The Soup Spoon Café in Lansing, Michigan: More than Just Soup

The Soup Spoon Café is a bit of a misnomer for this homey café. While their soups are the perfect foil to Michigan’s cold winters, the menu presents a full breadth of offerings, that you’d never guess from the restaurant’s name. As the name indicates, this menu highlights soup and its accompaniments — sandwiches and salads. But, a variety of pasta dishes, game, and seafood choices are equally delicious.

Location: Soup Spoon Café located at 1419 E. Michigan Avenue in Lansing, Michigan’s Eastside neighborhood.

Menu: While the name sounds like a lunch spot, they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On the weekend they serve brunch too.

The chef handcrafts six soups daily, French onion, seafood chowder, a cream-based soup, a broth-based soup, a vegan offering, and a seasonal soup. The problem is, with over 200 soups in their repertoire, your favorite most likely won’t be there on a return visit. The solution is you ’ll find an equally delicious new favorite next time you go.

Some restaurants serve wine flights, others beer flights, at Soup Spoon Café, you’ll find soup flights. You choose four soups, and that becomes your soup flight or tasting. The tasting comes with slices of French bread, so it’s perfect for a light dinner. It’s a fun way to try several soups when you can’t decide.

The menu indicates vegan dishes through the menu item’s name. One vegan offering is the Ethiopian vegan stew. The chefs sauté chickpeas with mushrooms, peppers, spinach, onions, snow peas, garlic, and carrots and then combine it in a spicy tomato-berbere sauce. Berbere is a spice blend, with curry and paprika forward flavors. The stew comes served over a vegan vanilla sweet potato mash.

An excellent sandwich option for vegans is the Peacemaker. It’s grilled sourdough and vegetables, a spicy house-made vegan lentil patty, avocado, tomato, lettuce, vegan mayo, and tamarind dressing.

Thoughts: The café has three distinct dining areas; the bar area supported by a strong beer, wine and cocktail menu, the open kitchen area with about a half a dozen tables, and a larger separate dining area with exposed brick.  The arched brick-trimmed windows along the front, provide an open light-filled atmosphere during the day.

One of my favorite dishes is lamb sliders. From the name, you might expect a patty made from ground lamb and served as a burger. Instead, the three sliders are bite-sized pieces of braised lamb drizzled with a Greek yogurt-mint sauce and topped with feta. They present the meat on three butter-toasted Brioche slider-sized buns.

If you want a heartier portion of lamb, try the 16-ounce braised lamb shank with tomato and garlic. It’s finished with a spiced, balsamic glaze. Mediterranean orzo and a fresh vegetable accompany the dish.

With almost 20 sandwiches to choose from, the café sandwiches are something special. Wolfe Meats is a brand of deli meats that come from the Soup Spoon Café kitchen. Nick Gavrilides, the owner and Chef Jason Blastic develop the cooking methods and recipes for the deli meat. Corned beef, pastrami, and roast beef are all in the offerings. They blend their seasonings to attain an artisan flavor and use these meats for their sandwiches. For $3 you can crank it up and double the sandwich meat.

Price Range: Soups range from $3.99 for a cup of French onion to $6.99 for a bowl of seafood chowder. A flight of soups including a choice of four soups and slices of French bread is $10.99. Entrée-size salads run from $8.99 to $12.99. Sandwiches range from $8.99 to $12.99. Entrée dinners range from $16.99 for the Ethiopian vegan stew to $25.99 for the New York strip steak. The small plates dinners range from $8.99 for the Greek island plate or the café bread to $11.99 for the dynamo shrimp or the scallops. House-made desserts range between $6 and $8. Dinner for two runs about $50 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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