Let me start by saying that I am not Dutch. However, if you live in West Michigan long enough you start to assimilate. You become shamelessly frugal. We are chuckling (politely, of course) at the rest of the country a little right now as it learns to deal with ‘tough economic times’. We’ve been cutting coupons and haggling for years.
You accept that there are no garage sales on Sunday. Friday is the big day around here. Lots of stores are closed on Sunday. Windmills, tulips, and wooden shoes are just part of the scenery that shows up everywhere. Something like Russ’ Restaurant.
Russ’ Restaurant looks like this: Bo-ring. I don’t know if this picture was taken in 1970 or yesterday. There isn’t a sign in this picture, but evidently Russ is a little Dutch dude with wooden shoes and all. The restaurants are all over, and they’re closed on Sunday. It’s very easy to drive by them and not even notice, which is what I usually do. A friend of mine was raving about going there with her kids, and I chuckled at her (not politely). So one day she took me. Guess what? Russ’ rocks.
It has to be one of the best places to eat with kids, but you have to go to the 28th Street location. I’ve been initiated; and now I want to tell you how to do it. You go in, grab some coloring pages and crayon bundles from the counter, and head straight for the back corner booth. It’s curved, and spacious. Get your kids settled, and run back up to get water – it’s a serve yourself deal. Then you decide what to eat. Now I’ll pause and say there is nothing trendy going on here. Like Bill Knapps, but more drab. We’re talking about meatloaf and pot-roast. And pie. Lots of pie.
I have become quite fond of the Michigan Cherry Chicken salad. It’s a grilled chicken breast on a salad that involves blue cheese, pecans, and a whole buncha dried cherries. Way more than you’d get at a joint like Panera. There is also a tasty Cherry Vinagrette for a dressing. I like the salad so much I can kindofalmostmaybe forgive its iceberg-ness. And it’s $7.99.
Once you decide what you want, you pick up the phone at the booth (!) and place your order. They bring it out when it’s ready. The kids think this is the most awesome thing, ever. Don’t worry if your kids get excited and are a little loud. The median age there is about 96, and unless everyone has their hearing aids cranked up full blast they’ll never even know you’re there.
The kids menu is the usual stuff, I can’t remember all of it but I am certain there are hot dogs, and battered perch because that is what my kids get. They are $1.99 the first time you go, and free every time after that. Now how does that work? Well those coloring pages you grabbed on the way in are a coloring ‘contest’. As you leave, you give them to the cashier. About a week later you’ll get a post-card in the mail about the contest and guess what? The kids win the contest every time. The prize is a free kids meal. From there, you just scroll back up to the top of this post, and repeat.
I love West Michigan, and I love Russ’. For more Things I Love Thursday, check out The Diaper Diaries.