingz. But more than just that, the cooks also whip up fried fish and shrimp, bacon-cheddar potato wedges, and deep-fried spicy green beans.
The Elbow Room's cozy neighborhood confines welcome grub-guzzlers and fryer fanatics for spirited rounds of conversation and culinary consumption. Plop into a cushy green booth and sidle up to the menu, bedecked with a bounty of bar favorites that are served till 2 a.m. nightly. Turophiles can take leave from composing their Piave-themed opera and enjoy the dairy deposits of cheese-slathered items such as the chicken quesadilla ($7.25), deluxe chips and cheese ($7.25), chili-cheese-loaded fries ($6.25), or cheese pretzels ($7.25). The Elbow Room's savory wings ($7.25 for nine, $10 for 15) send poultry patrons aflutter, while the bacon cheeseburger ($8.25) impresses meat historians with its monumental merging of previously warring proteins. Vegetarians can opt for a large green salad ($5) or a garden burger ($6.75).
Peer through the open-interactive kitchen as Executive Chef Steve Brechting and his culinary squadron concoct an eclectic array of sharable plates and piquant entrees, melding New American cuisine with dollops of international flavor. An extensive menu helps combat thumb twiddling by nudging grabby fingers toward graspable grub such as the handmade duck spring rolls ($8) or the crab-stuffed portabella mushrooms ($9). The classy lobster macaroni dons bowtie pasta and a tasty tuxedo of boursin cream sauce ($22) before it schmoozes the sweet chicken sandwich ($9) and Asian chicken wrap ($8). In keeping with Newton's third law of baseball rosters, the restaurant and bar's lineup of wood-fired pizzas, signature cocktails, and draft beers come in clutch-hitting clusters of 25. Relax on the seasonal outdoor patio and pair a Mediterranean pizza ($11) with a black raspberry White Russian ($9) or mojito ($8).
Louie's Bar & Rocket Lounge BBQ are two adjacent hangouts with complementary moods and menus. Nightly drink specials and live music get the party going at Louie's, where bar goers can step out on the dance floor or cheer on their favorite sports team by playing catch with the HD televisions. Those with increasingly loud stomachs can commission a cornbread pulled-pork slider or other snack from Rocket Lounge, where chefs specialize in a one-of-a-kind genre of fusion barbecue. Unable to decide on a single style, Rocket cooks marry the spicy sweetness of Texan fare to the smokiness of Kansas City kitchens, yielding tender brisket, rib tips, and chopped beef. Savored by the bar at Louie's or in the checkered-tile interior of Rocket, each bite of barbecue satisfies while pairing well with frothy, cold brews.