Written by Jennifer Foley
Recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing the newest addition to the local foodie scene. Trillium Haven has officially opened in the trendy and eclectic neighborhood of Grand Rapids’ Eastown. The eatery is based upon local, organic, and seasonal ingredients acquired mainly from Trillium Haven Farm located in nearby Jenison. Along with the farm-to-table theme and a menu that is packed with from-scratch meal selections, you can also find cocktails, several hyper local beers from Michigan and an affordable and extensive wine list designed by Amy Ruis of Art of the Table.
The décor and general ambience of Trillium Haven has a rustic, organic feel that made my guest and me feel instantly welcome. The line cooks work in a station complete with a brick, wood-fired oven clearly visible from all corners of the dining room — thus increasing the personal feeling of the experience. We were greeted warmly by the hostess, seated at a private, comfortable table near a window, and promptly introduced to our server, Alison. She was immediately friendly and respectful, and clearly passionate about the food she was serving. We were offered a brief, but informative overview of the restaurant and discovered that the menu was designed to accommodate not only vegetarians, but also vegans and diners with gluten intolerance.
Our meal began with a glass of Mawby Green sparkling wine from Suttons Bay, MI. The lightness of the bubbles paired with the dry fruitiness made it the perfect accompaniment to our first course; a raw vegetable board served with toasted bread, pesto hummus and homemade green goddess sauce. The vegetables were perfectly fresh and crisp and the pesto hummus was the favorite addition.
Next, we transitioned to a Rose de Karantes for our second wine. From the Languedoc region of France, it is referred to as “a wine filled with sunshine.” A slightly sweet wine with bright, fruity notes, it was the perfect choice for a hot summer day. We enjoyed this particular wine so much, that it accompanied our next two courses.
After a strong recommendation from our server, we selected the Cape “Chowder” Pie flatbread. The best way to describe this particular dish is as a bowl of clam chowder baked onto a pizza crust. The homemade crust was perfectly charred around the edges from the wood-fired oven, giving not only wonderfully authentic flavor, but great texture as well. The chewy crust was topped with a light clam cream sauce, smoked whitefish and whole clams, potato, onion, chive, salty bacon, and raw kale. The flavors accompanied one another and made for an extremely comforting dish.
After forcing ourselves to request to-go containers for the rest of the Chowder Pie; yes, it was that good, we moved along to a Fresh Vegetable “Lasagna”. It was lasagna in terms of being a dish of layered pasta, sauce, and cheese, but it was a deconstructed version. The ingredients were loosely layered on the plate, giving the dish a casual elegance and a certain personality not usually expected from lasagna. The combination of the hand-made egg noodles, light and fresh scape pesto, creamy mozzarella and goat cheese, and the fire roasted vegetables made for a light as air and complex entree. Aside from being served a bit too near room temperature for my taste, the balance of flavors and texture were exquisite. The scape pesto which served as the sauce was so delicious that all we wished for was a slice of bread to clean the rest of the plate!
The dessert menu is quite limited. There are just four options to choose from, along with a small list of dessert wines, but each sounded so tempting that we attempted to convince the chef to prepare a miniature sampler platter; no such luck. We decided to try the cherry and blueberry fruit crisp. It was served in a small canning jar with the cutest little spoons. It was a sweet treat to complete our meal. However, we found the portion to be small enough to also order the panna cotta with balsamic syrup and pears. The sweetness of the custard complimented and contrasted with the acidity of the balsamic syrup in the most unique and wonderful way and it had us scraping the jar clean within moments.
Every course we were served was prepared with the utmost care and left us feeling satisfied but not the least bit weighed down. The freshness of the ingredients was obvious and added a bright, satisfying flavor and feel to each dish.
The combination of the warm and inviting atmosphere, the “treat every guest like a friend” service, and the wonderfully diverse and healthy menu make Trillium Haven an absolute repeat visit. In the coming months, a rumored breakfast and lunch service will be added, potentially making this restaurant a competitive force in the food community of Grand Rapids. Owners Anja Mast and Michael Vanderbrug have created a true culinary gem in Trillium Haven and with this, birthed an opportunity to become the next “hot spot” in town.
Trillium Haven Address: 1429 Lake Drive, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 4pm-10pm and Friday-Saturday 4pm-12am
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Foley is owner of La Bonne Vie Personal Chef Service (https://www.facebook.com/JFoley7911z). You can find her in the kitchen offering an affordable, 5-star restaurant experience in the comfort of your own home.