Tag Archives: gladwin michigan

Yeah, We Got the House Wine

Standard

On this summer trip to Michigan, we tried a new {to us} restaurant. We’ve been going to mostly the same restaurants for years in this small town. But there was one that we hadn’t tried…

Enter The Camp.

I’m not quite sure how I heard about it, but when it was suggested, Rob’s parents had heard that the food was pretty good. We decided to all give it a try. Even though The Camp Sports Bar and Grill has a Gladwin address, it still took us about thirty minutes to get there.

The place was packed! We made our way to what seemed like the last table in the joint. It did take a while for us to get service, but it was right around the 4th of July holiday.

The décor was completely dated {Strike One for Robert Irvine from Restaurant: Impossible} and had a deer-camp feel. I seem to recall camouflage something-or-other and I have a vague recollection of antler light fixtures. Although, I can’t confirm that with photos.

There was a bar side that was separate from the restaurant side where we sat. I took a walk over to the other side while we were waiting for our food. The woodwork gave it more of a cabin feel. The bar itself was small, but the low tables were just the same as the restaurant side. My mother-in-law thought the separation of two rooms might be the former smoking and non-smoking set-up, back when lighting up was legal in restaurants.

In true Gladwin fashion, the Camp menu cannot be found online. So I snapped a few photos. This menu is quite extensive. {Strike Two for Robert Irvine}.

Camp4Like I said, there are lots of choices! Of course, there is pizza, which seems to be on the menu just about everywhere in this area. But the number of entrées surprised me! And I must say that I’ve never seen liver and onions on a menu before. {Nor have I ever tried them.}

They also have specials every day! The night we were there was Spaghetti Night. I kept seeing a small loaf of homemade bread being brought to the tables of people ordering the Spaghetti Dinner. It looked soooo good! I wonder if that was just for Spaghetti Night or if those ordering entrees received bread service, too.

Their apps include a bit more than your Usual Suspects. And as always around these parts, there’s a menu for “Mexican” food:

Camp6But I was really eyeing this part of the menu below because, for some reason, I was feeling like a salad again!

Camp

Of course there were your standard burgers, sammies and wraps for those looking for those things. There was also a menu for “Baskets of Grub,” which are actually served in a bucket, not a basket. 😉

Camp1And there were even more sandwich choices before we got done to the beverages:

Camp2

The beer selection was minimal, but they know what sells. However, before we even got the menu, I was eyeing one guy’s glass of red wine. It just sounded good over beer that night. Still, I knew it was going to be house wine. I know I’ve stated never to order the house wine. But with really no other choice, {Wine coolers? Really? Those still exist?} I went with it.

Apparently Rob did was feeling it, too. Because when he said he’d take a glass of Cab, I told our server that I’d love the same. We each received a big-assed glass! Of course, I wasn’t expecting a completely proper pour, but at least they didn’t fill it to the rim.photo 1And you know what? It really suited me that night. I’m not gonna lie. It hit the spot. Little did we know {until we received our bill} was that it was also Wine Night and all glasses of wine were $2.50. That is unheard of where we live!

We waited a really long time for our food but we didn’t mind too much because we were just relaxing {Rob and I sipping our wine} and enjoying each other’s company.

I ordered:

Southwest Chicken Salad

Southwest Chicken Salad – mixed greens, fajita chicken, tomatoes, Mexican cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips

Oh . And just so you know. A cabernet with such a salad is an oh-so-wrong food pairing. {A crisp sauvignon blanc would be more appropriate.} I really did like this salad, despite the fact that the greens were more iceberg than they were mixed.

Rob and his dad ordered the burgers – one with chips and one with fries:

And Rob’s mom ordered:

Fish sandwich...

Deluxe Fish Sandwich – fried Alaskan walleye topped with lettuce and tomato and served with tartar sauce

This sandwich was HUGE! It was enough for two people. And it was served on that small loaf of homemade bread that I was telling you about.

Verdict? The food is good. There is a reason why this place is popular and packed. Robert Irvine wouldn’t be needing to make a visit any time soon.

So why am I posting about this on Wine Wednesday, do you ask?  Because I normally don’t like to order the house wine in restaurants because it is a poor value and often the highest priced wine. However, this is definitely one case where it was the right move. 1) There were no other wine choices and 2) It hit the spot. There’s a time for everything.

