When we moved to Michigan, there was an Applebee's in Lake Orion. Jeannene was sorry to see it go when it closed, but I'm not much of an Applebee's fan and hoped something cool and independent would open in the spot. Sure enough, after a long period of vacancy, The Stockyard has opened in that location. They say they specialize in handcrafted and that applies to the decor, as well as to the food. All wood and steel and funky overhead lights, the space looks really nice. Their chairs are not so comfortable for those of us gifted with extra padding, however. Ah, well, nobody's perfect and it certainly wouldn't keep me from returning, many times, following our initial visit last night.
We told our friendly, young hipster waiter to choose for us between the fried pickles and the spinach and artichoke dip. I was really hoping for the pickles, but I think my wife is probably kind of sick of pickles (she's the plant manager for a pickle manufacturing facility). When I just smelled the spinach and artichoke dip the waiter chose for us, I was very glad he hadn't brought the pickles. It was pure cheesy goodness, the sort of rich thing you don't want to eat very often, but are glad to get to taste every now and again. I was also pleased it was served with crostini, rather than the easily-snapped tortilla chips I see many places. The dip itself was different, too, with more of a smoky flavor to it. They use smoked Muenster and the artichoke hearts are also smoked. Delicious! Jeannene got a beer flight (kind of pricey, as they charge individually for each small pour, depending on the kind you choose, but with tremendous variety). Her favorite was the Stupid Man Suit, from B Nektar. Honestly, I don't even like beer or most hard ciders, at all, and I thought this cherry/raspberry/currant concoction was the bee's knees. I had a terrific iced tea. I often just order water because the iced tea so many places either tastes basically like water or is kind of reminiscent of olive juice.
For my main course, I decided almost immediately that I wanted the grilled cheese. I've been hungry for a fried green tomato BLT from someplace like Dayton, Ohio's The Meadowlark or Toast in Charleston. Well, folks, the grilled cheese (which is just called "grilled cheese") at The Stockyard has fried green tomatoes and bacon. The cheeses are brie, which I love, and gruyère. It's all put together on farmhouse bread. I was delighted that the sandwich was of normal proportions, rather than gargantuan. It was scrumptious, although the fried green tomatoes could have been a smidge more crisp. Instead of the fries which come with it (and which are probably awesome), I had to try to cheesy grits cakes. It was a good choice, all crunch on the outside and tender creaminess on the inside. Jeannene, after much debating, opted for the hangar steak with chimichurri, also choosing the grits cakes as a side. She completely loved it.
They had some interesting desserts, including "soda cake," which has nothing to do with baking soda and much to do with soda pop. They have different flavors every day, with black raspberry being the offering last night. The parfait was key lime, which would not have flown with my tart-flavor-hating wife. The dump cake would have been my choice, had the flavor of the day been almost anything but apple. We ended up ordering the warm chocolate chip cookie, served in a wee skillet with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. That was the only disappointing part of our meal. The ice cream was fine, but the cookie was really very eggy, with scant chocolate chips. I mean, it was so eggy, it tasted like a cookie omelet, which is not really a flavor profile I'm excited about. However, with everything else being so good, I anticipate a trip back before long, this time for chili or French onion soup and a salad.