The Vision Behind the Food
Grand River Brewery takes pride in considering ourself a place of community gathering, where people come together to share space over good food and good beer. Last week on the GRB blog we had the pleasure of meeting Wyatt, the head brewer and visionary who helps keep the lifeblood of the brewery flowing so we can continue to offer a space to convene. This week we will focus on the restaurant side of things, and how the mission of the brewery is very much in line with the mission of the food: quality, storytelling product that can make any good time great!
Both the food and beer at Grand River Brewery are made with as many local ingredients as possible, but the restaurant is especially privileged in being able to source ingredients from as close as the local farmer’s market! With many farms surrounding the local area, the GRB kitchen team is always on the lookout for the freshest, most seasonable produce. As the Fall season fast approaches, the GRB kitchen team will be perusing the farmers markets for squash, corn, and other Fall veggies to add to the seasonal vegetable dishes like the Veggie Power Bowl and the Seasonal Veggie Tacos.
If we need to go farther than the market to get our fresh produce, we still always make sure to request Michigan grown foods whenever possible. Our asparagus, blueberries, and corn are Michigan grown, cared for with skill and quality by the farmers and distributors alike. Even the ingredients GRB gets year-round from outside of Michigan are special, and the Kennebec potatoes that we use to make our delicious fries are one great example. Kennebec potatoes are quite literally made for frying; starchy with minimal water content, these potatoes turn a beautiful golden brown while maintaining their shape and structure deliciously, even under heavy gravy like in the GRB Poutine. Kennebec potatoes make for rich, earthy, almost nutty tasting fries that soak up seasoning perfectly. Made to order each time, you can get them all on their own or with any burger or sammy!
Produce isn’t the only thing Grand River Brewery takes time to consider when it comes to our menu. The cheddar cheese we use in the nachos, on our sandwiches, in our mac and cheese, and more is known as Vermont Cabot Cheddar. This cheese is made by a family-owned dairy farm that’s been in operation since 1919, always maintaining their mission of happy cows and top shelf product. Having tasted the cheese on many different dishes, it’s clear that the cows it comes from are happy and cared for. This naturally lactose free aged cheddar is creamy and hearty at the same time, a subtle yet assertive flavor that complements any cheesy dish.
Vermont may seem quite a distance away for cheese, but even the ingredients and products we get from a distance are chosen specifically to help us stay in line with our mission: offer delicious food and beer to gather over and be enriched by. To do that, sometimes we have to source ingredients from pretty far, like the pasta we use to make our mac and cheese dishes. Made with rustichella d'Abruzzo rigatoncini pasta, the Mac and Cheese and Heart Attack Mac are no regular pasta dishes. This Italian imported pasta cooks beautifully and pairs oh so well with the Vermont Cabot White Cheddar. It’s no exaggeration to say that the GRB Mac and Cheese is an experience all its own; creamy and rich enough to fill you up without being too heavy. The freshness of the cheese and the quality of the pasta are what we are all about at Grand River Brewery, and we wouldn’t settle for anything less.
Part of why the menu works so well at Grand River Brewery is the level of thought, skill, and expertise put into it by the kitchen and management team. They’re not just choosing ingredients to choose them, they think deeply about each choice, how it will work, and how we can achieve the highest quality. For example, the Great Lakes Walleye featured on the menu was chosen by the team because of the flavor and local availability. Many restaurants will use Cod as their main fish, but we chose the Walleye for its higher quality, better taste, and lower carbon footprint. With how locally we are able to source the Walleye, transportation takes less time and puts out less carbon. The Great Lakes Walleye tastes especially delicious when fried in our 313 Polish Lager beer batter, which really brings out the rich and juicy flavor of the fish.
The Fish Sammy isn’t the only dish on the menu that uses GRB beer as a key ingredient. We also use our beer to make various sauces like the IPA mustard, and this process is highly collaborative. The brewing team and kitchen team work together to make the best pairings possible, and the kitchen team is always getting newly educated on these pairings. With such quality ingredients, Grand River Brewery recognizes the need for quality care and skillful preparation. With the passport training system and the pre shift meetings, kitchen staff are always being challenged to learn new skills, new dishes, and new pairings. The GRB kitchen and brewing team are a great group of people; diligent workers who care about the experience they are helping to create.
I’ve found during my time in various restaurants that the ingredients and quality of the food matter as much to the cooks as to the customers; cooking with high end product leads to a higher morale, a deeper personal investment in the job, and better skill development. There are many reasons that GRB goes out of its way to get the best product to make our meals with, but it comes down to this: we do it because it’s right, true, and delicious. Of course, the best way to see for yourself just how much work goes into the food side of things is to come to Grand River Brewery and have a meal! Cheers!