Saturday, April 17, 2010

When the Rooster Crows


A Merry Little Meltdown

It’s no big secret to the people who know me that I’m borderline math incompetent. I can barely add and subtract, so the simple act of balancing a checkbook or refiguring the measurements for a double batch of chocolate chip cookies can trigger anything from nausea and vomiting to a major panic attack. Throw a percentage or a fraction at me and my I.Q. drops by double digits. The wiring in my brain begins to sizzle and I experience, real or imagined, symptoms not unlike those connected to mental illness.

I recently tested at the ninth grade high school level in math, and yet, professionally, I am part of team that manages a twenty-three million dollar budget. For my latest budget assignment, I was charged with finding ways to bring certain expenses more in line with certain revenues. (This already sounds like a story problem and my heart is racing like a rat on crack). A meeting was scheduled last Wednesday at two o’clock with our budget director to help us make sense of our very complicated budget structure so I could get to work on my task.

When my cell phone rang at ten minutes to two, I secretly hoped it was someone requesting my help to manage a crisis so I could get out of this meeting. (Managing crises is another common occurrence in my job).

Unfortunately, my secret wish was about to be granted.

My boyfriend, Philip, was on the other end of the line, and he was in full-blown emotional meltdown. He needed me. And he needed me NOW! It only took me a second to do the math and see what this added up to: I was going to bail on my budget meeting and go rescue my man.

I had no idea what had happened so, knowing that Philip can be a bit of a drama queen, I mentally prepared myself for everything from he lost his job to Lady GaGa sprained her ankle and had to cancel the show he finally got tickets for. By the time I got home Philip was lying face down on the bed, sobbing into a pillow. I couldn’t help but notice he was wearing his old beat-up pair of sandals.

I knew I had to be sensitive because he was relying on me, but for a split second, I couldn’t stop the voice in my head from snapping Girl, how you gonna have a proper meltdown in those ratty-ass shoes? In any other situation, Philip would have found that funny (had I actually said it out loud), but he was pretty upset, which led me to believe that Lady GaGa’s ankle was most likely just fine.

Once he calmed down and was able to speak, Philip shared a harrowing story of how he found himself at odds with every single person he works with because he was unable to resolve a contentious issue by offering up what he saw as a very logical mathematical solution to the problem. How ironic. I skipped out on a meeting that was all about math that I didn’t understand so I could console someone who couldn’t get others to understand him through math. Well Lady GaGa, maybe next time you’ll just suck it up and take one for the team.

I did manage to get Philip up on his feet and out of the house so I could get back to work. He went off to see the new move, Date Night, and I caught the last fifteen minutes of my meeting. Instead of listening to what was really going on, because let’s be honest, it wasn’t going to sink in anyway, I did a little math of my own: By making twenty percent of the meeting, I absorbed eighty percent of the information, of which I retained one tenth of one percent. All in all, I’d call that a very successful meeting.

Before leaving the office for the day, I decided to make a dinner reservation since I didn’t think Philip would be in the mood to cook, and I certainly wasn’t going to do it. We have a small cache of restaurants we turn to when we need a good dining experience to help us feel better about ourselves and when we need to be pampered. Tonight fit the bill perfectly. Some of our old stand bys are Sagano, the Japanese Bistro, whose owners know us by name and give us the royal treatment on every visit, The Redwood Lodge, a great brew pub with a steak and wild game menu, Luca’s Chophouse, and to a lesser extent, 501 Grill.

Tonight we chose the crème de la crème: Makuch’s Red Rooster, Flint’s oldest and finest high-end restaurant.