Have you ever ordered something, food or drink, and then realized that it just wasn’t hitting the spot? What did you do?

Cheers~
Carrie

Advertisements

Piper’s Pub – Gladwin, MI

Standard

If you aren’t from Michigan, please stick with me anyway on this one!

You still may learn a thing or two from this Restaurant Impression

Piper’s Pub hasn’t always been around since I’ve been going back to Michigan to visit Rob’s (and now my!) family. When it landed on the map, we were excited to have another option for dining out and supporting the local economy in Gladwin! We do go there about once a year now.

That being said, I really don’t know if I have a whole lot to say about it. We dined there twice this trip, but I didn’t take any photos. One of the reasons I recount our dining experiences on this blog is so that when we go back, I know what I adored and will satisfy me if I order again and what really wasn’t worth it. There really is no use in making the same mistake twice! I’ve done that more than my fair share of times.

But looking back, I wish I would have taken more notes this trip. I really only have a few and will share with you what I remember. But having an experience that isn’t really memorable is, perhaps, a little telling in and of itself.

I’m still looking for something I really enjoy at Piper’s Pub.

Overall, I have not been impressed with the food I’ve tried here. But I’m always willing to support a local joint, so we will keep returning in search of something new. I regret not taking a photo of the menu, because like Mr. M’s, there is no menu online. However, there is one thing that I do love here:

The fries.

The golden, crispy, well-seasoned, perfectly-potato-y fries at Piper’s Pub are exceptional.

We will get them every time.

Bleus Burger

I believe that is what they call their blue cheeseburger. {More notes, Carrie, more notes!} It’s a burger on a ciabatta {Yum! Okay, extra points for that one!} smothered with a blue cheese sauce. Rob adores this burger, so we split one on a visit when we both knew we needed lunch, but weren’t particularly famished.

Can I just say how much I love ciabatta bread, especially for a burger?! The blue cheese sauce was uberflavorful, too, but not enough to cover up the flavor of the meat. While Rob, the burger guru, didn’t notice it at all, I thought the meat tasted weird. I ended up not eating the rest of the meat, just my half of the ciabatta bun smothered in blue sauce and fries. I know. Healthy lunch, right? In any case, I don’t know if it was the meat that was “off” or just me. Freezer burn, maybe?

Nachos

I’m not sure why on our second visit to Piper’s later in our vacation, I was in a nachos kind of mood. I mean we just had our fill earlier in the week at the Beaverton Tavern. Rob and I decided to split an order.

What were we thinking!!!? 

After having the most delectable nachos at the BT, why would we order them anywhere else on vacation, just days later? The downfalls of the nachos at Pipers:

  1. They used the cheap, almost-stale chips out of a bag. {Think generic brand of Tostitos.} Maybe I just have had too many a tortilla chip in my day, that I know the good ones.
  2. They were huge. {Okay, so I agree. This is a problem with most plates of nachos. So, it’s not a huge offense here.} 
  3. The toppings were piled in the middle and it took us forever just to get to the meat. {Maybe that’s why the size of the nachos was more troublesome.}

Even though the nachos weren’t good, I kept eating them in hopes that I’d get to the “good stuff.” It never happened. *Sigh*

Fried Green Beans

Like Mr. M’s {and many other dining establishments in Michigan for that matter}, Piper’s has their own version of Fried Green Beans – in an onion batter. They tasted just fine. But by this time on our vacation, I was thinking, “Oy with the fried food already!”

Other Food

When we dined with friends they said that they wings  were good, but the sauces are better at Buffalo Wild Wings. Our friend that only likes coleslaw at KFC, enjoyed it at Piper’s. Everyone else seemed to be “fine” with their food.

Beer

The folks at Piper’s seem to pride themselves with the fact that they have the “coldest beer in town”. How do they know? Do they check the temperatures of the refrigeration at all other establishments serving beer and go one degree lower?

If you are a beer snob, like I am, you know that many beers are served too cold. Chill a beer too much and it’ll lose its flavor. {But maybe that’s the point with a light beer?} But, yes, I get it. On a hot day, a nice cold beverage just sounds refreshing.

