The Subject: Blushing Monk from Founders Taproom and Deli.
Growing up, I loved spending my summers in Western Michigan, along the shores of Lake Macatawa, just a short walk away from the iconographic red lighthouse marking the channel to the big lake (Michigan, herself). I’ve ventured up to the area several times as an adult in the spring and summer, to visit old friends and relatives, to relive memories. This past weekend, I found myself in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Holland, Michigan as a winter tourist, as a brewery tourist. With breweries — not memories — as our main destinations, I discovered parts of the cities I’d loved as a child that I didn’t know existed.
Our first of four breweries was Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. Challenged with visiting as many breweries as possible in a short amount of time, we resigned ourself to lunching in a few of them. Kill two birds (and nine beers) with one stone. We arrived with low expectations for food and high expectations for beer. I left with a crush on a sandwich.
Outer Goods: Served with a warm and toasty French roll, the bread (locally-sourced, I think I remember) was one of the highlights of the Blushing Monk. A crisp exterior meets a soft and warm interior, with plenty of give.
Inner Beauty: A generous portion of the house-made chicken salad makes up the majority of this sandwich. Tender pieces of chicken join sweet Michigan cherries and celery (another Michigan native) and a toasted slice of smoky gouda. It’s all topped with a thin slice of red onion (just enough to add flavor and not enough to linger on the breath for the rest of the day), lettuce and a tomato. This fall-off-the-bun chicken salad isn’t your grandmother’s chicken salad. (Though, from the looks of the taproom, the food at Founders attracts diners of all ages.)
Accessories: The sandwich is served with a pickle that tastes like my childhood. (The H.J. Heinz pickle company lives nearby on the shores of Holland, Michigan.) While fingers will suffice for the pickle and initial bites of the sandwich, you’ll need a fork to catch the pieces unable to stay within the bun.
The Verdict: Simply put, I have new memories of Western Michigan, and a new reason to return.
Founders Taproom and Deli
235 Grandville Avenue SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan