Kalamazoo Appy Crawl

As the tee shirts say, “Yes, There Really IS a Kalamazoo!” It’s the kind of name that makes you want to stop and see what’s going on. Kalamazoo is an Algonquian Indian word meaning “boiling pot” and the city has gained fame through celery, taxi cab production, Gibson guitars, the Upjohn “friable pill” and the Kalamazoo stove. With all of this going for it, we had to drop by and try an appy crawl in this tidy little Michigan college town, proving that appy crawls can be done in anyone’s hometown.

All roads led downtown, which boasts the first pedestrian mall in the United States. Since 1959 it has hosted fun little… CONTINUE READING >>

As the
tee shirts say, “Yes, There Really IS a Kalamazoo!”
It’s the kind of name that makes you want to stop and
see what’s going on. Kalamazoo is an Algonquian Indian
word meaning “boiling pot” and the city has gained
fame through celery, taxi cab production, Gibson guitars,
the Upjohn “friable pill” and the Kalamazoo stove.
With all of this going for it,
we had to drop by and try an appy
crawl
in this tidy little Michigan college town, proving that
appy crawls can be done in anyone’s hometown.

All roads
led downtown, which boasts the first pedestrian mall in the United
States. Since 1959 it has hosted fun little retail stores, restaurants,
theaters and, of course, now an indoor rock climbing wall. Somewhere
along the line someone installed heated sidewalks, the Jetsons
could live in Kalamazoo! Ice sculptures, a fountain and local
artwork, all adorned by twinkling lights, gave a festive feel
to the blustery evening. Kalamazoo has done an admirable job of
keeping the huge retailers outside of downtown leaving a down
home, albeit kitschy, feel.

An exploratory
lap around the Mall revealed that the restaurants featuring the
mechanical bull and dueling pianos were stuffed to the rafters
(too bad — that would have been right up our snarky alley), so
we opted for a more “civilized” evening:

Olde
Peninsula Brew Pub

We’ve never seen a more beer-centric menu! Some scary
sounding fare indeed — Cheddar Ale Soup (yup, cheese and
beer) and Beer-B-Que Pizza. Beer bread was a choice for the
sandwiches (with Beer Battered Fries,
of course!) and the steaks were marinated in beer. From reading
the menu, we were worried we’d end up smelling like a particularly
rowdy frat party.

Fearing a
hops overload, we opted to share the Seared Ahi Tuna with soy
ginger glaze and black sesame seeds, nicely done. For the beer
experience, we sampled the Brewhouse Salad with the “Italian
Beer Vinaigrette.” And it was delicious. We washed the whole
thing down with a glass of one of the house brews, Haymarket Light.

What’s
a trip to a brew pub without giving the handcrafted root beer
a try? The Olde Peninsula’s is an ooey-gooey syrupy wonder.
A dessert in itself, but it is also available float style.

The
Union Cabaret & Grill

We plopped down in comfy chairs at one of the tables that surround
the showroom style stage to enjoy a jazz trio of local college
students. The Union has agreed with nearby Western Michigan University’s
music department to showcase students, alumni and faculty giving
them a venue to strut their stuff before a live audience. The
Union successfully pulls off its attempt at big city jazz club
ambience.

Lobster Fondue

A lobster and cheese fondue with scallions and roasted red peppers.
Grabbed big slices of French baguette, we dug in and dug it! Fought
over the big ole lobster hunks. Good fun. Creamy, wonderfully
fattening, delicious.

The competent
wine list had Riesling so Veronica was happy. We were tempted
to sample their “famous” Portabella Fries, but more
crawlin’ had to be done.

The
Wine Loft

The idea behind this establishment basically is an appy crawl
without the crawling. We walked in to a large open room with snuggly
little alcoves sporting love seats with sheer, billowy curtains
as partitions. An upstairs loft, chucked with pseudo sophisticates
from the local institutions of higher education, separated the
boys from the men. Nice.

Choosing a
cozy spot, we perused the menu
and were intrigued. Did these people stalk us and then create
a dining experience just for us? Looking around covertly, we saw
no one standing in the shadows and relaxed into the pillows.

Our friend,
Umberto from Italy, had schooled us on a prior trip about the
Mediterranean thoughts on wine drinking. Rather than the chicken/white,
beef/red tradition, he prefers white when it’s warm and red
on the cold nights. Works for us! As a salute to Umberto, we ordered
the Italian Red wine flight (though they were out of Chianti,
strike one). Other wine flights included Michigan Favorites and
Curious Whites.

The menu featured
amusing “Small Plates.“ We choose:

Lamb Wellington with wild mushroom mousse, rosemary and truffle
essence.

Smoked Salmon
and Caviar Pizzetti with Apple Butter and Crème Fraiche.

The food came
in perfect portions for an appy crawl, was reasonably priced,
but was a bit overambitious. The ingredients just sat on the tongue
separately. Not horrible by any means, just underwhelming. The
Sardinian wine in the flight was authentic, but a little overpowering.
LOVED the Veitti. For a wine bar, better choices could be made,
but since this place had just opened we feel it will come into
its own.

About the
time we finished our food, the music suddenly turned from smoooooth
jazz to annoying techno and the upstairs loft began unloading
onto the main floor, the boys on the prowl for female companionship.
Though the people watching got better, we felt it was time for
us to bug out.

We’d
need our rest if we were going to go hunting in the morning for
the boiling pot… and some friable pills.

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com


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