Built in 1891 as a railroad hotel on Battle Alley (so named for the drunken brawls common among wayfarers), the Holly Hotel's three-story Queen Anne-style building put up countless country-crossers in those turn-of-the-century boom years. It also saw a raid by Carrie Nation, two fires separated by 65 years to the hour, time served as a transient boarding house, and a monumental two-year renovation. The building's long, strange history has inspired countless legends and ghost stories—phantasmal cigar smoke from the inn's 1890s owner has been seen floating through the halls—but nowadays, the Holly Hotel is just as devoted to modern niceties as historic myth.
Three stories tall again, newly renamed, and sporting the warm, dark oak and Axminster carpeting of its wonder years, the Holly Hotel was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Today, the red-brick manse keeps its footing firm between past and future. The menu's signature dishes such as the beef wellington in veal-thyme reduction and the steamed Scottish salmon have gone unchanged since 1979, and every afternoon owner Chrissy hosts a Victorianesque tea party served on antique china. At the same time, the chefs employ an improvisational culinary method on the list of daily specials, rendered from fish, game, and other ingredients flown in fresh from across the world.
Beyond gourmet meals, the hotel also regales its guests with top-notch entertainment. Truth Be Told, a monthly storytelling even hosted by master raconteur Norm Stultz, invites everyday people onstage to recount tales on the night's theme, with a winner chosen by the audience. The onsite comedy club features locally and nationally known jesters on weekends, offsetting the Victorian gas fixtures, stained-glass windows, and velvet wingback chairs with a healthy dollop of modern mirth and a cyborg wait staff.
Though there are dozens of authentic Indian dishes on the menu at New Delhi Indian Cuisine, the most important food is arguably the naan. With this buttery bread, diners scoop up fiery lamb curries and mop up lingering drops of creamy fish korma sauce. As guests rip off strips of naan in the dining room, chefs whip up second batches in the kitchen, turning their attention to other dishes once breads are safely baking in the special oven. The team simmers seafood, chicken, and lamb in homemade sauces, flavorful herbs, and exotic spices such as saffron imported from the East or garlic harvested on the rings of Saturn. They also stir pots of bubbling biryani rice, and stuff samosas with spiced potatoes and green peas. Come lunchtime, the chefs build a sumptuous lunch buffet with an assortment of freshly made soups, breads, and entrees.
Both graduates of Schoolcraft College with culinary degrees, husband and wife Aaron and Tiffany Barasleau long shared a dream of opening a restaurant. After years of working in the industry and feeling personally dissatisfied with their neighborhood's selection of diners, the two decided to open their own casual eatery, focused on giving American staples a makeover. Serving breakfast all day, The Maple House's kitchen crew adds new flair to diner classics. Fluffy french toast can arrive at a table unadorned or dressed to the nines with a maple-bacon crust or a decadent ensemble of peanut-butter-and-chocolate ganache. During lunch and dinner hours, cheeseburgers collide with plates of seared salmon and nests of fettuccine topped with gorgonzola, grilled beef tips, spinach, and walnuts.
Piper Restaurant (formerly the Sandpiper) gives its guests a casual dining experience washed down with awesome views of Lake Macatawa. Parachute palate-first into the diverse and expansive menu with an order of gnocchi ($5.50) or the Sticks and Dips, which pairs wood-roasted breadsticks with a four-cheese fondue ($3.50). Entrees range from the seafood sustenance of the almond walleye, featuring an almond-encrusted caught-in-Canada fillet served with potatoes and vegetables ($21), to the Kobe sizzler, with a pan-seared Kobe beef sirloin sidekicked by smoked blue cheese, bacon green beans, tomatoes, and cauliflower mash ($18). Veggielantes can opt for the artichoke ravioli ($16.50), and surveyors for circular cuisine can build their own pizza ($7.50), with 31 toppings available ($1.50 per topping). Piper offers a sizeable food-sensitive menu for those with gluten or dairy allergies, and a separate children's menu is available for kiddies seeking delicious food after a long day at the learning mill.