Michigan’s Best Local Eats: Portico in Grand Rapids takes diners ‘on a journey’

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – At Portico, a fine-dining restaurant on the first floor of the Canopy by Hilton hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, staff are keen to offer guests more than just great food.

The idea is to take them on a trip.

“We don’t want any of our guests to ever come into our restaurant, enjoy a meal, talk to friends and family … and when they say, ‘How was the portico?’ It would hurt our feelings if they said, ‘Oh, it was good,’ ”said Mark Parker, general manager of the hotel and restaurant. “That’s not what we’re looking for at all. We’re looking for a trip. “

That journey begins with a free, bite-sized appetizer and aperitif (a non-alcoholic option is available) provided to each customer at dinner, Parker says.

“It is our small gift to you to say thank you for visiting us, and this is a little taste of what you are about to experience,” he said.

The Portico’s menu offers a variety of dishes.

Starters include a sausage board with local cheese, crab and corn hush puppies, and sweet and savory latkes.

There are starters like Cornish hen and cornbread, as well as burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, and stone-baked flatbreads. Desserts include s’mores, sweet potato pie macaroons, and caramel crème brlée with orange infusion.

The restaurant also offers signature cocktails, Michigan craft beer, and many dishes focus on locally sourced ingredients. Gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options are available.

The idea, says Parker, is to offer “classic dishes that are boldly reinterpreted” and to have a menu with a variety of culinary influences.

“We don’t want to be locked in by any particular culinary style,” he said. “We want to constantly find new, different and interesting ways and use the inspiration that is everywhere in the country.”

Portico is located on Ionia Ave. SW 131 and is open for dinner from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. His menu can be viewed here and can be reached by phone at (616) 600-0142.

While the restaurant offers fine dining, Parker says it does so in an “inclusive” way.

“I call it inclusive fine dining,” he said. “You can come in with your family and enjoy Portico. It’s also a spectacular date night that if you have that upscale evening and want to be a little more sophisticated in your dress, you can.

Parker said his team – Nick Oostendorp, director of Food & Beverage; Trimell Hawkins, head chef; Johnny Brito, sous chef; and Taryn Lintol, Sous Chef – makes Portico a great restaurant.

“You make it possible,” he said. “You are extraordinary.”

Parker urged everyone who was not in Portico to visit him.

“You will have a different experience than any other restaurant in Grand Rapids and, in my biased opinion, a much better experience,” he said. “We are different.”

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