The Soup Spoon Cafe

18 09 2008
  • 1419 E. Michigan Ave.
  • Lansing, MI 48912
  • (517) 316-2377
  • Website
  • Menu
The Soup Spoon Cafe near downtown Lansing

The Soup Spoon Cafe near downtown Lansing

The Soup Spoon is a place that Mike recommended to me months ago.  Since then, I’ve gotten a few people that have said I need to give it a shot.  I’m always a little nervous about trying places when I can’t find a menu first.  I looked and looked and couldn’t find anything about what kind of menu they have.  J and I were downtown today for the Michigan Select Buy Fresh, Buy Local Farmer’s Market (review HERE) around lunch time.  She said something about grabbing a hot dog from the cart near City Hall, but I suggested we give The Soup Spoon a try.  She thought I  meant Soup to Nutz Bistro where we’ve struck out three times trying to get a meal.  Once she figured out what I meant, she was on board, so we loaded up and headed down Michigan Avenue.

The Soup Spoon is located a few blocks from Sparrow Hospital right on Michigan Avenue.  It’s actually connected to Bancroft Flowers so you have something to look at if you have to wait.  During lunch time, that’s a pretty good possibility.  When we arrived, the restaurant was still pretty empty.  There’s only a few tables, no more than 10, in the whole place.  It’s a very small, intimate setting.  The kitchen is located in the center and it’s completely open.  There is no closed space inside the restaurant.  The tables are situated around the kitchen and coffee counter.  When we walked in, we weren’t sure if it was a restaurant or a lunch counter type of place.  A waitress saw us walk in and told us to sit where we liked.  We grabbed a table in the front and the waitress brought us menus.  I was incredibly relieved to see The Soup Spoon served a typical cafe style lunch.  With a name like The Soup Spoon, I thought maybe they’d only serve soup.  That’s what I was worried about.  I could see a place like that being successful near the hospital.  Read the rest of this entry »





Whole Foods Market – Ann Arbor (Washtenaw Ave.)

14 09 2008
  • 3135 Washtenaw Ave.
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • (734) 975-4500
  • Website
Whole Foods Market on Washtenaw in Ann Arbor

Whole Foods Market on Washtenaw in Ann Arbor

Can you believe that I have never been in a Whole Foods before?  Where I’ve lived the last six years, the closest Whole Foods was in Chicago and until J and I started dating, I didn’t spend a lot of time that far north.  Same thing when we moved to Lansing.  The closest Whole Foods in Ann Arbor.  We were driving around checking out the city when for some reason I said, “I think there’s a Trader Joe’s in town somewhere.”  I was wrong, it wasn’t Trader Joe’s It was Whole Foods.  J put it into her GPS and even though we were driving aimlessly, we were just a few blocks away, so why not check it out?

I’m gonna say right now, it’s a good thing there is not a Whole Foods in Lansing.  On the other hand, you’d always know where to find me.  The thing I’ve always heard about Whole Foods is that it’s expensive.  As we walked through produce, I could see that.  We can get produce at Horrocks (review HERE) much cheaper.  It’s probably not “organic” at Horrocks, but it tastes the same.  Read the rest of this entry »





Roma Bakery, Deli, & Fine Foods

9 09 2008
  • 428 N. Cedar St.
  • Lansing, MI 48912
  • (517) 485-9466
  • Website
  • No Online Menu
Roma Bakery, Deli, & Fine Foods on Cedar St. in Lansing

Roma Bakery, Deli, & Fine Foods on Cedar St. in Lansing

Finding Roma today was totally an accident.  We made our weekly trip to Horrocks and wanted to find something for lunch.  I seem to remember someone telling me Aunt Millie’s had a Deli out on Grand River, so that’s what we went looking for.  We put it in the GPS and when the GPS said we had arrived, there was nothing that even remotely looked like a diner.  We found the outlet store, but no deli.  I thought maybe it was farther down Grand River, so we kept driving.  Eventually, we hit I-96 BL and I got on that without even knowing.  Once I figured out we were going through Old Town, I thought of that bakery on Cedar Street that we had passed so many times without even giving a second glance to.  Since it was getting late in the afternoon and J needed to get to work, I suggested stopping since it would probably be something we could grab and go.

