This past weekend my family was in Lansing, MI for an assembly. This is one of the few times we get to stay in a hotel and eat out more than once in a given weekend. Really it’s more fun for the kids than it is for us so it’s always nice to see them enjoying themselves. Saturday evening after the session we ended up on West Saginaw Highway near the Lansing Mall trolling for some place to eat. Nothing was popping out at us – except for McDonald’s for our back seat drivers. As we passed the Lansing Mall I caught sight of Houlihan’s. I’d eaten at one before on a visit to Chicago so I thought it’d be a good option. It was tucked in behind some construction so from the street it looked like it wasn’t open. So on we continued. We almost stopped at a Fire Mountain but when we discovered it was a buffet restaurant we decided we weren’t in to belly up to a trough.
Finally, we turned around and went back to the mall area and noticed Houlihan’s was indeed open. Hungry, freezing cold and not in the mood to search further we went inside. Despite a slight delay because I had to take my girls to the bathroom we were seated immediately. The hostess was friendly and even though it was only her second day on the job she was very quick to accommodate our request for a gluten free menu. We did not intend it, but we turned out to be a bit of a handful at dinner time. Gluten free needs, a cranky toddler, one lactose intolerant and another suffering with effects from pancreatitis making consumption of too much fat problematic and even dangerous (and did I mention she’s also hypoglycemic and NEEDS protein) made our dining experience tenuous at best. Not at all because of the wait staff, but because of our need to eat and choosing to eat there without a previous knowledge of the dinner options available. Our waitress, Bridgette, was smiley, friendly and willing to help throughout the whole meal. My husband was a little put off by her lack of attentiveness otherwise, but I think she did a good job. And here’s why. . .
First of all, my mom ordered the Chicken Tortilla Soup and a salad as her meal. When the soup was brought out is was covered in a mound of cheese. She was not aware it would be prepared this way. Cookie was really hungry so I suggested that she give the soup to her and ask for a new bowl without cheese. It was promptly brought out to her when she discovered it had no meat in it as well. So, round two for another bowl of soup. Finally, the third bowl of soup was sans cheese and replete with chicken. So much so that she share the extra with BonBon who was not feeling well (she was away from home and tummy hurt, you get the picture). BonBon ate the mostly brothy soup with a few extra chunks of chicken from my mom’s new bowl. I had intended to ask the waitress to add the bowl to my meal as a side since this would be less expensive and we had eaten it, but I completely forgot to mention it.
Though we had read some so-so reviews of the dinner menu options not one of us had a bad thing to say about the food. Cookie ordered the scallops with risotto & asparagus and gobbled them down happily. Hubby got the meatloaf dinner with asparagus. Save a mystery crunchy bit that was IN the meatloaf he had not complaints – even the crunchy bit was yummy. My dad had one cheeseburger slider and a bowl of baked potato soup (to my mother’s chagrin) and was pleased with both.
I was in the mood for a meaty hamburger and that’s exactly what I got in the Creekstone Farms Black Angus Burger – prepared medium well with gorgonzola and bacon on top, num num. It didn’t taste or look like it came out of a box of premade frozen burgers and was perfectly cooked. The brioche roll was phenomenal. The fries were not shoestring and not thick cut, but just the way I like them in between (do I sound like Goldilocks?), very crispy and coated with a seasoned salt that made everyone at the table want to steal them!
During the meal hubby decided he wanted an Irish Coffee which he was expecting to have only whisky and sugar. When it arrived all creamy with Bailey’s Irish Cream I secretly thought, “YAY! Irish coffee for me!” So AGAIN we had to ask the waitress to order another coffee this time with only Jameson and sugar, but that we would definitely pay for the first one, since we were going to drink it. I explained he couldn’t drink milk and she nodded understandingly and went to order his new drink. Never grimaced, never grumbled, just accommodated.
In the meantime I noticed a little table tent ad for Houlihan’s loyalty club. If you sent a text message to their service you’d immediately get a code back for a free dessert. I don’t typically get dessert, but it’s free and I’m willing to share :). When she came back I let her know that we were indeed interested in a dessert and that I had a coupon via text to get it free. She just said she’d have to get the code from it before she brought the bill. We ordered the Extreme Brownie Sundae and 5 spoons. We almost didn’t have enough people to finish it.
The final surprise came when we received our bill. Remember I forgot to mention to add that first tortilla soup to our bill as a side item? Well, she did it without me even asking! Go Bridgette!!! She didn’t charge my parent’s for the third bowl of soup they brought out. And we indeed got our dessert for free PLUS service with a smile. I think sometimes that makes the food taste even better.
There happened to be a survey on the receipt and we weren’t quite done with drinks and dessert so I took those last few minutes to make sure and fill out the survey. I wanted to make sure that our waitress got the recognition she deserved for a job well done. At the end I got a confirmation code for a free app or dessert up to a $9 value that expired in 30 days. There was no way we would be in Lansing in the next 30 days so I asked Hubby if he minded if anyone saw how much we spent or what we ordered. He said no, so I offered our coupon to a table in front of us that had what looked like three generations gathered for dinner. Made me feel good to share our discount with someone who could use it especially when I heard the guy I handed it to go “WooHoo” :). I left with a full belly and a happy heart.
What we ordered:
CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP $3.95
BAKED POTATO SOUP topped with bacon, scallions& cheddar cheese $3.95
SEARED GEORGES BANK SCALLOPS lemon-asparagus risotto, arugula, basil-infusedolive oil $18.95 | small $13.95
SLIDERS pot roast, bbq pulled smoked pork, veggiemini burger, creekstone farms black angus miniburger* with aged cheddar and ranch style greens single $4.00 | 3-pak $11.00
HOUSE SALAD with bacon, corn, croutons, tomatoes,choice of bleu cheese or cheddar and ranch dressingor balsamic vinaigrette $4.25
CREEKSTONE FARMS BLACK ANGUS BURGER*(8oz.) served with lettuce, tomato, red onion on atoasted bun (BBQ sauce upon request) $10.50Add cheese, bacon or sauteed mushrooms $.50each. Choose from aged cheddar, american,provolone, gorgonzola, swiss or gouda.
CREEKSTONE FARMS MEATLOAF over honest goldmashers, onion straws, choice of vegetable $12.95
EXTREME FUDGE BROWNIE SUNDAE warm brownie topped with caramel, hot fudge and caramel, bits of Snickers candy bar, walnuts and a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream $6.95
Lansing Houlihan’s (get directions)
5732 W Saginaw Hwy
Lansing, MI 48917