She ate/ He ate

Dine like a townie at Corey’s Lounge


Corey’s Lounge
1511 S. Cedar St., Lansing
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday
11 a.m.-midnight Friday

Noon-midnight Saturday
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
(517) 482-3132

She ate

To give a little background on myself and my co-reviewer, we’ve known each other since approximately 1996, when he was the drum major for the Sexton High School marching band, and I was an eighth grader at Dwight Rich School of the Arts with an older sister at Sexton. We’ve been in each other’s orbit for decades, and I was thrilled to spend almost six years alongside him while we both served on the Lansing School District Board of Education, a calling that’s clearly close to both of our hearts. I now have kids at Post Oak Academy, and he has kids at Eastern High School and Cumberland Elementary School, although our mutual obsession with Sexton remains as strong as ever.

Whenever we can get together, we do. And when the opportunity arose to have a Friday lunch with two of our other favorite former school board colleagues, it was like the stars had aligned, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé both announced free concerts at Adado Riverfront Park, and all student loan debt was forgiven and would never again saddle a student in the United States. In short, a miracle.

Corey’s Lounge was the perfect spot for this lunch. Not only does Corey’s make you feel like a legitimate townie, but the dining room was sparsely populated, meaning the four of us could talk about whatever or whomever we wanted without being overheard. As our dearly departed former school board Treasurer Shirley Rodgers used to say, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

What was on our table, for starters, was the Spicy Feta Dip ($13.95). I used to talk a lot of smack about feta, but I now throw it into veritably every salad I have. Make it spicy and spreadable, and I’m buying. Include mini versions of the Corey’s breadsticks, and I don’t know why you would ever not eat this. It’s creamy, tangy and fabulous.

I carried on with the French dip ($13.95), which was oversized and offered the richness I was looking for. I ate half, then turned my attention to my fries. After living with two kids who could survive on french fries for the last six years, I know what I like and what’s trash. I want them to be crispy. I want them to be seasoned. I know they aren’t going to travel well, so I want to be enticed to eat as many of them as possible in one sitting. The fries at Corey’s check all of these boxes.

My friend had the Reuben ($12.95), and all of us about fell out of our chairs when she proclaimed that there wasn’t enough caraway. Suddenly, everyone was a food critic. However, I took a whiff, and darn it if she wasn’t right. There was something inherently Reubenesque that was missing.

A week later, Mr. She Ate and I ordered pizza and breadsticks for a classic Disney movie night. That week was “Peter Pan,” which, in news that will shock no one, hasn’t aged well. Lots of cringey soft racism, and why does the fully adult Captain Hook want to kill an orphan child anyway? Luckily, I had the breadsticks to distract me. If you’ve never tried them, you must. They’re large and pillowy. They’re doughy, but with a solid mouth feel. I’ve never understood the Corey’s-specific accompaniment of sour cream, but that doesn’t matter. The breadsticks are some of the best in Lansing.

The pizza didn’t blow me away. The toppings were fine, don’t get me wrong, but pizza crust is a blank slate. I would never profess Hungry Howie’s to be anywhere near the top of my list of favorite pizza places, but it does one thing right, and that’s flavored crust. The crust at Corey’s comprises a relatively thick border on the edge of the pizza, and while the texture is fine, it’s virtually flavorless. The addition of garlic butter, oregano, Parmesan or whatever else the restaurant fancies to give it a kick would be welcome.

The food at Corey’s is solidly good. It’s reliable. There are certain standouts and certain quotidian dishes. Corey’s is a hugely important institution in that corridor of the city, not far from where I grew up. If you haven’t been there, or if it’s been a while, grab some friends and head over for a Friday lunch. But if you see me, close your ears.

He ate

Just south of downtown Lansing sits Corey’s Lounge, a three-generation family-owned-and-operated bar and restaurant on South Cedar Street. It’s known for both bar food and Sunday brunch, which can get busy, so plan accordingly. My two visits were an up-and-down whirlwind of flavors and experiences.

What’s overly basic

The regular lunch menu resembles that of many other pubs in and around Lansing’s city center. Burgers, pizza, salads and sandwiches are pretty standard midday options across the area. Some spots excel at a few items and less so at others. When visiting Corey’s with some of my favorite friends and former Lansing School Board colleagues a few weeks ago, including Mrs. She Ate, I was dismayed by the mediocrity of the experience. To start, I joined the group late since a prior meeting ran long and told my friends that they shouldn’t have waited 25 minutes to order just for me. They insisted it wasn’t chivalrous on their part — rather, they hadn’t yet been waited on. Our kind waitress, Anitra, was serving the back dining room solo, with a group of almost 20 in addition to ourselves and two other tables. We later recognized that she was also in charge of the front room and the bar. Suffice it to say the remainder of the service was very courteous but also very slow, especially when checking out so my friends could attend various appointments. 

Many restaurants are still very short-staffed after the pandemic, so we tried our best to be understanding; the food wasn’t as forgivable. My Corey Burger ($11.95) didn’t offer the star power one would expect from an eponymous sandwich. A quarter-pound burger topped with grilled onions, olive sauce, lettuce and cheese sounded right up my alley, but somehow, the fries were more memorable, and not because they were elevated in any way — they were just more solid than the burger.

One friend’s Fish Sandwich ($13.95) was a regrettable choice. Topped with a sad slice of “cheese” and lacking flavor, most of it remained on the plate when it was finally cleared.

What’s good

The brunch scene at Corey’s was a far different experience. As I dined solo, I noticed what seemed to be way more staff, and all were bustling about. I arrived just after opening, and the front room was already filling up with customers, both regulars and newbies. I saddled up to the bar and was greeted again by Anitra, who was once again considerate and pleasant but, with the additional help, was able to be far more attentive.

The deviled eggs ($7.95) were overall decent enough. They were served in three paired varieties. The first, dusted with paprika, lacked passion. It definitely needed more love — and more salt. The second variety was topped with smoked salmon, adding a bit more dimension and flavor, but it could have benefited from some added chives or red onions for texture. The final variety was the top performer. Covered in shards of crunchy, sweet and salty candied bacon, it included all the notes of deliciousness that the regular variety lacked.

The flavors picked up with the Breakfast Flautas ($14.95), three fried corn tortillas generously stuffed with well-scrambled eggs, crunchy jalapeños, onions and bacon. Each cumin-infused bite reminded me of my better half’s family breakfasts celebrating special occasions and was topped with a huge dollop of pico de gallo. Accompanied by huge chunks of home fries, this plate had no stingy servings. The pico was fresh, and leaves of cilantro were sprinkled throughout the dish, adding flavor, color and texture. 

Also tempting to my tastebuds was the sweetly savory Chicken & Waffle ($14.95), two  well-seasoned, crunchy chicken tenders placed gently upon a full waffle. The waffle was a bit chewy, but it had a crunchy exterior to please the texture geeks. The chicken tenders were adequately sized, enough to accommodate quartered portions of the waffle for a nice appetizer or a shared meal.

Best bite

Corey’s is not a traditional Lebanese restaurant, but I’ll pit its Spicy Feta Dip ($13.95) against that of any restaurant specializing in Mediterranean fare. Served with warm, buttery Parmesan breadsticks, the dip was creamy and packed a zesty kick. There were even pepperoncini for an added bite. The dip was loaded with herbs and presented a bit oily, but wow, was it yummy.


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