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Lansing, Grand Rapids, Royal Oak, & Frankfort area - looking for great chow

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stak Jul 16, 2011 07:11 PM

Hound visiting from Montreal in late July...I've tried searching the boards but don't know the area at all so am not finding a whole lot. We'll be staying one night in Lansing so will need dinner & possibly breakfast. Heading to Grand Rapids in the morning so could do breakfast in either place, depending what we find. After that, will be near Frankfort for a week. Then headed to Royal Oak for a night so will need dinner before a show at the Royal Oak Theater, then breakfast before heading out. We're not looking for any kind of food in particular. Casual, hole-in-the wall, fine dining, whatever. Just looking for great chow, and hopefully some foods unique to the area. Also wondering about cherries and such...is the season over yet? Anywhere great to sample cherry products? I've read about cherry shakes somewhere & cherry pie at the Cherry Hut in Beulah. Anything else? Thanks in advance!

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The Cherry Hut
211 N Michigan Ave, Beulah, MI 49617

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  1. nsxtasy RE: stak Jul 16, 2011 08:21 PM

    Royal Oak is a suburb in the Detroit area, and is home to the Detroit Zoo. Lansing is about 75-90 minutes driving from Detroit. Grand Rapids is another hour past Lansing, and then Frankfort is about 2.5 hours north of there. There are plenty of previous discussions on this board providing the information you need; have you tried searching and browsing what's already been written?

    There are many, many topics on this board featuring restaurants in the Detroit area, way too numerous to mention, and most of them would be convenient to Royal Oak.

    There's a comprehensive discussion of Lansing at:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/511240

    The two most complete discussions of Grand Rapids dining are at:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/442118
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/379217

    There isn't much for Frankfort, which is a very small town, but there are plenty for nearby Traverse City:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/738893
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716476
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/708460
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/413360
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/120503

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy
      s
      stak RE: nsxtasy Jul 20, 2011 04:56 AM

      Wow, lots of info - thanks. I realized I was only searching the past year so was missing some of the discussions you listed.

    2. g
      gooddog RE: stak Jul 16, 2011 11:45 PM

      Late July is the tail end of the cherry season but you may still find some fresh at roadside stands or farmers markets. The Cherry Hut is definitely worth a visit, it's at the other end of Crystal Lake from Frankfort. The cherry shakes you read about were probably at Don's Drive-In in Traverse City, which is about 45 miles from Frankfort. In Frankfort I like Dinghy's, a casual bar with a really good grilled cheese sandwich; also the Crescent Bakery, which has a small cafe and excellent donuts. These are both on Main st in downtown Frankfort.
      About 30 miles north on M-22 is Glen Arbor, where the Cherry Republic is - a retail store with cherry products, a cafe, and a tasting room for (cherry) wine and (soda) pop. Across the street is Art's Tavern, with good burgers and a pool table that disappears into the floor.

      www.cherryrepublic.com
      www.artsglenarbor.com
      www.dinghysrestaurant.com
      www.crescent-bakery.com

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      Don's Drive-In
      2030 N US Highway 31 N, Traverse City, MI 49686

      4 Replies
      1. re: gooddog
        s
        stak RE: gooddog Jul 20, 2011 05:01 AM

        Great info - thank you. Turns out some of our group are staying in Beulah, so we've already had Cherry Hut cherry pie, and it was AMAZING! We'll be back for sure.

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        The Cherry Hut
        211 N Michigan Ave, Beulah, MI 49617

        1. re: stak
          g
          gooddog RE: stak Jul 20, 2011 02:49 PM

          Not a restaurant, but you might also want to check out the Cherry Bowl Drive-In, just a couple miles down the road from the Cherry Hut. Very family-friendly atmosphere (never any R-rated movies) with a great concession stand - popcorn with real butter, caramel corn, milkshakes, etc.
          www.cherrybowldrivein.com

          1. re: stak
            b
            beachmouse RE: stak Jul 21, 2011 06:36 PM

            While it's probably not going to match the best Montreal has to offer in that category, my former NYC-based sister thought that the Jewish (but not kosher) deli in Beulah had some pretty tasty sandwiches.

            http://www.facebook.com/pages/LChayim...

