Tag Archives: Electric Cheetah

Supporting Local Suppliers: Good, But Not Good Enough

I’ve heard pretty good things about The Winchester on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So Bill and I stopped there last night after our food pick-up at the West Michigan Co-op. Normally, our tradition is to eat at the Electric Cheetah when we pick up our food, but this time we diverted from our routine to taste something different.

As I seem to harp about every time I go out to eat around here, The Winchester–like many other restaurants–is lacking in menu descriptions. While there were some references to local suppliers such as Mud Lake Farm (our CSA) and Sobie Meats, not every meat on the menu is listed by its source.

This is what I’m trying to encourage restaurateurs to do. It’s great that The Winchester includes a disclaimer at the bottom, which says they “proudly serve meats from Sobie Meats of Grand Rapids, Mud Lake Farm of Hudsonville, and Ingraberg Farms of Rockford” (although the latter two are produce suppliers, not meat suppliers). I love that they list their primary suppliers. But what about the Mahi Mahi in the Fish Tacos? Is it sustainably caught? And the Pulled Pork isn’t described as local, like the “ground local beef” in the Tavern Burger and the “braised local lamb” in the Gyro.

When I asked our server if the ground beef was grassfed he said it was pastured. That gave me comfort, although I wasn’t sure if that meant the cow was pastured for its whole life or just part of it. If it is, indeed, grassfed, why not add this attribute to the menu description? It would be so much easier for us consumers to get all the information we need in one place, and to believe that the restaurant’s intentions are to accommodate not only local businesses, but also good animal welfare practices.

In the end, I opted for the Mixed Greens from Mud Lake Farm and the Butternut Squash Pierogies with braised cabbage. I’m glad I did because, when I looked up Sobie’s Meats on the web today, their website describes their products as “Locally grown beef & pork; prime-cut steaks; fresh chicken; homemade kielbasa; sausages; jerky; bacon; hormone free.” All good selling points, but just a hair away from letting me feel good about eating Sobie Meats.

Don’t get me wrong….I love the idea of supporting our local businesses. I’m just looking for that next step away from feedlot meat to grassfed meat.


Pork Steak – Electric Cheetah Style

Photo by Ian Davis

In February, Bill and I missed our monthly trip to the West Michigan Co-op since we were leaving for Cuba the next day, but we just made our March run for some of our favorites: pork steak, nitrite-free bacon, and grassfed beef from Creswick Farms; McIntosh apples and Bosc pears from Wells Orchards; and, we picked up some lamb for the first time from S&S Lamb. All this meat to stretch us a little further into the year, until our meat order from Lubbers Farm comes in (beef, pork, and lamb). And we brought my stepson, Ian, with us for his first visit to the Co-op.

As is our ritual, we stopped at the Electric Cheetah for dinner and I saw a new item on the menu: Fried Free-Range Pork Steak (from Creswick Farms). A boneless cut of beautiful pork loin with a light breading, it came with crisp French green beans, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and black pepper country milk gravy. The caramelized onion on top was the perfect complement to all the flavors on my plate.

Way to go, guys. Another happy dinner for me!

Belly Up to the Bar to Warm Your Belly at the Electric Cheetah

And when I say “bar” I mean the counter adjacent to the kitchen. What a great place to eat, especially if it’s just two of you, so you can easily have a conversation while watching the cooks prepare the food. It’s fun for me, at least, because I like to cook. (Plus, the lighting is really good for photos!)

It was pick-up night again at the West Michigan Co-op, so Bill and I have continued the ritual of stopping first at the Electric Cheetah for dinner before getting our loot on the other side of town.

We both enjoyed the soup of the eve, which was a chickpea-lentil. It was a bit on the spicy side, but still flavorful and loaded with veggies and legumes.

Since it was Burger Mania night–a 1/2 lb Creswick burger with all-you-can-eat hand-cut fries and malts–Bill ordered the burger (sans the malt, due to his dairy allergy).

I didn’t think I could go for that much meat all at once, having just wrapped up a diet detox the last week and a half, so I opted for the half sandwich and soup combo with the Creswick East Coast Pulled Pork and Napa Cabbage Slaw. Delicious.

The place was packed tonight–was it the Burger Mania?–and we were hungry, so the bar was an excellent option for us to perch near the kitchen, watch the cooks do their thing, and enjoy the cozy ambience on a cold winter evening.

