Okemos, Michigan – Wine Bar Dining

Dusty’s Wine Bar

 

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The song goes “There might be a little dust on the bottle, But don’t let it fool ya ’bout what’s inside”.  Well, at Dusty’s Cellar Wine Bar I promise you won’t find any dust as the staff in this restaurant cares about the fine atmosphere.   Owner Matt Rhodes took over the restaurant from his father, Dusty, who opened the restaurant in 1987 and just like a fine wine it has only gotten better with time.  In 1995, Chef Kevin Cronin joined the Dusty’s team.  Kevin worked at several restaurants in Florida and brought what he calls a “new world flair” to Dusty’s cuisine. In many of his dishes you will find a citrus or tropical twist, which is an interesting compliment for a Midwestern restaurant but it all comes together in a flourish of Kevin’s capable hand.

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 Appetizers are a must

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Dusty’s created a special sampler plater for us which included the Grilled “Berbere” Lamb Chops, Wisconsin Goat Cheese and the Avocado and Jicama Spring Rolls.  The lamb was highly seasoned taking this usually mild meat flavor to new levels.  The moist meat was tender and flavorful.  The goat cheese was rolled in pecans which added a sweetness to counter the tanginess of the cheese.  A honey mustard vinaigrette dressing added a little spice to the mix making this a whole new class of deepfried cheese.  The spring rolls with the nuttiness of the avocado and the freshness of the citrus was a great starter.  Kevin again shows his style by mixing the old world curry with his Floridian flair.

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All of the entrees at Dusty’s come with a choice of one of their four signature salads.  The Chopped Salad was more than a side salad.  Loaded with pine nuts, heart of palm, salami, olives, tomato, boiled egg, onion and blue cheese this salad was a meal in itself.  Topped with the same honey dijon vinagrette that accompanied the goat cheese appetizer this was piled high in heartiness.  We also tried the Key Lime Caesar Salad.  This salad was everything you would expect from a classic but with a twist of lime.

 

Nice Dinner in Okemos

Kevin takes pride in using many Michigan made products in his dishes.  He acknowledges the great bounty that Michigan has to offer and enjoys incorporating these into Dusty’s repertoire.  When asked about his favorite dish he presented us with the Mango Mojo Marinated Grilled Hanger Steak.  This cut is marinated in a Carribbean style sauce and then grilled.  The sugars from the marinade form a  delicious crust when grilled and leave this steak tender and flavorful.  Served atop an avocado chimichurri (a Latin American steak sauce) we were impressed by the creamy richness this sauce added to the steak.  With a side of Michigan Raw Milk Cheddar Potato Mash and vegetables we see why it is the chef and our server’s favorite.

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Quite likely our favorite entree was the Macadamia and Ginger Crusted Pork Loin.  The sweet spice of the fresh ginger permeated the pork and the slightly sweet crust of the macadamia nuts only enhanced the ginger flavor.  The loin was perfectly cooked and melted in your mouth.  A Michigan Maple sauce which lighly ran along the side of this meat was rich with cream.  Again this gift of marrying midwestern and tropical was a match made in heaven and Kevin is the officiant of this devine union.

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Kevin is proud of the fact that he obtains and serves only the freshest fish.  In fact, he said that he has the freshest fish in Lansing!  His fish are flown in and served often within 48 hours of when they were pulled from the water.  He strives to use the best fish from all over the country depending on what is in season.  We were able to try the Seared and Baked Scottish Salmon Filet.  Now we know that a lot of fine restaurants have a good salmon dish on their menu but never have we had salmon served to us on a slice of Michigan applewood.  The salmon is baked right on the wood and you would not belive the smokey apple flavor that is soaked into this fish.  An amazing Michigan variation on the cedar plank that was wonderful for both flavor, smell and presentation.  But again, I have to tell you that the South was also present in this dish in the form of grits!  I was a bit skeptical of this starchy side but one taste and I was converted.  The Creamy Truffled Grits were light and smooth with an earthy undertone from the truffles.  We couldn’t stop eating them!  Mashed potatoes seemed to pale in comparison.

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The Grilled and Roasted Maple Glazed Quail was another entree which suprised and delighted us.  Stuffed with a spicy chorizo, butternut squash and wild rice stuffing this dish had an amazing presentation.  The meat was dark and a bit gamey but this only added to the heartiness of the dish. Layered under this delicate bird was a Gingered Sweet Potato Mash.   The ginger mixed together with sweet potato was an amazing rendition of a classic side.  The vibrant colors displayed on this plate were stunning.

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Dusty’s Decadent Desserts

I am not sure where we found room for dessert but who could say no to chocolate?  The Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate Volcano is a cookie crusted chocolate cake filled with melted Guittard Hawaiian chocolate ganache.  As your fork punctures the side of this glorious tower the lucious chocolate freely flows from within.  If you can pause to swipe each bite through the raspberry and mango  sauce you will experince chocolate nirvana.  The tartness of the fruit just embelishes the quality of this aged milk chocolate and beckons you bite after bite.

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If the Volcano is the sweet ending, then the Pistachio Cheesecake is the more savory and salty ending to a perfect meal.  A  dark pink cranberry gastrique (a caramelized sugar, deglazed with vinegar)  paves a path contrasting the pale green of the cheesecake.  This dessert is not heavy as some cheesecakes can be.  The airy cheesecake is laced with pistachio liqueur and toasted pistachios then topped with a salted version of these tasty green morsels.  The unexpected saltiness lends itself well to the mild chesse filling.

 

 

Don’t Miss Dusty’s

As they don’t miss on anything!  We applaud Dusty’s and Chef Cronin for embracing the food revolution.  Back to nature and Michigan nature has much to offer.  The service is fantastic as they embrace their staff in a method most restaurants today do not.  If you need a recommendation or are curious about a dish, ask your server.  You will likely be surprised at the level of the information they will present.  Go hungry and enjoy a medley of courses at Dusty’s!

Dusty’s Wine Bar

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1839 W. Grand River Ave., Okemos

517-349-5150

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About Sarah Jo

Sarah is from Lansing, married and has 3 young children. She often takes the girls to restaurants she tries. This allows her to give readers her thoughts on family dining. Watch out, she loves a good Bar-B-Q place and the opportunity to do some fine dining.

  • Michael K. Cronin

    Sarah Jo:

    Thanks for your thoughtful and accurate review of Dusty’s. There’s a reason Dusty’s is, for some of us, the premier top-tier restaurant in Central Michigan. It’s their high standards,

    The place is consistently good, and the menu is very well done. It is a delight to read and choose from, year after year. Dusty’s and fine dining are synonymous.

    Your gorgeous photo of that “Volcano” chocolate dessert said it all!

    Mike Cronin
    Ormod Beach, FL