Pressing one’s ear to the rim of a beer glass at The Watershed Tavern & Grill’s bar, one can almost hear the small waves lapping against the shores of nearby Lake Lansing. The white Christmas lights strewn across the ceiling similarly evoke the outdoors with their semblance to a starry night sky. The owners of the cozy neighborhood pub didn’t have to look far for the inspirations behind this décor—Lake Lansing Park, with its lush trees and notoriously hungry lake monster, lies just across the street. Additionally, strains of music from live bands and DJs can be heard most evenings, adding to the bar's welcoming atmosphere. Though many visitors stop in thanks to the pub’s proximity to recreation as well as to Michigan State University and downtown Lansing, signature menu items such as the Shed chips ensures a steady stream of regulars. Seasoned, fried, and served with chunky blue-cheese dressing, the homemade sliced russet potatoes remain a staple, as do the home-style chicken Parmesan and spicy buffalo chicken wrap. The all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar is also a crowd-pleaser, offering crisp leafy greens and warming soup pours. High-definition televisions line the pub’s dark hardwood walls, causing draft brews and stacked sandwiches to teeter as Spartans fans slam their tables in celebration of touchdowns and strategic timeouts.
Refined new New American flavors meet international culinary influences at Red Cedar Grill, which fills its menu with familiar classics as well as re-imagined staples. Much like the closets of celebrity dogs, the menu rotates seasonally as the chefs search for freshly harvested produce and other newly available ingredients throughout the year.
These ingredients can lend their vibrant flavors to dishes such as the spice-rubbed cuts of filet mignon and new york strip steak, the chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, or the salmon flavored with a sweet-and-spicy combination of bourbon, ginger, and honey marinade. The chefs may also use the ingredients in fusion-inspired items, including a Mexican-style poutine featuring sweet-potato fries glazed with mole sauce, queso fresco, and salsa verde.
Meals pair with beers from Michigan breweries and artisan cocktails made using spirits from Michigan distilleries. The wine list even incorporates a handful of Michigan wines alongside its selection of bottles from as far away as Australia and Italy.
Gracie's serves up rotating menus of upscale American lunch and dinner fare made from fresh, local ingredients. Gastronomes seeking to bisect the day with culinary delights can try the seared salmon salad with fried tofu, mixed veggies, and yuzu-miso dressing ($12) or a teriyaki fried tofu with jamaican rice and house-made kimchi ($8).
The cooks at Sparta Grill Coney Island fill their dense menu to feature something for everyone with breakfast omelets, gyro plates, and char-grilled new york strip steaks. They grill third-pound burgers and crown them with slices bacon and cheese or gyro meat, feta, and tzatziki sauce. Dinner favorites include crusty chicken pot pies served with mashed potatoes and gravy, as well as healthier meals such as chicken salad plates paired with cottage cheese and seasonal fruits or greek salads taped to a running treadmill.
Blondie's Barn is never open past 3 p.m., but the kitchen team still manages to whip up three meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and brunch. The breakfast classics run the gamut from huevos rancheros to a chocolate-chip waffle topped with chocolate drizzle and countless dollops of whipped cream. For lunch, there's plenty of sandwiches, such as a pulled-pork wrap or a burger. Then there's brunch, when diners are welcome to eat anything they'd like, including their tables.
Nestled comfortably in domestic opulence, RiverHouse Inn boasts chefs who hand-craft epicurean continental fare to put together a menu that changes regularly to accommodate locally sourced ingredients. Sup on starters such as the shrimp stuffed with crabmeat and draped in bacon and hollandaise sauce ($9.95). The new york strip steak ($24), served au poivre, meaning “in a steak-like manner,” was voted the Williamston Enterprise coverage area’s Best Steak in the Lansing State Journal's 2010 People's Choice award.