Roma is situated just a few blocks from Oldsmobile Park and downtown Lansing.  The building makes it look like nothing more than the corner bakery, but there is a sign out front that says “Join us for lunch.”  The parking lot was pretty empty when we pulled in around 1:00 and we wondered if we were making a mistake. 

The inside is set up like a local grocery store.  The name Roma suggests an Italian bakery, but I would call it more European as they offer food and baked goods from all parts of the continent even though most of their wares are Italian.  The deli case is in the back of the store.  Next to the deli case is a long pastry case filled with home made goodies.  Since lunch was the priority, we hit that up first. Read the rest of this entry »





Ah Barista Cafe – Indianapolis

29 08 2008
  • 201 S. Capitol Ave.
  • Indianapolis, IN 46225
  • (317) 638-2233
  • Website
  • Menu
Ah Barista Cafe in Indianapolis near Lucas Oil Stadium

Ah Barista Cafe in Indianapolis near Lucas Oil Stadium

I kind of surprised myself with this one.  I went to a cafe for lunch and my girlfriend wasn’t even with me.  I was in Indianapolis to work a Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium.  I got to Indy about an hour before my call time, so I decided to look around for lunch.  I parked in a garage across from the RCA Dome and went for a walk in the immediate area hoping to find a sandwich shop or something quick.  I didn’t really know where I was going once I got to the Stadium, so I didn’t want to cut it too close.  After walking around about 10 minutes, I ended up back at the garage where I parked.  Right next to the door I came out of was a little cafe called Ah Barista.

Ah Barista is located on the ground level of the Pan-Am Plaza.  It’s not very big with just a counter inside that runs along the wall to eat.  I got there around lunch time and the demolition guys working across the street at the RCA Dome had the same idea that I did.  There were six or seven of them in line so I had enough time to look over the menu and not feel rushed.  The menu board is high above the counter which makes it a little hard to read if you’re not standing right at the cash register.  They did have a couple paper menus posted on doors and windows, so that’s what I used. Read the rest of this entry »





Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee Co. – Lansing

26 08 2008
  • 500 E. Michigan Ave.
  • Suite 190
  • Lansing, MI 48912
  • (517) 999-3405
  • Website
  • Menu
Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee Company in the Stadium District near Downtown Lansing

Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee Company in the Stadium District near Downtown Lansing

If you’ve ever looked at my sidebar, you’ve noticed I have RSS feeds from the local media outlets here in town.  This story on WLAJ.com really jumped out at me today.

About a dozen mid-Michigan workers are employed today with the help of the Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee Company.

YAY!  Chocolate!  When my girlfriend came home for dinner tonight, I suggested making a run downtown to get a couple pieces of gourmet chocolate for dessert before I took she had to go back. 

The Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee Co. opened up shop on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Larch St. on the first floor of the Stadium District building across from Oldsmobile Park.  Parking is limited out front to a few meters, but behind the building is a massive parking lot for the businesses and the residents of the Stadium District.  We were going the wrong way down Michigan to get a spot at a meter, so we went around to the back parking lot.  For those coffee lovers in a hurry, there’s also a drive-thru behind the building.  The main entrance is off Michigan Ave, but there is a back entrance from the back lot and an entrance on the Larch St. side.  Since we parked in back, we entered from the back.  There an open sign and there are hours on the door, but when we walked in, we second guessed ourselves.  The only two doors you see are for the men’s room and an employee entrance to the kitchen.  There is a hallway that leads back into the shop, but it took us a second to get our bearings and realize that. Read the rest of this entry »





Panera Bread – Lansing Mall

21 08 2008
  • 5300 W. Saginaw Hwy
  • Lansing, MI 48917
  • (517) 703-9340
  • Website
  • Menu
Panera Bread located inside the Lansing Mall on Saginaw Highway in Lansing

