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.

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