Piper’s doesn’t have much on tap. For specialties, we find our usual Bell’s Oberon this time of year and that’s about it. However, I will commend them for their bottled beer selection. Rob likes to order the Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale from Founders Brewing Company out of Grand Rapids, Michigan:

My mission next year at Piper’s? To find something healthy on their menu that I really like. They do have salads listed but I fear chunky iceberg lettuce and mealy tomatoes. But I’m determined!

Do you have a go-to dish at a particular restaurant?

What do you do when a menu has limited healthy options?

Cheers~
Carrie

The Riverwalk Grill – Gladwin, MI

Standard

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

Mr M.’s Pizza & Lounge – Gladwin, MI

Standard

If you aren’t from Michigan or don’t intend on traveling there anytime soon, please stay with me!

You just may learn a thing or two about travel and dining. Or you may be inspired to create a dish…

Our Michigan trip each year tends to be an inexpensive one. Everything seems to be so much cheaper there. For me, it’s been this way since I started traveling there in 2004. The state’s economy wasn’t doing well even before the nation’s economy tanked. For this reason, I’ve always had trouble when I’ve heard Minnesotans complain about the economy. While it’s not to say that there aren’t people struggling in our neck of the woods, the impact is more widespread in Michigan. And while Rob and I have known that Gladwin County is one of the poorest in the state, we learned this year that all but two counties in Michigan are considered below the poverty line.

When we visit family and friends in Michigan, we try to stimulate the economy as much as possible. And since we love to dine out, it’s our way to do so. In the small town of Gladwin {population just under 3000}, we’ve seen restaurants come and go. I think it’s difficult for restaurants to make it when there aren’t many people with the disposable income to support them. Still, one of Rob’s parents’ favorites and one we frequent every year is Mr. M.’s Pizza & Lounge.

I apologize that I did not take any photos at this restaurant on this trip. Sometimes, I just get caught up on vacation. However, I went online to look for a menu, but Mr. M’s doesn’t have a website other than their Facebook Page. And since Mr. M’s menu is absolutely huge, I spent about an hour in search of it online hoping to find it someplace else. I was not successful. It makes me wish even more that I had taken pictures of not only the food we enjoyed, but also the menu!

Décor

This place is in need of a makeover. The décor is not only dated, but worn. And the bar side of the establishment still reeks of smoke although smoking was banned in Michigan restaurants in 2010. If you’ve ever watched Restaurant: Impossible with Robert Irvine on the Food Network, Mr M.’s seems like a good candidate for an overhaul. However, I’m not sure how feasible this would be for the owners. While the prices of the food are pretty low, I can’t imagine an increase would be a great idea in this community. Perhaps it’s just not a priority right now.

And while Robert Irvine would also frown upon the overwhelming number of menu items, somehow Mr. M.’s makes it work.

Included on the menu are:

  • Pizzas – many different styles with a wide variety of topping options
  • Burgers and Sandwiches
  • Burritos and Nachos
  • Salads
  • Fried Fish and Chicken meals
  • And much more than I can even remember… {I seem to recall calzones and hoagies, for example, but I can’t be quoted on that!}

And here are some of the items we enjoyed:

Pizza

  • You can’t go wrong here. The pizza is excellent.
  • Don’t expect gourmet ingredients, but you can order one of their creations or build your own.
  • The mini pizzas are the perfect size for one person. {If I’m being calorie-conscious, I can even eat half and bring the rest home without feeling hungry.} They remind me of the Book-it Personal Pan pizzas we’d get from Pizza Hut as a kid for reading books. Remember those?
  • However, all of the other pizzas {even a small} are HUGE! So consider that when placing your order.
  • While one of my favorite pizza combos is sausage and mushroom, I opt for sausage and fresh tomatoes here. The mushrooms at Mr. M.’s are canned. Blech. There’s no way I’m eating rubber mushrooms.

