A ROOM ON THE 13TH FLOOR

13 Nov

Back to Saturday in Michigan. Once we said goodbye to Holland for good we set out for Grand Rapids. Lunch was already chosen by me at a place called The Green Well. This was high on the list of top places to eat and the menu looked sooo excellent. Zach ordered a mini sampler of 3 beers that we shared-

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It was right when I tried to take a picture of our sampler that I realized my memory card was not in my camera. I had been uploading pictures to my laptop on the drive over and forgot to put it back in. I went out to the car and looked and looked and looked. It most definitely WAS NOT in the car anywhere and I decided it must have fallen out but try as hard as I might I just couldn’t find it in the the insane amount of leaves surrounding the vehicle. I went back to the restaurant and sadly told Zach we’d have to buy a new one and asked him to take pictures on his phone of lunch. Our food was already there by the time I got back. Prior to the memory card debacle we had debated on food. We weren’t starving so we decided to share something and landed on the BBQ Pork and Polenta.

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All day braised pork shoulder, sweet corn & andouille creamy polenta, onions, braised greens and Green Well Carolina style bbq. Ohhhh my goodness was this fabulous!!!! The portion sizes were perfect, the flavors were incredible and everything complemented so well. We are pretty sure that absolutely everything on their menu would be awesome. When we left The Green Well I told Zach to put a Best Buy or some type of electronic store in his phone so we could go get a memory card but he told me to wait a minute and after a few minutes of searching, lo and behold, he found the memory card buried in the leaves!! He is SO good at finding things/seeing things, it’s like one of his weird talents. I was so happy not to have to buy a new one and not to have to waste time! We started driving to our next place when Zach saw a sign like 1 minute after we left for Brewery Vivant, a place he had just recently been introduced to. I told him we had time to stop and we wound up inside with a sampler. 🙂

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One of their beers, a DIPA called Tree Bucket, was awesome!! One of my favorite beers I have ever had! Zach was so happy with all his fun brewery stops on this trip. 🙂

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Our next place was rather…unique.

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This is a fish ladder in Fish Ladder park. There is a huge area where the water drops too far for the salmon and carp and such to be able to swim upstream so they built a fish ladder that they use to hop up each level until they are on the upper half of the river. Sadly we didn’t see any fish use their little water steps but we did see lots of crazy fishermen out in the freezing water!

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I don’t know how they do it, especially when no one seemed to be catching anything. We didn’t stay here very long, but as I said, it was a rather unique stop! 🙂

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At this point we were more than ready to check into our hotel- the JW Mariott of Grand Rapids. We were fortunate enough to get a corner room, river view on a high floor!

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We were on floor 13. I have never ever been in a hotel that has a floor 13 before!! They always skip it. It’s probably the reason that the upper half of our windows were caked with an apocalyptic amount of dead bugs…haha. Luckily they didn’t show up much in pictures or affect our view! Our room was comfy and very nice.

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Not to mention that I am always a sucker for a view.

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When the sun started setting and we could actually see it a little for the first time in days, I went out to our 13th floor open area in front of the elevators and took some pictures:

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Beautiful! I took advantage of having my zoom lens on my camera to capture a shot of a street far below as well.

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Zach and I toasted with champagne…

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Listened to music and proceeded to use the tripod to take a PLETHORA of pictures of ourselves. 🙂

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What can I say? We like to have fun and we sure do love each other!! So there was this box at the end of the bed…

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Which obviously became a question of “Can I fit?” Zach, not so much, but me on the other hand…

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Haha! Snapped one more photo before we set out on foot.

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We were walking to Founders, our last brewery stop of the trip. We were in a very nice section of Grand Rapids and even though it was chilly out, we really enjoyed walking around.

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At Founders I was amazed at their enormous outdoor area that was busy even in the cold.

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We got beers and joined the throngs of people outside and it felt like such a pleasant evening out thanks to heat lamps, fires and some overhead heating units.

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I absolutely loved being able to be outside regardless of the weather- more places should be like that!

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I enjoyed a nitro pale ale and we browsed around the merchandise store before walking back to our hotel.

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It was totally dark by the time we got back and the view from our windows was perhaps even more beautiful than before-

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We turned the giant tub into a hot tub and then donned our robes to get ready for dinner.

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Zach knows one of my favorite things before a night with girlfriends is to play music and sip champagne while we get ready for a night out and he is SUCH a good sport. 🙂

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He may not be a girl, but he is the best company I could ask for and keeps me laughing always. Even though he didn’t have any makeup to do (ha!) he still hung out with me and took pictures and made it tons of fun.

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Once ready for dinner we shot a few more window photos before leaving.

