Restaurant Review: Benson’s Vinaigrettes

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Several people have mentioned Benson’s Vinaigrettes restaurant to me, so I decided to stop in for dinner on my way to Horrock’s Market. The restaurant does catering and a busy takeout service, but also has a dining room. When I arrived, I did not expect to see that all of the food is offered pre-made, displayed in a deli case, and not cooked to order. The fresh baked pies and interesting salads looked tempting, so we ventured on to the dinner entrées.

Food

The positive thing about having the food ready-made is you can see exactly what you are getting before you order. The bad news is, it is difficult to maintain the quality and proper temperature of certain entrées while they are held in a warming tray. Therefore, we had mixed results.

Starters

I tried the Boston Style Haddock fillet with butter cracker crumb topping for $10.50. Dinner entrées come with the choice of two side dishes and a slice of bread. I chose the Mediterranean Salad, Redskin Smashed Potatoes and Amish Honey Bread. The fish was coated with a savory mixture of cracker crumbs and sweet peppers. I enjoyed it, but it was a bit dry and lukewarm, due to the time it was held in the deli case. The potatoes were smoothly whipped and had a hint of dill in the seasoning. The salad consisted of an abundance of green, black and Kalamata olives with garbanzo beans, red pepper slices and other veggies in a sweet fennel tinged marinade. This is a great side dish for olive lovers. I was afraid it would be overly salty, but it was not. The wonderful, fresh Amish Honey Bread was dense with a hint of sweetness. It reminded me of Greek tsoureki bread.

Entrées

The Cider Glazed Chicken for $10.50 looked good to one of my dinner partners. It was an entire chicken half marinated in mulled cider mix and brown sugar glaze. He chose the Redskin Smashed Potatoes, Macaroni and Cheese, and Sourdough Bread. While everything was well seasoned and properly cooked, it was also lukewarm, and he would have enjoyed it more if it was not served on a slippery plastic plate with plastic utensils, which made the bone-in chicken hard to cut.

My other dinner partner tried the Roast Sirloin with Mushroom Sauce at $11.99. She added fresh Green Beans, Asparagus Noodle Bake and Seven Grain Bread. The large slice of beef was flavorful, but dry and barely warm from sitting out in the case, and difficult to cut with a plastic knife. She really enjoyed the Asparagus Noodle Bake. It was rich and creamy with a generous amount of asparagus. The Seven Grain Bread was wonderful with crunchy grains, yet still soft and chewy.

Dessert

As tempting as the pies looked, we did not save room for dessert.

Service

The restaurant is totally cafeteria style self-service. The worker behind the counter was friendly and offered to let us taste just about everything in the case before we ordered to be sure that we would like it.

Ambiance

The dining room is bright and pleasant. There are shelves and tables stocked with various jams and condiments for sale. Baked goods and bread are also available.Value

The portions were generous and the food was hearty, so I do not think anyone would walk away hungry. The main drawback is that when charging $10 to $14 for dinner at a restaurant that advertises “Homemade Gourmet Cuisine,” it would be appropriate to use real plates and flatware for dinner service instead of plastic plates and utensils, which are slippery and just end up in the landfill.

Hot Tip

Benson’s has a Budget Booster Special on Monday and Tuesday, which is your choice of any two entrées with four sides for $13.99 after 3 p.m.



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Tags: Benson's Vinaigrettes, Budget Booster Special, cafeteria style, Elmwood Road, Homemade Gourmet Cuisine, lansing, Mediterranean Salad, Redskin Smashed Potatoes

Jane Bitsicas

Jane Bitsicas is a recreational eater who works as a Doncaster Fashion Consultant and part-time bureaucrat with the State of Michigan. You may e-mail her if you would like to suggest a restaurant for future review.

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