GR Brewing stands apart from the pack
Along 28th Street, non-chain restaurants are few and far between. Which is one reason I love Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
Also why I love GRBC: Good food, excellent service, huge portions, great for families and singles, and the best birthday offer in town.
We end up choosing GRBC a lot because it’s such an easy option. I love Green Well, Marie Catrib’s and similarly great-yet-crowded restaurants, but sometimes you just want to show up with six people and know you can get a table right away. (Or you have a restless toddler who wants to eat NOW.) GRBC has a large building, so seating is never an issue.
The food is American, but a step above standard pub fare. The burgers are an eye- and a mouthful, topped with a giant onion ring so they stand 6 inches tall and practically need a knife and fork.
Sandwiches are served with housemade potato chips, which are absolutely delicious — like kettle chips but far better.
My husband and I are big fans of the pizza. Although the menu says nothing about a wood oven, the crust has that type of crackly, bubbly crispness, and excellent flavor. For something different, try the three meat — pepperoni, bacon and hangar steak. The steak is tender and cut into small enough pieces to make a good topping.
On the lighter side, I love the cherry chicken salad. Dried cherries, blue cheese and toasted pecans give it sweetness, richness and crunch, while the cherry vinaigrette is sweet and tangy without being syrupy.
For munchies, the stuffed pretzels are delicious, and the warm, soft pretzels served with housemade cheese sauce are a good appetizer as well.
I’m an onion ring snob, and the ones at GRBC are a bit much for me — each has two rings of onion inside two layers of batter. But the batter has good flavor and crispness.
There’s a good variety of entrees, several of which are unique. The hanger steak meal is delicious — thinly sliced steak over garlic mashed potatoes, with haystack onions. A German-phile friend also ordered the sausage plate, with its onion bratwurst and smoked polish sausage, and tore through it with gusto, pronouncing the homemade sauerkraut nicely vinegary.
Lunch is a great time to sample these entrees if you’re budget-conscious; most are available for $5 less than the dinner price (including the hanger steak and sausage). They’ve also taken five of their meals and made them lunch items only, for the bargain price of $5.99 including beverage. This includes the calzone — big enough for two to share, with a nice crispy crust — and the Cuban sandwich, which is a basic but good example, with nicely balanced ingredients.
Although it’s a brewery, it’s very family-friendly. Smoking is limited to the bar, which is a separate room, and special offers like “Kids eat free on Sundays” emphasize that they welcome, don’t just tolerate, kids.
The kids menu has a lot of the same options as the regular menu, and not necessarily in smaller portions. The pepperoni pizza was the same size as the regular pizzas, and equally delicious.
The service is routinely excellent. In all the times we’ve been there, we’ve never had a bad server, and they’re more than happy to provide extra napkins, answer questions about menu items, accommodate special requests, etc.
I’m an embarrassingly bad beer drinker, the type who enjoys Bud Light, so I asked beer snob friends for their opinions of the brews that GRBC makes. Their opinion was that they’re good and solid, but not spectacular…however, apparently GRBC is hiring a new brewmaster, so that may change.
Happy hour is also worth checking out: 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, pints are $2 and munchie specials include a $3.99 bruschetta burger.
About that birthday offer: Seriously, it’s a good one. If you show up on the day of your birthday, you get a free pint glass and dessert (usually a piece of their deliciously rich chocolate stout cake, served warm with vanilla ice cream), and a $10 gift certificate toward your next visit.
If you sign up for their e-mails, they e-mail you the $10 certificate, so you can use it for your birthday meal, while still getting the free pint glass and free dessert.Grand Rapids Brewing Company ( Rating: out of 5 )
Where: 3689 28th Street SE
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
How much will it cost you: Entrees range from $7 to $20.
Credit cards: All major
Contact: (616) 285-5970