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On foot once again, this time to San Chez a Tapas Bistro. We were seated in a semi-private area upstairs which was great because we could see the whole place but were slightly removed from the noise and bustle.

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Only problem about being upstairs is when you knock menus and stuff through the slats onto a little awning…

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Oops. haha! The waitress says it happens constantly. Perhaps that’s why there is an awning there to begin with… Our server, Caitlyn, was so beyond nice! She came and talked with us constantly and made us feel like we were the most interesting, awesome customers she has ever had. I am sure she makes everyone feel like this (mark of a good server) but still, we loved her.

This place is all authentic Spanish tapas and what better to accompany them than a white spanish wine?

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Now begins the immense parade of food…we did NOT limit ourselves. 😉 Remember though that tapas are SMALL plates so for the most part this really is not as much as it looks like. To start: Trucha Ahumada -house smoked trout, goat cheese & artichoke spread, fried capers, toasted pumpernickel.

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Two little toast points + a few crackers each with that yummy spread. Fried capers is a great idea! This was good but honestly when we compared it to all the dishes that followed it was very mediocre!

Second dish: Coles de Bruselas – sauteed brussels sprouts, brown butter, caramelized onions, marcona almonds.

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These were simple but awesome! The marcona almonds realllly amped up the flavor of these brussels and we wolfed them down.

Third dish: Croquetas de Papas con Queso – potato & smoked cheddar croquettes, garlic alioli*, jalapeño honey.

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This was one of our top favorites. The cheesy potatoes inside the croquettes and that jalapeño honey! Oh my!! *I learned a new word: alioli. I thought it was a misspelling of aioli on their menu at first but it’s not, it’s just like a spanish version of the sauce*

Fourth dish: Gambas Asadas al Fuego – spicy fire roasted shrimp, banana mustard cream, white rice.

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You’re looking at dish number one right there. BEST bites of the night. It seems so simple but the rice was perfect, the shrimp were even more perfect with just the right hit of heat and then that banana mustard cream!?! Who’s ever even heard of such a thing? It. was. awesome.

Fifth dish: Vieiras y Tocino – scallop and pork belly, habanero-mang0-grape chutney

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Scallops just right, pork belly just to Zach’s liking and an excellent sauce.

Sixth dish: Toro Estofado – red wine braised oxtail, herb roasted fingerling potatoes, charred broccoli

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Unfortunately the least favorite dish of the night. The broccoli and fingerling potatoes were good but I’d never had oxtail before and I won’t be getting it again. It’s just too fatty/chewy of a cut of meat for my liking.

Seventh and Eighth dishes (yes, we’re still going): One individual Fritos de Arroz (back picture) – saffron rice fritters with bacon and shrimp, pesto alioli and one individual Tostones Fritos (front picture) – fried plantains, avocado relish,  jalapeño honey

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We were in agreement on these two things. The plantain was okay but the avocado relish (especially with more of that jalapeño honey) was spot-on. The saffron rice fritter on the other hand was allll delicious.

Ninth dish: Seta Rellena – crimini mushroom caps stuffed with spinach, manchego cheese, roasted red peppers, garlic, tomato vinaigrette

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This one was mostly for me. Zach did eat half of one but he still isn’t that crazy for mushrooms. I ate the other two and a half! 🙂 Luckily they were really tiny. Or maybe that’s UN-luckily because these were incredibly tasty.

Zach and I had already decided that we had to get a dessert at this place when our waitress came and told us that they were giving us a dessert on the house because we were “such an awesome couple who appreciated what a tapas place was all about”. 🙂 Again, not sure if that’s an everybody thing or maybe we just really are that great. 😉 We chose the Chocolate y Frambuesas Asadas – chocolate cobbler served hot, topped with raspberries and frozen chocolate mousse

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Yes it was absolutely as great as it sounds, maybe even better. Yummmm. To go with our dessert we shared a dessert drink-

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This was the “Outer Banks” – Bailey’s, chocolate, gran mariner, buttershots and steamed milk. A very, very good “finish the meal” drink. I would recreate this!! We had the best experience at San Chez, couldn’t have asked for anything better. To top off the night Caitlyn begged us to come back whenever we next visited Grand Rapids and she signed two special coupons for us (she did tell us that that is not something she does for everyone) with no expiration date! One is for 50% off a bottle of wine and the other is 20% off a meal over 100$- really great coupons honestly.

Per Caitlyn’s advice we walked to a nearby bar called The Pyramid Scheme which was a totally hipster place. The cool thing about this place? Filled with pinball machines!!

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I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d played pinball but we had so much fun on these. Of course I played the Lord of the Rings one…

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Thanks to my outfit we blended right in. 😉 We stayed here for awhile and then walked back to our hotel for the night and chalked that up as another perfect trip in our books! Pure Michigan indeed!

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