J really wanted to do something with her mom for Mother’s Day. Over the past couple months, there’s been a lot of traveling back and forth to Chicago for both us and our families. Instead of her parents coming to Lansing or us driving to Chicago for the second week in a row, we decided to find a halfway point. The Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area looked like a good meeting point, so the search was on to find a good place for Mother’s Day brunch.
After a quick Google search, I came up with two options. Neither would take a reservation for less than six people, so we chose the one that opened first. That one was the Pump House Grille on State Street in beautiful downtown St. Joseph. State Street is a one-way cobblestone street that is lined with boutiques and restaurants. It’s kind of touristy, but would still make a great shopping and dining district for the locals. We actually drove by the restaurant on our first pass through downtown. The buildings are all connecte and none of them have eye level signs that stick out from the building. On the second pass down State Street, we noticed the building on the left side of the road.
Brunch started at 11:30 and we got there about 11:40. Like I already mentioned, they wouldn’t take reservations and there must have been a line when the door opened. By the time we got there, all the tables were full. The host told us there would probably be a half hour wait since everyone just sat down to eat. We took a buzzer and set up at the bar to wait. The bartender told us we could eat there if we wanted to, but J and her mom couldn’t really reach the bar comfortably and it would have made eating uncomfortable. Instead, we ordered drinks….just Pepsi’s since they couldn’t serve liquor until noon. The half hour wait would give me time to step outside and call my mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.
About 25-30 minutes later, our buzzer went off and we were shown to a booth in the dining room. The space is divided into two rooms. The bar area has a row of booths and some tables near the windows. The dining room is probably pretty large on a regular night, but on a day when they needed to set up a buffet line, the space was cut down quite a bit.
The decor is reflective of St. Joseph as a lakeside community. The walls are covered with a nautical theme. The tables are dark woods and the fabric of the booth and walls are muted earth tones. Since we already had our drinks from the bar, the waitress told us we were free to help ourselves to the buffet.
The popular item when we made our first trip was the waffles. I wasn’t interested in that, so I headed to the prime rib station. The meat cutter had three cuts of prime rib at different temperatures. I asked for a piece of the medium rare beef and he cut off a pretty big chunk. I then headed directly to the left of that area for some fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. They also had stuffed pork chops, peel and eat shrimp, crab legs, and flounder on the menu. I passed on all of that and headed to the salad bar. It wasn’t much of a salad bar. They had some mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cheese, croutons and two types of salad dressing. The prime rib had a great crust to it and the medium rare cut was nice and juicy. The chicken had a great breading and was perfectly cooked. The mac ‘n cheese was creamy and delicious….not at all what I expected from a buffet mac ‘n cheese.
J got in line for the waffle and came back with a plate full. She also grabbed a little bit of the mac and cheese and some sweet potatoes. She liked the sweet potatoes so much she went back for seconds. The star of the meal for her was the waffles with the sweet potatoes a close secon
J’s mom got in line for the omelet station and she was the only one of the four of us to do so. We thought J’s step dad was going to make a chicken ‘n waffles meal, but surprised us when he came back with just the waffles and not the chicken. He did go back later and get the chicken, but ate them seperate from his waffles.
When it came time for desert, J got a jello cup with whip cream. I grabbed a piece of a delicous chocolate cake. J’s mom got a peach upside down cake and her step-dad got some pie.
The Mother’s Day brunch ran $20 a person, so our bill was just under $85. We were all really happy with the Pump House and the ladies were glad we all decided to meet for brunch. There wasn’t a lot of food to choose from, but the entrees they had were all quality and worth the price on their own. The regular menu at the Pump House also looks great and I would really like to revisit this restaurant on a typical night.
We found St. Joseph to be a good halfway point and one that we’ll probably use again in the future. The Pump House is a great restaurant not far from Lake Michigan in a city that has done a fantastic job with their downtown. It’s a little way off the Interstate, but worth the detour.