Wrought Iron Grill, Owosso, MI; also Father’s Day

We had a number of adventures this past weekend starting with a brief jaunt to Ft. Wayne for storm-chasing on Friday night. The night ended with me driving home through that horrible downpour/second great flood/electrical storm south of Lansing. Fun times!

However, I am working my way backwards from my food notes for the weekend so we will begin with Father’s Day dinner. On Saturday, I called my dad to arrange dinner but we didn’t have plan for where to go yet. Initially, I considered taking him out on Saturday when we were going to go sample the contestant restaurants for our rehearsal dinner- ribs and pizza will make a man happy. Then, we went camping instead so we planned for Sunday.

Driving back from camping on Sunday (in Marshall), I started thinking about where to go. My parents live in Flushing, just west of Flint. We live on the west side of Lansing. I didn’t really expect my dad to drive all the way to Lansing nor did I really want to drive all the way in to Flint considering I also had a paper to finish write from scratch for class, due before bedtime. In the back of my head, I remembered this steakhouse/ grill type place in Owosso. Or maybe Corunna or even Durand. When we got back to Lansing, I went online to try to find it. You would think locating a restaurant in the small town of Owosso wouldn’t be that hard but it took 3 or 4 google search pages for the name to show up in a page- and not the restaurant’s actual home page even! After confirming I had the right place, I called to see if we needed reservations (nope) and the hours (until 8pm) then passed on the pertinent info to dad.

Only then did I look at my blog readers. And lo and behold, my fellow mid-Michigander had just been there the day before. Please read about his lunch experience and note the similarities.


We arrived before my dad and, following the behest of our GPS, drove right past the place and around the block to come in from the side. The restaurant is located in an old factory building/warehouse and is surrounded by several other buildings of the same variety. This area is right near the train tracks and across from the grain co-op, apparently the commercial-industrial center of Owosso, in its heyday. We parked along the side and noticed the adjacent building is the (former?) home of the Owosso Casket Company.

I spent some time in Owosso as a teenager. The hip thing to do was go “Owossoing” which is pretty much like cruising except lame-er. My recollections of the town are dim and consist mostly of a strip that reminds me of many towns along state highways or commercial fares (For you Flint-ites, think Dort Highway, the nicer parts): fast food joints, random stores, maybe a strip club. Oh, but Owosso has a castle! Curwood Castle was the home of author James Curwood. In case you don’t know that name, he was born in 1878 (in Owosso) and wrote such books as God’s Country and the Woman (1915) and The Valley of Silent Man (1920), several of which were made in to movies as well.

We didn’t go to the castle, having already toured a historic home down in Marshall earlier in the day. Instead, we went right to the restaurant. After a little confusion because the hostess wasn’t listening when we said we’d like to sit outside, we grabbed a table on the porch/patio. There was additional confusion because she said “wherever you like” but then said if we wanted smoking, we had to sit on the south side. And we didn’t so she said we didn’t have to smoke to sit there. Okay, but I don’t want to sit next to smokers either. Who chooses that??? The al fresco dining was perfect. The patio faces east so we didn’t have to worry about baking in the sun and it was neither too hot nor too humid.

Someone brought us water right away but it did take a few minutes more for the waitress to come and ask if we had drink orders. My dad hadn’t arrived yet but we went ahead and submitted an order for an appetizer, the Medicciettes: marinated tenderloin of beef encrusted with Parmesan breadcrumbs and served with sauce Bernaise. I also ordered a glass of red wine, a zinfandel from Melanto Terrace Wines (California). Not a favorite but not awful either, just a little too much pepper in the first taste.

After my dad arrived, the appetizer was delivered. I don’t really eat beef but of late, I’ve been sampling a few bites. Seems like if I’m going to review restaurants, I should be trying the food. I’m not likely to order a burger on our next outing nor would I order a steak entree but I’ll try a bite here and there. Chris made steak fajitas one night and I had a slice of the steak. It was good and about what I recall decent steak tasting like (oh, stopped eating red meat in 7th grade). These Medicciettes were not to my liking. The meat seemed stringy and didn’t taste like much of anything. The boys however, had no problem eating the rest.