Panera Bread located inside the Lansing Mall on Saginaw Highway in Lansing

I used to be scared of Panera Bread.  I always assumed there is nothing there I would like because they didn’t make greasy hamburgers and fries.  My girlfriend finally got me there one day while we were doing some extended work in Decatur, IL.  We had exhausted all of the downtown restaurant options and another lady we were working with had mentioned she was going to Panera Bread.  I decided not to argue and went along for the ride.  To my surprise, I actually found quite a bit there that sounded and looked good.  Panera has always been a standby for J.  She eats there pretty much every time she has to work in Kalamazoo or anytime she has to find someplace to eat and I’m not with her.

Today, we needed to run to Horrocks before heading back to Illinois for the weekend.  J just wanted a salad for lunch and asked if there was a Panera close.  The only one I could think of was the one at the Lansing Mall so after we grabbed what we needed from Horrocks, we headed down Saginaw Highway to the mall.  Read the rest of this entry »





Spotted Dog Cafe

24 07 2008
  • 221 S. Washington Sq.
  • Lansing, MI 48933
  • (517) 485-7574
  • Website
  • Menu
The Spotted Dog Cafe on Washington Sq. in Downtown Lansing

The Spotted Dog Cafe on Washington Sq. in Downtown Lansing

As my girlfriend said, the Spotted Dog Cafe is more her kind of place than mine.  We made our way downtown to check out the Farmer’s Market at the State Capitol and decided to stay downtown for lunch.  We were parked on Michigan Ave. just past the roundabout so we left the car and went for a walk.  We’ve walked by Spotted Dog before, but usually on a Saturday when they’re not open.  I wasn’t in the mood for a burger or anything heavy and I figured a deli sandwich would be much better.

We walked in right about opening time so the place was pretty empty.  There were a couple people behind the counter.  The first asked what my girlfriend wanted.  She went with the summer salad which she said reminded her of the two years she spent in Idaho.  The mixed greens were topped with dried cherries, blueberries, shredded cheese, walnuts, and apples with a peppercorn dressing.  She it was refreshing and tasted like it came right out of the garden.  The large salad was more than enough for her. Read the rest of this entry »





Benson’s Vinaigrettes

26 06 2008
  • 940 Elmwood Rd.Benson\'s Vinaigrettes
  • Lansing, MI 48917
  • (517) 703-9616
  • Website
  • Menu

Boy, did we stumble on to something great here.  I drove by Benson’s Vinaigrettes last time my girlfriend got her haircut and said next month, that’s where we were going to eat lunch.  I found their website and was a little worried that I wouldn’t be all that thrilled with it.  I knew my girlfriend would love it and it’d be a nice change from all the bars and pizza joints I bring her to. 

Benson’s is located just behind the Lansing Mall.  It’s a really nice looking building from the outside with a LCD board underneath their sign that displays today’s entrees.  Inside, Benson’s reminds you of a deli.  The place is much bigger than it looks.  You walk through the dining room and get in line.  All of today’s food is on display in cases.  The menu is constantly changing.  You can get salads and wraps everyday, but that days entrees won’t be there tomorrow.  All the food is fresh and homemade.  The chef was standing in the dining room making sure everything was running smoothly.  Read the rest of this entry »





Grand Traverse Pie Company – East Lansing

19 06 2008
  • 1403 E. Grand River Ave.Grand Traverse Pie Company
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 203-3304
  • Website
  • Menu

I think we screwed ourselves.  Last time my girlfriend went home to Chicago, she brought a couple pies for her family and some friends.  I have to go to Chicago this weekend to shoot a rugby tournament for Sky TV Sports, so my girlfriend took Friday off and we’re making a weekend out of it.  We going to some of her friends’ house for a cook-out and it was suggested she bring home a pie for dessert.  So, before work and after lunch, we hit up the Grand Traverse Pie Company in East Lansing for a couple pies.

