My husband and I wanted to celebrate the New Year with a local Mulefoot meal. I'd heard good reviews of the restaurant's new venue in downtown Imlay City and invited old friends to join us.
Yolanda called New Year's Eve morning. "I'm sorry," she croaked, "but we can't make dinner tonight. We'll take a rain check for when I'm feeling better."
We were sorry, too. Yolanda and Art are fun people, perfect companions for dining out. But Mel and I had waited two years for another Mulefoot experience. After my efforts to find alternates failed, I called the restaurant and amended our reservation to two.
The hostess led our hearty appetites to a little table at 4:30 p.m. sharp. "Your server will be right with you."
We took in the simple ambience of the high tin ceiling, mammoth artwork hung on painted brick walls, and an open kitchen where the chef and sous chefs prepared orders in discreet seamless motion. Mike, the owner and chef, served plates to folk at the bar.
It was good to be back to homegrown.
Logan introduced herself and explained our menu options. I was relieved to see the Mulefoot Gastropub retained the First, Second, and Third Course model.
"May I suggest the Oxtail Poutine for your first course? Our guests love it," Logan said.
Our tableside culinary lessons began. Oxtail Poutine is far from Mom's oxtail soup. It combines braised oxtail with roasted onions and pickled scapes poured over hand-cut French fries. Mom would've loved it.
We consumed every crunchy scape. I shall pickle and serve my garlic scapes on French fries this summer. Thanks, Mike.
With the second course we learned Logan comes from a farm family near Emmett and studies at U of M Flint. Mel's filet mignon with Bourbon vanilla sweet potatoes was cooked to perfection. We'd never tasted a sweet potato that divine. Now he believes in the yam's potential.
My fried rabbit surprised me. I didn't expect bones. The crispy breading and succulent pink meat were worth the knife work. Truly, dinner at The Mulefoot is a rustic and artistic feast.
Dessert lovers, Mel and I mused over our four options. He ordered the apple cobbler with warm butterscotch. An exquisite floral note in the butterscotch sauce provoked regret for the goat cheese cheesecake plated before me. Sometimes ordering bold backfires.
I didn't mention this to Logan when she returned with our coffee: medium roast for Mel, dark for me. By then she had become our friend, a young girl devoted to earning her Physician's Assistant degree by the want within her soul.
Dear Reader, Logan's sublime cup of coffee crowned our meal as none other I've ever sipped. Perhaps it was her conscientious service, her patience with two gray-headed mates who crave pure food and congenial company.
This I know. If Michael Romine had not wanted to be a chef, if he did not pay the price everyday to operate The Mulefoot Gastropub, we would not have met Logan. We would not dine in Imlay City like a king and queen.