She ate


Being a parent of young children who values snuggling with them and sleeping above much else, my social life now entirely consists of a monthly book club and the occasional lunchtime tennis class. As such, when everyone was posting Instagram-worthy photos from the rooftop of the Graduate hotel in East Lansing, I only stepped foot into the building for networking events and meetings. 

That said, the Graduate is a beautiful venue for such events. During the recent annual meeting of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, I was blown away by the lunch spread. Beautiful roasted vegetables; seasoned, herby chicken breasts; salad with dark leafy greens, beets and goat cheese; and fresh iced tea and almond bars had me starry-eyed, hoping for the occasion to attend more events at the hotel.

One recent evening, Mr. She Ate and I got a babysitter and made our way to the hotel’s rooftop to have dinner before continuing on to a Lansing Symphony Orchestra concert. The rooftop has unparalleled views of campus and the sprawling Lansing area, but you already knew that. The crowd ran the gamut from groups of girlfriends to families who were clearly hotel guests to students who are staying in town for the summer. The playlist was eclectic and had all of my favorite songs on it, even if I hadn’t realized before that moment that they were my favorite songs. There’s a strong possibility that the atmosphere on the rooftop gave everything a rosy hue, but sipping something cold while enjoying the sun-drenched glamor shot of East Lansing in the summertime is hard to resist. 

We started with the Michigan Beer Dip ($11), which came with soft pretzel bites. The dip was creamy and a bit spicy, and I wanted it to be served with something that had more texture, like potato chips. We shared the Green Salad ($10) and the Grilled Chicken Melt ($13), to which we added fries for an additional $4. The salad was loaded with big, thick shavings of Parmesan cheese, which I gobbled up, but it was small. I love a hearty, loaded salad, and this wasn’t anywhere close to being large enough for a meal. 

The Grilled Chicken Melt was served on toasted sandwich bread, which gave me the texture kick I needed. The pimento cheese spread elevated the otherwise milquetoast sandwich. The fries were crispy, and I wanted to like them, but they were cold and unseasoned. I dragged most of them through the beer cheese dip and loved that combination much more than the proffered pretzel bites. 

It felt amazing to sit on a rooftop on a beautiful night when we didn’t have to rush around. It was a stark contrast to my next visit, when I had the 5-and-a-half-year-old prince of Lansing with me to grab takeout between camp pickup and the evening’s dueling activities of a county commission meeting for mama and a T-ball game for everyone else. He complained during the entire elevator ride, until we reached the top, when he realized he could go outside and see a unique view of “Sparty’s football stadium.” While he entertained himself, I ordered half the menu. We got a Cobb Salad with chicken ($10, plus $4 for the protein), a BLT ($12), a smash burger ($14) and an extra order of fries ($4).

The BLT included a fried green tomato instead of a traditional slice of red tomato, which gave a little kick that cut the richness of the thick-cut bacon. I’d eat it again, and I might even remember to make my own BLTs that way this summer. The smash burger was served on a brioche bun, which always impresses me, and the flavor hammered home the statement that this isn’t your average East Lansing bar burger. This burger is a grad student. 

Cobb salads are my go-to, and while the sirloin version at Jimmy’s Pub is my absolute favorite in town, I’m happy to add the Graduate’s cobb to my shortlist. 

The menu is decidedly limited, and I’m fine with that. Above all, the rooftop bar is a place to be seen. It’s a bar with food, not a restaurant with drinks. The emphasis knows where it belongs, just as I know that I belong in bed at 9:30 p.m.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Connect with us