usa today: great american bites: scrumptious surprises at grand rapids gastro-pub
From USA Today:
Located on the corner of a commercial block in the East Town area of Grand Rapids, Mich., The Winchester looks like any old neighborhood tavern - in a neighborhood going hipster. There's a food truck perpetually parked outside, which the restaurant uses for street fairs and special events, and a sign featuring a man riding an antique bicycle that has nothing to do with the restaurant other than that antique bicycles are in vogue. Perhaps the most unusual thing a careful observer would note is the well-tended vegetable garden The Winchester operates across the street, one of the secrets to its culinary appeal. The garden can be viewed from the handful of tables near the large, glass front windows. There is also outside seating off the side of the restaurant, by the food truck.
Inside is a well-cared for pub interior with English flair, especially the ornate and elaborate brass beer taps lining the bar that runs the down the left side of the one long dining room. The rest of the decor consists of worn wooden floors, vast exposed brick, wood tables and chairs, and lots of art, covering the walls and even the very high ceilings, which give the room a relaxed spaciousness. It is comfortable and local, yet very much put together to create an enlightened gastro-pub feel.
Reason to visit: Korean BBQ Pork Sliders, Pierogies, Pork Green Chili, Grilled Cheese, Burgers, and nearly everything on the eclectic menu.
The food: I am hesitant to use the word gastro-pub, which has been so abused as to have lost meaning. But I have been to the very first gastro-pub, the Eagle in London's Clerkenwell neighborhood, where the term was coined, and it suits The Winchester well. The idea is to take fairly typical bar food and elevate it with superior ingredients and creative cooking twists, and add some unexpected dishes to the menu. Done well, as it is here, this concept results in an affordable and casual midpoint between bar food and fine dining.
To say the menu is eclectic is an understatement, as it mixes American and English bar staples with Japanese, Thai, French, Polish, Indian and Mexican mainstays and ingredients. You may never be in another restaurant that has a gator po' boy, naan club sandwich, pork belly crepe, bibimbap salad and Buffalo frog legs on the same menu. Yes, Buffalo frog legs, and yes, I ordered them. How could I not? The old saying is true - they taste like chicken, only leaner and bonier.
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