Monday, June 23, 2014

Guest Barkeep of the Week at Grove in Grand Rapids

I recently had the opportunity to visit Grove, a Grand Rapids restaurant who prides itself on offering "Earth to Table" dining options, and be their Guest Barkeep of the Week!

Grove is located on Cherry Street, between Eastern Ave. & Diamond Ave. We arrived a bit before 5pm (when the restaurant opens each night), and were able to enjoy some live jazz music from across the street as we waited for 5pm to roll around.

They were ready and waiting for us when they opened their doors, so I headed right to the bar to meet my instructor who'd be walking me through how to make the specialty drink of the night: a Lavender Orange Collins. They had a nice little station set up, with the drink recipe and all the ingredients I'd need for my concoction.

We started with a collins glass full of ice, and I measured in 2 oz. of gin & 1/2 oz. of vermouth. Then a 1/2 oz. of Lavender Orange Simple Syrup, which smelled delicious all on its own! (I could have added more of the syrup to make the drink sweeter, but I tried it just as the recipe was written, and it was delicious.)

Then it was time to juice one half of a lemon, and add that to the glass as well. Once we had all of those ingredients in, we covered the glass with the base of a cocktail shaker to mix everything up. As I was shaking the drink, the barkeeper told me that now I was an official barkeep!

Now all that was left was to fill the rest of the glass with club soda, cut an orange garnish to add to the glass, and enjoy! The Lavender Orange Collins is just one of many specialty drinks offered at Grove, and the staff did a great job walking me through the process. If you like standard Tom Collins, or any gin-based drinks, I'd recommend giving this one a try for a great summery cocktail!

We took a look at the menu while enjoying the fruits of our labors, and decided that we couldn't leave without trying at least something. With choices including Peanut Braised Beef (rice noodles, peas, greens, braised peanuts, jalapeno-radish salad), Fresh Fruit Gazpacho (nectarine, strawberry, apple, creme fraiche, shaved vegetables, almonds), and Parisian Gnocchi (roasted carrot, broccoli, local mushroom, radish, carrot parmesan brodo), it took us a while to narrow down our choices! 

You can view a sample menu on their website, but it may be different from the menu you're handed when you walk in and sit down. They change their menu on a regular basis, depending on what ingredients they're able to get locally. They believe the most flavorful food begins with the highest quality ingredients, which is why they responsibly source as much as is available from local, family, and sustainable farms and businesses.

We settled on ordering the Pork Belly Tacos, and it turned out to be a great choice! They're served with cabbage slaw, creme fraiche, poblano mojo, and black bean puree. The pork was deliciously seasoned, and went perfectly with all of the fresh toppings. As you can see, we made short work of them!

Grove has plenty of seating along the bar, as well as indoor and outdoor dining available. It was such a nice evening when we visited that most diners were choosing to enjoy their food outdoors.

With their friendly staff, convenient downtown location, and (most importantly) their outstanding menu, Grove is well-deserving as being named "Restaurant of the Year" by Grand Rapids magazine! It's a great spot to stop by for a cocktail if you're heading downtown, for dinner on an outdoor patio, or if you're in the mood to try something new!

Want to be Guest Barkeep of the Week yourself? Make sure you like Grove's Facebook page, and watch each week for when they post a call for aspiring bartenders! Leave a comment, and it could be you next time learning some bartending tips & tricks from the barkeepers at Grove!

Is there a cocktail that you'd love how to learn to make from a pro? Let us know in the comments!

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