Anna’s House (Kalamazoo)
I’d really like to think I’m a pretty observant guy….yet somehow, this one totally got passed me.
I really had no idea Sophia’s House of Pancakes had closed. I really had no idea that Anna House bought the place. I really had no idea that there was a major renovation being done inside this building that I drive by several times a week. It wasn’t until the sign went up and I saw that familiar “AH” that I finally figured out something was going on.
We knew that getting in to Anna’s House on a weekend is going to be tough for a while….and possibly forever, so we had an idea. Let’s stop in during the week.
L will be starting kindergarten next year and Kalamazoo Public Schools held their kindergarten orientation last week. We went to check out her new school, sign up, and take a short school bus ride. We were done at the school a little before 11:00 and L wanted to “check out the new restaurant.” We were all hungry so why the heck not?
Anna’s House is a small chain of restaurants in with roots in Grand Rapids. They have locations on Plainfield Road (original location) and on the Beltline by Woodland Mall. They’ve also branched out to Grandville and Holland with this Kalamazoo restaurant being the fifth in the small chain.
The building on Stadium Drive still has it’s Big Boy bones. The outside of the building still looks exactly like it did back in 2009 when J and I ate in that iteration restaurant for the first time. The only thing that has changed is the logo on the building and the red and white Big Boy checkerboard pattern above the door being painted to match the rest of the building.
Inside the building, while still having the same general layout as Big Boy and Sophia’s, has undergone a major renovation. Anna’s looks less like the greasy spoon family restaurants that preceded it and more like sleek, modern take on a retro diner. The color scheme is bright with their signature greens and light blues accenting the clean white lines and shiny wood floors. The furniture looks to be all new with that same retro feel to it as the space it occupies.
We noticed the vastly different look as soon as we walked in the door. It’s actually quite shocking to see what this place looks like now if you remember what it looked like before. When Sophia’s moved in, they did little to the place basically just stripping it of the signature Big Boy look. Anna’s House completely transformed this space to where you would never know what was here before if you weren’t familiar with it.
We were pretty shocked by the full parking lot at 11:00 on a weekday, but the guess was many people had the same idea we did. Get in while you can.
A host greeted us at the host stand near the entrance and showed us to a four top in the window enclosed dining room at the front of the building. Again, if you’re familiar with the classic Big Boy design, you know what I’m talking about, but again, it’s easy to miss that this place was once serving up Classic Big Boys by the dozens.
We looked over the rather large menu while our waitress went to get drinks. They have Coke products….so I guess that’s the one bad thing to the place 🙂 Even the menu differs from the typical breakfast joint. Instead of large plastic binders with easily changeable pages, Anna’s goes with a sleek recycled paper book.
We were in the restaurant during lunch time, but I don’t think anyone even looked at the lunch menu. I have several co-workers in Grand Rapids who have raved about the breakfast. I’m never in Grand Rapids (or Holland or Grandville) at breakfast time so I’ve never eaten at those locations. This was my chance to finally see what all the hype was about.
There are so many things on this menu that I wanted to try. I had such a hard time picking just one, but the item that won out was the Corned Beef Benny. I’ve always been a sucker for a good Eggs Benedict because it’s something I haven’t mastered making myself. This Benedict is made with slow roasted corned beef, two eggs, a toasted English muffin, and hollandaise sauce. It came with choice of potatoes and I took the hash browns with cheese.
The corned beef was shredded over the separated pieces of the English muffin. The eggs were on top of the eat and covered in a sauce that was oozing all over the plate. Each bite had that perfect mixture of lemony tart sauce with the slightly salty meat. The corned beef made the Benedict a little chewier than a traditional Benny with ham, but it was very tasty and worth the little extra work.
The hash browns were cooked just the way I like them. They were crispy and golden brown on the top and bottom and firm all the way through. The addition of the cheese on top was delicious, but I would have enjoyed these potatoes without it as well.
J ordered the Candied Pecan and Banana Stuffed French Toast. This monstrous breakfast plate two large pieces of bread filled marscapone cheese, candied pecans, grilled bananas, and it’s topped with a house made caramel sauce. There is probably enough food on the plate to feed at least two people and J ended up getting multiple meals out of it. The French toast is that perfect combination of sweet and savory. It comes swimming in a pool of the caramel sauce and is served with choice of meat. J chose bacon and got three slices of crispy bacon the way she likes it.
The kids meal comes on a place mat with games for them to play while waiting. We noticed something on there that we really thought B would like so for the first time, each of the kids got their own meal.
B got the Anna’s Banana Splitter. This large bowl comes filled with yogurt, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, and granola. B’s eyes lit up when the bowl was sat down in front of him and he dug in with his hands picking up berries by the fist full (remember, he’s 16 months, so it’s still OK to eat with your hands). The spoons on the table were still a little too big for him, so we found a baby spoon in J’s diaper bag and let him feed himself some of the yogurt. He made an absolute mess of himself, but he finished about half of the bowl of yogurt and most of the berries, so we know he liked it.
For L, we ordered the Silver Dollar Pancakes with M&M’s. She’s been such a picky eater recently and continued that trend at this meal. The pancakes are a little bigger than a silver dollar and come studded with the candies. L got three of them on her plate and some bacon. She all the bacon and about half a pancake before declaring she was full. We took the rest home, but they’re still sitting in the fridge with L, for no good reason, refusing to eat them.
The bill for the four meals and drinks came out to right around $40. Anna’s House has always been so hyped up by my colleagues in Grand Rapids and when I finally noticed one was being built just down the road from our house, I got really excited. This is the kind of place I would love to eat breakfast at everyday. There’s so much more on the menu that I want to try, but getting a table during the times that we want to go to breakfast (weekend mornings….just like everyone else) is going to be tough. I don’t think there will ever be a time that it slows down and you’ll be able to walk in on a Sunday morning and be seated right away and rightfully so. This place is worth the hype.