The English Inn: Fine Dining in Eaton Rapids, Michigan

The English Inn sits on the banks of the Grand River, with 16 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and groomed walking trails. Photographers delight in making images in the garden, antique buffs enjoy sneaking a peek at the sleeping rooms at inn, and foodies appreciate the fine dining. All of this makes the experience one of the most romantic inns in America.

Location: The English Inn located at 677 S. Michigan Road in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, just twenty minutes from Lansing.

Menu: The menu highlights French cuisine. You’ll find escargots, baked brie, and French onion soup, in addition to filet mignon and Chateaubriand. While the list of options has a meat focus, vegetarian and vegan choices are available.

A sample of the vegetarian offerings is the Forest Gem Risotto with wild Michigan mushrooms, kale, hazelnuts, and fontina. The Romesco Potpourri is a vegan dish with garbanzo beans, potatoes, zucchini, spinach, served over basmati rice. The menu indicates which dishes are vegetarian and vegan.

Thoughts: The English Inn, originally constructed in 1927 for Irving J. Reuter and his wife, is rich with history and is on Michigan’s State Register of Historic Places. Reuter was the General Manager of Oldsmobile Corporation.

The restaurant’s original Honduran mahogany paneling, roaring black marble fireplace, and leaded glass windows maintain the building’s history. Forest green velvet drapes trimmed in gold piping over full white sheers add elegance. The early twentieth-century lighting provides a warm glow to the room. Piano music playing softly in the background contributes to the romantic ambiance.

The English Inn is one of 800 restaurants in North America designated as a Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRōNa) award winner. During the summer months, experience Alfresco dining on the terrace overlooking the beautifully groomed gardens. Both formal and informal English gardens complete the storybook countryside setting.

After your meal, feel free to explore the inn. The Open-Door policy means if the overnight room door is open, you may go in and discover the room.

If you’re celebrating an anniversary, when you leave, your server presents a scroll tied with a red ribbon containing a lithograph of The English Inn as a remembrance of your celebration dinner.

The servers’ uniforms are crisp tuxedo shirts with tiny tucks. Their black pants and vests accessorized with a black bow tie.

Some of my favorite dishes include:

  • The fig galette which is a vegan preparation. The chef bakes mission figs into the puff pastry and sprinkles pistachios on top. The red pickled onion cuts through the subtle sweetness of the figs.
  • A perfectly cooked eight-ounce center-cut filet mignon with a red wine demi-glace. The filet comes sprinkled with truffle salt, a vegetable side, and artfully plated whipped potatoes.
  • The Chateaubriand for two, which is a sixteen-ounce center-cut beef tenderloin carved tableside. A mushroom cap duxelle and tomato Florentine accompany the dish. In addition to the daily vegetable, a ruffled mountain of whipped potatoes complements the meal.
  • Lobster stuffed walleye. The walleye is poached and stuffed with a lobster mousse and topped with lobster cream. It comes with the daily vegetable and lemon risotto.
  • The perfect cylinder of white chocolate mousse comes trimmed in fresh mango slices, surrounded by a combination of fresh raspberry and mango coulis.

A server carries a handled basket and tongs to each table and places the house-made croissants on the bread and butter plate, one at a time ensuring a warm roll. The warm rolls come with butter. Additional staff whisk away the dishes so that your setting is always fresh.

The restaurant offers an award-winning wine list. Free parking is available. I recommend reservations.

Price Range: At dinner, hot starters range from $7 for the French onion soup to $10 for the escargot. Cold starters begin at $11 for beef tartar and go up to $60 for the domestic hackleback. Entrees include The English Inn signature salad, warm house-made rolls with butter, a vegetable, starch, and protein. They range from $25 for scallops niçoise or chicken en croute to $45 for a fourteen-ounce rack of lamb. Desserts range from about $7 to $8. Dinner for two runs about $120 including tax and gratuity.

Amy Piper

Amy Piper is a freelance food and travel writer. She writes about food and multi-generational travel on her blog Follow the Piper. You can follow her on Twitter @amythepiper.

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