Crooked Goose

(Walker, MI) — Have you ever experienced one of those situations where a restaurant or other business opens up nearby and you think, I’ll check that out soon? Only, “soon” turns out to be a long time later, maybe even a year hence? So it happened with Crooked Goose in Walker, MI, the off-shoot of successful Meritage Group venture Twisted Rooster. Friends and fellow foodies have talked it up (and down) over the course of time, but we finally got an opportunity to experience it for ourselves...

He Fed:

The parking lot is packed on a Wednesday evening. That’s either a really good sign of popularity, or a really bad sign that we’ve chosen a night where there’s some kind of event. Turns out, a bit of both.

We open the front door to a vestibule, where there’s another glass door, into which we nearly slam. Inside, a friendly hostess greets us with a smile that says she’s probably seen hundreds of people bonk into that glass door. Despite the crammed parking lot, they have a booth open near the back and we are seated immediately.

Judging from nearby patrons, Crooked Goose is popular among young adults, sports fans, and families. It is a bit noisy and boisterous, but not too distracting. Our server enthusiastically welcomes us, then reveals why tonight is so busy. First, Brewery Vivant is there to raise money with a tap takeover, with 10% of profits going to the West Michigan Food Bank. Pretty cool! Second, it’s college night with 49 cent wings, 49 cent PBR, and $3 bombs.

Juliet can’t resist flappers, so we start with two skewers of fried chicken wings. They are perfectly cooked, with no creepy pink parts. One bunch is slathered with Crooked BBQ (though it just tastes like regular BBQ sauce to me), while the other is dressed with Sweet Garlic Soy Sauce. I clean my drummies, surprised they're so meaty.

The dinner menu is not as eclectic as Twisted Rooster; Crooked Goose veers more toward pub fare with just a slight tweak here and there. This seems like a wise choice in Walker, where family-oriented West Michiganders may not be as adventuresome. I flirt with the idea of Crooked Chicken Pot Pie or Jalapeno Cream Grilled Cheese sandwich, but eventually can’t resist the Michigan Fried Bologna Sandwich, mostly for the shock factor. (Juliet could never have predicted my order.)

The sandwich is monstrous, buttered sesame seed bun crammed with maple mustard slaw, onion straws, swiss cheese, and a thick slab of Ebels Farm bologna, slathered with Mrs. Dog’s mustard. I dive in, the maple and mustard crunch providing sweet texture against the slightly greasy bologna. Onion straws taste delicious, but I’m impatient with slippery toppings that won’t stay in place or cut clean with a bite; I end up peeling most of them off onto the plate. Otherwise, this is as good a sandwich as the Twisted Reuben at their sister restaurant.

Unfortunately, after polishing off the delectable but standard cup of mustard potato salad, I can only plow through about two-thirds of the sandwich. Too full. I finish my mug of Big Red Coq, then we toddle out after settling up. There are still many more dishes I’d like to try on their menu, so I imagine it won’t take another year until our next visit.
She Fed:

It’s only Wednesday, but it’s been a hell of a week with two day’s worth of all-day meetings and a lot of big projects coming to a close at work. I’ve been away from home for two nights and there’s nothing I’d rather do than tuck in with some Chinese take-away, cuddle up with the cats and the hubster, and watch a little Netflix. But we agreed a few nights ago to check out Crooked Goose in Walker.

The place is packed, quite noisy, but instead of being annoyed by the hubbub I find myself perking up a bit. Our waitress is Amber and she’s friendly without being overbearing. She explains tonight is college night with 49-cent wings (to be ordered in multiples of five) and 49-cent PBRs.

I’ll pass on the PBR, but the “loaded Faygo” catches my eye. It’s simply a bottle of Faygo (orange, root beer, or grape) topped with a shot of vodka. I debate between the grape with Grape Hammer or the root beer with a Pinnacle Whipped. When I decide on the loaded root beer the waitress says it’s one of her favorites.

We order 10 wings, five with “Crooked BBQ” sauce and five with sweet garlic soy sauce. They arrive minutes after our drinks are delivered. While I had suspected the worst—small skimpy dry wings—these are big and meaty, served on a skewer. I don’t detect anything special in the barbeque version, but the sweet garlic soy wings are amazing. The garlic gives nice depth to the sticky-sweet-salty sauce. Our plate contains more “flappers” than “drummies,” which is fine by me as I love flappers. But Jeremy’s a drummie kinda guy so he’ll have to finagle with a few flappers.

Crooked Goose “commits to the mitt”, featuring many Michigan-inspired dishes with local products. I consider ordering 10 more wings and making them my dinner (in particular, the Franks Red Hot Honey version sounds tasty), but I’m seeking a little comfort. I decide to go with one of my guilty pleasures: chicken fingers. I love a good chicken finger, though most of my friends and co-workers give pause or roll their eyes when I order them. Too many chicken nuggets with their kids, I suppose? Crooked Goose’s version is described as spicy, which sounds a bit unique. Instead of steak fries, I opt for the parmesan mashed potatoes.

Like the wings, our food arrives surprisingly quick. The fingers are huge and the white meat still moist...neither dry nor chewy. My one complaint is with the batter. First, it’s not spicy at all. Second, it slips off the chicken when bit. The fingers are much easier to eat with a knife and fork. The side of Mrs. Dog’s mustard sauce I requested as dipping sauce elevates these chicken fingers to a whole new level, too! The mashed potatoes are some of the best I’ve ever tasted, super creamy and cheesy from the Parm. Truly comfort food at its best, these might be the best mashed potatoes in Grand Rapids.

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