As a writer for My City Magazine, I’ve been fortunate to have had opportunities to write about many fine area restaurants. I like writing these stories because I love to cook and I love to write about food. My love of home-cooking actually began when I was a child watching my father cook on weekends. I’d pull up a stool and watch as he handcrafted ravioli and the delicious meat sauce to go with it. He prepared everything with utmost care from the finest ingredients, including fresh produce from our abundant vegetable garden. Growing up on the East Coast, seafood was a staple at our dinner table. Maryland blue crabs were thrown alive into a pot of boiling water and Old Bay Seasoning, and later, hours were spent at the table, cracking open the crabs and digging out the delicate meat. Lobster bisque, a cream-based soup full of lobster meat, was always served on Christmas Eve. I remember a Cape Cod family vacation when we set traps off the Atlantic coast and caught our own lobsters. From the trap, to the pot, to the table, you can’t get any fresher than that. What a feast!
When I moved out on my own, my taste for fine food often didn’t fit my budget, but I tried to follow my father’s example when I later began cooking for my own family. I grow herbs in pots on my kitchen window sill, and I love going to the Flint Farmers’ Market and local produce stands in search of the fresh ingredients and fine quality meats that can be found there. My grandson, Brennan, insists that the brown eggs I buy at the Farmers’ Market taste better than “grocery store” eggs.
Now, let’s talk about Midwestern food. When Flint became my second home back in the late 70s, there were a few local eateries that captured my attention (and appetite). I’d never had a Coney dog or French fries with gravy until I moved to Flint. I was introduced to the Flint-style Coney at Angelo’s Restaurant when it was located on Flint’s eastside. For years, Angelo’s was a favorite lunch destination when I worked at the Social Security office Downtown fish & chips became my new “seafood favorite,” especially at the old Fifth Avenue Fish & Chips. I also discovered Halo Burger, and a deluxe burger topped with onions and olives is still among my all-time favorites. My co-workers and I often walked from the Social Security office to indulge in one of those heavenly burgers for lunch. Battiste’s Temple Dining Room was another go-to spot for a good, home-cooked meal. Italia Gardens when it was Downtown was great for a salad or a plate of pasta.
Later, when I began working at the North Flint Social Security office, I discovered a slew of new restaurants. Does anyone remember O’Toole’s on Clio Road? They had the best hot beef sandwich – melt-in-your-mouth roast beef piled high on homemade bread and covered in rich brown gravy … if you remember it, your mouth is surely watering right now. Another favorite that can only be found in this area is the Big John’s steak sub. I recently took my grandson Noah there for the first time. “This is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted!” he exclaimed. It’s fun to introduce my grandkids to new food experiences.
I love watching the Food Network channel, particularly Chef Guy Fieri’s show, “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives,” which follows his experiences as he travels around the country, stopping to sample the menus at unique local eateries. I think I could have my own Food Network show, as I have many favorite restaurants all over Genesee County. A walk with friends at Flushing Park always includes a stop at Kathy’s Restaurant for their famous chicken salad or French Onion soup. When I want a good cup of soup or slice of homemade pie, I head to Shirley’s Café in Linden for lunch. Pesto’s Restaurant, offering “Food with a Flair,” is another one of Flint’s hidden gems where you can always find house-made soups, unique specials and just plain good food.
By now you can surely tell that for me, it’s all about food. Of course there are many, many fine area restaurants I’ve not mentioned and enjoy immensely. What was your favorite restaurant in days past, and where do you find yourself enjoying a lovely meal today? I’d love to hear from you.