Why not give it a try next time you’re there?

(To read my previous posts about the Electric Cheetah, check out my lunch experience last month and dinner the week before Christmas.)

Back to Basics: Farm to Table Restaurants

While in Colorado over the holidays, I visited two restaurants–one in Boulder and one in Denver–that promote a “farm to table” philosophy: going back to basics by sourcing local products in order lessen the impact on the environment.  

Epicurious.com highlights some more. If you’re in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Virginia, or Washington, check out the site’s top ten picks for the most dedicated locavore eateries in the U.S.:

AR Valentien (La Jolla, CA)

Manresa (Los Gatos, CA)

Montagna at The Little Nell (Aspen, CO)

Woodfire Grill (Atlanta, GA)

North Pond (Chicago, IL)

Cinque Terre (Portland, ME)

Chester Creek Cafe (Duluth, MN)

Tupelo Honey Cafe (Asheville, NC)

Poppy Hill Tuscan Cafe (Fredericksburg, VA)

Trellis (Kirkland, WA)

In addition to the eco-friendly approach, farm to table food travels less so it’s better for you. And it just plain tastes good. Everybody wins, from farmer to chef to diner.

One of my favorite local farm to table restaurants is Electric Cheetah. What about you? I’d love to hear your suggestions for farm to table eateries around the country!

Buying Local at the West Michigan Cooperative

Creswick Farms truck at the loading dock

Bill and I just joined the West Michigan Co-op this month and last night was our first order pick-up. It was loads of fun.

After dinner at one of our favorite Local First eateries, the Electric Cheetah in Grand Rapids, we headed over to a nearby warehouse for the pick-up, which is a designated day and time once a month. To become a member, you sign up online and pay $35 per year. Then you place a monthly order online during the shopping window (first week of the month), print off your invoice, bring it with you to the warehouse, and pay for your goods that night.

Our first-time order included ground beef, ground lamb, and lamb chops from Creswick Farms; fingerling potatoes from Groundswell Community Farm; and yellow onions from Funny Farm Organics.

Inside the Creswick Farms trailer, where the meat is stored

Our meat order from Creswick Farms

Veggies bagged up at Funny Farm Organics

Our fingerling potato order from Funny Farm Organics

Veggies bagged up at Groundswell Community Farm

Our onion order from Groundswell Community Farm

But there’s way more to choose from than meat, onions, and potatoes.
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Feel Good About What You Eat at the Electric Cheetah

I was looking forward to dinner at the Electric Cheetah all day today because I knew I could count on eating happy, delicious, healthy food. Although I had been there once for lunch, this was Bill’s first time.

But first, we started out with happy hour drinks at The Meanwhile Bar, where Michigan products are always a dollar off before 8 p.m. I enjoyed a flavorful cherry wheat from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo to start the evening.

When we sauntered down the block to EC, I already had my mind set on getting the Creswick Farms Grass-fed, Free-range Beef Burger. It’s been months since I’ve had a grassfed burger of any sort because we ran out of our own ground beef, and it’s nearly impossible to find a grassfed burger at most restaurants. Thank you, EC! It’s great to be able to count on locally-sourced, happy, healthy beef. It was delicious.

Bill started off with some chicken curry soup–spiced just right.

He followed that with the Hydroponic Tomato BLT (tomatoes courtesy of  Mud Lake Farm, which happens to be our CSA). Bill said the honey aioli sauce was a nice touch–the best BLT he’s ever had.

We topped off the evening by picking up our first order of local goods from the West Michigan Co-op: meats from Creswick Farm and vegetables from Funny Farm Organics and Groundswell Community Farm. (You can read about our experience there tomorrow.)

It was a great day for supporting our local farmers, brewers, and business owners in West Michigan–especially members of Localfirst.com, which “encourages the development of a vibrant, sustainable West Michigan economy by promoting local business ownership, social equity, and environmental kinship through education, support and collaboration.”

Happy Food Heaven at the Electric Cheetah

I had heard good things about the Electric Cheetah in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was waiting for the next opportunity to try the food there.

Today was the day.

Before I went, I checked out their menu to see what the options would be available for carnivores. I was delighted to see on the Christmas 2009 menu–which is the one I’d be choosing my food from–many selections from Creswick Farms.
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