The Riverwalk Grill – Gladwin, MI

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Here is one place where I ate healthy on this vacation!

At this point in our trip, I had been eating more of the foods I shouldn’t and less of the foods I should. Read: fried foods vs. vegetables. And guess what happened? I started to crave a salad.

The Riverwalk Grill is one of the nicest places in Gladwin, Michigan, but also one of the more expensive. The newer building. Riverwalk Place, was built with the restaurant overlooking the Cedar River and trail. While there are a few {definitely more upscale} shops inside, I believe the top floors were originally meant to house condos. My understanding is that some, if not all, have been converted into hotel rooms and suites. The complex is now advertised to out-of-towers as a luxury oasis to getaway, luring them with spa and golf packages for girlfriends and couples.

Riverwalk Place – Gladwin, Michigan

We started going to the Riverwalk Grill when it opened… maybe 5 years or so back? Since then, the menu has been overhauled several times. I don’t mean a change here or there, I’m talking an overhaul. While it could be their way of changing things up to keep things fresh, I think it’s more likely that they have to re-evaluate what sells, what doesn’t and what they can do to be more profitable in this small town. Still, I do remember a mushroom pasta a few years back that I haven’t seen on the menu since. *Sigh* {Maybe that’s for my own good.}

Over the years, we’ve experienced some inconsistent service. We tend to be pretty decent tippers, so service is a priority for us. And because we do dine out a lot, we know what excellent service looks like.

In general, the service here seems to be… well… apathetic at best. While we have had decent service from a few bartenders and servers from time to time, this is generally speaking. There just seems to be no sense of urgency or willingness to make the overall experience enjoyable. When you are going to one of the more upscale places that boasts luxury in a small, economically-challenged town, wouldn’t service be the #1 priority? What is luxury without service, after all?

This year, we noticed a very professionally dressed member of the management team. Rob commented on our first visit of the trip that he couldn’t believe that he was wearing a long-sleeved, button-down shirt with a tie in such hot weather. In fact, on our next stop back later that week, Rob even made small talk with him about the weather. The manager stated that because it was so hot the day before, he closed the outdoor patio area. I can totally understand why. It was the week of the 4th of July when we had that crazy heat. {Uh, we still kind of are, aren’t we?}

I guess not being able to sit out on the patio made a customer totally upset. So much that he said that he would just get his order to go and take it home.

No, you are not going to do that,” The manager said.

Of course, I’m not sure exactly what transpired here… if the customer whined, pouted or threw a fit, but I’m sure there were was some back and forth. Finally, the customer conceded:

“Well, can I just eat inside by the bar here, then?”

Well, only if you are nice…” said the Manager.

WHAT?

And this is what the manager told us that he said! I couldn’t even respond. Instead, I let Rob finish with his small talk. All the while, I was thinking:

1) Completely unprofessional. No matter what a customer says, you shouldn’t say something like that. You aren’t in a tavern! This is one of the most upscale places in Gladwin! Granted, I didn’t see how the customer was acting, but there is a tactful way to handle a situation like this.

2) AND… You shouldn’t go and tell your other customers! It felt completely awkward and again, unprofessional.

In sum, service needs improvement.

As for the food…

Since the menu changes often, right now, the item on the menu you must try at the Riverwalk is:

PRETZEL BURGER $8.99
½ lb. Burger with Smoked Bacon, American Cheese and Over Easy Fried Egg on a toasted Pretzel Roll.

Okay, so there is nothing healthy about this meal, but Rob and I split one. And it was just enough food when we did that. And completely indulgent. But then again, I pretty much love anything with a runny egg. 😉 But the menu really had me at pretzel roll. We first discovered burgers on pretzel rolls when visiting Milwaukee. Our friends Amy and Jason recommended a restaurant that served them this way. I have to say, while the meat was under-seasoned at that restaurant, the pretzel roll stole the show. And I forever became converted.

If you have never had a burger on a pretzel roll, this is something to put on your list of things that I Must. Do. Now. Period.

But, Carrie, I thought you said you ate healthy at this place on your vacation?

