Forced Couple Fun: Downtown Market Grand Rapids

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It was a diverse culinary experience.

Our quest has always been to seek out good food, great drinks and a social ambiance. What quickly comes to mind are the restaurants we've tried and the restaurants that remain on our list.

What didn't come to mind was Downtown Market. Oh, how wrong we were!

We've been to Downtown Market for work events and Saturday afternoon family time, and we've certainly spent our fair share at the farmer's market. There aren't many places better for fresh produce, organic products, cooking classes and unique food.

As a couple, we discussed trying a cooking class together—a conversation that came up short relatively quickly. Jason is an amazing cook. When we go out, he looks forward to trying creations from others. So when Downtown Market read one of our blogs and asked us to give them a try for date night, we decided "Why not!"

Several things made this date night great.

1. We had no agenda. If you read my last blog, you noticed I always have a few things we need to chat about. But sometimes, going on an adventure is the discussion—and that's what we did. We walked around and checked out the food options. When we felt inspired, we made a stop.

2. The parking. Let's face it: Finding parking isn't always easy. That is not the case at Downtown Market. LOVE!

3. Everything's fresh. It doesn't matter where you go in the market: Everything is fresh. You almost go on an olfactory tour with the smell of sweet treats, fresh coffee, wood-fired pizza and more.

What did we try? Those who know us well will know our first stop was the Sushi Market. We tried walking past, but simply couldn't. We sat down to have a roll for an appetizer—and we were surprised by the size when it showed up. I often save the roll ends for Jason, because they're too big to fit in my mouth. I let him look foolish trying to fit the whole thing in, and most times he does! I had to cut the roll in half; I used utensils to cut it, then switched to chop sticks. But let me tell you, it was worth it! The fish was fresh, the taste was light and it had a great flavor overall. Nice way to kick off the night.

After our sushi, we took off to experience Bites @ Night—a small-plate and drink pairings menu. Several restaurants participate, and it's the perfect way to get a taste for everything offered.

We started at Apertivo. Who doesn't love a great glass of wine and charcuterie? We asked for a recommendation and they certainly didn't disappoint. The cheese matched our palate, the meat was flavorful and the wine complimented both. Jason enjoyed some of the best pâté he ever had. If you haven't been, you are missing out!

At this point, we knew we only had one stop left in us ... or we would be rolling home. We decided to give Slows Bar-B-Q a try. We loved the casual atmosphere as you walked in. It's normal for us to sit up at the bar, and that's what we did. Rather than go off the traditional menu, we went off the specials menu. Jason had pork tostadas and I had beef brisket nachos. Uh huh! This wasn't a healthy meal by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good and hearty.

At the end of the night, there was only one drawback: We wanted to try more, but simply couldn't.

Downtown Market may not be an obvious choice for date night, but it's a great choice if you're up for having a diverse culinary experience.

Kasie Smith is the president and publisher of West Michigan Woman. She and her husband, Jason, are fans of food, travel and golf—and their twin sons, Jackson and Spencer. Watch WestMichiganWoman.com for more stops on their Foodie Tour! And click here to learn more about Forced Couple Fun.

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