Thursday, May 24, 2012

What, No Periscope?

     Want a submarine?  No, not that kind of sub... the sandwich.  There are tons of places in Lansing that sell them.  Which one is the best?  I have to say, Lenny's Sub Shop is pretty close.  Unfortunately, it's not a local company.  It is a chain, headquartered in Memphis, TN, but with the daily specials and the generous portions, their quality extends far beyond their Tennessee roots.

     Lenny's motto "More Food, More Taste, More Personality" is something the downtown Lansing shop takes very seriously.  The employees welcome customers warmly with plenty of smiles as you approach the end of the counter to order.  The young woman who took our order was quick and efficient.  My husband ordered the turkey sandwich special.  This was a Turkey Sub with provolone cheese, a chocolate chip cookie, and a Luzianne sweet tea for $6.99.  I ordered the Roast Beef Sub Combo with provolone cheese, jalapeƱo chips, and a Luzianne unsweetened tea with lemon, which was a bit more expensive for $8.59.  The special is definitely the way to go, if you want to keep the cost down.

     When we were finished at her counter, she directed us to the next station where a gentleman made our sandwiches.  We had our choice of a white or a wheat sub bun.  We both opted for the whole wheat.  To these, he added a pile of meat and a few slices of cheese.  Then the questions began.  Lenny's does not have their toppings laid out for you to choose.  The person making your sandwich asks, a few ingredients at a time, what you would like.  We found this a bit odd...  However, each time you chose, he added a good amount to your liking.  Lenny's also makes their own spicy relish.  It is so, so delicious on any of their many sandwich choices.
     The next station was where one would pay for their meal.  Lenny's has an online reward system that customers can utilize to earn free food.  My hubby happened to have earned enough points for us to have a free sub.  Score!  This was good for the bank account!  Our meal also gave us five point toward another free sub.  I am liking this. 

     Lenny's has a very clean, well cared for dining area.  A gentleman was cleaning up nearby, and even offered to refill our drinks for us.  This is the kind of service Lenny's is famous for, and tastes such as Philly Cheesesteak, Black Bean Veggie Sub, and Chicken Salad will keep us coming back to try their food again!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Para Lansing con Amor

  Where to go on a gorgeous 80 degree, May day?  Hhmmm....  Neither my husband or I wanted to be inside on such a warm day, so we decided to turn to El Oasis (Antojitos Mexicanos), a popular food truck on Lansing's east side.  El Oasis serves authentic Mexican food and drinks for breakfast and lunch.  This seemed like the perfect choice! 

     It, absolutely, was.  We each ordered a Gregorio's special for $3.00.  It came with one taco, beans and rice.  My husband ordered his taco with no onion.  He also ordered a sope at $2.00, and both of us ordered an horchata, $2.00 each.  El Oasis was busy, busy!  We waited quite a while for our food, but it was worth the wait.  The tacos were made with two soft white corn tortillas, mildly spicy ground hamburger, creamy cheese, and a delectable blend of cool vegetables, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  The rice and beans complimented the taco with a bit of spice.  My husband's sope had a yummy corn fry bread as its base with layers of refried beans, shredded beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, avocado, and sour cream.  We were offered two very different versions of pico de gallo sauces, one red hot and one green mild, so we got one of each.  Both had a unique flavor that added a nice zing.  Delicious! 

     As for horchata, if you have never had this wonderful rice milk drink, you are truly missing out.  The drink my hubby and I ordered at El Oasis was creamy, cinnamon-y goodness.  The blend of spices in the rice milk were just the right mix.  It was hard not to just drink it all right away, and not let it compliment the meal.  It was truly divine.   

     All of the food items at El Oasis were packaged in small Styrofoam containers, ready for travel.  It is important to remember that there is no outdoor seating available.  However, just down the block from their prime location is the Foster Community Center, which has picnic tables outside as well as a playground for the kids.  This was where we opted to enjoy our meal.  Perfect for an impromptu picnic lunch.

      Antojitos Mexicanos, in Spanish, means Mexican Cravings.  The hot, fresh, made to order menu at El Oasis will certainly create cravings for a long time to come.      

Monday, May 14, 2012

Leo's House

     Walking into The Brunch House, in South Lansing, is like walking into someone's home.  As soon as you come in the door you are greeted with enthusiastic smiles and warm welcomes.  You do not have to wait to be seated, you can pull up a chair where ever you choose.  A server will be right with you to take your order.  There are big screen TVs with the news, so you can watch while you wait, and WFMK (light rock) pipes in through the speakers.  The waitress my husband and I had, one of only two for a lively lunch rush, was very sweet with an accommodating manner.  She used "Sir" and "Ma'am" when taking our orders, although she was in a hurry.  It made me feel a little old, but this is the kind of polite service you do not get everywhere! 

           The menu has an extensive breakfast selection, as well as lunch, comprised of basic diner fare.  The owner also adds an authentic Lebanese dish to the menu daily.  As my hubby and I looked over the menu and specials board, we decided to go with some of The Brunch House's many breakfast options.  He had the blueberry pancakes, two eggs over easy, and ham at $6.00, while I had an item from the specials board, (which was not on the menu, I might add.) a veggie scramble with rye toast for $5.99.  The veggie scramble had a layer of hash browns topped with eggs, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, cheese and sausage with a sauce on the top.   I am not sure what the sauce was though.  Hhmm....

