Some Reservations

Recipes.Rants.Reviews

Van’s Bakery Protein Power Breakfast Sammy

Van’s Pastry Shoppe
955 Fulton Street East
Grand Rapids, MI(616) 458-1637

Van’s Pastry is this little neighborhood bakery on Fulton that turns out some of the best breads, cakes, cookies and doughnuts around. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and get something, anything, you will not regret it.

I have been going there every Wednesday afternoon for almost two and a half years now, and I still don’t think that makes me even close to a regular. Its really got that old school vibe, where super cool old dudes come in, get their sweet roll, their coffee and read the paper until its time to hit the diner for lunch. There is always an awesome mix of people in there. From the aforementioned cool old dudes, too family’s with kids of all ages, to kids from the neighboring schools getting a after school snack, even business types stoping in for a quick treat to make the commute home a bit more tolerable.

Every Wednesday I pick up a loaf of their English Muffin bread, it has a funny name, it is round, and makes the best toast on the planet. No Contest.

Cholmondley’s (pronounced Chumleys) English Muffin Loaf is the name given to the magical bread that produces addicting toast. Almost everyday for the last two and a half years I have had this bread, toasted with peanut butter for breakfast. Its perfect, add some banana or some honey, and you’ve got yourself the breakfast of champions…or so I thought.

You see I am a creature of habit, and sometimes do things with out even realizing it. One Friday morning I got up and was hungry for something more than toast, I also knew I had a 15 mile training run first thing Saturday AM, so this Friday was all about protein and carb intake. I decided to make my self a fried egg sandwich using my favorite toast. Simple enough right? Fry a couple eggs, maybe some sausage or bacon, add a slice of cheese and slap it all on the toast, for a protein and carb packed gut bomb to get the day started.

Well as the eggs were frying, the toast was popping up and being the creature of habit that I am, I pulled down the peanut butter and lathered those two slices up, like I have done about 812 times before.

I turned around to flip my eggs, ahhh s#*t, I am making an egg sandwich, ughhh. Now what!?! I am not going to waste this perfectly peanut buttered toast. A normal person probably would have just put the eggs next to the toast on the plate and eaten it normal. Well folks I am nothing like a normal person, I was so dead set on that perfect egg sammy, that I slapped it all together, peanut butter and all.

Figuring, no matter how bad the taste, I still had my breakfast sandwich. Small wins like that, let me know I still have some control and say in my life, some.

Little did I know, this would turn out to be one of the best mistakes I have ever been a part of. This sandwich was Red Vines and Mr. Pibb crazy delicious. The sweet and salty of the peanut butter, the richness of the eggs, the zing of the cheddar, all sitting in between two slices of the worlds best toast. It all came together so well, I loved every bite of it. If you add sausage or bacon to this, it is just some next level stuff, things you shouldn’t tell your friends about, they are probably not cool enough to handle and breakfast sandwich like that.  I know the ingredients sound messed up, and that its creation was a complete accident, but dude, this is seriously delicious, and a new favorite of mine.

If you got the huevos to try it, you know because you need eggs, do it.

What is the tastiest mistake you have made in the kitchen?

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Hop Cat…Don’t be scuured.

Hop Cat

25 Ionia Ave SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
(616) 451-4677

This was another lunch visit with some folks from the office. We were all surprised at how uncrowded Hop Cat was, being an established downtown Brewery and Eatery, we chalked it up to the ‘ice day’ and that a lot of people had to stay home.

The atmosphere at Hop Cat is really great, there is this kind of back in time feeling. Lots of wood, circular booths and a giant old scale. There is also the actual brewery that sits towards the back of the place, you can see all that is going on thru the giant windows that separate it from the rest of the place.

The beer selection is amazing, I wouldn’t expect anything less than that from a place called Hop Cat. Unfortunately this was a solids only visit, as much as I would have loved a liquid lunch, today was not that day.

We seated our selves and were met almost instantly with menus. Our drink orders were taken just as quickly and arrived shortly after. No complaints about the service, friendly, timely and efficient.

The menu was extensive and rather complete. Everything from small plates, salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers and large plates. There are lots of items I want to go back and try. Any place that serves a Large Corn Dog plate is okay on my list.

We ordered the Spinach Salad w/Bacon, the Turkey Club wrap and the Spicy Pulled Pork Sandwich.

The Spinach Salad was just as described, a Salad Made of spinach, not too exciting right? Well Hop Cat did there best to turn a bowl of spinach into something more, they added crumbled applewood smoked bacon, gorgonzola, apples, raisins and pretzel croutons, and tossed everything in a crisp raspberry vinaigrette. Not to shabby for a bowl of spinach. I was not the recipient of this bowl of leafy goodness, but next time I might just be.

Next the Turkey Club wrap with crack fries. Again a simple menu item, but Hop Cat steps it up with quality ingredients. A nice shaved turkey, a revisit of the applewood smoked bacon, aged cheddar and a tangy mustard. Only complaint here was the mustard, however it should be noted the orderer was not a huge mustard fan to begin with.

I ordered the Spicy BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with crack fries. It was decent, however not spicy, a bit of a disappointment. The pork was cooked perfectly tho, you could have shredded this stuff with a spoon. Super moist and just the right amount of fat still in the meat. Something a lot of places forget, everyone is so worried about getting rid of all the fat, they forget having a little bit of fat on the meat does wonders for the flavor. They served this with a side of coleslaw, and I have to say it was almost inedible, I struggle with writing that because everything was good. Hopefully it was just a bad day for coleslaw.

Crack Fries? You are seriously going to call your fries Crack Fries, how clever. Like there is any chance your fries are going to be so good that I can compare the addiction I may get to them to that of a crack addict. Well let me tell you something Hop Cat, well played! My neck hasn’t stopped itching in days, I am constantly nervous, have the cold sweats and can’t seem to keep my blood pressure under control, all because of your cleverly named and crazy delicious fries. Perfectly seasoned, excellently crispy and just the right size to make it possible for me to shove them into my mouth handfuls at a time. Again, well played Hop Cat, well played.

Lets recap, atmosphere is great, food is good, service is great and they have crack fries. I see no reason to continue. I will be back to drink and eat more crack fries, that is for sure. If you are downtown snooping around alleys looking for a new addiction, try Hop Cat!

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