Monday, November 12, 2007
Bell's Eccentric Cafe
Place: Bell's Eccentric Cafe
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Me and the wife wanted to get out of town for the weekend. I am lucky she indulges me from time to time and allowed for that weekend to be up at Kalamazoo. The main reason for going was to visit the Bell's Eccentric Cafe, and really just get out of town. Sometimes you just need that.
Kalamazoo isn't that bad of a drive from Indianapolis. I kept the cruise control on about 80 the whole way up and we made in about 3 hours and 20 minutes or so. Mapquest said it would take over four hours. You are pretty much on 69 the entire way and just cut over a short ways on I-94 and you are there.
Getting into Kalamazoo from the main street in from 94 you see (if you catch it) the Bell's Cafe right on the street as you come into town. This used to the be the actual brewery for everything until a new brewing facility was built outside of town. Not much has been done to really let you know that the cafe is there. It looks exactly like what it is: an old factory building. I almost passed right by it, but I saw KraftBrau across the street and had read that Bell's was exactly across the street from it. You park in the back and then walk up the ramp to the building. There isn't much signage in the back of the place, and you almost feel like you are making a mistake walking in that door, but when you open the door you would never expect the atmosphere that is in there.
The whole place is laid out with wood tables and wood siding up the walls. You first see the bar with all the taps, lots of trinkets and unique items all over the wall, and the huge chalkboard letting you know what is on tap. African masks, Native American tapestries, and old maps cover the interior of the place. Tons of natural light flood into the seating area from several very large windows. We found a seat and I went to order. Everything is cash only in the cafe. I am not sure why that is, but that is they way it is. Ordering food is a little interesting as well. You order your food from a little window by the bar and then you go back to the bartender and pay him for your lunch. I wish I would seen that sooner so I could have just done everything all in one shot. The menu is about typical for a brewpub. A few starters, burgers, soups, and a few desserts. I do have to say that the food was very good though, but typical.
There was a huge choir in the bar at the time we were there. They were there for a Russian Festival at Western Michigan University. They were singing Russian drinking songs, and that was very interesting to hear that. I didn't know what they were talking about, but it was nice.
It was a bit cold to go out in the beer garden, but you can easily see in the summer that must be a great place to hang out and have some great beer.
You can also visit the gift shop on the front of the building. You have to actually leave the pub and walk around to the front of the building. They have plenty of beer for sale, brewing supplies, and clothing to help separate you and your money.
The town of Kalamazoo is an interesting place. We stayed right downtown at the Radisson (which is very nice) and walked around the downtown area a bit. I don't know if it's Michigan's economy, the downtown area on the weekends, or something else, but the town was dead. All of the shops in the downtown area were open, but if you walked by them the owners almost attacked you seeing if they could help you find anything. Even at night after dinner it wasn't all that busy. I am curious how the places downtown survive with what I saw going on in town. Places had people in them, but they were not doing what I would think sustainable business would be to keep the door open.
I would go back if I had the chance, but hopefully would pair it with a trip to Grand Rapids as well to hit up Founder's Brewing. I was pleasantly surprised with the eccentric cafe. It has a great atmosphere, comfortable surroundings, and amazing beer. The great thing about the beer as well is the price. Everything on tap is right around 3.75 for an imperial pint. You can get three sizes as well for most drinks. If you are anywhere near Kalamazoo it's a great stop for the beer enthusiast.