The Rezervoir Lounge, formerly Sazerac Lounge, on Plainfield Ave. in Grand Rapids, has the atmosphere of a neighborhood pub: nothing fancy about the décor, pool table in the back. The surprising thing about the place is the diverse menu and the gourmet quality of many of the menu items. Owner, Bret Alward loves Louisiana and Cajun cooking. Many of his New Orleans style recipes that were a part of the Sazarac menu are still available along with some innovative new offerings. The “Rez” as folks call it, offers a wide variety of craft beers including 24 drafts and 14 cans-only beers. The chef also incorporates the hand crafted ales into his recipes, enriching everything from sauces and cheeses to homemade desserts.
Manager, Kyle Carrier is proud to share the Reservoir’s new Vegan menu-and he should be. Care has been taken to assure these dishes are layered in flavor. Chef, Chris Montgomery, makes his own vegan cheese often incorporating local beers. Non-dairy yogurt is cultured and aged to produce fabulous mozzarella and other cheeses used in sauces, pizzas and appetizers. What a difference this extra step makes to the quality of vegan menu. The menu options are innovative and the commitment to hand-crafting each selection and using fresh local ingredients shines through in the dishes.
My friends and I ordered a variety of items from both vegan and non-vegan menus. I was born in Bunkie, Louisiana, so of course I started with the gumbo featuring Andouille sausage sourced locally from Frank’s Meat Market. The gumbo was dark as a gumbo should be, very delicious, but packed a little less kick than in my home town. I then opted for the jambalaya. I thoroughly enjoyed the dish, with succulent shrimp and a sweet sauce-again not as spicy as in New Orleans, but the chef must consider local tastes I guess. My friend and vegetarian, Gail ordered the vegan pizza featuring the homemade mozzarella and enjoyed the crispy crust and the texture and flavor of the convincing cheese. My pal Brenda ordered the Vegan Pasta Orleans. While she enjoyed the pasta and slightly spicy sauce, the grilled Seitan served with the dish was the texture and taste of a rubber sneaker. Over all, the main courses were creative and flavorful and well worth the trip. The menu also features tasty appetizers including Crispy Cajun Pies, Bayou Spring rolls, Jalepeno hushpuppies with Bistro Sauce. If you are looking for more traditional bar food, enjoy a huge burger or perhaps a pizza. The pizza is made using an old family recipe imported from when the restaurant was Bono’s Italian Restaurant in a previous incarnation.
We ended the meal with a sampling of amazing desserts. Again, creativity is the key to the success of these recipes. We suggest the Whiskey Stout Brownie served with a house made ice cream flavored with a coffee stout. Whiskey is used in the brownie to give the chocolate a deep richness. We also enjoyed the house specialty, coconut milk and avocado gelato served with a moist and delicious vegan cookie and drizzled with a caramel sauce. The avocado idea may throw you, but the result is very refreshing. Both desserts were served in a martini glass offering just a few sweet bites after a lovely meal.
If you are looking for a casual evening with friends and a diverse menu that offers great appetizers, bar food, Cajun fare, innovative vegan dishes and even the old pizza of yesteryear, you can’t go wrong with the Reservoir Lounge.