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.
Low lighting casts the private enclaves and brick fireplace in a warm glow at Louis Benton’s dining room. The restaurant is led by general manager Richard Kozlowski and new executive chef, as well as West Michigan native, Noah VanDoorne, who serves up Midwest cuisine with a French flair. VanDoorne is well-versed in international flourishes such as saffron fumet, citrus beurre blanc, and tiny edible berets, yet pays homage to his roots by sourcing ingredients from local farms for his newly upgraded menu. Some of those ingredients debut on USDA Prime aged steaks, which has earned the spotlight in Grand Rapids Magazine Restaurant Guide and were lauded by the Grand Rapids Press as a “nirvana-like experience."
Though many Michiganders risk their lives by swimming across the lake for a slice of Chicago-style pizza, Chicago 7 Pizzeria brings the Windy City's beloved deep dish closer to home. After making dough and sauce from scratch, cooks bake each 2-inch-thick pizza for up to 45 minutes?an authentic process that lets layers of crust and cheese cook over the bed of toppings hidden underneath. The pizzeria also specializes in hand-tossed pizzas topped with everything from barbecue chicken to artichoke hearts. Slices of the deep-dish and hand-tossed pies can be gobbled up at lunchtime, as can their burgers, subs, and hot dogs that, in another homage to the city across the lake, can also be served Chicago-style.
Over the searing hot coals of a traditional clay oven, skewered cubes of meat and veggies retain a tender interior while the heat imbues each morsel with a smoky crust. Discs of dough, pressed against the tandoori's walls, bubble and rise, baking into the signature, fluffy Indian bread known as naan. At Taste of India, the family of chefs craft flavorful, aromatic dishes in this traditional fashion, from tandoori-baked shrimp and chicken to fresh-pressed cheeses and crispy pakoras. During lunch, diners can savor a wide range of these recipes at the buffet, which always features at least three chicken dishes, three vegetable dishes, and one garnish dreaming of someday being mistaken for an entree.
At Fuel Vegetarian a vegan can bite into an American-style burger with a Peruvian-seasoned patty and gooey layer of cheese. The completely vegetarian, raw, and vegan-friendly restaurant crafts meat-free versions of classic tastes from places such as Italy, Cuba, Ethiopia, and Louisiana. Executive chef Denise Miller creates a list of regionally themed plates such as the southern stack, which includes cream of wheat-crusted substitution chicken strewn across a bed of black-eyed peas and collard greens. Along with using local and sustainable ingredients, Fuel Vegetarian gives back to the community by donating $0.60 to local nonprofits every time a customer orders a dessert or successfully licks their elbow.
At first glance, Courtside Cafe looks like your average café, with gourmet sandwiches, daily specialty soups, and coffee drinks. But then you look bit closer at the menu and see that it's not so ordinary.
It delights taste buds with unusual housemade soup offerings, such as creamy asparagus, sweet-potato peanut with ham, hungarian mushroom, and lasagna. Many of its paninis arrive on grilled caramelized-onion rolls, brioche, swirled rye and more, and its inventive housemade aiolis—such as curry, sun-dried tomato, and lemon-cayenne—add flavor to a variety of sandwiches. Vegetarian and health-conscious options are also available, including a newly added black-bean burger and the garden safari vegetable wrap.