I didn’t think she was serious. All weekend, J said she wanted to go to the beach sometime this week. I said sure and sort of blew it off. When she gets home from work at noon, she’s usually exhausted, so I didn’t think it would happen. This morning, I got a text message before I got out of bed saying she wanted to go to South Haven. I got up, ran a couple errands then returned home to find her in her swimsuit ready to go. I guess we’re going to the beach.
Since it was lunchtime, we had to find something to eat first. I found a couple places on my own, but Clementine’s was recommended to her by several people from work. We usually go with a good recommendation over me throw a dart at a map.
Clementine’s has two Southwest Michigan locations. The original location is in downtown South Haven. The other is Clem’s Too in St. Joseph along the St. Joseph river.
Clementine’s takes up a large corner building on the corner of Phoenix Road and Center Street in a very cute downtown area. Clementine’s originally occupied the space next door, but they grew too big and had to expand. The bought the Citizen’s Bank Building which dates back to the late 1800′s and did a great job restoring the tin ceilings and dark wood trim.
The building is very spacious with three dining room areas. There’s a large room in the middle that sort of works as a connection between the two main dining rooms. The kitchen is in the back of this space and the waitress station sits in the middle. There are a few tables towards the back, but the front is wide open. It actually feels more like a hotel lobby than a restaurant, but if it was a busy Saturday night, there would at least be some place to wait for a table.
We were taken to the dining room to the right of the entrance. This is part of the bank building that has been designed to look like an old-timey saloon. There are booths that run along the outside wall and a beautiful retro bar.
We both found something on the menu we liked very quickly and by the time the waiter came to get our drink orders, we were ready to get our order in. J was getting anxious and wanted to get to the beach. No time to waste on lunch
She decided to go with a lighter lunch which is probably a smart idea since we were going to be out in the sun. She found her favorite salad on the menu and went with that. The Strawberry Patch salad is a bed of lettuce topped with strawberries, Feta, walnuts, and red onions. The salad also comes with charbroiled chicken, but she asked to leave that off. To my surprise, they actually dropped the price of the salad because she ordered it without chicken. A lot of places won’t do that. The menu says the lettuce is a “bed of fresh mixed greens,” but that wasn’t the case. It was about 95% iceberg lettuce with a few mixed greens tossed in. She was really disappointed in that aspect of the meal because iceberg isn’t her favorite lettuce, but a good dressing can cover up almost anything. She chose to go with the Raspberry Vinaigrette. After initially being a little turned off by the lettuce, she warmed up the salad and described it as “yummy.” She finished the whole thing and seemed really happy with the strawberries and the dressing.
It didn’t take me long to find a burger on the menu. I chose the Berkshire Burger. It’s a charbroiled burger topped with Monterrey Pepperjack cheese and strips of bacon. The burger was a little overcooked, but not by much. I like a little bit of pink in my burger. This was cooked all the way through, but wasn’t to the hockey puck stage. The bacon was delicious. It was very crispy and very well done. The cheese was melted in to the meat and held the whole thing together. The sandwich came with choice of soup or potato. I went for the fries of course. They are skin on and were done perfectly.
Our bill was a little over $21 and we were heading to the beach before we knew it.
I’ve always thought about stopping at the St. Joseph location on our way back to Chicago. I know now it’s a place that should make it on our list. Clementine’s worked as a perfect stop for us. It’s our kind of place. We didn’t know what to expect when we walked in. J was a little worried we’d be under-dressed, but it’s a place that works either as a casual lunch spot or a nice night out with the family.