1. On my way out of town I pop in for lunch at Salt & Pepper, in an undistinguished strip mall on the edge of town. When you walk in you immediately think I've been in hundreds of these places before, and the menu (at least the lunch menu) cannot be accused of ambition. But then ... I order the turkey bacon ranch wrap, fully expecting sliced turkey, canned ranch dressing, etc. Surprise! It's got pulled turkey (white and dark), home-made ranch dressing, and an interesting mix of greens instead of plain ol' romaine. Home-made potato chips, too. Way to go Salt & Pepper.
2. Everyday People Cafe, Douglas: I get there a little before 8 pm and it's just starting to fill up. Ten minutes later, I'd be standing on line. It's a smallish, cozy space that looks like they put less thought into the decor than the menu, which I always take as a good sign. I would personally recommend that they turn up the lights a little. Overall, service is a little slow, but it appears they're understaffed rather than underachieving.
I start with the burger appetizer (listed on the menu as "The Burger"). Turns out it isn't really an appetizer; it's at the bottom of the appetizer list, but I think they intend it to be in its own category. For eight bucks, I'm expecting something slider-sized. Sucker's a half-pound! It's salt-and-pepper rubbed and served with remoulade, pickles, and purple onions, but this riot of flavor actually hangs together. I want to order it with gorgonzola but I forget; in retrospect, that would have been too much flavor. Recommended, but be advised as to its size.
There must be a state law that hoity-toity restaurants have to have sesame-crusted ahi tuna on the menu. It's easy to be blasé about something as common as air, but EPC nails this one. The tuna is done perfectly, and the sesame is worked in nicely. The beurre blanc works well too, but the wasabi doesn't seem to belong; it's on the side, though, so I'm able to eat around it.
Speaking of something that's on every damn menu, who's tired of s'mores? Well, how about s'mores prepared table-side? Points for taking the commonplace and adding a unique twist. Definitely recommended.
3. I stay at CityFlats Hotel, which I personally cannot recommend unless they do something about the mattresses -- waaaay too soft. But no one here wants to hear about that, what about CityVu Bistro up on top of CityFlats Hotel? Allrighty then ...
Good news first: Really good food, some things that look really good on the menu and then actually deliver on the plate. I have the San Antonio flatbread with a side Caesar salmon salad, and everything is spot on. And I kinda like the Jetsons-meets-Grateful Dead decor, believe it or not. But that's all the good news I have to share.
I get there on a Thursday, around 7:30, the place is maybe two-thirds full. That's hardly slammed. I sit at the bar, and the dirties are already starting to back up. There are two empty lowballs sitting next to me that stay there almost all the way through my meal. Several employees, including someone who looks like the manager, just walk right past them. It's pretty obvious that most (but not all) of the staff haven't yet learned that power walking is a valuable skill for a restaurant employee. They just kinda ... move around. No sense of urgency, even though things are starting to fall apart.
In summary: French chef food, Keystone Kops service.
Everyday People Cafe
11 Center Street, Douglas, MI 49406
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