Established in 1959, The Red Rooster sits at the corner of Davison Road and Averill on the city’s east side. It’s now in its second generation and run by brothers Archie and Ken, who are impeccable hosts. As their website boasts, theirs is one of the last tablecloth restaurants in Genesee County. It is the only restaurant that still offers tableside cooking, including such items as Caesar Salad, Steak Diane, and Cherries Jubilee. For a complete look at The Red Rooster, including a full menu, go to

About the only thing better than the food at the Rooster is their five star service. On this night, we were lucky enough to get Cat as our server. An eighteen year veteran of the Red Rooster, Cat is the most polished and most disciplined of all the staff. After my first gin and tonic arrived, I mentioned to her that we were in a casual mood and in no particular rush. From that point on, Cat paced our whole evening for us and let us linger as long as we wanted between courses, all the while making sure we had everything we needed. We stayed for almost three hours, and if it wasn’t for a new episode of Modern Family, we could easily have stayed much longer.

The slow, easy stride of our dining experience is just what Philip needed to recover from his traumatic afternoon, and by the time our appetizers arrived, he was noticeably more relaxed. His Escargot Bourgignone, fresh snails in an herbed garlic butter sauce, brought a confident smile to his face. I ordered the King Crab Cocktail, a hefty mound of white and red meat served atop a bed of lettuce in a tall martini glass. The sweet taste and flakey texture was absolutely delightful. Most of the appetizers are seafood based, but one standout, the Brie and Apple Chutney, is a total vegetarian winner.

For the soup course, Philip chose the house Onion Soup Gratinee, a flavorful mix of sweet onion and salty broth, topped with croutons and melted cheese. I’m not a big fan of this soup, but I did like the contrast in flavors that created a very even and mellow taste. My Manhattan Clam Chowder was also quite good, though not my favorite of the Red Rooster’s repertoire. What I did love, though, was the salad Cat recommended. It was a wilted spinach and bacon with a raspberry vinaigrette. Served warm, this salad is packed with flavors, both delicate and bold. By the time I finished it, I was feeling so deliriously satisfied, my worries about Philip’s bad day had completely disappeared.

I could have stopped after my salad and called it a night, but when I saw the entrees that cat uncovered before us, my appetite caught a quick second wind. Philip’s Sauteed Shrimp plate was bursting with color. From the medley of mixed vegetables to the lightly breaded, monstrously large shrimp, this was a visual masterpiece. Each of the six prawns had been sliced along the back so that when cooked, they curled outward and looked like a bouquet of blooming flowers. And the taste was so fresh, so delicate, at one point Philip just sat back in his chair and let out a long sigh.

I ordered the Steak and Cake, a decadent combination of a lightly fried Maryland Crabcake and a six ounce tenderloin, which was topped with gorgonzola cheese and horseradish. My dish was also paired with mixed steamed vegetables, which were perfectly cooked and intensely flavorful. They were definitely worthy of sharing the same plate as my medium rare steak and slightly crispy Crabcake. The food was so good, in fact, that we ate everything that was set before us, and we simply ran out of room for dessert.

When you come to the Re Rooster, I highly recommend the Bananas Foster, any of the hot Sundaes, or of course the world famous Cherries Jubilee. Just make sure you order wisely so you have room left over after what will surely be one of the best meals you’ll ever enjoy in Flint.


  1. Bob, you are the best partner in the world!

    I haven't been to the Red Rooster in ages but the next time I am, I want to try the Steak and Cake. It sounds wonderful!

  2. Hi Bob,
    I have a few reasons for following your blog, one being what's obviuos...that you write so well about food.

    As you know I'm an hour away from Flint, and my time there is soon to end come August. I promised myself the first time I drove down Saginaw St. and saw Flint's downtown that I would take my wife somewhere in Flint to eat when I finished the program for she has been a tremendous support for me. I'm not sure why, but Brookstones (I believe, right on Saginaw St. down the road from the university bookstore??) always caught my eye. Must be the cafe feel it gets when the tables snuggle up on the sidewalk. But now I'm certain we'll go to the Red Rooster. I'm gonna ask for Cat 'cause I don't like being rushed, and I'll probably order everything you've described above.

    It's after 10 pm and now I'm hungry. Note to self: don't read your blog after 8.

    See you tomorrow night.

  3. You won't be disappointed, Mike. It's really fine place. Drop me a line after you go and let me know how it was.