     The server apologized for the wait, which was extra long.  Unfortunately, the food, in our opinion, was nothing spectacular.  However, it was hot and made to order.  The highlight of my husband's meal was the Blueberry Pancakes.  He said they had a good flavor and a generous amount of blueberries throughout the mix, although a bit dense.  His eggs were also tasty.  They were cooked perfectly.  As far as my meal, I liked the hash browns and the other vegetables.  These ingredients were crispy with subtle seasoning.

     The best thing about The Brunch House is the relaxed atmosphere.  Owner, Leo Farhat, is extremely serious when it comes to customer satisfaction. He came to our table to introduce himself at the end of our meal.  Leo made sure we had gotten enough to eat, asked if there was anything else he could do for us, and shook our hands hardily.  On The Brunch House's web site Farhat explains. “If customers don’t totally enjoy how they’re treated, they don’t come back, and we’re not going to allow that. Here, they can escape from their work day for a bit and truly enjoy a great meal, what’s better than that?”  A good philosophy for any restaurant.

NOTE:  Since this blog came out, I have had more than one person rave about Leo's Housa.  I definitely have to go back and try this or one of his other Lebanese specialty items.  Thank you!  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thai It Up!

     What is all the buzz in downtown Lansing?  The waitresses at Thai Village Restaurant run around busy, busy, busy like bees!  They are fast, highly efficient, no nonsense with few extra pleasantries, but that is only because they have little time to stop and talk.  There seems to be a constant whirr, during the lunch hour, at the corner of S. Washington Square and Kalamazoo Street! 

     "What would you like to drink?"  We asked for hot tea.  Tea comes in the cutest little teapot with a square edged cup.  It is very hot, but it cools off nice and gradually as you sip, talk, and listen to delightful Asian music.  Even though the pace around you is quick, the decor is soothing to the senses.  The mirrors along the inside the wall create the optical allusion that the space is bigger than it actually is.  This effect makes the restaurant bright and airy.

     "Would you like egg drop or hot and sour soup?"  (Choice of soup comes with every meal.)  My husband and I got one of each.  The hot and sour is decidedly the favorite with a delectable blend of spicy broth and crunchy vegetables.  The egg drop soup seemed bland in comparison.

     "What would you like for you entree?"  For me, P7 Pad Pak with chicken, a tasty stir fry of broccoli, pea pods, carrots, baby corn, napa, and bamboo shoots in a brown sauce for $6.50.  Medium heat, please!  For my hubby, P19 Peanut Curry, a spicy, flavorful combination of beef, chicken, and pork with bamboo shoots, carrots, bell peppers, and green onions in a sweet Thai peanut curry for $7.00.  He asked for no onions and medium heat, as well.  It is so tempting to delve into your neighbor's plate, because the colors, flavors, and aromas are quite enticing.  A large mound of white, sticky rice helps to balance out the textures.  Also, I found the portions to be quite generous for lunch.  I had some left over for a snack later.

     The website states, "Our delicious Thai Cuisine awaits you!"  This is true.  The food at Thai Village Restaurant is yummy, hot, and fresh.  The bonus?  It is all made to order.  You can have it as spicy or as mild as you wish.  Plus, the waitress told us that you could add or subtract vegetables and change up the sauces.  How great is that?  We thought it was pretty amazing and scrumptious at an affordable price!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pie? Yes, please!

     Do you live, work, or play near downtown Lansing?  If you do, and you haven't been to Grand Traverse Pie Company yet, go!  This, Traverse City, MI based, restaurant is definitely one exceptional establishment.  Their menu features breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, of course, pie (Which gets its own top billing!), as well as other desserts.  They also have coffee drinks and their own unique, brewed coffee blends.

     Ironically, my husband and I ended up ordering exactly the same meal.  Weird, huh?  It just sounded so delicious!  We picked the combination of a Cherrywood Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato grilled sandwich on sourdough bread and a house salad with their creamy, homemade ranch dressing.  My hubby made his a little different by getting the house blended chipotle ranch instead, although, in my opinion, there wasn't much of a difference.  The chipotle dressing could have used a bit more spice.  I think this was my only complaint.
     The sandwich was very good, fresh and tasty, with crisp, cherrywood smoked bacon, and the salad was of the highest quality ingredients with feta cheese that added just the right amount of sharpness to compliment the mild, creamy ranch dressing.

     The best part of the whole meal, however, was what we ordered afterward, PIE!  I ordered  the Blackberry Peach Crumb with their robust, sassy house blend coffee.  My hubby ordered the Apple Crumb with Caramel and Pecans.  We tried some of each other's pies.  We just could not resist.  So, so delicious!

     If you are anywhere near Washington Square, and you want a wonderful, affordable treat, go to Grand Traverse Pie Company.  Our meal was a combo, salad and sandwich, for $6.29.  You can add a drink for $1.00 and any slice of pie for $2.49.  The staff is very friendly, the samples are scrumptious, and the place is hopping!  The restaurant is very busy during the lunch hour, because the business people, who are downtown everyday, know where all the good food is.  A little secret, though, they are also open until 7 pm, on week nights.  Plus, they have weekend hours to enjoy a slice of pie and a cup of joe anytime you have a craving!