After our appetizer, we finally ordered our entrees. I went with the Seafood Risotto, Chris ordered the Wrought Iron Pizza
and my dad had the salmon “burger.”

We’ll start with Chris- He waffled a bit before settling on pizza. Burgers and steaks were also on his mental checklist but once he picked the pizza, he stuck with it. Its not uncommon for Chris to change his mind right when the server shows up to take orders so this could be significant. The Wrought Iron Pizza consists of roasted chicken, grilled pineapple, Black Forest ham, red onion and green pepper with house barbeque sauce. He omitted the green pepper. The pizza was quite large, more than enough for two people to split. He was very happy with his pizza. Around the first bite he was asking me how long I’ve known about this place and why hadn’t we come here before. Half the pizza came home and I did have a slice tonight which I thought was pretty good and probably better warmed up.

My dad was also waffling, between the salmon entree and the salmon burger. The entree is served with a creamy dill sauce, rice and vegetables while the burger comes grilled with roasted red pepper aioli on an asiago bun with steak fries. He chose the sandwich and was a little thrown when the waitress asked how he wanted it cooked (i.e. to what degree). Truth be told, so was I. Generally, salmon is cooked all the way (excepting sushi of course). The only fish I’ve ever been asked about doneness on is ahi tuna (which should be rare, no exceptions!!!). Maybe she was just confused by the word burger and asked out of habit. The burger arrived with a scant serving of steak fries, as noted in review linked above. Maybe they are trying to help people control carbs? In any event, dad liked his burger, in fact he said it was really good. Coming from my generally quiet, “its okay” dad, this is huge!

Now I, I did not waffle. I did look at the whole menu. A few things caught my eye but once I saw risotto with lobster, shrimp and scallops in a cream sauce, I was only window shopping. Because I hadn’t really had much in the way of vegetables thus far, I added a dinner salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette to my order. It was your typical salad so let’s move on to the main event. I love risotto. I still reminisce over the risotto at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham (MI) which I had at the wedding of my now ex-boyfriend’s sister six years ago. Good stuff. I make it a lot at home, look through the archives here and you’ll find the recipe for the mushroom version we like best. Now, I would probably not ever make seafood risotto at home because Chris is so picky about the source of our seafood. Oh, and he doesn’t like scallops. So, this on a menu, was gonna be on my plate. And it was exactly what I was hoping for. Delicious and creamy with a generous amount of sweet lobster meat mixed in to the risotto then several shrimp and two jumbo scallops served over the top. Besides the cheesy creaminess, the plate was dressed with a bit of balsamic vinegar. Browse this site, you might also notice a certain fondness for the balsamic. IThe risotto was expensive and considering the price and trend in America, I expected a huge serving but was pleasantly surprised to receive an amount, while no doubt high in calories, that a reasonable person could eat without needing trolley assistance to the car.

In fact, I was so not overly stuffed that I convinced the boys to go in on a dessert with me. Its June! In Michigan! Hello strawberry shortcake with local berries! Sadly this was not fabulous. The strawberries were good but the shortcake was a little too dry for the amount of berries and cream. Which didn’t stop me from eating a fair amount, I’m just saying.

This meal was pretty extended what with all the talking and eating and ordering so I ended up ordering a second glass of wine, this time Elusiv Pinot Noir which was very cherry in flavor. I liked it better than the Zin. Too bad for me that its apparently from a boutique winery sold to restaurants only. Gee, I guess we’ll have to go back to the Wrought Iron Grill soon….. The waitress mentioned that the menu changes seasonally with some carryovers based on popularity and an overall focus on locally sourced products. You know I love that!

All in all, a great place for Father’s Day or any other nice night on the town. Owosso has some other things to do (besides the castle) and also has a pretty decent community theater troupe. For this night, it was just nice to have a good meal and let Chris and my dad get to know each other better.

Details

Wrought Iron Grill
Website with Menu
317 Elm Street
Owosso, Mi 48867
989-472-9025

HOURS:
Mon – closed
Tu-Th 11a-10p
Fr-Sa 11a-12a
Sun-12n-8p

Support Local Agriculture, again and again and again

Its coming!

September 18th is the 4th Annual Select Michigan Day Farm Market, to be held on the front lawn of the Capitol in Lansing. I went to the Buy Local Day back in July and found some cool stuff including veggies I’d never seen before, like water spinach (which sauteed up quite nicely in a little sesame oil).  I’ll be there on the 18th to load up my bags again. And this time, I’m taking more money!

Also on the 18th is the Michigan Food and Farming Systems 10th Anniversary Benefit Reception.

Founded in 1998, MIFFS is a statewide membership organization (501c3) whose purpose is to promote diverse efforts that foster and sustain food and farming systems that improve Michigan’s economy, environment and social well-being.  MIFFS focuses its programs around assisting family farmers to develop entrepreneurial business, marketing, production and management skills to sustain their farming operations; growing market opportunities by linking consumers, communities and farmers; supporting agricultural stewardship and sustainable production; and informing and influencing public policy and institutional decisions that impact family farms.

The benefit costs $100 but $80 is tax deductible.  The night will include dinner and drinks and a keynote address by Oran Hesterman, CEO of The Fair Food Foundation of Ann Arbor. The Fair Food Foundation works with primarily urban communities to guarantee access to fresh produce via the development of urban gardens.  The deadline to sign-up for the Benefit is Tuesday, September 9th.

Alas, I won’t be attending the benefit, even though it does sound like an interesting night. But, that happens to be the same night as a cooking class I am considering at Le Chat Gourmet in Eaton Rapids.  I get hungry just looking at the calendar of classes.

It could be a busy week of shopping at the local markets next week. For those that feel up to it, The Lansing LocalVore Challenge is September 13-20.  You can read all the details of the challenge HERE.  You can do it for one day, a couple of days or even the whole week.  Whatever you choose, during the challenge days, your task is to eat only food grown within 100 miles of your home. For us in Lansing, that gets you all the way to West Branch (north) and down in to Ohio.  It even gets you in to Windsor.  Based on the aforementioned cooking class, a full week committment is probably out for Chris and I but I’ll be working out a short version of the challenge for us. I’m eager to try out some of the local meats currently being carried at the Lansing City Market.

Farm Market update

As promised, I walked over to the Select Michigan Farm Market at the Capitol today. As luck would have it, my order from Amazon arrived via UPS this morning and I was able to use one of my new Baggu Totes to haul my goodies back to the office.

And goodies I got:

  • 1 bunch baby bok choy
  • 1 bunch biggest chives I’ve ever seen
  • 1 bunch water spinach
  • 1 bunch pea pod leaves (from snow peas)
  • pint of sweet cherries
  • 4 ears sweet corn
  • pint of grean beans
  • a jar of Sicilian meat-topping sauce (tomat-y doesn’t have meat in it) from Nicky’s Family Recipes
  • A bar of lemon verbena hand-made soap by Kapow Soaps of from Frankenmuth.

All for about $20!

I think tonight’s dinner is going to involve some fresh picked sweet corn and then later this weekend, we’ll have a little Asian-themed dinner. I haven’t done stir-fry in ages!


The Market was apparently a big hit, from the volume of people there. I did go at lunch time and it was pretty crowded. Two places ran out of food before lunch was over: the Fresh Lake Whitefish Company (who are also at the Lansing CIty Market on Saturdays) and Sweetie-Licious Pie Pantry of DeWitt. I’ve driven by Sweetie-Licious before but did not realize they also have soups and sandwichs until I looked at that website. Now I want to go right now to have a Chicken Salad Sandwich followed by a Ginger Lemon Clover cookie.

I wish I’d had more cash on me because Farming for our Future had the cutest kids t-shirts. Of course, I probably need a kid to put said clothes on, too.

It will be exciting to see what more they can do for the September 18th event.

Just a quick dash

While in Minneapolis last week, we had some really tasty sheep’s milk cheese purchased from a local cheese shoppe (more in a later post).  Attempting to do something nice for my boyfriend, I thought I’d use my lunch to zip over to the Cheese guy at the Lansing City Market to see if they had this stuff (they didn’t but if I knew the actual name, could probably get it).

I would have walked, both to save gas and for the exercise but its 80 degrees with humidity near 90%; I really didn’t want to get that sweaty and the distance is such that I would have needed a pretty brisk pace to make it roundtrip in my hour break.

Ha.

After swinging by the postal boxes by the Capitol building, I planned to continue on to Grand Avenue. Turns out you can’t turn left there, at all, due to the CSO project.  The CSO project will be tearing up city traffic until 2020. Long-term benefits are probably great but in the meantime, it sucks. Especially when the lane closures change from day to day.  I turned around to go down Washington, not an easy drive at lunchtime and even worse when some spacy girl doesn’t know how to drive her stick-shift.

I finally get down to Grand and Shiawassee where I intend to slide over the bridge to the market.  Except its closed! This time, due to Common Ground activities, which started last night.  I thought this was an evening event so I was suprised to see the parking people already looking to collect fees.  After yet another completely out of the way detour, I finally made it to the market.

No cheese but I stopped at the East Lansing Food Co-op mini-store and bought some whipping cream from Calder Dairy (in Lincoln Park) and a packet of sunflower seeds from Country Life Natural Foods of Pullman (near South Haven in Wester Michigan).  As I’m paying, the manager asks if I had an trouble getting there due to the construction and rerouting.  Ha Ha.  She then tells me that a lot of vendors aren’t coming in this week since its too much hassle.  And she was right.  The fish people were gone, the local meat company was off until Friday and there were only a few fresh produce vendors in the East Wing. 

 

Since Shiawassee was still closed, I had to find an alternate route back to the Hall of Justice.  By the time it was all said and done, I should have just walked. 

 

I’m really looking forward to using my cream in tonight’s dinner that will include morel mushroom risotto.

Sawyer’s Gourmet Pancake House

It took me about a week of driving past this little place to figure out the name.  And actually, I didn’t get the name from the front of the building.  Its easy to be distracted by the giant banner proclaiming “World’s Best Blueberry Pancakes.”  I happened to be flipping through City Pulse newsmag and recognized the same claim in an advertisement.

The following Saturday, Chris and I headed down there for brunch, about 12:30.  It was the first warm Saturday of the spring and the restaurant was hopping.  We waited about 40 minutes for a table, thinking this better be worth it.


And it was. Sawyer’s kitchen is stocked with organic and locally grown ingredients.  (Nearly) Everything is made from scratch. Their pancakes are made with organic, stone-ground flours from Michigan’s oldest stone-ground mill.  Eggs are from Eggland’s Best vegetarian-fed chickens.  You can get real Michigan maple syrup for your pancakes. And coffee is free-trade.  Not organic, free-trade or even that good for you but important to us: they carry Coke products.

Since that first visit, I have been back about 4 times. Chris, about 40.  Seems he’s been going there to eat lunch and study several times a week.

My favorite item thus far has been the California Turkey Burger.  You can get the turkey burger a couple of different ways but anything with avocado is going to be towards the top of my list. The restaurant serves breakfast till close and lunch starts at 11 AM. I’m not a huge breakfast eater but I did have a bite of Chris’s omelet this past week and I think I’ll get my own next time.  I’m also constantly tempted by the French Toast.  French Toast is my favorite carb-friendly breakfast but I’m rather particular about the toppings.  French Toast should be topped with powder sugar only.  I’m amazed at the rarity of powder sugared French Toast in restaurants. Maybe its something exclusive to my family or the midwest or???

Sandwiches come with your choice of hashbrowns, home fries, regular fries and sweet potato fries. I’ve had each variety and actually, the hashbrowns were my favorite.  The fries (including sweet potato variety) are good but a little on the softer side.  I like my fries crispy on the outside, soft in the middle. 

Sawyer’s has started barbequeing on the front porch every Friday from 11AM to 3PM.  Even if you don’t make it Friday, you can usually benefit from the leftovers through the weekend. 

The only negative thing I can say about the restaurant is that the kitchen can be very slow sometimes.  For Sunday brunch, I don’t mind waiting but I would be worried about a weekday lunch if my time was tight.

Deets:

Web: http://gourmetpancakehouse.com/
Address: 608 W Saginaw St, Lansing MI 48933
Hours: Monday-Friday 6AM-3PM; Sat & Sun 7AM-3PM

Accepts credit cards, totally non-smoking

Get a half-off gift certificate for Sawyer’s from WLNS here.  As of June 20th at 12pm, there were only 14 left!