1009 Grand Rapids

We missed out on ArtPrize last year – a big city-wide art competition in Grand Rapids – and I was pretty sure that we’d miss it again this year, what with Shane’s trip to Vienna and mine to Atlanta and the exhaustion between trips and being sick. After last night, though, we really needed to do something to make us feel more positive about the state of things – so we hopped in the car and headed out to Grand Rapids for the day.

The day got off to a bad start, though, when I popped a big ol’ filling out of one of my front teeth while getting out what I thought was a bit of crusty bread. No, it was a filling pebble, leaving a tooth hole that didn’t hurt, but that did mean my eating options were somewhat limited. Undeterred by this traumatic incident, we made our first stop Founders Brewery, where despite lousy service and the tooth hole, we enjoyed a couple of sandwiches and beers.

We set off in search of art, and while we found a lot of “art” along the way, we also found a number of pieces that we really liked. They seemed to fall into three categories:

  1. Horses made of unusual materials
  2. Fantastic creatures
  3. Installations that involved both static and dynamic elements connected by string

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were spending perhaps the last perfect weekend of the fall on art, rather than on cider mills or raking the leaves. We didn’t end up seeing as much as I think we would’ve liked, in part because we wandered a bit far afield in search of a couple of cute shops I’d spotted online. I’m glad we did, too, because otherwise we wouldn’t have stumbled upon Rowster New American Coffee.


Who would’ve thought that we would’ve found a coffee operation to rival those we visited in San Francisco – in the middle of a neighborhood in the middle of Grand Rapids! But there we were, and there were the gorgeous lever espresso machines, and there were the really perfect espressos in front of us. Rowster has only been open about two months, but the state of the shop – clean, simple, efficient – and the quality of the product have us sold completely. We had an espresso and a cappuccino – and several cups of sparkling water – while talking to the barista/owner (?), who then made macchiatos for us so that we could try a new espresso blend. When he had extra coffee left from a cup of pour-over, he offered that to us as well. $6 for three great drinks and a fair amount of coffee nerdery each equals a really nice way to pass an afternoon.

By this point in the day, though, we were both getting really tired and I wasn’t feeling so great, so after a bit more meandering, we headed back in the direction of the car. The last stop for the day was dinner at Restaurant Bloom – we were a little too hungry to just hit the road, realizing that it would only result in a stop for fast food. Bloom is the sort of place where you find yourself really struggling with the menu – not because there’s nothing you want to eat but because you want to eat absolutely everything. We split an order of fingerling “fries” – half of which will be tomorrow’s breakfast – and had a fancy sandwich each. My croque madame was impossibly rich, and I almost immediately regretted eating the whole thing. I’d love to go back for a meal at Bloom when a huge city-wide event is NOT taking place, as I expect the service would be a whole lot better.

All told, though – a nice day out of town, nice to see a smallish city investing in the arts, and a nice range of eats to share with my sweetheart.