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Iron Shoe Distillery

June 28, 2022

  • 3 N. 3rd Street
  • Niles, MI 49120
  • (269) 262-0454
  • Website
  • Menu

We used to take road trips all the time for restaurants. Kids, COVID, and gas prices have kind of put that on hold. We still do it occasionally, but not like we used to.

We had a hard time getting moving on Saturday. I ran down to the Kalamazoo Farmers Market to do something for work and when I got home, J was half asleep.

I hate sitting at home on weekends. Honestly, I’m lazy. I don’t ever get stuff done and I end up sitting around watching sitcom reruns all day. I’m just….tired.

J said she wanted to go somewhere for lunch. We went to Bell’s last week for the first time in a long time and it was nice to just sit outside and enjoy a couple of beers.

I couldn’t really think of anywhere close by that I we haven’t been to in a while that we really wanted to go to. I asked J if she was up for a road trip. I had a place in Niles and a place in Battle Creek. She said screw the high gas prices and chose the place in Niles.

We made the hour drive down to Niles to find Iron Shoe Distillery.

Iron Shoe Distillery is on North 3rd Street on the corner with Broadway Street just to the south of the main downtown district in Niles. The building is quite large with the distilling operations, tap room, and a two story patio taking up the corner lot that was a muffler and brake shop before it was renovated and expanded to make the distillery. The original part of the business opened in 2019 with the expansion of an additional dining room and the two level patio happening thanks to a Match on Main Grant provided by the MEDC.

The expansion really added a lot of dining space to the building but it took away a lot of parking. There is only a few spots actually on the property and they were full when we got there around 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. We drove around the block a few times looking for street parking before we found a spot about a block to the north.

We walked inside to find a host stand right inside the door. Off to the left is a bar area with a few pub tables. Remember, this was a muffler shop before the building was repurposed and they went with a modern design. Wood floors, subway tile on the walls, single bulb lights, distressed furniture, glass blocks and stamped tin running along the bottom of the bar.

The other direction brings you to the main dining room. Tables are still pretty spread out so this area was pretty full so the hostess took us through there to the dining room addition.

The dining room addition is through a garage door that can be closed off for special events. Like the main dining room, tables are still pretty spread out. We were taken to an area where weren’t many other people.

“Iron Shoe” what horse shoes were called when they were still made of iron. They carry through with that horse theme with paintings on the wall in this area.

We picked Iron Shoe Distillery because we were interested in trying their spirits. Anyone who knows me likes to call me a “beer snob.” I’m quickly becoming a “spirit snob” too.

I started with a drink called Lost in Time. This drink is mad with whiskey, Michigan maple syrup, bitters, and an orange. It’s kind of an old fashioned but a little sweeter with the syrup. The orange is actually frozen in to the ice so it doesn’t get soggy and gross. This was a perfect sipping drink. It ended up being the only drink I got just because I drank it slower than I figured I would. I actually took the time to enjoy the flavors instead of just shoving it down my throat like it was a shot.

J’s first drink was the Strawberry Basil Moscow Mule. She took a real liking to mule’s during the pandemic and typically orders one when she sees a fun one on the menu. This mule was made with vodka, strawberry, basil, a muddled lime, strawberry syrup and ginger beer.

The kids got fun drinks too. They had Cherry Limeades made with sweet cherry, lime, and soda. We assumed they would only get one of those so we tried to keep them from finishing them but when B finished his, the waiter came by with another one.

The menu is kind of upscale pub food which means I had a difficult decision to make.

I picked the Vavaboom Burger. This sandwich all-natural, anti-biotic/hormone free angus beef topped with Provolone, Swiss, and American cheese, bacon, tomato, lettuce, and garlic aioli. The burger was pretty simple but very tasty. There was a little to much of the aioli on the sandwich but that could be easily rectified by using a piece of the lettuce to wipe some of it off. The sandwich came on an insanely delicious “signature” brioche bun.

The sandwich did not come with a side so I added an order of Truffle and Parmesan fries. The hand cut fries are dusted with Parmesan, black truffle sea salt, and parsley. The fries were pretty salty but they were really good. The fries were good on their own but the Parmesan and truffle salt took up to another level.

J’s selection was the BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos. A pile of tortilla chips was topped with a slow roasted pork, a house made queso, avocado, black beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, jalapenos, green onions, cilantro, and a Michigan Cherry BBQ Sauce. These nachos were good. The pulled pork, even though it isn’t smoked, is delicious and the Cherry BBQ sauce is a great way to top this pile of food.

The kids each picked something off the kids menu.

B was a little easier to order for. He wanted the Chicken nuggets. Honestly, these nuggets reminded me of a little bit fancier version of a McDonalds nugget…and that’s a good thing. They were crispy on the outside and light and fluffy in the middle. B asked for some ranch to dip them in and got a cup of applesauce on the side.

L’s order was a lot more interesting. She ordered the BLT…but all she really wanted was the B. I think she asked for the lettuce but they brought her a bacon sandwich on a brioche bun and she was perfectly happy with what she got. The bacon was crispy, the bun was soft. The funny thing is, she still didn’t eat it as a sandwich. She ate the bacon, then ate the bread. She also added on an order of the No Frills Class Fries. She ate about half then gave them to me. I dumped what I had left of the Parmesan and Truffle salt on top of them on my plate.

I was still working on my first drink so J decided to order another drink while we were finishing up lunch. She picked the Sunshine Cup. This drink, served in a Mason jar with a handle, is made with limoncello, lemonade and a flavor of your choice (lavender, strawberry, or peach). You couldn’t even taste the alcohol in this drink. It tasted like a refreshing lemonade. Very tasty but I wouldn’t want to drink more than one.

The bill, before tip, was a little under $75.

Iron Shoe Distillery is worth the drive from Kalamazoo. I don’t even know how I found this place but I’m glad we took the trip. The drinks were great, the food was delicious, and they’ve got a great atmosphere. We kind of wished we would have asked to sit outside but we thought it was going to be hot and miserable so it was never brought up.

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