It’s not very often I get stuck in downtown Grand Rapids all night without an option to go back to the office. I was faced with that scenario a few days ago. A co-worker and I were downtown for what turned in to a twelve hour day. We couldn’t leave and were on our own for dinner.
Our night was divided in to two parts. We got a break around 7:30 so we decided to eat in shifts. I would go first while he continued working on our project for the second half of the day then we would switch so he could go get dinner.
There are a lot of options downtown, but I didn’t want something simple like Jimmy Johns or Subway. A lot of the bars and restaurants were packed because there were a lot of people in the area. We were close to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel so I decided to walk over there and see how busy their restaurants were.
The Amway Grand Plaza has a number of dining options but most of them are pretty high end. There’s Ruth’s Chris which I can’t afford. They have The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck which I still want to get to someday, but passed on this day. There’s Cygnus 27 which, again, is a little too fancy for what I was looking for. The Lumber Baron Bar has a pretty small menu and while there was room, it still wasn’t really in my price range.
The restaurant I chose was GP Sports. This is the Amway’s sports bar and it’s much more my style.
GP Sports is in the Pantlind side of the Amway Grand Plaza. There’s obviously an entrance through the hotel, but there’s also access from the street off of Lyon Street NW. There’s no street parking in this area, but there are plenty of ramps at either DeVos Place or the Amaway itself off Pearl Street. Heck, I guess you could even valet using Ruth’s Chris if you’d like.
I entered the hotel from the Lyon Street side and found the entrance to the bar area of GP Sports just inside the hallway. The main entrance which leads to the hostess station is a little bit further in to the hotel. If you were coming through the hotel, you’d find this entrance first. The one near the street leads to a series of ramps that bring you back down to street level where a nice, big, stainless steel bar takes up a large portion of the room.
There are high tops around it and access to a patio back out on Lyon Street.
And of course, TV’s everywhere.
The dining room area is on the upper level of the split level restaurant. If you come in through the main entrance, you come in at this level and would have to take a ramp or short staircase down to the bar. The dining area has a number of regular size tables and is more of a traditional dining room than the sports bar area.
The first time I walked through, the bar area was full. I didn’t want to sit at a table by myself so I actually went to check out a few of the other restaurants and grabbed a Pepsi from the market inside the hotel. On my way out, I decided to check again and noticed quite a few seats at the bar had opened up, so I dropped back and ordered a Pepsi then asked for a menu.
The menu they have online is a little different from the one I was given in the restaurant. I thought I had what I wanted picked out, but luckily, I looked to make sure it was there.
The food is typical sports bar fare. They have a list of burgers and sandwiches, appetizers, pizzas, salads, and even some homemade soup options.
The first burger on the list sounded absolutely delicious so I sort of stopped looking.
I asked the bartender if I could put in an order to-go and got the Midwest Brisket Burger. This thing is an eight oz Angus burger topped with beer braised brisket, smoked bacon, Chef Duane’s Michigan Bourbon BBQ sauce, onion rings and white cheddar cheese. I did with the onion ring.
The sandwich had so much going on it’s hard to figure out where to start. The brisket was so tender and so flavorful. It was braised instead of smoked, but using the beer added some flavor to the juices that were oozing out of the meat. The smoked bacon and the white cheddar cheese upped the ante on a classic combination and the BBQ sauce had just a hint of the sweet smokiness from the bourbon barrel. I honestly was not expecting a great burger from this place seeing how it’s a basically a hotel bar, but it was delicious. I really enjoyed the brisket addition to what would have been a tasty burger without it.
The burgers all come with GP BBQ kettle chips, but I upgraded to fries for an extra buck fifty. I saw the chips go out and they didn’t look like anything really special although they did appear to be house made. The fries weren’t really anything special either. They were crispy, thin cut fries with a light seasoning on them. I couldn’t tell if it was a BBQ seasoning or a seasoning salt. I assumed it was the same BBQ seasoning they use on their fries.
I didn’t have a lot of time to eat, but I still wanted something that was going to be filling. For a little over $18, I got that from GP Sports Bar. The food was quite delicious and much better than I expected it to be. The price is a little high, but that’s actually what I expected at the Amway Grand. I knew going in it was going to be a little more expensive than comparable places downtown, but I had never even thought about eating at GP before, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m glad I did.