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The Pantry On Tap

November 30, 2016

  • 7634 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 978-6641
  • Website

Our baby is 1!  B was born on Black Friday last year which made his birthday the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year.  We were very adamant from the beginning he will have a noticeably separate birthday and Christmas.  We weren’t going to let one run in to the other.

We also found out this year that finding a place to have a party on Thanksgiving weekend is going to be tough.  L’s first birthday we had at a Gymboree Play & Music in Illinois with our friends and their kids, but we don’t have a lot of friends with kids near B’s age like we did with L.  Even if we had found a place, we weren’t really sure we’d be able to find a place where all the kids would be entertained.

As much as we didn’t want to do it, we decided to host B’s first birthday party at our house.  I love to entertain…well, let me walk that back a little, I love cooking for people.  Neither of us are really excited about the cleaning the house part and I’m not huge on the small talk part, but the party was mostly family, so we made it work.

The morning of the party, I had to go to Party City to get some balloons blown up and I had to find a smash cake somewhere.  I was sort of thinking about a couple of hors d’ouevres.  J wanted to order pizza from Erbelli’s for the main part of the food, but we had a couple of small snack plates for people when they got there.  One thing I was blanking on was a loaf of ciabatta bread I had bought for Thanksgiving but didn’t use.  Then, I had an epiphany.

I remembered a place that sold flavored olive oils and thought that would be fun for the bread.  It took me a few minutes to think of the name, but when I did, I also realized it was small business Saturday…so double win.

The Pantry on Tap is on South Westnedge in Portage in the Portage Plaza just north of where Westnedge turns into Shaver.  The business is just a couple of doors down from Jac’s Cekola’s Pizza.

I’ve been in places like The Pantry before.  There are a couple of Olive Cart shops along the Lakeshore that are very similar.  My sister-in-law loves the oils from there so I usually make that her Christmas present.

The Pantry on Tap is kind of a self serve oil and vinegar store.  There are big drums on tables with bottles nearby for filling.  They have a couple of different sizes and prices based on which oil you choose and the staff will work with you to pick out the oil you need.   I heard more than one person working with an employee to come up with the perfect combination for a salad dressing.

In case you can’t imagine what an oil would taste like, there is a tasting table near the cash register.  They have small plates with the oils and small bread cubes for dipping.

There were about four or five that I thought sounded interesting so I tested them all out and found the one I thought my guests would enjoy the most.  I was about to grab a big bottle to fill up with the Carmelized Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but I noticed there were a couple of the smaller ones on the table next to the drum that were already full.  I grabbed one of those thinking it would be plenty for the day and I could always come back later for a bigger one if we turned out to love it.  

Before heading to the cash register, I spotted some small tins of Bread Dipping Seasoning.  I wasn’t going to use this with the good olive oil I had in my hand, but I had some cheap stuff I at home I could add this to.  J and I have done this in the past and loved the way it tasted……and I had a lot of bread, so I thought options were good.

I looked around a little more before heading to pay and spotted a large bulk spice shelf along a wall leading towards the back of the space.  I didn’t quite see the container you would fill with these spices, but they had a huge selection of the obvious stuff, to hard to find stuff, to seasoning mixes.  I didn’t need anything at the time so I made a mental note then headed to the counter to pay.

Both the olive oil I bought and the cheap stuff with the seasoning were a huge hit at the party.  As soon as I put it out, people flocked to it.  I kept the bottle on the table so our guests would know where it came from and what that garlicky flavor they just couldn’t put their finger on was.  We had some bread left after the party and J continued to dip it in both the Caramelized Garlic oil and the bread seasoning.  She couldn’t get enough of it.

The cost for the bottle of oil and the seasoning tin was a little over $13.  The 100 mL bottle cost a little over $8 so it’s not cheap, but you should know that before you ever walk in the door.  You can buy cheap olive oil anywhere, but if you’re looking for something really good and really flavorful, The Pantry on Tap will have it.

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