In addition to entertaining ears with live music, Cellar Brewing Company's dedicated staff fills glasses with libations fresh from its microbrewery, winery, and artisan distillery. The restaurant's plush, leather sofas sit beneath its rust-hued ceiling, and at a blond-wood bar, bartenders serve house brews and signature cocktails, mixed with their top-shelf liquors. A glass of stout awakens taste buds craving a darker brew, and the cellar's servers pluck bottles of Michigan Apple Delight wine directly from in-house wine trees.
St. Julian is Michigan’s oldest, largest and most awarded winery. This family-owned winery, founded by Mariano Meconi in 1921, is nestled in the picturesque fruit-growing region along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Today, grandson, David Braganini, has adopted the family tradition of wine making.
Equipped with an in-house brewing system, Old Hat Brewery churns out a medley of homegrown suds to pair with an extensive menu of hearty pub fare. Whistles receive a thorough wetting with a bevy of brews ($4–$5), such as the house-brewed alt ale, which glows with a ruby hue and creates a bitter balance of malt and hops; and the pub’s original gluten-free brew, a sudsy beverage that gives sippers with vendettas against whole grains the opportunity to quench thirsts. Old Hat Brewery fills in the nooks and crannies left in the stomach after a brew-dousing with noshables such as the prime-rib french dip sandwich, a mound of meat marinated in homemade stout and resting atop billowy bread ($6.99); or a half-pound burger cooked to order ($5.99). Burritos, nachos, and quesadillas satisfy southwestern appetites ($5.99–$7.99), and an array of hand-tossed dough disks come adorned with your choice of fixings or inspirational quotes penned in marinara sauce ($8.99–$12.99).
When Amo Scotese first arrived on American soil at the age of 18, he carried with him not only his suitcase but a lifetime of experience in traditional Italian cuisine. Shortly after that day, more than 76 years ago, the Naples native and his wife, Rose, opened La Cantina Ristorante Italiano to showcase their family’s time-honored Italian dishes. Determined to keep the aroma of those recipes in Paw Paw’s collective nostrils, Amo and Rose’s children continue running the kitchen to this day, captaining chefs as they fold housemade sauces into the authentic pastas, pizzas, and specialty dishes that have been honed over generations. The restaurant's renowned meatballs were described by a reporter from the Kalamazoo Gazette as “simple and soothing, redolent of fennel, just enough for an evening and left a slight tingling in the mouth from a scant touch of red pepper flakes—a token to remember.” Staff sommeliers, meanwhile, stand by to assist clients in pairing dishes with selections from the extensive wine list, which spotlights fine Italian and international varieties.
Servers roll vintage serving carts out into the energetic dining room, where hundreds of chianti bottles dangle from the ceiling. Amo and Rose’s wedding portraits gaze out over the red-checkered tablecloths to pay respect to the restaurant’s history, the family’s trailblazers, and the dark period in America before colors existed.
At Sunset Blvd. Brewing Company’s wraparound bar, six-beer flights balance atop platters shaped like guitar necks, and a shrine to Dave Matthews graces the wall. Flourishes such as these hint at owner Jake Hambright’s connections to the entertainment industry—as spotlighted in MLive—and Jake frequently welcomes musicians and entertainers to his brewery. Though his focus is on music and craft beers, he doesn’t shirk the cuisine: executive chef Howie Peak marinates the eatery's meats in whiskey concoctions, and garnishes burgers with rich flourishes such as bossenberry chipotle or miniature monocles.
After respective careers as a research scientist and an educator, Larry and Pam Satek were ready to settle into retirement. They anticipated relaxing on the plot of land purchased by Pam's great-grandfather in 1915—a verdant space that had matured from an apple orchard into an overgrown tangle, and which the Sateks turned into a commercial vineyard where other Indiana wineries bought their grapes. Now that they had escaped the daily grind, the Sateks' plan was to begin crafting their own wine. They did so with well-recognized aplomb, and soon, their "retirement business" was winning awards at the INDY International Wine Competition. In the past three years, almost 80% of their wines have medaled—the 2012 contest alone landed them 23 awards, including two Concordance Golds, which signify a unanimous decision by the judges. Their success is hardly surprising, though, if one looks at the descriptions of their wines. They deem their Old Vine red zinfandel "a searing of lightning and poetry," and liken the sweet Mango Mania to "sunshine in your glass."
The Sateks remain continually tapped into the community in an effort to share these wines, many of which are made from exclusively locally grown fruit. Their Twitter feed and Facebook page keep fans posted regarding new releases and suddenly sold-out varieties, and those hoping for a closer look can take a tour of the vineyard and bottling facilities. Additionally, special events such as dinners and pairing classes teach visitors how to expertly marry sips to bites without disappointing both of their families.