            1. re: beachmouse
              nsxtasy RE: beachmouse Jul 22, 2011 11:29 AM

              For whatever reason, the Detroit area has some of the best Jewish delis in North America - as good as (even better than, IMHO) the ones in New York City and Montreal. The best include Star Deli, Stage Deli, Steve's, and Deli Unique. They're not all that far from Royal Oak and are worth the trip. You'll find detailed recommendations in these discussions:

              www.chow.com/topics/753428
              www.chow.com/topics/439319
              www.chow.com/topics/415874
              www.chow.com/topics/390427
              www.chow.com/topics/352495

        2. coney with everything RE: stak Jul 19, 2011 05:29 AM

          Downtown RO is basically a giant outdoor food court. On a warm night it's hopping.

          4 Replies
          1. re: coney with everything
            s
            stak RE: coney with everything Jul 20, 2011 04:58 AM

            Hmm, this is intriguing...do you mean there are food carts or...? Any particular recommendations? And is the Royal Oak Theater in the downtown area? It would be nice not to have to drive around too much. Thanks!

            1. re: stak
              coney with everything RE: stak Jul 20, 2011 07:03 AM

              No, just a LOT of restaurants, many with outdoor seating this time of year, and a lot of activity. RO Theatre is downtown between the two main drags.

              My own experience is that the restos are good but not jaw dropping culinary great. I'd be happy with Tom's Oyster Bar for casual seafood. I've not heard good things about either Mexican restaurant downtown although Cantina Diablo's seems to be packing them in. Bastone/Cafe Habana are good (they share a building). I rather like Sangria for tapas, right by the theatre, but the paella was bland IMO.

              RO is well known for its parking enforcement although the tickets aren't too onerous. You can easily park and walk to everything.

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              Tom's Oyster Bar
              6870 N Rochester Rd, Rochester Hills, MI 48306

              1. re: coney with everything
                s
                stak RE: coney with everything Jul 20, 2011 07:15 PM

                Wow, I can't wait! Thanks for the info. Oysters sound good, but so does Mexican. That's one thing we don't have much of in Montreal.

                1. re: stak
                  b
                  boagman RE: stak Jul 22, 2011 06:42 PM

                  I wouldn't expect too much of Cantina Diablo if you're craving authentic Mexican. It's fine for what it is (more Tex-Mex than anything), and while I don't appreciate it myself, apparently their tableside-prepared guacamole is something to behold (I don't care for avocado much). It's a *very* gaudy place (you'll definitely know it when you see it), and the food is decent, but nothing to write home about.

                  It's been ages since I've been to a Tom's Oyster Bar, but not for any bad reason. I'm just not into oysters, but they do a lot more than that. It's a relatively popular mini-chain (3 places, now?) in the area, and they've stood the test of time, so that should tell you something right there. Oddly popular with women.

                  Bastone gets *rave* reviews for Belgian cuisine. They, too, seem to have earned their culinary stripes. I've not been here myself, but I'm not a see-and-be-seen guy myself, and a lot of Royal Oak can be that way. I would trust Bastone based on the sheer number of good reviews I've seen and the people I know who've been there.

                  There's also the Town Pump Tavern, which I've heard pretty good things about.

                  I'd strictly avoid Mr. B's Pub (hardly glorified GFS reheated food) and Inn Season Cafe (because I hate it severely). There are *tons* of other choices. For a quick burger, Burgerz is a place I've tried (at least their Rochester location) and liked, if only for the decent burger itself. Don't recall trying anything else.

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                  Bastone
                  419 S Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067

          2. r
            Rosedale RE: stak Jul 19, 2011 04:43 PM

            Don't miss the Cherry Hut! It's great.

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            The Cherry Hut
            211 N Michigan Ave, Beulah, MI 49617

            3 Replies
            1. re: Rosedale
              s
              stak RE: Rosedale Jul 20, 2011 05:02 AM

              Thanks - what do you recommend besides the pie?

              1. re: stak
                r
                Rosedale RE: stak Jul 20, 2011 06:26 AM

                Well, the pie is the objective, but the cherry chicken salad is good. Some days they have cherry BBQ which is really good. My father-in-law loves being able to get Thanksgiving dinner year round. It's a kitschy diner, not fine dining. Don't forget to order a glass of Cherry-Ade with your meal.

                1. re: Rosedale
                  s
                  stak RE: Rosedale Jul 20, 2011 07:13 PM

                  Yum, had a Cherry-Ade, as well as a decent veggie sandwich, and a few more pies to take home. Our whole group enjoyed their various sandwiches, and our waitress was outstanding! So sweet, friendly, quick and thoughtful!

