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Hanging Out In… East Grand Rapids | Arts & Culture

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Hanging Out In… East Grand Rapids
Hanging Out In… East Grand Rapids

Written by Steven G. de Polo

East Grand Rapids is a bedroom community of split-levels and pre-fab colonial homes with access to good schools. Having been raised in Grosse Pointe, I can say that EGR is populated with overly competitive, sports-obsessed middle-class people who wear a lot of North Face clothing. It's Rockford with trees. However, it does have sweet shopping and restaurants.

The Derby Station (2237 Wealthy St.) is where you go for something special. The large restaurant recalls an English pub, which reflects its roots with the Anglophile L&B Restaurant Portfolio that also includes Logan's Alley, Cambridge House and Graydon's Crossing. The room is airy with dark woods and solid furniture and the patio is spacious. The Michigan Micro Mania Sampler is awesome: Short's Spruce Pilsner, Vander Mill Whit Cider, New Holland Ichabod Ale, Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA and Vivant Farm Hand Ale. Compliment that beer with some excellent food. The extensive menu reflects a respect for local and sustainable farming. Trust Poppa Steve and begin with the Stumbling Nachos, which includes drunken chili, Arcadia Hopmouth cheese sauce and pickled jalapeno peppers. Then get a typical pub-style entree such as the Cottage Pie, with stewed ground beef and vegetables topped with garlic-mashed potatoes. Sit on the patio if it is nice.

Next, our culinary adventures take us to Osta's Lebanese Cuisine (2228 Wealthy St.). The restaurant opened in downtown Grand Rapids in 1993 and then moved to Gaslight Village to be closer to customers. The land of the Phoenicians, who were the Original Gangstas, Lebanon has been influenced by many cultures and their cuisine reflects that sophistication. The flavors are delicate and carefully balanced to thrill the palate. "This is the food you would find when you walk off the plane in Lebanon," said Co-Owner Diane Aouad. When this reporter asked for hot sauce she arched her brow. Her husband, the chef, does not want to cover up the flavors with heat. "The Lebanese in Detroit will put anything on the food," she added. Diane made a couple suggestions for me and my sister Lovely Lucy. She had the Fatoush Salad, which contrasts crisp fresh vegetables with crunchy toasted pita chips and the zing of the homemade vinaigrette dressing. I had the Kafta Kabob on a pita with creamy hummus and onions, which was delicious. As they say in Lebanese, Sahtein . . . to your good health.

Down the block, Crazy Charlie's (2184 Wealthy St.) focuses on one thing: hot dogs. In a town of ascots, Rolex watches and Bentley cars, sometimes you just want a good tube steak. My girl Little Lulu goes there once…