Grand Traverse is in a little strip mall between MSU and the Meridian Mall.  If I would have gotten the GPS out and followed it like I should have, it would have been about a ten minute drive. Instead, I tried to do it from memory and went the wrong way.  Once we finally got there, we found parking spot up close and went to get our pies.  When you walk in, your overcome with pie.  To the right is a little freezer which was just calling my name.  You see, in this little freezer, they put their cheesecake and the Oreo Cheesecake was yelling at me to buy it.  My girlfriend looked at me and said “Just get it this time!”  How can I argue with her, so I got my Oreo cheesecake.  I’m sitting here eating it as I type this.  It is freaking delicious.  Very few things in life compare to Eli’s Cheesecake, but this was really good. I like cheesecake, but I love Oreo Cheesecake. Read the rest of this entry »





Gone Wired Cafe

1 05 2008
  • 2021 E. Michigan Ave.
  • Gone WiredLansing, MI 48921
  • (517) 853-0550
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t remember how I found Gone Wired Cafe’s website, but I’m glad I did.  Usually, when I’m looking for new places to eat, I turn to the web.  A good website and, more importantly, a menu on-line usually is what gets me to a place.

I picked my girlfriend up from work one night for a quick dinner.  We drove right by the place looking for a parking spot.  There’s a city lot behind the building and there’s also on street parking up front.  We couldn’t find a place in the city lot, but found one right in front of the building.

When you walk in, you walk into a huge open space.  There’s a little comic book shop to the left as well as desktop computers you can rent for $1 for 15 minutes.  To the right, the first dining area sits in front of the counter.  A huge chalkboard above the counter displays the menu which ranges from breakfast favorites to pizza to burgers.  You order at the counter and they give you one of those electronic buzzer things you usually get handed at chain restaurants to let you know when your table is ready.  Once the buzzer activates, you go to a window near the kitchen and pick up your own food.  They just put the plates up for you to take back.  There are trays underneath the window and you have to go somewhere else to pick up your silverware.  The main dining area is on an upstairs balcony that is lined on either side with booths.  There are also a couple corner booths that they just put out into the middle of the room.  It’s actually a really cool look.  Back downstairs, there’s a kids area where the kids can play while mom and dad get some work done or enjoy a meal.  There’s one more area downstairs that’s kind of a circle booth.  I’m pretty sure some college kids were hooked to each other playing games at this table.

I have no idea why, but I ordered the Black and Bleu burger without thinking that I had burgers for lunch.  Being in a cafe, I should have gotten something a little healthier, but the Black and Bleu burgers always shout my name anymore.  The burger came with a choice of side.  The menu board and the printed menu said they had fries, but when I asked for fries, the girl behind the counter said they don’t do fries anymore.   That was a little disappointing, but it did force me to eat healthier.  I got a side salad with Italian dressing.  The sandwich came piled with bleu cheese.  Man, was it good.  I’ve come to love the tanginess of the bleu cheese with hamburger meat.  The salad was just iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and croutons.  It wasn’t a whole lot, but a good compliment to the burger.

My girlfriend got the Waldorff salad.  Her plate was stacked with greens, strawberries, walnuts, and bleu cheese.  On the side, there were three little cheese quesadillas.  Like me, she loves how bleu cheese works with other ingredients.  In this case, it was the cheese and the strawberries.  She polished off all the toppings and the three quesadillas, but had some salad left on her plate when we finished. 

Both of us got Coke’s for dinner, but on the way out, she stopped and got an iced latte to go.  Gone Wired is an incredibly unique cafe.  Most cafes have realized they are not going to make money on coffee alone due to that big chain that has brainwashed consumers into thinking they have to pay $10 for a cup of coffee.  Gone Wired has gone a little farther than most cafes and have offered a unique, interesting menu in a really cozy environment.  On a Thursday night, most of the tables were full with a pretty good mix of people.  There were college students studying for finals.  College professors grading papers.  Young adults playing video games and guys checking their Facebook pages.  Gone Wired is one of those unique finds where atmosphere plays a big part in the overall experience of the place.