Grand Rapids Brewing Company
My parents don’t get to spend a whole lot of time with L on the account of them living three hours away. My brother, on the other hand, lives five minutes from them, so they get to spend a lot of time with my nieces.
The winter has been really rough on us. It’s been really hard for either them or us to travel along the Lake, so we haven’t seen much of each other.
Since my mom gets to spend a lot of time with my nieces, she’s more in tune to what they’re in to. Like most little girls, they’re really in to Disney princesses.
This past weekend, the Disney on Ice: Princesses and Heroes was at the Van Andel Arena and my mom asked if she could buy tickets to take L to the show. L’s not really in to Disney, but I didn’t really care. There would be music, lights, dancing, and over-the-top characters. I knew she’d have a blast and I knew my mom would love taking her.
We got tickets for the 1:00 PM show on Sunday. The plan was to hit up someplace in Grand Rapids for breakfast before the show, but that plan sort of failed. We tried going to Real Food Cafe, but the wait was ridiculous. Even without a somewhat cranky, tired toddler and needing to get somewhere, there’s no way I was going to wait in that line.
I don’t really know a lot about Grand Rapids breakfast places since I work nights, so I was stumped. I was trying to come up with something, but J said we should just go downtown where just a block from the arena, is another brewery that we’ve been wanting to get to.
Grand Rapids Brewing Company opened up at 1 Ionia Ave SW at the end of 2012 reviving the name after the previous incarnation closed it’s doors a few years ago on 28th Street.
My parents got to the restaurant first and waited for us inside the doors not sure if we were at the right place. After finding a parking spot a couple blocks away, J, L, and I joined them inside.
We told the hostess there were five of us and she took us to one of the long communal tables right inside the door. This would have been fine, but it was a pub table and L scares us on this type of table. We have one at home and she just fell of a chair a couple weeks ago and we ended up in the E.R. Now we watch her like a hawk when she’s on the chairs.
We asked if there were any other options, but were told there weren’t…although there is another room just off the main dining room with regular sized tables. There were some people in this room with kids not much older than J. The hostess told us that room isn’t really open and they just put that party in there because there were six kids….so really, what’s one more? Or a few more when more and more families started coming in with toddlers.
We just dropped it and sat down at the pub table. Without L, it would have been fine. J doesn’t love them because her feet don’t touch the bars on the chairs very well, but it’s a little easier to deal without a toddler on your lap.
The space is actually very cool. It’s a lot of exposed wood and distressed tables. They try to recreate the atmosphere of the original Grand Rapids Brewing Company brewery which was just a few blocks away at the corner of Michigan and Ionia in the late 19th century.
Once settled, our server came over to get drinks. I ordered the 1826 IPA. Yup, 11:30 on a Sunday before going to a kids show…I had a beer. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The beer is an English Style IPA that poured a little darker than the American style ones I normally drink. It had a great hoppy flavor that left me wanting more.
J ordered hard cider (I believe a VanderMill) while my parents ordered Pepsi’s.
I can’t believe I actually did this, but I skipped the burger. Not because it didn’t sound delicious…it totally did. They just had a sandwich on the menu that sounded much deliciouser.
My non-burger order was the Grand Guido. The sandwich, served on spent grain brewer’s bread, is a house smoked pastrami with giardiniera, provolone, and hop mustard. The sandwich was delicious. The meat had a pretty heavy peppery taste and the giardiniera made it’s presence known, but didn’t overpower the rest of the sandwich. The sandwich came with hand cut fries.
J is always a sucker for Otto’s chicken and the menu included a Pulled Otto’s Chicken sandwich. The chicken is smothered with a sweet Carolina bbq sauce, tomatoes, and smoked mozzarella. It’s served on a toasted sourdough bread alongside hand cut fries and pickle slices. J loved this sandwich. The meat was tender and the BBQ sauce was tangy. She ate about half and made me run the other half back to the car so she’d have it for later.
The rest of my family went for the brunch option which is available Sunday morning. I don’t think my dad was really happy about going to another bar. He was in the mood for breakfast and actually got somewhat excited when he saw the brunch options. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t last.
My dad ordered the Biscuits and Gravy which is one of his all time favorite breakfast meals. I was really excited that this was going to work out. My dad would be happy that he got breakfast and I’d be happy that I got beer. Win-win.
The large plate came with three home made buttermilk biscuits topped with a house made gravy and an over easy egg. I’m not a huge biscuits and gravy guy myself, but this looked delicious. Unfortunately, the biscuits weren’t warmed back up before they were put on the plate. It was described to me as they just put the biscuits on the plate then poured the gravy over it. My dad prefers softer biscuits and that’s where this dish really missed for him. He still ate the whole thing and he said it was good…he just wishes the biscuits were a little warmer.
My mom and L’s order were the same. We were actually a little concerned for L at first because there is no kids menu and there was really nothing on the appetizer menu that we thought we could give her. The original plan was just to let her eat off our plates, but then we saw the brunch menu and the that changed.
I believe the dish was called “Flappy Cakes.” It was a gourmet take on the traditional pancake plate with corn meal flap jacks, eggs, and bacon. We got L’s eggs scrambled while my mom went for over-hard. Both J and my mom worked on the pancakes while L went straight for the crispy bacon. My mom really enjoyed her plate calling the pancakes different than anything she’s ever had before. L ate a pretty good portion of hers, but was really interested in the bacon. I ended up giving her some of my fries in exchange for her eggs
The bill for the five of us was just under $70. Other than the miss with my dad, we all enjoyed our meals. There wasn’t a lot of enjoying the experience because this place really isn’t all that kid friendly…which just made difficult for us. I’m not saying it needs to be…it is a brewery after all. They welcome under-21 before 8 PM…and older kids will be just fine. The menu is a little limited and it’s a little pricey…
Really though, the food was fantastic, the beer was delicious, and the atmosphere makes it a place you just want to hang out with your buddies.