            2. r
              Rosedale RE: stak Jul 21, 2011 06:28 PM

              Cafe Muse In Royal Oak for breakfast. Everything on the menu is delicious.

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              Cafe Muse
              418 S Washington Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067

              1 Reply
              1. re: Rosedale
                g
                gan911 RE: Rosedale Jul 22, 2011 09:42 PM

                cafe muse was good...not the most innovative or best brunch, but solid. i think they place emphasis on their locally sourced ingredients more than innovation or being the best per particular dish

              2. c
                Chulacat RE: stak Jul 22, 2011 11:40 AM

                Try Gemmayze on Main Street in RO. Kind of a modern Lebanese restaurant. Food was very good.

                1. s
                  stak RE: stak Jul 25, 2011 02:33 PM

                  Thanks, everyone, for all the info. We had a wonderful trip - I had no idea that part of the world was so lovely and friendly and fun! Unfortunately we didn't get to as many Chow-recommended spots as I had hoped. I guess that's life married to a non-hound...you don't get to plan everything around food! Also, we were with little kids sometimes so just went for what was fast & easy and could accommodate a big group. Anyway, here's my report...
                  Lansing: we were so tired by the time we arrived that we just gave up and went to a Bennigan's, which was exactly what I expected: mediocre. For breakfast the following morning, we just wanted to get on the road so made do with the free hotel breakfast. Hey, it was free! However, I did manage to squeeze in a quick stop at Horrock's Farm Market - what a cool place! We got a free coffee and picked up some wine, local beer, pickled beets and spiced peaches to bring home - can't wait to try them. We were tempted by so much more but tried to limit ourselves.
                  Frankfort area: loved the donuts from Crescent Bakery! The Boston Creams seemed to be filled with real pasty cream, not the usual yellow gloppy goop. Would love to have gone back. Also tried the grilled cheese with tomatoes and onions at Dinghy's - a decadent treat (it really wasn't a vacation filled with healthy eating...) and hubby's pulled pork sandwich was delicious (although neither of us are experts on pulled pork, so no guarantees of its authenticity but it sure was tasty). We picked up some very yummy smoked fish products at Port City Smokehouse - whitefish pate and a variety pack of smoked fishes (trout, salmon and whitefish). I wish we could have brought some home. We ended up at A&W for one meal and I tried an olive burger, which is apparently unique to the area - although I'm sure there are better versions out there. Root beer float is hard to mess up.
                  Beulah: we actually did end up at L'Chayim on our first day and had some decent sandwiches. We noticed that there's a branch in Frankfort as well. Of course we went to the Cherry Hut more than once and LOVED the pie. Happily, there's still some left for tonight's dessert...
                  Traverse City: we only had a few hours here, and sadly, no time for Don's Drive-In. I was hoping to try Trattoria Stella or The Cook's House, but for convenience we ended up at Hanna Bistro and quite enjoyed it. I had the (huge) wedge salad that came with candied bacon (good) and fried pita strips (way over-seasoned and kinda greasy) and the trout special, which came with kale mashed potatoes (very good). I don't think it was the same caliber as the others would have been but it was OK. We did go to the Cherry Republic in TC and got some cherry cola but haven't tried it yet. We happened upon the Stone House bakery but it was already closed. We noticed later that it's available at Glen's Market in Frankfort but by that time we were on our way out of town so didn't buy any. It's on the list for next time. I noticed Ro-Tel tomatoes there, too, which I have heard about and really want to try - but they don't seem to have them in Canada. I was surprised to find them as far north as Michigan, actually, and meant to stock up, but again, ran out of time.
                  Royal Oak: we didn't actually end up eating much here - had pizza from Jet's in desperation (salty, greasy, junky but hit the spot) somewhere on the drive from Beulah, then had to rush to get to the Gillian Welch show at 8 (fantastic show!), then looked around after the show but it was almost midnight by then & hubby didn't feel like a big meal, so we went into some Coney Dog place to grab something but waited and waited to place our order and finally gave up and went back to the hotel, where I had some Smeltzer chocolate-covered dried cherries (yum!) for dinner. Another free hotel breakfast (no time for Cafe Muse, but it looks really good) and that was it for our Michigan adventure! Can't wait to return.

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                  Cook's House
                  439 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49686

                  Don's Drive-In
                  2030 N US Highway 31 N, Traverse City, MI 49686

                  Cafe Muse
                  418 S Washington Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067

                  The Cherry Hut
                  211 N Michigan Ave, Beulah, MI 49617

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