Sidebar: I once asked for fresh mushrooms on a pizza at a local pizza place here in Minnesota. The server said to me: “We most certainly can do that for you!” When the pizza came out, she was so proud. “Here you go! I made sure that they didn’t put the mushrooms on until after the pizza was cooked!” By fresh mushrooms, she thought I meant raw, uncooked mushrooms. Tee hee. I didn’t have the heart to explain to her what I meant. From now on I just asked if they use canned mushrooms. 😉

Chicken Salad

  • If you’re looking for something a little healthier, try the chicken salad. I’m not sure if there is a specific name for this salad because I didn’t write it down, expecting I’d find it online later.
  • In addition, since I have no notes nor photos, I can’t even tell you all the ingredients in this salad! I do know that there was a juicy chicken breast that made me so happy! To my recollection, I believe there were greens, dried cherries or some other fruit, a little cheese, tomatoes, and poppyseed dressing perhaps? It’s sad when I know that I loved this dish, but can’t even remember what was all in it.
  • I can vouch that this is the best salad I’ve had in Gladwin. {Note to self next time I am looking for a salad or something healthy when we’re in Gladwin!}

Other Items

There are too many items on this menu to try everything and I know we have in years prior. However, we stuck to the pizzas and my salad this time around. Rob’s mom suggested that we split a plate of fried green beans with a side of ranch dressing as an appetizer one night. Great alternative to your typical bar food!

And while alcohol is served at this establishment, it’s not a great place for beer or drinks. Why? Your best choice for a “unique” beer on tap would be LaBatt’s Blue. Yep. In addition, Rob ordered gin and tonics on a couple of occasions. Each time, they were weak and took quite a while to come to the table.

But this place isn’t about the drinks. It’s good, casual food at incredible prices. It’s a perfect place to bring your kids or a group of people!

Where have been your favorite inexpensive eat-in food joints?

Cheers~
Carrie

Northern Espresso – Gladwin, MI {Closed}

Standard

If you don’t live in Michigan or don’t intend to travel there anytime soon, please stick with me on this post! You never know what you’ll find. Also, don’t forget my Wine Lovers Accessory Package Giveaway! Enter to win before Monday, July 16th by 11:59pm CST.

But for now, let’s talk coffee!

I never liked coffee until a trip to France changed my mind. {Before that, it just seemed liked dirty hot water to me.} It’s when I tried espresso for the first time that I changed my mind. Sure, you could say that it was all about the ambiance. There’s nothing like having un café in a café in France, right? However, this new-to-me, oh-so-tiny beverage had a punch and packed flavor. {And you know how I feel about that, right? The blog is titled Season It Already! for a reason.} While I don’t drink straight espresso on a regular basis, to this day, I still can’t drink weak coffee. Why bother if it’s not strong!?

Therefore, the first time we discovered that the small town of Gladwin, Michigan, had a coffee shop called Northern Espresso, we were more than delighted. It’s a haven for a real coffee fix while visiting family there!

You can get all of your typical espresso drinks here as well as Italian Sodas, biscotti and a few other fresh-made baked goods. It’s a cute little place:

Northern Espresso (Source)

We liked going there for the free Wi-Fi to get a little work done while we’re in town. On our first visit a few years ago, we had no idea how a place like this could make it in such a small town. However, it is still going strong! In fact, so strong that on our visit this year, it was difficult to find a seat. We were able to sit at the high-top bar facing the window and found that we actually liked it even better than a table. {Note to self for next time!}

However, because of the increase in traffic in this small place, it has become very loud. Some locals were having a discussion at a table and they were so loud that I couldn’t even concentrate on what I was doing. They were talking with staff behind the counter while seated across the coffee shop, too. Sometimes they had to yell over the espresso machine. I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a coffee shop, I want to be able to meet someone to chat; but I also want to be able to read or play online without much distraction either. I couldn’t find this happy medium this time around. 😦 Of course, it’s not their fault. Perhaps it’s just the size of the place or maybe the acoustics in the room?

I may try to find another more quiet place with Wi-Fi next time in Gladwin when I want to get some work done; however, I’ll still be going to get my caffeine fix at Northern Espresso! Small, medium and large regular coffees were just $1.00, $1.25 and $1.50 respectively. You’re not going to find prices like that at a coffee shop anywhere in the Twin Cities. Espresso-based drinks are more than reasonable as well.

We are delighted that Gladwin has a true coffee shop with such a friendly staff and hope that it continues to thrive. Thanks, Northern Espresso!

What is your favorite coffee-based drink?

Don’t like coffee? Then, do you have a morning beverage of choice?