I’m a sucker for places that cater to the social media folks. It’s a marketing ploy that I totally get sucked in to. A new restaurant in Grand Rapids has been all over social media for a few months creating a pretty good buzz.
That restaurant took over the site of what used to be O’Charley’s on Grand Rapids northeast side. Twisted Rooster is on East Beltline north of Leonard Street in Grand Rapids Charter Township. The building’s former life as a chain is still pretty obvious, but whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your view of chains.
The parking lot seemed really full for a Sunday night and we were more than a little surprised when we pulled up. This wasn’t the usual night out for J and I. In fact, J wasn’t even with me. I was stuck in Grand Rapids without a car and needed someone to come pick me up. It just so happened my parents were coming for a visit, so I asked if they would mind coming to Grand Rapids instead of going straight to Kalamazoo. I promised dinner and they didn’t have a problem with it, so dinner tonight was myself along with my parents and one of my aunts.
The parking lot was a little decieving because the restaurant is pretty large. I have never been in an O’Charley’s so I have no idea how much the layout has changed, but just like the outside, there’s still a little bit of a chain feel. The building is pretty much one large, open room with the kitchen right in the middle.
We were met at the door by a..door holder (?)..again, very TGIFriday-ish…then taken to a table in the main dining room. There were only four of us, but we were seated at a table that was set up for six. It’s one of those with the flaps that fold up. We could have put them down, but it really wasn’t a big deal. We all just had more elbow room.
While there are definitely some chain touches, the menu is anything but ordinary chain. My parents, who aren’t usually adventurous eaters were very excited about the choices. They had plenty of time to study them because it did take a little while for our waiter to notice us. Not a horrible wait, but a long enough wait that we were able to decide on meals before we even ordered drinks.
I don’t know if this is something that the whole waitstaff is trained to do or just something our waiter did, but he insisted on knowing our names so he could address by name. It was a little weird and I think it made everyone uncomfortable at first. You don’t usually get on a first name basis with your server.
After that was out of the way, we then got a ten minute presentation on the menu. I understand the reasoning behind it. They have a lot of unique items that they’re really proud…and they should be, but I was hungry. I really just wanted to put my order in. That ten minutes spent telling us about the menu could have been ten minutes to cook our food and we could have gotten it ten minutes sooner. Again, not a huge inconvenience, but I had a long day at work, my parents had a long drive and we really just wanted to eat.
After all that, we finally got to put in drink orders. We all went with pops, which are Coke products, except my aunt who got an iced tea. Before we could stop him to put in our food order, our waiter took off. When he came back, we were more than ready to order.
My mom wanted an appetizer and ordered the Southwest Nachos. The plate was lined with waffle fries then topped with Chipotle chicken, jalapenos, cheese, pico, and cilantro sour cream. We waited quite a while for these to come out, but when they did, they were delicious. The fries were golden brown and the chicken were long strips of grilled chicken breast. The appetizer would have been great at holding us over until our food came…but the food came out three minutes after the appetizer did. We had barely dug in to the fries when our sandwiches came out, so they got neglected a little bit, but I made good use out of the jalapenos on my sandwich.
My choice was my usual. I ordered the Chipotle Bacon & Blue burger. The meat is a chipotle spiced USDA ground chuck. It’s topped with applewood smoked bacon, Roquefort bleu cheese, and a chiptole mayo. I actually left the mayo off which, for the first time ever, I felt bad about not getting the mayo. I’m sure that’s where a lot of the chiptole flavor comes from but I just can’t handle mayo. To make up for the heat loss, I took some of the jalapenos off our appetizer and put them on my sandwich. The burger was delicious. There was a juicy pink line running through the center of the meat and it was served on a nice flaky bun. The sandwich came with salt and pepper fries which are skin on and fried perfeclty with a pretty healthy seasoning of salt and pepper.
My mom and aunt both ordered the Twisted BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. The pork is slow cooked and topped with a sweet crispy noodle slaw and cheddar cheese. Both of them really liked it and were trying to give pieces of it to me and my dad just to show us how good it was. Their sandwiches also came with salt and pepper fries. My mom ate about half of hers and gave the rest to me. My aunt really likes salt and pepper and added even more than what was already on the fries.
My dad went big and didn’t even know it. He ordered the Twisted Kawada Dog. He had no idea he was getting a 1/2 pound foot long hot dog with tomatoes, red onion, shredded dill pickle, french fries, cheese, ketchup, and mustard. He knew he was getting a foot long hot dog, but he didn’t know it was going to be three inches thick. The sandwich was sort of put together like a horseshoe as the fries were ON the sandwich, not on the side then covered in cheese and condiments. When it was set down in front of him, we all looked at him like there was no way he was going to finish, but he did and really seemed to like it.
Dessert looked fantastic, but we were stuffed. I put in an order for the Red-Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich to take home to J (which she really liked, by the way) and asked for the check. Even with the appetizer, it only set us back $57 before tip.
The food at Twisted Rooster is fantastic. The service was a little over the top. Some people may like that. I just wanted to eat. It wasn’t awful. Our drinks were always full and he checked on us constantly while we were waiting for our food providing updates. He was very enthusiastic which is something I can appreciate….
What I really love about the Twisted Rooster is the uniqueness of the menu. They have a lot of interesting creations including the Twisted Mac ‘n Cheese which I almost brought home for J. It’s an interesting concept and something that could easily be turned in to a very successful franchise.