Posted by: Kath Usitalo | September 1, 2010

Road Food Report: Marie Catrib’s

Bright colors, fun messages fill Marie Catrib's restaurant in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids

It’s not on the menu, but every dish at Marie Catrib’s is served with a complimentary side of energy. It’s there in the colorful walls, the signage, and cut roses on the tables. The cheery young servers wrapped in white aprons are energy walking, talking, and balancing loaded trays. Just reading the menu, full of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other healthful choices, gives you a boost.

Marie with samples of sweets for customers waiting for a table or a deli order

While waiting for my table late in a weekday lunch hour I watched Marie Catrib zip around her Grand Rapids restaurant like the cartoon character who dashes so quickly you don’t actually see her move from place to place—she just magically appears here, there, and over there.

One minute she’s busy in the semi-open kitchen, the next she’s carrying a tray loaded with samples of pecan tart for waiting customers. Blink! She’s behind the counter greeting guests by name, then suddenly she’s across the dining room kneeling to coo-coo a baby and chit-chat with the women around the table.

Marie Catrib followed an unusual path to her current bustling location less than two miles east of downtown Grand Rapids. In 1970 she zipped from Lebanon to Flint, then to the Upper Peninsula where she opened a deli in Houghton. She dashed to work as a pastry cook at the Biltmore in North Carolina and elsewhere. And Blink! She was back in Michigan in her own restaurant in an eclectic neighborhood called East Hills, where Lake Drive SE, Diamond Avenue SE and Cherry Street SE meet.

After I savored the Sweet Potato & Quinoa Burger and side of Marie’s Seasoned Potatoes at my patio table I headed to the restaurant’s carry-out deli to take away a sampling of from-scratch goodies for dinner with the family back in the 313: a hefty slice of Portobella, Asparagus & Leek Lasagna, one Eggplant, Kalamata Olive and Goat Cheese Galette (puff pastry pie), one Asparagus, Sundried Tomato & Grassfield’s Gouda Quiche, and one Spinach, Kalamata Olive & Goat Cheese Quiche.

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Burger, Marie's Seasoned Potatoes and Iced Tea

Plus my leftover lunchtime seasoned potatoes. A bag of homemade sesame flatbread. And a Pecan Tart and a slice of cake called Harvest something that was like carrot cake but used beets.

Everything was delish.Everyone gobbled it up. I could have brought home more.

Oh, I did: a bag of Marie’s granola which—we found out the next morning at breakfast—is the best granola we’ve had.

I feel energized just thinking about Marie Catrib’s.

Marie Catrib’s is open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch and dinner; breakfast and lunch on Saturday.

Visitor Info Click: Grand Rapids

A stack of the most delish pecan tarts

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