Knife Skills ClassAt this hands-on techniques class. Chef Brad will show you how to choose a knife with the best fit for you, styles, how to store and care for your knives as well as basic cutting skills. Thurs. March 2, 6-8pm
Butchering Class In this class, Chef Brad McKenzie and our in-house butcher demonstrate butchering techniques for the home cook including with large and small cuts, whole chicken and more. Thurs. Mar. 9th 6-8pm
Sausage Making ClassBig flavor, Small package. Chef Brad will teach the techniques of processing, grinding, stuffing, casing, cooking and, of course, eating. Thurs. March 23rd, 6-8pm
It’s simple really – the fastest way to a travelers heart is through his or her stomach. No matter where you go, you need to eat. A tried and true way to get a feel for the local culture is by eating the local fare. Owners should strive to surprise and delight tourists through the quality of their food, their service, or their decor. The list we’ve compiled below represents the best restaurant in each state in the USA. These winners were chosen based on a mouth-watering menu, impeccable service, delightful atmosphere and positive traveler feedback. So feel comfortable choosing any of these spots on your next road trip, or try the winner near your hometown to see what all the fuss is about!
Thank you Tripadvisor!
Published: Monday, February 06, 2012, 10:00 AM
By George Aquino
My closest friends know that I can’t stand being in a car for any period longer than 30 minutes. For example, colleagues driving with me on the two-and-a-half hour drive from downtown Grand Rapids to Chicago are forewarned that there are scheduled stops on the way. On one trip, my first stop was the D&W grocery store in Hudsonville (a mere 10 minutes from Grand Rapids) for a cup of Starbucks. We stopped two more times before reaching Chicago five hours later.
Needless to say, I would never drive an hour south to Kalamazoo for a meal unless the restaurant was worthy of a foodie excursion. Food Dance ‘s inclusion in my Press article last month highlighting my 12 restaurants for 2012 was no fluke. I’ve been to Food Dance for lunch but this was my dinner debut. I invited my very good friend Don MacKenzie to join me on this jaunt. Besides being a wonderful dinner companion, Don was kind enough to drive us to Kalamazoo.
Food Dance was absolutely buzzing when we arrived for our 7:45 p.m. dinner reservation. Don and I wandered around the charming deli and specialty food store filled with locally sourced items. Besides the “Buckeye State” ice cream, most food items on the shelves are from Michigan. One can sense that every item in the store was hand selected and given a personal stamp of approval by the proprietor.
Our name was called out loudly by the hostess like an administered roll call in school – Aquino party for two! Aquino party for two! (Anyone? Anyone?). I would highly suggest a better way of calling restaurant guests. No need to invest in expensive technology. Perhaps just making an effort to note the guest’s attire on the sheet and approaching each guest personally would have been a more pleasant way of doing this – note the Asian guy with camera and tall white guy.
The hostess/manager, though efficient and helpful while assisting the staff with moving seats and busing tables, appeared unnecessarily hurried. The gum chewing also was a bit much given the setting. Putting aside our initial observations, Food Dance, on this Saturday evening in January, had the energy of a popular New York City eatery. Every seat was taken and the sound of convivial chatter was a welcome surprise. The lofty atmosphere, the warm wood tones and the genuine energy in the room reminded me so much of Bistro Bella Vita in Grand Rapids.
We were seated in a comfortable booth overlooking the main dining room. Our server, Carrie, presented us with the menu selections for the evening. Unbeknownst to Don and me, it was actually Restaurant Week in Kalamazoo. This explained the crowded dining room and the lively discussions that permeated throughout the restaurant.
It didn’t take us long to decide that the Artisan Cheese & Cured Meat Selection was a perfect way to start our evening. First of all, I have never had an encounter with a meat and cheese board I didn’t like. We opted for two meats, La Quercia Prosciutto ($8) and the House Coppa ($4), and three cheeses, the gouda-style Ursinus ($4), the velvety Manchester ($4) and the creamy blue veined Gorgonzola Dulce ($4), to prep us for the upcoming feast. We couldn’t have asked for a better starter though it’s important to note that the La Quercia prosciutto from Iowa is a true standout selection.
The chorizo Stuffed Squid ($13) came next on a dish with roasted pepper conserva and chimichurri vinaigrette. I bit into the squid and made immediate eye contact with Don to confirm that we were in agreement that this dish was incredible. The roasted pepper conserva is essentially a high-end tomato paste with a much richer flavor and more complex subtleties to appease all foodies. The combination of the spiced chorizo, perfectly cooked squid and the conserva made for a decadent dish. However, we both found the chimichurri unnecessary, not to mention, lacking in spices and garlic essence.
We ordered the Braised Oxtail Gnocchi ($11) for our second starter. I am not a big fan of gnocchi for I find it usually too doughy. However, I love oxtail, and on this evening, my fondness for oxtail prevailed. And let me tell you something, this dish is one of the most decadent dishes I have had. Don seconded my approval. The gnocchi was subtle and alluring like a glass of champagne while the oxtail was both elegant and robust like a Burgundy Premiere Cru.
Carrie convinced me to order the house specialty, Young Earth Farm’s Grilled Pork Chop ($21). Food Dance’s culinary team butchers locally grown pigs, and just like any good farm-to-table restaurant, the kitchen utilizes every part of the pig in their menu offerings. As expected, the grilled pork chops were firm on the outside but very moist in the inside. The accompanying eggplant caponata and buttercup squash puree were both lush and satisfying on a cold winter night.
Don loves fried chicken and the Buttermilk Fried Cornish Hen ($25) with buttermilk biscuits, gravy and stewed smoky greens on the Restaurant Week Menu was definitely calling his name. We were mindful of the “no substitutions” on the special menu; however, we inquired if Don could be served the Restaurant Week Cornish hen in lieu of the regular menu’s version that was priced the same. We were not asking for a reduction on the price, but merely for the kitchen to skip the first two courses on the three-course restaurant week menu because we knew we couldn’t finish another two dishes. Unfortunately, Carrie informed us the chef wouldn’t allow that and we had to order the other courses.
We were determined to ignore such an illogical response given that the entire meal had been memorable so far. We pressed on and told Carrie to go ahead and place the entire Restaurant Week order but instructed her to box the first two courses. Thankfully, the fried Cornish Hen was perfectly crisp and succulent on the inside. The biscuits and gravy were as comforting as grandma’s cooking.
We ordered a side order of the Classic Mac & Cheese ($6) with Rustichella d’ Abruzzo rigatoni and Grafton aged cheddar. Once again, the kitchen didn’t disappoint. I have to admit that I like a little Kraft M&C, but there’s nothing better than Mac and Cheese from scratch.
Don and I saved just enough room for a scoop of Salty Caramel ice cream ($7) from Jeni’s in Columbus, Ohio. It wasn’t the flavor of the day, but Carrie was kind enough to grab a pint from the retail store to help us finish our dining experience on a very positive note. Sure enough, the ice cream was tasty with a salty and sweet combination that was certain to linger in our memories. She threw in an extra house made brownie to further enhance our last impression of Food Dance. Bravo!
Food Dance is a Kalamazoo dining experience worthy of an hour drive. Its food execution is near flawless despite some minor quirks in service delivery. Don sent me a text that wonderfully summarizes our Food Dance dinner:
The oxtail alone is worth the trip. I would argue that the oxtail could convert even a stoic vegetarian. Food Dance has truly mastered the art of balancing flavors to create a complete dining experience. Every bite was a stand-alone amuse bouche.
Amen to that
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Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. • Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. (breakfast only) • Ph: 269-382-1888 • 401 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI