Eat Local—Even if You Have to Drive to Get There

Eating local has been the big thing for the last few years. In Chicago, there are a number of restaurants that grow or make their own whatevers from rooftop gardens and nearby farms. Housemade is the buzz word on most menus these days. The idea is that it’s healthier for you and the environment if you eat what is nearest to you, in season and available.

Western Michigan is no different—even better, if you think that they have easier access to the farms than Chicagoans. If you’re a fan of local eating and find yourself in the Mitten anytime soon, you should check out Food Dance. Now, when I talk about being local and being around for a while, they’re it. They’ve been doing the locally sourced, locally grown thing since… well, since I attended college (EONS ago).

For my yearly family midpoint gathering, we all met at Food Dance for some brunching and lunching. They have expanded considerably in the last few eons. They have a much bigger and airier dining room as well as a marketplace where you can buy assorted local goods, and treats from their own bakery. I know that people outside of the Mitten usually peg the state as gun-toting members of some militia living in duck blinds while plotting the latest in apocalyptic survival techniques. I’ll set the record straight—Michigan is full of granola-eating, former hippies who love a good free-range, non-antibiotic homemade cheese paired with a beer brewed from locally-sourced hops as much as the next guy. (You’re sitting in a tent waiting for the world to end. What else are you going to eat?)

What We Ate

Paul and I both ordered the same thing—the special burger of the day. It was pretty much a combo of their Bed and Breakfast Burger (brioche roll with sunny side up egg, housemade bacon, tomato, and chipotle mayo) and their BBQ Rocksteady sandwich (slow cooked pulled pork and BBQ sauce with spicy slaw). So, yeah, we each had a burger that was piled with pulled pork, an egg, and spicy coleslaw. Absolutely a piece of heaven. Absolutely worth the drive from Chicago to Kalamazoo.

The Moo enjoyed a quesadilla plate and a side of fruit. You can get the quesadillas with chicken, but the little guy went veg on us. He really enjoyed pulling apart the layers of flakey dough to get at the cheese.

Everyone else at the table started with cups of soup which are actually small bowls (not those crappy cups you so often get).

My mom had a Blue Danube which is a roasted turkey sandwich with bacon, blue cheese dressing, and caramelized onions on sourdough bread. Then, it’s grilled. Looked pretty fantastic from where I was sitting.

My dad had the Woodland Omelet. A scary description on the menu—this breakfast gem included locally foraged mushrooms (eek!), green onions, and Swiss cheese. He said it was pretty good.

I’m sorry to say that despite my best efforts, I can’t remember what my sister ate. But, she must have enjoyed it because on the car ride back she said that we should make this the place we meet up from now on. She said there were enough items on the menu for her to choose from (she’s mostly vegetarian… sometimes).

What We Drank

I had a root beer in a glass bottle. (Doesn’t soda just taste better in glass bottles? That’s why I like living in my neighborhood, because my grocery store has soda in the large glass bottles like back in the olden day… not just those crappy commemorative six-packs they offer up around the holidays.)

Food Dance also has a full bar featuring, what else, local beer. Yes, Paul availed himself of this opportunity to try some brew.

One final note: I loved that the hot sauce the waiter brought to the table was from a company in Ann Arbor. Doesn’t get more local than that.

Location: 401 E. Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI. There is free parking behind the restaurant and across the street.


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