I’m going to tell you guys something that I think only you will understand. One of the first things I did for the New Year was make a list of places I wanted to eat in 2012. With the help of a new-to-me Detroit blog, Eat it Detroit, I quickly managed to make a list of 10 places in the metro Detroit area and 3 places in Grand Rapids.
One of the Grand Rapids spots is Reserve. Their unique menu, local ingredients and extensive wine list pushed it to the top of the list. Grand Rapids is 2 hours or so from our home, but it is (kind of) on the way when we are traveling to visit my parents. Two days after I had started my list, we stopped in on our way to celebrating New Year’s with my family.
We arrived around 7:30 running from the rain and it was buzzing with nicely dressed folks. The decor is very clean and sleek and the bar features the art piece that won the very first Art Prize (the annual Grand Rapids art competition). We sat at one of the long communal tables in the middle that is lit from below.
They have over 250 bottles of wine to choose from and they offer wine flights, tastes, by the glass or by the bottle. We went crazy for the tastes. With so many excellent wines to choose from, it was almost impossible to commit to a whole glass. The young and dapper general manager was working the room and giving out great wine advice. He helped us select some of the best wines we’ve ever tasted.
Marcel Lapierre Morgan Beaujolais France 2010
Hirsch Bohan-Dillon Sonoma County 2009
Chateau Trimoulet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Bordeaux France 2008
Amity Willamette Valley Oregon 2008
Domaine Mathieu Chateauneuf du Pape Rhone France 2007
We were off to a great start in the wine department, but luckily we were also in good hands with chef Matthew Millar. Our waitress suggested their house-cured vanilla bean bacon from heritage hogs. I don’t think I need to tell you how amazing this was. The bacon was crispy, but not too dark, scented with vanilla and served in a mason jar with watercress. Oh yes.
Next up was the bibb lettuce salad and I’m chuckling as I write this. When we received our menus Marc said, “Well, we have to go with the bibb salad.” It really made me smile because it was the most uninteresting thing on the menu, but Marc really wanted it and I learned that he’s a pretty big fan of bibb lettuce. It was a pretty darn good salad, though. It was dressed with buttermilk vinaigrette and crispy brown butter breadcrumbs. We’ve had a few good laughs about the bibb salad since then.
The menu was divided into small plates, medium plates and large plates. Also, they have a create your own charcuterie and cheese plate! How genius is that? Plus, charcuterie to-go. Another level of genius.
I was sad to pass up the pork fat fries, eggs on eggs (a scrambled farm egg and Arctic char roe on buttered brioche with chive creme fraiche) and pierogi with speck, leeks and roasted chestnuts. Yum, right? Instead, we ordered two large plates: the highly recommended veal chop and the scallops. The scallops with their crispy pork belly and cauliflower puree was delicious, but the veal chop was the star of the show. It was the best tasting meat I’ve ever had. Cooked to perfection in the middle and seared expertly on the outside. The chop needed no other accompaniment, but the rosemary, preserved lemon, creamed spinach and mushrooms were fantastic as well. It was insane.
For dessert we had the chocolate terrine. It came on a long plate, with a slice of rich chocolate terrine, spiced pound cake, walnut anglaise and brandied cherries. The pound cake was a bit dry, but a bit of each on the fork tasted wonderful together. The dense slice of chocolate terrine was the best part, but Marc went pretty crazy for the brandied cherries.
I want to go back. I really, really do. I want to sample more wines and try more of the chef’s creations. I also want to get an apartment down the street, if only to pick up charcuterie to-go whenever I want.