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Willows Bar & Grill

July 2, 2021

  • 716 Chicago Street
  • Coldwater, MI 49036
  • (517) 279-8490
  • Website
  • Menu

I have I mentioned we’ve really got in to hiking?  Like once or twice maybe?  Yeah.  We’ve really gotten in to hiking.  

Looking at the weather forecast last Friday, the weekend looked like a total washout.  The radar showed rain pretty much all day for Kalamazoo.  

J woke me up a little after 9:00 AM and asked if I’d be up for a destination hike.  Through the fogginess of getting woke up, I said, “Sure, whatever.”  

Her plan to get around the rain was to go south.  The radar looked pretty clear over Coldwater until about 3:00 giving us plenty of time to hike.  

We actually got some friends to tag along and hiked over 4 miles on the Linear Park trail that begins near Jaycee Park and kind of does it loop along the Sauk River up to Rotary Park on the Southwest side of Coldwater.  

The hike took close to two hours and destination hikes always include a stop for lunch. We’re still hesitant eat ide a restaurant with the kids who can’t be vaccinated yet so it was up to me to find a spot with a large outdoor patio for the eight of us.

It actually didn’t take me long to find The Willows Bar & Grill sort of near where we were hiking. The red bar looking restaurant sits right on the channel between Cemetary Lake and South Lake on the far western side of Coldwater. The restaurant sits quite a ways off the main road on a road labeled Old Chicago Street.

There’s parking in front of the building but there’s also a decent sized lot sort of behind the building accessible from an access drive off Old Chicago Street.

The family we went hiking with was a little bit behind us so J went in to check on outdoor seating. It was a seat yourself option and there were multiple tables on the deck so there would be room for all of us. We initially sat at two different tables because there were only six chairs but it started raining and the other family wasn’t under an awning. The waitress said we could squeeze extra chairs around our table but we couldn’t reposition the tables themselves. It was a tight fit but we made all eight of us sit around the large round table.

It took me a while to figure out but Willows is right on the channel. There’s a staircase that leads up from the waterway and we eventually figured out several groups had docked their boats and came up for a drink.

The deck area is pretty great and it looked like they had heaters for the winter months but if inside is your thing, Willows is a pretty classic watering hole type of bar. There were a lot of guys standing around the bar shooting the breeze when we walked through. The decor is minimalist but also bar themed with sports logos, neon beer signs and paneling.

The waitress brought over paper menus and J asked about a beer list. This isn’t the type of place that has a beer list. She asked if we were looking for something specific. I just said Two Hearted figuring if they had any craft options it would be that. J asked about Ciders and was given the option of Angry Orchard or Red’s Apple Ale (which isn’t actually a cider). She chose the Red’s. They both came out in bottles.

L has been asking for soft pretzels when we go out to eat and since she’s been ordering salads, we let her get an order off the appetizer menu. The Hot Pretzel with Cheese sauce is two long, pretzel rods with out of a large can nacho cheese. J was nice and shared one of the pretzels with B and one of their friends. Neither kid really touched the cheese sauce so J and I hoarded it for our fries. It’s simple, cheap cheese sauce but it’s also that delicious nacho cheese you get at ballgames and the like….which, you know is somehow unexplainably craveable.

L has not been in to all the foods she used to eat when we went out. Chicken is a non-starter. Mac & Cheese is iffy…has to be a certain kind. Grilled cheese is sometimes a yes but not this time. Instead, she chose the Garden Salad. It’s supposed to be mixed greens with cucumber, tomato, green pepper, red onion, shredded cheese, and croutons. By the time she was done deleting things, it was mixed greens, cheese, and croutons. As is typical for a 9 year old, she chose ranch has her dressing. I always wish she’d eat a little bit more with the salads but she left happy and licked the plastic serving tray clean so I can’t complain too much.

B is not like his sister. He still likes Chicken Strips. The kids meal comes with two food service chicken strips, fries, and choice of pudding or fruit cup. B ate about half a chicken strip willingly and about half of the large cup of apple sauce he chose as his fruit. While he may like chicken strips, he doesn’t like fries for some reason. L was more than happy to reach over and take the fries off his plate to go along with her salad.

J also got chicken tender (actually I think the other two adults and at least one of the other kids got the tenders as well). The adult Chicken Tender Basket is three tenders with fries. She got both ranch and BBQ sauce to dip hers in and unlike B, ate everything on her plate. A 4+ mile hike tends to make you hungry. In addition to the sauces she got with her meal, she was also fighting me over the cheese sauce left from the kids’ pretzels.

I was the odd one here and ordered a burger. I picked the 1/2 lb. ground beef burger and added cheddar cheese and bacon. Like everything else we ordered, the burger was simple but tasty. I hadn’t eaten a burger in a couple weeks before this trip so it was good to just sink my teeth in to something that tastes so familiar. The sandwich doesn’t come with any sides but at just $6 for the sandwich, spending a couple extra on a side isn’t so bad. I got fries like everyone else. They’re simple, froze, out-of-the-bag crinkle cuts. Where I grew up, these are good mustard dipping fries. I split my fries between the leftover cheese and some cheap yellow mustard on the table.

Before tip, our bill was a little under $50. We haven’t eaten out at a restaurant for under $50 in a long time…and this tab includes two beers and an appetizer.

Willows Bar & Grill is a real familiar spot. It’s a place people clearly hang out frequently. They have a solid pub food menu…it’s not made from scratch but it’s the kind of food you can always rely on….and they have a great laid back atmosphere just off a couple of bodies of water.

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