A Taste of England

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Where it all began, Arie’s London Bar and Grille in
Plainwell. Many dates. Girl’s Night Out, book
club. The proposal. A bachelorette party. Arie’s
was our place. If we wanted a
Cheers-like experience, only one destination
held our hearts. Even when our oldest was little, our
“date”night with kid in tow was Arie’s. Then kid two came
along, a few less than memorable meals at the Plainwell location,
and our once a month English fix became maybe a year or two. With
just two kids, we ventured out for date night almost monthly.
Then our little shocker entered the world and date nights slowly
fizzled to once in a great while. So when we do head out, we
try to hit up new places around SW Michigan. A few of our new
favorites are Phil’s
in Saugatuck and Chinn
Chinn
in Mattawan. Through this our hearts lingered
on getting back to where it all began. Sadly, the Plainwell
Arie’s location recently closed its doors. Looking for some of our
comfort food, a relaxing meal, and a trip down memory lane we
ventured to the Kalamazoo London Grille. Upon entering, I was
not getting the warm fuzzy feeling. The gentleman that seated
us was less than pleasant. The waitress, sorry I forgot her
name, made up for him. She quickly supplied us with a black
and tan for hubby and a pear cider for me. My favorite part
of any meal is the naan with chutney. The tomato peach
chutney was one of my pulls for returning. Here’s the thing,
it tasted okay, but it was oily and our dish had more “sauce” than
chunks. Those little bits of goodness are what I load up
on. A little crispy naan and a gob of chutney… At this
point, we were joined by Scott Campbell. He recently took
over management of the restaurant. Scott shared with us his
vision for the restaurant. We appreciated his candor and
welcoming spirit. Also, he is looking to reopen Winston’s
(also in Kalamazoo) and Arie’s in Plainwell (yeah!). Next up is our
salad of choice, Stilton Endive salad. Bitter endive, fresh
greens, gooey Stilton, and walnut chunks, a salad made from blue
cheese lovers. It was good, but not great. A few slices
of endive with a few leaves of greens and the rest? Less than
stellar iceberg lettuce. Really? For the cost, I
expected better. Speaking of expecting better, I kept hearing
a door closing. It was a microwave. Right out by
customers. I am not sure what was reheated, but the beeping
of buttons and subsequent clicking of the door, bothersome. Date
night is about sharing meals, Stilton steak and Whitefish
Grenoble. The whitefish is my favorite. Fried crispy,
loaded with salty capers, lemon, and tomatoes, my go to dish.
On the side comes rice and grilled vegetables. I always sub
the Indian plate (Indian greens, red & yellow dahl) for the
grilled vegetables. This has never been an issue and usually
the substitution is made at no or little cost. However this
time, I was told that I would have to be charged for the Indian
plate, $9.99. WHAT? I just want a midge of the Indian
goods. After an exasperated never mind, the waitress said oh
you want a side of Indian greens. Um, yes, yes I do.
That will be a little extra. That is okay. We also ordered
the Port Stilton Steak. The steak was a perfect medium rare,
perfectly seasoned as were the grilled veggies and potato
mixture. The slab of Port Stilton was so thick that it was
not the least bit melted when it came to the table. By the
end of the meal, it melted and oozed over the remaining slices of
steak. Perhaps having it slightly melted over the top at
service time… Normally our dinner wraps up with a shared slice of
Sticky Toffee Pudding and a coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream.
Stuffed and ready to move on, we did not relish in dessert.
Another day. I have high hopes for London Grille. While we
enjoyed our meal, the overall experience was okay. The days
where the place was packed and the spirit alive, those are the
London times we are missing. A true English pub feel.
The days where the bar was packed 2-3 deep waiting for tables,
Brothers Flynn playing and singing table to table, and the
atmosphere transported you across the Atlantic. I
wait.

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