She ate


The most fun part of writing restaurant reviews is being tasked to eat at restaurants you wouldn’t normally visit. I’ve discovered so many favorites this way, including Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine, Blend and The Ocean Crab. The bummer, however, is that with a new assignment to focus on every month and a busy life to manage, it’s rare that I get to return to my longtime favorites. There just aren’t enough meals in the week.

So, whenever I can, I like to check in on my standbys — kick the tires on the food and make sure the bathrooms are still clean, the fries are still hot and the bread pudding still drips with the world’s most delectable, luscious caramel sauce (hello Soup Spoon, my old friend). Every year, City Pulse’s Top of the Town issue gives me a great opportunity to remember some of my favorite haunts and plan return visits.

Olympic Broil factored heavily into my high school lunch routine during my tenure at Sexton High School. We had an hour for lunch and an open campus, and one can only eat so many Wendy’s chicken nuggets and Fazoli’s breadsticks. Therefore, I’ve been enjoying Olympic Broil’s wavy fries and chicken tenders for more than 20 years, and I decided that it was high time to introduce the Lawrence babies to this winner of multiple Top of the Town categories. My family shared a box of chicken tenders, a chicken wrap, a bacon cheeseburger and a Humdinger burger, which I have always loved because it has mayonnaise and pickles on top. The fries still need a lot of salt, but the kids loved the chicken tenders, and I didn’t have heartburn that evening. I consider it a win, and the second generation of Olympic Broil lovers is cemented.

Mr. She Ate and I stole away for a lunch date on a weekday, which is virtually unheard of unless we’re both attending the Lansing Regional Chamber Economic Club, where he generally considers himself to be too important to even sit at my table. We chose the Soup Spoon Cafe, and there are few things I love more than nestling into that restaurant on a blustery day and narrowing down my soup choices. For this lunch, I leaned into that feeling and chose a soup flight, which included pumpkin bisque, French onion, a cheesy short-rib chili and a spicy lamb stew. I love lamb, and I love how much lamb has always been featured on Soup Spoon’s menu. The soups all still slap, and Mr. She Ate confirmed that his preferred tenderloin salad does as well. We haven’t yet introduced the children to this perennial favorite because I remember seeing a sign that claimed unattended children would be given a puppy and an espresso, and Mademoiselle She Ate isn’t yet ready for prime time. But it’s coming, and I predict that the pancakes and sausage patties will become favorites.

My third trip to an old favorite this month was to El Oasis food truck, since I had to go pick up our repaired vacuum cleaner at Lam’s Sweeper Shop. I always have a chorizo quesadilla on a corn tortilla, which is utter perfection. El Oasis was one of the food trucks that Mr. She Ate and I engaged for our wedding reception, and I will forever fondly remember the taco man passing around platters of food to our guests as they waited outside in front of the other trucks to have their orders filled. It was fun, and the food was delicious. It still is.

A constant gripe that I hear is that there’s nowhere to eat in Lansing. Sure, there’s a noticeable lack of fine dining. But from ChouPli to Sansu and Kewpee to Fleetwood, there’s something for everyone. We embrace cuisine from other parts of the world. We expand our horizons. We know the importance of supporting local businesses, as evidenced by my attempt to take the family for a long-overdue dinner at Cugino’s. The place was packed to the gills, and the anticipated wait time meant we couldn’t do it, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s so much better than finding out your neighborhood favorite struggled until it had to close.

I have to point out my utter shock at the Best New Restaurant winner, Old Bag of Nails. We’re all familiar with the adage to keep your trap shut if you don’t have anything nice to say, so it’s a good thing that I have leftover chicken tenders at home with which I can stifle myself.


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