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Home Food  She ate: Perfection on a plate
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Wednesday, August 13,2014

She ate: Perfection on a plate

by Gabrielle Johnson
First, the bad: The website looks like it’s only half-developed and doesn’t list prices. You’ve got to pay for parking in downtown East Lansing. And it’s pricy — I’m not made of money, a fact I frequently lament. The good: Everything else. Everything we had there during two separate meals was fresh, innovative and worth eating again.

My boyfriend and I met for lunch and decided to sit outside and enjoy the nearby courtyard. Crazed with hunger, the moment we sat downI ordered an appetizer I remembered seeing on the website, asparagus tartar ($8). I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that asparagus was a safe bet for both of us. Our bet paid off handsomely when we were presented with chopped asparagus topped with chopped tomato formed into a mound, surrounded by crisp slices of crostini and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The tartar was cool, refreshing, flavorful, and the moment the crostini ran out the waitress offered more.

He ordered the Cajun-spiced chicken club sandwich special ($9), which came with fries. I ordered the lobster roll ($15), which also came with fries. His only beef (er, chicken?) with the sandwich was that it was cheeseless. A well-spiced, oversized chicken breast was topped with two thick slices of bacon, crisp Romaine lettuce, and mayonnaise. (He asked them to hold the tomato.) The fries were fantastic. We hadn’t read the description carefully and were surprised to see a mix of sweet potato and Idaho potatoes, obviously made in-house, thickly sliced, perfectly salted, hot and fresh. My lobster roll was out of this world. Slightly spicy, smoky lobster was mixed into a salad, topped with peppery arugula, slices of tomato and a spicy aioli on lightly grilled ciabatta bread. Yes, the sandwich was $15. Worth it. This was one of the best sandwiches I’ve had lately.

We went back for dinner the next week and continued to explore the menu. We started with the chicken lollipops ($9), four chicken drumsticks on a thick slab of cornbread with honey and jalapeño sauce. This cornbread was exceptional, which is a rare find and something I didn’t know I was missing until I found it. I’d love to see the fabulous cornbread featured in more dishes, or just brought to the tables in a basket. I know I personally would shovel an entire basket in my face any old day.

My boyfriend ordered the avocado crabwich ($12), an extra-large crab cake set on thick mango slices that was topped with arugula, tomato, avocado, and a mild roasted garlic aioli. The ingredients were fresh, the mango was an interesting play on the traditional flavors of crab cakes, but the sandwich needed a little texture. I marveled at the bright colors on his plate before I became preoccupied by my own meal, which again stole the show and had me congratulating myself for being an entrée-ordering genius.

The steamed mussels and frites ($16) looks impressive before you even have your first whiff of garlic or your first slurp of chorizo-laced broth. Again, worth it. Mussels were heaped into a deep dish and bathing in a spicy, smoky broth with red onion, garlic, and chunks of chorizo. Thick slices of char-grilled baguette were perfect to soak up the juice when I took a break from scooping the mussels out of their shells and encouraging the boyfriend to stick his nose into the broth and take a whiff, because I am just that kind of annoying eater. The same sweet and salty fries as last time perfectly complemented the shellfish.

We asked the waitress for more bread. She quickly brought more and didn’t charge extra. She also didn’t charge us for my club soda, which means that she forever has my heart and must understand the complete idiocy of charging upwards of $2 for a glass of bubbly water.

Her dessert recommendation, roasted pineapple rum cheesecake ($5), was a perfect ending to a meal that had already blown me away. Roasted, almost caramelized pineapple topped a thick, round cheesecake, a perfect portion size for two (or for me alone, but only if nobody will ever know). The creamy, luxurious cheesecake and made me want to lie my weary head down on a pillow made of the filling. The boyfriend kept swooping in for dollops of the vanilla custard dotting the plate.

The only other bad thing I’ve got is that we haven’t been able to stop in yet for Sunday brunch — cornbread cakes are on the menu.

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