Tuesday, June 26, 2012

European Excellence

     Unique is the the first word that comes to mind when describing Restaurant Mediteran in downtown Lansing.  The Balkan cuisine is elegant, flavorful, and completely different than anything around.  The foods gets its influences from the many countries that make up the Balkan peninsula, as well as Italy, Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey.  Other European influences are certainly represented also!

     The meal I chose is definitely emphasizing a German flair.  This lunch special features a small rack of tender lamb ribs in a tangy tomato based sauce topping hearty spaetzle.  It also comes with a tossed salad with vinegar and oil dressing and fresh baked dinner rolls (included with every entree).  The lamb was fabulous!  All of the flavors blended together perfectly to make a well-rounded, savory feast.  I say feast, because it is a lot of food for only $7.95.  Keep in mind, however, that this is a lunch special, not on the regular menu, so this particular meal is available only once in awhile. 

     My husband's choice has a decidedly Italian slant.  The Sandwich Mediteran consists of deli sliced chicken breast, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, mozzarella cheese on homemade whole grain bread for $5.95.  If you have more of an appetite, you can order soup or a salad for just $2.00 more.  Our waiter, who is also the owner, seems to be genuinely surprised when you do not order something more, but this sandwich is a nice size for a full lunch.  What makes the Sandwich Mediteran so delectable is the bread.  The owner and his family are in early every morning to bake the bread for sandwiches and rolls for the tables. 

      The interior decor is also a blending of all of the European cultures, mentioned earlier.  The highlight of the restaurant's design is the art on the walls.  These are sketches drawn by the owner, himself.  The owner and his family are from Bosnia, and their attention to detail has made this downtown space into a European haven, with cloth table cloths and napkins, low lighting, and lush indoor plants.
     Next door to the main restaurant is a deli that is a takeout version of Restaurant Mediteran.  If you do not have a ton time for a lunch, you are able to get the same great food without the wait.  After lunch at the sit-down restaurant, my hubby and I go next door for their fantastic rice pudding!  It is so creamy and cinnamon-y.  It is hard to resist, even though we are fairly full.


     Restaurant Mediteran is a rare gem, far from the commonplace.  Come try a European treat right here in Lansing.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Hanging at the Nip-N-Sip

     It's cool!  It's hip!  It's a retro drive-in on Lansing's north side!  At Nip-N-Sip, just like back in the day, you drive up, order from the cute, little menu speakers, and a server (Sadly, not on roller skates.) will bring your food out to you.  Then, you can either eat in your car or there are pavilions provided with picnic tables where you can eat al fresco.  

     If you are looking for "health" foods, this is probably not the place to go, however what the menu does offer is delicious, classic diner fare.  Some examples offered are the grilled chicken sandwich, fish 'n' chips, onion rings, various burgers, and fountain soda.  There are also mouthwatering daily specials.

     My choice was the Smokey Joe for $3.89.  I upgraded to a combo meal for $2.50 more.  I got onion rings and a fountain Cherry Coke.  The Smokey Joe rocks!  It is a huge, juicy hamburger, very flavorful, with just the right amount of crunch from fresh lettuce and tomatoes.  The sesame seed bun compliments the meat perfectly.  I had to take half of it home, because it was so big.  The onion rings were large also with tasty breading, not too greasy.  Crunchy, onion-y goodness!
     My husband got the build your own quarter, double cheeseburger, with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato, for $2.75.  His sandwich was well- seasoned and yummy.  The cheese, a sharp cheddar, added a wonderful, savory flavor to his burger.  He upgraded his meal to a combo meal, as well, but he opted for the French fries instead.  He said the fries were crispy and hot without being greasy.  He could not stop eating them, even though he was full... I guess that is a good sign that they were pretty delectable! 

     Nip-N-Sip butts up to a dirt bike track, which could be fun to watch on competition days.  Unfortunately, there was no activity there the day we visited.  Oh well, maybe next time!  Plus, next time, we would love to try some of the homemade cookies or a Boston cooler.  We will, definitely, have to save room for dessert!

Menu courtesy of AllMenus.com

Friday, June 8, 2012

Korean Hospitality

     Do you know what Bulgogi is?  How about Jap Chae, Kalbi, or Bim Bim Bab? These dishes were just some of the delectable offerings at Korea House Restaurant, a small out-of-the-way place on Trowbridge Road, in East Lansing.  By out-of-of-the-way, I mean tucked in a small corner behind a fast food joint, in the same plaza as Goodrich Shop Rite.  It was, actually, kind of hard to see.  There was a small sign on the street side of the building and a sign on the door.  It was totally unassuming and humble.  This was also the atmosphere inside the doors as well, with dim lighting, closely placed tables, muted colors, and soft music playing in the background.

      The cool thing about it was that you almost felt like you were in Korea!  Many of the other diners were Korean, and the servers were speaking Korean with them.  From the moment you walked into the restaurant, the owner was diligent in presenting each customer with authentic Korean cultural style and hospitality.   The wait staff was quick to direct you to a table.  Promptly, menus appeared for your perusal, as well as water and eating utensils (chopsticks and silverware).  The server was quick, efficient, and friendly, even in the busy, lunch hour rush.

     The lunch menu included a grouping of Korean meal options and sushi specials for a very good price.  My husband ordered the bulgogi ($4.72).  Korea House's bulgogi was tender marinated beef, so tender it almost melted in your mouth.  It was served with white, sticky rice, and three steamed wantons (mandu).  Delicious!  He said it had a wonderfully sweet, Asian barbecue flavor.  My hubby just does not do onions, so the next time, he will see if they can make it without those.  Along with his meal, he also ordered their house hot tea.  The flavor was a subtle, soothing blend of corn and barley, an uncommon, delightful combination!

     My choice was the spicy chicken ($4.72).  The chicken and vegetables were perfectly cooked.  Plus, the spiciness did not overpower the flavor, a balance that seems to be difficult to achieve.  This meal also came with sticky rice and three pieces of mandu.  Kimchi came with every meal, as well, yummy small dishes of spicy cabbage, pickled radish, and bean sprouts.  I ordered the hot tea with my meal too, along with my water.       

     The food came out tasty, hot, fast, and at a good price.  The servers were polite, and they smiled a lot.  The atmosphere was really mellow.  Plus, the secluded location made it a get away from the routine of work stress.  What more could you ask for?  Korea House was the ultimate in lunch time dining.  The big bonus?  Diners got to experience small piece of Korean hospitality right in East Lansing!

Lunch menu courtesy of AllMenus.com