Green Well Gastropub
By Lydia on April 17, 2008 5:07 PM| | Comments (4)
Well, I am getting rather behind in my posting, because its been a week since I went to dinner at the Green Well Gastropub with my Grandmother and still no blog. Here we go! I have a certain amount of scorn for the word "gastropub." Its so faux european and it implies that people in Grand Rapids are goonish, naively waiting for someone to tell them what people in the "big cities" are doing. I think what the Green Well means is that they are a faux european restaurant with a wine list. Anyway, its a pleasant enough place, though too loud for my grandma, who is a little hard of hearing. It is kind of smooth all around with dark wood chairs and a scattering of high tables and large booths. It was my second time there, and I was again confused by the quality of service. I think that in a retaurant that seems to think so much of itself the training should be better. Instead there was too much interuption, a few times the server had to come back and ask us to repeat ourselves, and her knowlege base seemed limited. I ordered a glass of tempranillo and it came a good 5 minutes after everyone else got their drinks. My cousin's boyfriend, Craig, got an "oberita," a margarita made with Oberon. I was gleeful to hear that the bar was experimenting with beer cocktails and even more pleased when it was very tasty. Less tasty was our appetizer of a trio of dips. They were fine, but not anything new in the way of flavor or texture. For dinner I took the advice of Craig, who had eaten lunch there the day before, and got the hamburger with cheddar, no bacon. Craig had waxed rhapsodic about the 'best burger ever!" for twenty minutes, and in the interest of fair reporting I thought it necessary to give it a try. In fairness, the burger was really good. The bun was toothsome and very slightly crusty, and the burger itself was great, jucy to the point where I had dribbles down my chin. Craig and I were two matching, juice-dribbling moron twins, but I heard some complaints from the other corners of the table about entrees. Grumblings about too-sweet mushroom ravioli and macaroni and cheese that was "grievously misnamed." My impression was good, not great, maybe better for lunch.

Why would you got there for lunch when you can get almost the exact same sandwiches from Marie Catrib's for two dollars cheaper?I lean towards your opinion that the Well thinks a little too highly of itself, and a little too lowly of its patrons. I've been there twice, and the second time was simply to confirm that I didn't like the place; the Well makes such a self-conscious display of itself on the inside, trying to appear hip and eclectic that all it managed to do was come off as manufactured and stale. The first time I went in there I was struck by the nagging feeling that I had been there before. I probably hold the place in such disdain is a special loathing I have for places that just scream how neat they think they are. It feels like eating dinner at American Apparel.

I couldn't agree more, Noel. The Green Well is a disaster from start to finish: lame design, bad service, and a WEAK menu, especially when it comes to vegan options. I went there once and I will NEVER go back. My suspicion is that it won't last long, unless of course patrons of places like "The BOB" discover it and make it their own. The only thing about The Green Well that is noteworthy is the high-speed hand-dryers in their bathrooms.

I think that the Green Well has its faults, and that is an anknowlegdable fact. Sure, there are some imperfect qualities in the restaurant, but you can't find perfection in any restaurant. I think that people, when they go to the Green Well, expect some sort of perfection because the restaurant prides in itself. The reason for the pride, however, is that it is a LEED certified restaurant, meaning that it is completely green, like the new Art Museum. LEED does not just hand out certification-- it has to be earned, and the Green Well has earned it, and thus pride is completely understandable and acceptable. Once again, about the food- you can't expect it to be perfect. People can make mistakes, and most of the servers are very new there, and thus prone to make mistakes. So, I ask, son't write the Green Well of quite yet- It's going to be something great, sometime soon.

Thanks so much for reading, and thank you for your response!
I am very happy about the LEED certification for the building; apart from being "green" it is a lovely space.

I agree that every restaurant has imperfect qualities. One of my jobs as a critic is to differentiate between these imperfections to help people know what they are in for before they spend lots of money. The things that my grandmother disliked about the GreenWell, the noise, the extra ingredients in the Macaroni and Cheese, these to another person could be construed as a fun and jovial environment and improving on a classic.

On the service note, pride is a great quality. I hope the GreenWell has enough of it to see that servers get the proper support and training to become great servers.

I love the growth of new restaurants in our city. Anyone who is a part of this resurgence of culture should be commended. I will be happy to return to the GreenWell (after all, this post was written some months ago!) to see its progress.
Thanks again!
Lydia