Culling flavors from Austria, Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland, Alpenrose Restaurant treats tongues to dishes from a menu bursting with diverse Alpine cuisine. Weiner schnitzel and tuscan lamb rub elbows on the dinner menu, which ensures freshness by leveraging seasonal ingredients and local harvests, including duck from nearby Maple Leaf Farms. A glass or bottle selected from the extensive wine menu can help lubricate talk tubes, and a broad selection of pastries, including nine flavors of cheesecakes and tarts, supplies patrons with extensive options for indulging sweet teeth. The restaurant, which opened in 1991, beckons visitors to enter through a green, wrought-iron gate before traipsing down a birch-tree-lined cobblestone path. Inside, the dining rooms' massive windows, wood-paneled walls, and carved-wood columns evoke a warm, ski-lodge ambiance. The restaurant also boasts an enviable location; it's just minutes from Holland's famous Tulip Time Festival, whose 2013 edition welcomes the springtime sun May 4-11.
Blue House Bistro's menu masters a multitude of innovative small plates, gourmet sandwiches, and homemade desserts. Salute the crab bruschetta, sautéed in a cream sauce, then served with spinach and artichokes on a crispy baguette ($8.99), or fete the eggplant parmesan sandwich's fluffy flour handles, packed with fresh mozzarella, garlic, marinara, and toasted pine nuts ($7.99). Nautical noshers can navigate through a sea of herb-cream sauce dotted with sautéed chicken, hickory-smoked bacon, and sweet onions, or shiver the timbers of a 14-inch Creole pizza—masts mounded with shrimp, crawfish, and a boatload of fixings ($11.49). The bistro's menu changes regularly, so call ahead to confirm favorites or roll the dice on delectable discoveries.
Rice & Spice compiles a greatest hits menu of classic fare from a host of Asian countries, and the restaurant specializes in Thai dishes. Rev up digestive engines with an order of crispy crab rangoon ($3.95) or spring rolls ($3.25) before attuning taught jaws to a mountain of phad thai ($8.95 with beef, chicken, pork, or tofu; $9.95 with shrimp; $11.75 with seafood). The phad phed squelches the temper tantrums of hunger pangs with a spicy red curry and constellations of bamboo shoots, long beans, carrots, lemongrass, and eggplant swirling in a coconut Milky Way ($8.95 with beef or chicken; $10.95 with shrimp). Like ornately decorated cauldrons, bowls of pho noodle soup and lemongrass-laden tom yum soup ($7.95+) billow steam, doubling as an effective smoke screen for aspiring ninjas.
On Valentines Day 2009, Jackie's Place—which had been a Holland staple for more than 24 years—burned down in a fire. MLive.com reported that co-owners Ken Kragt and son Ken Jr. were devastated, but that as an "institution of the community," there was no doubt the building would be rebuilt. But on November 23, the Holland Sentinel had a more uplifting story to report: Kathy Kragt would spend that evening passing out free cider, coffee, and doughnuts to the attendees at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Jackie’s Place. With the new building construction completed, the local favorite was ready to return to serving the community its three popular homemade meals a day. Newly painted rose-red walls, framed photos of sunsets, and robot servers have modernized the restaurant's dining room. Though the decor is new, the homemade quality of the food hasn't changed. Veggie-packed breakfast omelets and strawberry pancakes segue into lunch offerings of deli-style sandwiches and juicy burgers. Dinner plates struggle to contain 8-ounce steaks and fresh fish filets beside made-from-scratch comfort sides of coleslaw and potato salad. Customers are also often seen walking out of Jackie’s with their loaves of fresh-baked bread, a complement to any picnic on the nearby Lake Macatawa boardwalk.
Since its founding in 1967, Village Inn Pizza Parlor has changed quite a bit. Today, the servers dress in trendy black slacks instead of old-fashioned skirts, aprons, or the barrels made fashionable by the Depression. The honky-tonk piano players have been replaced with top DJs and live rock bands. Massive flat-screen televisions beam down on the newly renovated dining room, broadcasting games in HD clarity. Even the beer selection has been expanded to include a sweeping array of craft drafts from brewers such as Founders and Bell's.
But there are a few things that have remained the same over the years—friends still gather over pints of frosty draft beers to watch the game, and chefs still whip up crispy thin-crust pizzas topped with pure mozzarella cheese, housemade sauce, and fresh ingredients. They’ve added a variety of new items to the menu as well, including specialty pizzas with gluten-free crusts, grilled chicken paninis on artisan ciabatta bread, and Mexican-inspired specialties such as tender steak fajitas and cheesy enchiladas.