Restaurant Review: Mama Bear’s Café

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Old Town is known for the quaint little restaurants that line the streets of Grand River and Turner. Although I hadn’t been to Mama Bear’s before, I was sure I would be in for a treat because many individuals had recommended it to me. This small unassuming restaurant can easily be missed if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. When driving down Turner, go slowly so as to not miss the gray building. The sign is on the awning and could potentially be overlooked.

When I walked in, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. The dining room is small and I stood at the door for a minute to figure out the lay of the land. You order at the register, and once I made my way up there, I was able to view the array of specialty coffee machines and the display case of tempting desserts.

Food

The café offers breakfast and lunch, and works to serve locally produced and organic foods. They offer specialty coffees, sandwiches, salads and breakfast items including omelettes and pancakes.

Salads
One of my dining guests and I both ordered Emily’s Chicken Salad. The portion size was good, the chicken breast was hot and the vegetables were fresh. I had the homemade mustard vinaigrette, which was tangy and spicy. It literally burned my nose and made me cry. I’m not sure if it was the horseradish or some other secret ingredient, but it was a little too much for me. My dining partner thought the salad was good, but felt the salad had way more dill than necessary. Dill lovers will adore this salad.

Sandwiches
The other two dining guests each ordered sandwiches. The Veggie’Talian was a regular menu item, while the Spicy French Dip was a special written on a small chalkboard behind the counter. The vegetarian option looked great. The bread was thick and hearty, the vegetables were robust and aplenty, and it was frankly bigger than my dining companion could handle. My other dining companion with the special Spicy French Dip wasn’t as enthusiastic about his choice. The overall flavor was not as potent as expected, and the au jus — advertised as including jalapeño — was flat.

Desserts
The Cinnamon Chocolate Brownie was large, moist and extremely dreamy. We divided it into four pieces, and it was certainly enough to meet the need for a tasty treat. There were other delicious-looking desserts displayed, and signs included additional nutritional or allergy information for some of these items for those who need to know. One of my guests ordered coffee, the Purple Haze, which is a blend of blackberry and caramel. At first, I only ordered water, but the potent aroma of the coffee changed my mind, so I tried a Polar Bear, which has peppermint and white chocolate. The coffee drinks were spectacular.

Service

The service was stretched. When we walked in, all of the tables were full. The cashier/server told us it would be a 20 minute wait. We opted to take our food to go, but by the time we ordered a table had cleared, so we stayed. The service is very casual and probably appeals very well to the locals. Overall, our server was nice and friendly, but very busy.

Ambiance

I would say the environment is shabby-chic. The building is probably historic, as it still has some character in the detail of the wood columns. The tables are butcher block-esque, and there are many random photos and art pieces along the walls. About halfway through the meal, I noticed that the ceiling had community posters, and there was an old barrel that had some books on it for free. It is a quaint local spot with a nice ambiance.

Value

The portions were generous and the prices ranged from $7.50 to $8.95. I believe the prices are reasonable considering they are using organic and vegan-friendly options. Overall, I would say the pricing is moderate.

Hot Tip

There are several specials each day on the chalkboard including sandwiches, salads and soups of the day.


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Tags: lansing coffee, lansing food, lansing restaurant, mama bears, Restaurant Review

Tiffany Dowling

Tiffany Dowling

Tiffany Dowling is the Founder and President of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency located in downtown Lansing, Mich. She is also owner and publisher of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Dowling has helped businesses and organizations with branding needs for more than a decade. Learn more at www.m3group.biz.