After a hilarious show at the Ford Fieldhouse in Grand Rapids, J and I started heading back towards Kalamazoo. The plan at first was to grab dinner at Brewery Vivant before the show, but L has been giving us a little trouble lately and we wanted to minimize time away from her just for Grandma’s sanity.
As we hit the highway, J texted her mom to see how things were going. She said L was in bed and caused her only a few “minor” issues. She told us if we wanted to go out for dinner, we should.
We didn’t really want to stay in Grand Rapids on St. Patrick’s Day Eve, so we decided to head towards Wayland. We’ve always talked about eating at the Sandhill Cafe inside Gun Lake Casino, but we’ve always put it off. Since it was on the way home, we finally decided it was time to give it a shot.
Sandhill Cafe is Gun Lake’s full service restaurant. It’s located inside the casino which is just off US 131 at the Bradley exit. If you use the west entrance, Sandhill Cafe is right around the corner after making your way inside.
The big turnoff of Sandhill Cafe (and Gun Lake Casino…hell, any casino in Michigan) is the smoke. We never stopped when J was pregnant because of the smoke. Both of us were there on opening night due to our jobs and even on Day 1, the smoke was almost too much to bear.
It’s no surprise then, that the first thing we noticed after stepping foot inside the casino was, in fact, the smoke. We decided we’d just eat dinner and leave. No gambling even though we both had some cash in our pockets that we would have like to play with for a little while.
We found a little bit of a line at the hostess station right on the edge of the large cafe. There were two hostesses running people to tables so it didn’t take all that long.
We were both surprised by the huge space. I was expecting something a little smaller and a little more intimate, but the dining room was rather large with high ceilings and somewhat oversized furniture. Luckily, we were taken to a booth. The other option is the tables in the middle and they’re all pretty close together. The booth provided us with a more intimate meal even though it seemed like we had to yell at each other across the table due to the noise from the casino and the large table that made it seem like we were a mile away from each other.
When the waitress came over we asked if they had a drink list. They didn’t but she started telling us the specials. She assumed we’d just order green beer because it was cheap, but I made her tell me what they had on tap. Eventually she got to a craft brew. I ordered a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.
J asked about wine and they actually had a list for that. The waitress went to get it and J settled on a Riesling.
We have always heard such good things about the food at Sandhill and we were both excited by what we found on the menu. The restaurant is open 24 hours and they something special for all three meals.
I went straight to the burger section. Everyone one of them sounded delicious, but it was the Applewood Smoke Bacon and Cheddar burger that I decided on. The meat is 8 ounces of Angus beef that is served on a toasted bun which I believe was a Brioche bun…maybe not, but either way, the bread was incredibly delicious and a great compliment to a juicy burger. The toppings included thick slices of the Applewood bacon and a big slice of cheddar cheese. it came with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle which I decided weren’t necessary to make this sandwich tasty. I did, however, add on a fried egg which makes any burger better. The burger was perfectly cooked with a solid line of pink running throughout the middle. It was tender and juicy with a crispy crunch from the bacon. The sandwich came with cole slaw and a large portion of crispy fast food style fries.
J ordered the BBQ Chicken Sandwich. It’s served on the same fantastic bread that my burger came on. She chose to go with crispy chicken although grilled is an option if that’s more your thing. It comes topped with Applewood Smoked Bacon, BBQ Sauce, and Cheddar cheese as well as the usual lettuce, onion, and tomato. More than anything, J loved the bread. She said the same sandwich on any other bread would be tasty, but the choice of bread at Sandhill Cafe made this sandwich incredibly delicious. Her sandwich came with the same fries and cole slaw like mine did.
Even with the two drinks, our bill was just over $30. Sandhill Cafe was exactly what we expected it to be. The food was fantastic although the atmosphere and especially the smoke leave were a little off. When I go to a casino, it makes me wonder how we could even eat in the archaic days when people were allowed to annoy other people with unnecessary smoke. Still, if you can get past that, you will get a great meal and it is worth the trip out to the Gun Lake Casino