Why, yes, I did. On the next visit, when I was craving a salad, I ordered:

RIVERWALK CHICKEN SALAD $7.99
Grilled Chicken, Dried Cherries, Granny Smith Apples and Swiss Cheese over Mixed Greens tossed with Lemon Poppy Seed dressing.

This salad hit the spot! It was just what I needed that day. The chicken breast was tender and juicy. Why can’t I ever make them that way?! And while I did like Mr. M.’s Chicken Salad a wee bit better, I would order this one again. However, despite that description above, the salad really is little more than greens with a chicken breast. The other items are sparse and the salad itself rather small {at least the lunch portion one was}. And you know how I am about quality over quantity. So it really means something when I think a portion is on the small side. Still, I didn’t go home hungry.

On the other hand, we highly recommend that you do not order:

APPLEWOOD BLT $7.99
Smoked Bacon with Crisp Lettuce, Tomato and Mayo on Whole Wheat Bread.

Rob was highly disappointed in this. YOU can make a better BLT than this one. In fact, now that I think about it, why would I order a BLT at a restaurant anyway? {Unless it’s a specialty one with interesting ingredients or altered in some way, of course.} They are too easy to make at home.

Other items ordered by our party on other occasions this trip:

  • CHICKEN QUESADILLA $7.99 – Grilled Chicken, Fire Roasted Vegetables and Cheddar Jack Cheese in a Flour Tortilla. Served with Salsa and Sour Cream: Meh. Not much cheese for this Wisconsin girl. Or filling for that matter. I must have been spoiled or tainted by other quesadillas.
  • TURKEY & SWISS $8.99 – Smoked Turkey Breast, Swiss Cheese & Honey Dijon Mustard on a toasted Pretzel Roll: While I’m not one much for deli meat, Rob’s mom was highly impressed by the amount of turkey that came on this sandwich. And on a pretzel roll. Sold.

And lastly, one of the things I love about traveling to Michigan is trying the local beer. You can pretty much expect Bell’s Oberon, an American Pale Wheat Ale, on tap anywhere in the summer. It’s often garnished with an orange slice and is simple, yet quite refreshing.

However, the beer I must have whenever I find it on tap in Michigan is:

Sam Adams Cherry Wheat

This is because I never find it on tap anywhere else! I’ve never seen it in Minnesota. Okay, recently, I’ve seen it in bottles in the store, but it’s just not the same as getting it fresh, on tap, with a maraschino cherry or two floating at the bottom. And while it’s most certainly not a Michigan brew, it’s an excellent summer quaffer. Need I say more?

Pretzel Roll: yay or nay? Why?

Have you found a must-have beverage when visiting a particular destination?

Cheers~
Carrie

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8 responses »

  1. I passionately love fruit beers with all my heart (well, you know, in addition to All Other Beers). How have I not tried the Cherry Wheat? Is it available in seasonal mixed-packs only in the cities?

    I’m a pretzel roll lover but like challah, it rarely comes in the house because otherwise I would just eat them all, sans toppings.

  2. What? I’ve never seen Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat on tap? No fair! I’ll have to look harder for it.

    I am 100% with you on service – its my bone to pick at any restaurant we go to. I worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years of my life off and on, and my husband and I are great tippers.

    If I see a server “in the weeds” I completely understand – as long as they stop by and say “hey, haven’t forgotten about you, be with you in a minute.”

    My biggest pet peeve is when I am looking for our server – only to see that they are outside smoking with other servers, and there are like only 3 active tables.

    Ah, pretzel bread – don’t get me started on how awesome those are – I’ve tried making them at home but they are a bit too dense for me – I need to find a recipe that gives me a lighter “bun” like feeling.

    • I agree! It’s completely understandable when you can see they are slammed, but they say they’ll be with you. But when they really don’t care and it shows… that’s a different story…

      I don’t think I’d attempt to make my own pretzel rolls… Like Kat, I couldn’t have them around the house! 😉 Cheers~

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  4. The restaurant is a nice place to eat on the weekends, or during events, they are more on the ball then and some of the waitresses are friendly. The food is good especially the pretzel burger, the only complaint on it is that they barely cooked it and left it with the slimy film. Other than that the burger was amazing. The dinners are amazing but they should have their dining room at the same light level as their bar area.

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