T&D’s Coney Grill
1731 W Grand River Ave
Okemos, MI 48864-1803
“Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years, rockin’ my peers and puttin’ suckas in fear, makin the tears rain down like a MON-soon, listen to the bass go BOOM”
That’s right I’m back from my sabbatical. “What pray tell were you doing?” one might ask. “None of your goddamn business!!!11!!!!!1!11!” one might reply. But seriously, I was saving children from burning buildings and curing diseases that plague small, cute animals (read substitute teaching and eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches). When I finished with this exhausting but rewarding work I found myself to be famished, so I called some friends and we repaired to a relatively new local eatery: T&D’s Coney Grill.
As you can see this is very nice, or at least nicer, than your typical diner/”coney island”, this is probably because this is the former set of Villegas, the ill-fated Okemos bistro. The interior is very pleasant, with subdued lighting and muted colors that don’t try to claw your eyes out with a visual spoon. The bar, situated right by the front entrance, is fantastic, long, with great views of the kitchen and the waitress stations (dinner and a show), and makes me sad that I can’t plunk myself down and drink myself into oblivion. Despite the obvious superiority of the bar over other seating, my party and I chose a booth/table combo, as there were three of us.
I arrived to the table late, as I was unsuccessfully trying to snap a picture of the exterior, and as I sat down the waitress approached with drinks for my fellow diners, she gave a not entirely pleasant snort of surprise and asked if I needed something to drink, I should have seen this as the beginning of a not very pleasant pattern, but I blithely pushed on and ordered a water. More on the waitress in a bit.
The menu at T&D’s is pretty typical for a coney-style restaurant. And if you from around the east lansing area, you might notice that it has a strikingly similar layout to the menu at Hannah’s Koney Island on Hagadorn. This is because they are operated by the same owners. In any case, the menu has the usual greek centered diner fare that one comes to expect and love from a coney island. Gyros, sandwiches, coney dogs, saganaki, greek salads, etc…
The waitress came back and we began to order. My female dining companion ordered, and then my male compatriot told her to skip him as he wasn’t quite ready, well neither was I, so I hemmed and hawed for a couple second during which the waitress grew visibly annoyed. So I finally settled on a gyro supreme with a cup of their soup of the day: split pea with ham.
The soup arrived in short order and was pretty good looking. Split pea soup is one of those things that I didn’t really trust as a kid, and have come to like as an adult, like girls and wearing pants. This rendition was decent, but a bit too salty. The consistancy was really good though, not quite a soup but not yet a stew, and had chunks of ham strewn about it like delicious little shipwreck victims.
Next came the gyro supreme. Actually all three of us ordered gyros, which became a problem. The waitress, noting each of our orders, one vegetarian, one regular, and one no onions with extra tomatoes, then set down each plate in front of the wrong person, a mistake we did not catch until it was too late for one of our poor group. One of my friends and I figured that her vegetarian and my meat (ha) had been switched so we switched back, if only we had known that no-one had received the correct plate we might have been able to avoid the tragedy, but alas one of our number was wounded by the presence of onion in his gyro and stricken by the loss of his extra tomato. We didn’t figure this out until I accidently ate what was probably his gyro :-(. My friend, who was getting his gyro wrapped up, noted the presence of onions in his gyro and explained what we thought had happen, the waitress did not act like she was very happy about the possibility of having to get another gyro for my friend or have the onions removed, so my friend very graciously offered to just pick off the onions himself and asked for a box. As a note, it was not our fault that she set the wrong plates in front of the wrong person, but she just seemed angry at life in general so who knows what was wrong. I really wanted to make a stop action video of us all running around the restaurant switching plates with the Benny Hill music playing in the background, but the bastard wouldn’t give us permission, so that dream died.
The gyro though, was good. Not great, not bad, but good. Slices of gyro meat stacked on a warm pita with tomatoes, no onion apparently, shredded iceberg lettuce, feta cheese (the clutch addition for the “gyro supreme”), and tzatziki sauce. I enjoyed it, though this gyro shared the complant that I’ve had with all gyros, it’s too hard to get all the ingredients in one bite. The sandwich is too big to fit into your mouth all at once, so you’re forced to either go for the top or bottom. Well on the top you get all tzatziki, while on the bottom, all you get is meat. There are about two prime bites of gyro in an entire sandwich, these occur when you’ve whittled away the edges enough to make it possible to score meat and sauce in the same bite, but by then the tomatoes have inevitably fallen out or there is no feta left, either way you never can realize that dream of the perfectly assembled bite. It is an outcome I will keep fighting for.
All in all besides the service, the meal was nice and comforting, and not too dear. I walked out with 9.56 less in my pocket and a full belly. As a waddled to my car with a post-prandial belch brewing in my stomach, which at this point was waving a tiny Greek flag, I knew I would be back, even though this wasn’t anywhere near the greatest meal of my life, it was a good experience for a coney-island, I just hope that someone gives the waitress a hug before we get there next time.