Visit Food Dance in Kalamazoo for marvelous local eats
When you get the urge for a regional culinary adventure, where should you go?
If you head north and west, not too far away, you’ll find some of the richest farmland in the country and gustatory pleasures to match in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This small city is a craft food and beverage lover’s delight and the top attraction is its acclaimed farm-to-table eatery Food Dance, which has been serving fresh, local and ethically sourced food for more than 20 years under the sure hand of owner and executive chef Julie Stanley.
Everything served at Food Dance—from the ketchup to the croutons—is made from scratch, with as many local ingredients as possible. From the baked goods made one floor below the main kitchens to the meat butchered in-house, despite serving some 3,000 meals a week, Food Dance keeps it homey.
The welcome at Food Dance is as Midwestern-warm as it is professional, with expert servers who stand out for their knowledge and friendliness. The menu features familiar, upscale, nicely balanced American dishes made with uncompromising care, such as roast chicken, pork chops, salmon and pasta, as well as burgers and sandwiches and salads. Numerous vegetarian and gluten-free items are thoughtfully labeled, and some dishes can be made vegetarian upon request.
At lunch, Edible Michiana editor Maya Parson and I enjoyed a terrific beet and goat cheese terrine the bright colors of an island sunset along with a sampling of regional meats and nuts, followed by a Square Dance salad with caramelized onions, dried Michigan tart cherries and pine nuts and a robust house burger. All this was washed down with a deliciously tart pint of Red Streak cider from Fennville, Michigan’s Virtue Cider. (We declined Food Dance’s artisanal cocktails since we had to drive home, but we understand those are pretty nice, too.)
For those with children, a separate kids’ menu is affordable and crowd pleasing, yet subtly dressed up. Breakfasts include buttermilk pancakes with Callebaut chocolate chips, egg with brioche toast, Monster Crunch granola with organic yogurt, as well as sides. Lunch staples are quesadilla, grilled cheese, chicken tenders, mac and cheese, PB&J with homemade jam on brioche, pizza and a gourmet burger. Basically, these are dishes kids tend to like made with ingredients that parents can feel good about giving them.
You may want to take Food Dance with you when you leave—we certainly did! Fortunately, the attached market sells their own bread and pastries, fresh cuts of meat, a selection of regional and national gourmet chocolates, wine, cheese and take-out items.
For those who plan a bit further ahead, the restaurant also offers popular classes each month. Th e March Meat Madness series will hone your knife skills, decode butchering and sausage-making and demonstrate a techniques dinner. Spring continues with two cupcake classes in April, a spirit tasting in May and the sixth annual Fire & Sky Grilling class on the rooftop in June (see website for further information).
However and whenever you go, be sure you add Food Dance to your culinary dance card.