A part of the Urban Feast restaurant management group that has footprints in the Lansing area (with Troppo, Tavern on the Square and Edmund´s Pastime) and on the west side of the state, the Black Rose is a reboot of a bar that formerly slung drafts in downtown Grand Rapids. That location closed in 2009.
Inside the new Black Rose on South Washington Square, you’ll find fine woodwork, Irish-themed aphorisms, plenty to drink and a menu that matches its comfy confines.
A map may help when ordering drinks. Whiskey comes from three regions: Ireland, Scotland and America. On tap last week were Bass Ale, a product of England, and the Irish-bred Guinness and Harp beers.
The British Isles also inspire Black Rose’s menu. Potato nachos ($8.25) combine cheddar and pepper jack cheese, bacon, sour cream and scallions on top of crispy fries. The small menu also offers smoked sausage bites and corned beef sliders, among other options.
Look for daily specials, and if you need a bridge to the Lugnuts’ Thirsty Thursdays this summer, head to the Black Rose for Whiskey Wednesdays when the amber spirit sells for less and a hot toddy or Irish coffee is only an order away.
Leo’s Coney Island
In another downtown a couple of miles east, Leo’s Coney Island opened for business late last year month inside the East Lansing Marriot complex.
The East Lansing Leo’s is the westernmost franchise of the southeast Michigan-based chain, which now has over 40 locations.
Leo and Peter Stassinopoulos opened what would later be named Leo’s Coney Island in Southfield in 1972. The Greek immigrants not only built a thriving franchise but also sell their Leo’s Famous Greek Salad Dressing — a family recipe — by the case.
Coney dogs anchor the menu, of course, but general manager Sean Morris says the chicken fingers pita ($4.99) and Greek salad ($5.99 medium) are the store’s biggest sellers. Greek specialties like the flaming-cheese saganaki, spinach pie and baklava pay tribute to the Mediterranean heritage of Leo’s founders.
Leo’s offers a full breakfast menu any time of day, homemade soup, burgers, sandwiches and pitas. For dessert there are brownies, sundaes, brownie sundaes and more. Full-service catering is available, too.
T&D Coney Grill
If you keep heading east, you’ll find another Coney Island headed by immigrants from southern Europe.
Okemos´ T&D Coney Grill is owned and operated by Gus Gjidoda and his wife, Marsela, the general manager. Gus came to the United States 20 years ago and learned the gourmet hot dog trade by working in a Detroit restaurant for 11 years before heading in-state to join his brother, who owned his own local Coney Island restaurant.
Then, two-and-a-half years ago, Gus opened his own restaurant in the spot where Restaurant Villegas formerly stood.
T&D, though, is more than fancied-up wieners — much more. A quick tally finds over 150 menu options, not including drinks, soups or half-orders. And it’s international in scope.
Take a deep breath, because T&D offers stir fry, taco salad, Philly steak, corned beef, chicken kabobs, wing dings, gyros, pan fried salmon, slim Bettys or slim Jims, chicken quesadillas, olive burgers, French toast, steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, omelets in Greek-, American-, Mexican-, or Western-style, seven different breakfast skillets, breakfast sandwiches, waffles, pancakes and much more.
Oh, and there’s a half a dozen-item Coney menu, too.
Among the abundant offerings, Marsela is quick to recommend the rice pudding.
“It’s my own recipe, Albanian Style,” she says. “It’s the best rice pudding in town.”
Leo’s Coney Island
333 Albert Ave. Suite 100, East Lansing
7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday
7 a.m.-4 a.m. Thursday-Saturday
8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
TO, P, WiFi, OM, $
The Black Rose
101 S. Washington Square, Lansing
3 p.m.-Close Tuesday-Saturday
Closed Sunday and Monday
TO, P, FB, WiFi, $
T&D Coney Grill
1735 W. Grand River Ave., Okemos
7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday
7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
TO, WiFi, $