Harrison Roadhouse

4 05 2008
  • 720 Michigan Ave.Harrison Roadhouse
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 337-0200
  • Website
  • Menu

This is a concept I saw all the time living near old Route 66 in Illinois, but not something I’ve seen a lot of in Michigan….take an old gas station and turn it into a garage themed restaurant/bar….and that’s exactly what Harrison Roadhouse is.  The Roadhouse was originally Duke’s Shell station.  In 1981, someone had the idea to turn the building into a restaurant.  Today, the old bay doors are windows and the ceiling beams are covered with license plates from all over the country. 

Surprisingly, the actual dining room isn’t that big.  When you walk in, you come right into a waiting room.  Past the hostess station, there is a small dining room with tables on either side and just enough room for to walk single file.  To the left of that is a bar that sits elevated from the rest of the dining space.  On that platform, there are a few pub tables, the bar and then a drink bar where you can stand, but still have a place to set a drink down.  Once you get past the bar, there’s another dining room where the tables are packed in pretty tight and then a couple private party rooms plus an outdoor patio with a fire place.

We probably chose a bad day to eat at the Harrison Roadhouse.  MSU had graduations, so there were a lot of big parties.  It was raining so we couldn’t sit outside.  I ran in to check with the hostess to see about the wait.  She handed me the buzzer thing and by the time I called my parents and girlfriend who were waiting in the car to tell them to come in, my buzzer went off.  We were shown to a table in the main dining room.  I think we were the only small party other than one table behind us.  Every other table was pushed together to accomodate huge parties.

We chose Harrison because the menu looked different.  We all started with Coke’s then skipped the appetizer and went straight for sandwiches.  I got the Roadie Dip which is a French dip served on a Ciabatta roll with a side of Au Jus and fries.  I love Ciabatta bread, so that was a real treat.  The meat was good, but the Au Jus was a little heavy on onion.  Nothing overpowering, but noticeable.  I don’t know how to explain the fries.  They almost looked and felt like fresh cut fries that were breaded and deep fried.  They were alright, but definately different.

My girlfriend got the Rt. 66 Rollup.  Grilled chicken breast tenders were covered in a hot sauce that was tangy and had quite a kick then rolled with lettuce, tomatos, and bleu cheese in a flour tortilla.  Her sandwich also came with those same fries.  She likes spicy and that’s probably a good thing as the chicken was really spicy.  She’s become a big fan of bleu cheese lately and that’s what made her order rollup….and we all know how well hot sauce and bleu cheese go together.

My mom got the BBQ chicken sandwich.  She got a fried chicken breast served with lettuce, tomato, BBQ sauce, onions, and cheddar cheese served on a kaiser roll.  She had to take some of the toppings off to get to the chicken because there was so much.  She got onion rings instead of fries and was happy with them. She prefers the rings whole, battered and deep fried whereas my dad prefers bites, so you don’t pull the onion out of the breading.  Neither had a problem with these onion rings.

My dad surprised me and got the Buffalo Melt.  Surprising to me because that’s a 1/2lb buffalo burger served with sauteed onions on grilled rye bread.  I wasn’t 100% sure that he knew he was ordering buffalo meat and not hamburger meat with a “buffalo” sauce or something.  I was more worried when he called it a a “glorified patty melt”  When I asked him about it later he said he didn’t realize it at first and thought he was just getting a regular patty melt, but the buffalo tasted a lot like hamburger and he actually really liked the sandwich.  The bread was different and the meat was nice and juicy.

The four of us ate for less than $50.  The atmosphere is really neat, but the place is really, really loud and it was really full.  There were a few people at the bar just screaming at TV’s while watching the Kentucky Derby and the sound carried.  It was hard to carry on a conversation or communicate with the waitress.  The food was really good and I would suggest going back to try a different sandwich.  As long as your not going for conversation, Harrison Roadhouse is a really neat place.


Caruso’s Candy Kitchen

4 05 2008
  • 1982 Grand River AveCaruso's Candy
  • Suite 712
  • Okemos, MI 48864
  • (517) 347-0200
  • Website
  • Menu

Everyone loves chocolate and my family is no different.  My parents were in town recently and we went to Meridian Mall to do a little shopping.  On our way to Younkers, we went by a little candy shop where a choclatier was hand dipping chocolate in the window.  My mom and girlfriend went in to see what the store was all about and not long after, I followed after seeing a soda fountain the back of the store.

The shop is pretty tiny.  Like I said, there’s a place off to the right when you walk in where you can watch the employees hand dipping just about anything into chocolate.  To the left, there’s a couple big display cases where they show off their hard work.  To the back of the store, there’s an old timey soda fountain where they serve a full menu on sandwiches, soups, and salads.

This isn’t your normal chocolate shop.  Instead of seeing a lot of fudge and homemade peanut butter cups, what you actually see is a lot of things dipped in chocolate.  They do some of the traditional favorites.  My mom got some peanut brittle along with chocolate covered cashews for my dad.  My girlfriend got chocolate covered gummy bears or “muddy bears” as they’re called.   I got a chocolate covered Twinkie.  Everyone loved their selection….except me.  I don’t know if it was a Twinkie knockoff, if it got stale, or if the chocolate changes the flavor, but it really wasn’t that good.  The muddy bears were so good, I had to melt some chocolate when I got home and we made our own because what she got at the mall wasn’t enough.

I sorta wished I had gotten a soda, but maybe next time.  That was the part of the store that I really gravitated towards.  Just seeing a working soda fountain brought back a few memories.  I’m not old enough to know of soda fountains in there time, but there were a few leftovers in the early mid-80’s when I was growing.  I have memories of going grocery shopping then going to the drugstore for a soda.  Not sure why I passed up this opportunity, but I’m looking forward to going back again.  Caruso’s has been in business since 1922 in their oringal location in Dowagiac, MI.  They’ve opened this second store in Okemos, but have brought along the 70+years of experience.