Sunday, November 27, 2011

Calling Muskegon’s Hackley House

Charles Hackley’s name is on nearly every landmark in Muskegon — libraries, parks, hospitals — and statues of the lumber baron are all over the city. He’s the most iconic figure in Muskegon’s history, and while it’s a shame how many trees were felled to build his immense fortune, Hackley’s philanthropy and his sense of style can’t go unnoticed. To see how the 1% lived during the lumber boom, visit the Hackley and Hume Historic Site during their special holiday hours, and wander around his Victorian era mansion. 

Question for readers: Hackley’s phone number was 44. Since he would have been the first person in Muskegon to own a phone, does that number indicate that he was the 44th person in the state of Michigan to own a phone, or is that nationally? The tour guides weren’t sure, and I’m dying to find out. 

To see more photos, head to Google+.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Redcoat Tavern, Royal Oak | Brits, Burgers & Michigan Beer

Dining with the enemy

The burgers are coming, the burgers are coming! And they’re delicious — juicy, tasty, and made-to-order with plenty of topping options. On my first trip to Redcoat Tavern I had my old standby: cooked medium with Swiss cheese and bacon. When sampling a new burger I order bacon and Swiss so I can accurately assess the quality. Compared to other Michigan burgers, Redcoat is closing in on Casey’s Tavern, and I rank it somewhere in the Spike’s Keg ‘o’ Nails ballpark. That’s saying a lot.*

And while there’s something odd about dining at a British-themed burger joint whilst in America’s quintessential French city, the atmosphere makes the food even tastier. Redcoat Tavern is trimmed in dark wood, old and dingy, and has high-backed red vinyl seats — it seems like the kind of place where executives and crooks alike wheel and deal under cloak.

Bacon and Swiss with a side of Short's

On my first trip the this Detroit mainstay, what truly made me a believer was the beer menu. Short’s Brewing makes an exclusive Imperial London Porter just for Redcoat Tavern. The “Publican Porter” is dark as the bar itself, loaded with licorice, chocolate, and molasses. “Big, round and integrated with smooth body and dry finish,” according to the menu, and at 9.15% it packs a real punch while remaining understated and drinkable. 

Always a bonus to dine on Woodward Avenue.
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 *Still no Station Grill.