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Grandwich 2014 sampled: pretzel-bun-with-pork theme emerges in day four

The final tasting session ends with several messy sandwiches, with a few solid selections but overall a bit disappointing compared to Thursday’s fare.
J Gardella’s Chicken Drowned in Brew was our top pick of the day

J Gardella’s Chicken Drowned in Brew was our top pick of the day /Holly Bechiri

Try it for yourself

[Read here about Grandwich 2014 day one.]

[See day two's assessment here.]

[See day three's analysis here.]


Description and information is pulled directly from the Grandwich webpage. For more information and where to vote visit the official site.

Founders Brewing Company

  • Porchetta (por-ketta) Sandwich
  • $10.25
  • Porchetta is a pork roast, that is 2 kinds of pork rolled together: pork belly stuffed with bratwurst meat from Frank's Market. It is served on a Nantucket Bakery sesame seed bun with red cabbage kapusta, Summit-Hop pickled arugula, and a sweet tomato marmalade. It captures almost all flavors in the spectrum.
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00 am to 11:00 pm; Sun 3:00am to 11:00 pm
  • 235 Grandville Avenue SW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Cottage Bar

  • Smokehouse Burger
  • $6.99
  • Fresh 1/3lb Michigan beef burger served on a pretzel bun and topped with house smoked BBQ pork, smoked gouda cheese, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, and our signature, housemade hickory dressing.
  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:00am to 12:00 am; Fri-Sat 11:00am to 12:30am
  • 18 LaGrave
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

J. Gardellas

  • Chicken Drowned in Brew - Chicken Cordon Bleu
  • $8.00
  • All of our favorite menu items in one sandwich! Handmade beer battered chicken nuggets featuring Petosky Horny Monk, Little Town Jerky Ham and Bacon, served on a salty pretzel bun from our own bakery. Then we drench the entire sandwich in a homemade Mrs.Dogs cheese sauce. Accompanied with deep fried corn on the cob!
  • Hours: 11AM-11PM Mon-Thurs, 11AM-2AM Fri , 3PM-2AM Sat
  • 11 Ionia St.
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503


  • Über
  • $16.95
  • Special blended 10oz burger patty topped with Founders Brewing Co. Porter-braised beef, bacon & jalapeño Killer Mac & Cheese, house-made ale cheese sauce, haystack onion rings, and blue cheese-black pepper aioli on an oversided english muffin. Served with HopCat's famous Crack Fries.
  • Hours: 11:30AM-2:00AM Mon-Sun
  • 25 Ionia
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Buffalo Wild Wings

  • Buffalo Grilled Cheese
  • $8.99
  • Breaded chicken, spun in spicy garlic sauce, topped with American, Pepper-Jack, and Cheddar cheese on a Nantucket Baking Company pretzel bun with our medium sauce - mayo and parmesan mix. Served with a side of fries,
  • Hours: Daily 11:00am - 2:00am
  • 8 Ionia Ave NW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Taco Bar Company

  • The Enlightenment
  • $7.50
  • A superfood wrap! Quinoa tossed with local grilled seasonal veggies from Fryer farms with olive oil and balsamic reduction. Topped with fresh smashed guacamole, kale, mixed greens, and chipotle greek yogurt. Wrapped in a honey wheat wrap and grilled. Bacon can be added on request.
  • 200 Ottawa Ave
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

SpeakEZ Lounge

  • The Triple Crown
  • $9.00
  • Grand Butchers bratwurst on a Baked by B pretzel bun with Fulton Heights Root Vegetable Hot Slaw, house-made cloverfield honey mustard, melted cheddar, thousand island dressing, and applewood smoked bacon. Served with Better Made Brand pork rinds and a dill pickle.
  • Hours: 11:00AM-10:00PM Mon-Sun
  • 600 Monroe Ave NW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Grand Woods Lounge

  • The Wheelhouse
  • $9.95
  • All natural hot italian sausage, Sweet Hotties pickle chips, fresh Del Pasado tomato salsa, crunchy smoked gouda mac and cheese bites, caramelized chipotle onions and red peppers, and gouda cheese served on a jalapeño chedder brioche bun with a side of chunky apple sauce.
  • Hours: 11:00AM-10:00PM Mon-Sat
  • 77 Grandville
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Cottage Bar's Smokehouse Burger came in second on our last day

The Cottage Bar's Smokehouse Burger came in second on our last day /Holly Bechiri

Grand Woods Lounge's Wheelhouse came in third on day four

Grand Woods Lounge's Wheelhouse came in third on day four /Holly Bechiri

Wrapping up our assignment to try all of the Grandwiches, our team of four finishes with the offerings from the following establishments: Founders Brewing Company, Cottage Bar, J. Gardellas, HopCat, Buffalo Wild Wings, Taco Bar Company, SpeakEZ Lounge and Grand Woods Lounge.

This year’s Grandwich competition includes several sandwiches that feature pork, and Founders Brewing Company’s Porchetta provided two kinds of pork rolled together: Pork belly stuffed with bratwurst. It was overall a satisfying combination, but we were all wishing for more of the marmalade to help balance out the bitter pickled arugula.

The Cottage Bar Smokehouse Burger was a solid burger, as would be expected. The flavors were good, it was well cooked, but unfortunately they forgot the jalapenos, which would have been an excellent addition. This sandwich ended up scoring as our second highest pick of the day.

J. Gardella’s Chicken Drowned in Brew was in the “messy, gooey gut-buster” category, but even so was our favorite of the day. Combined with the deep fried corn on the side, this is not something to order on a date. However, it is a delicious guilty pleasure.

After a strong start to the tasting session, things started to go downhill. HopCat’s Über was sadly unbalanced and was not special enough to warrant its price ($16.95). There were not many toppings to counterpoint the large hunk of overcooked meat (we ordered medium, it came very well done). We all wished there was more sauce to add more flavor.

Buffalo Wild Wings was another disappointment with its Buffalo Grilled Cheese entry. It was very heavy and monocolor. One of our judges said, “It was the only one I was sad that I swallowed.”

By the time we got to Taco Bar Company’s Enlightenment, we were excited to have a break from pork and have some vegetables. Unfortunately the execution did not live up to the description. There was a distinct liquid smoke flavor that was off-putting, and the overall texture of the wrap was quite mushy.

Things started looking up with the SpeakEZ entry. It wasn’t the best of the bunch, but the brat was good, although overwhelmed by the bun. There was a pervasive orange-marmalade flavor coming from somewhere, although it wasn’t included in the description.

We finished our tasting session with the Grand Woods Lounge Wheelhouse, which was our third favorite of the day, which we were not expecting. It’s another messy contender and difficult to eat but it is very tasty. The one item we felt could have been omitted was the fried mac and cheese bites, as it didn’t seem to lend anything to the sandwich.

Overall, while there were some good entries here, and some we may go back to eat again, there were also some disappointments.


Let us know in the comments what you've tried, or hashtag #RapidianEats on Instagram or Facebook with shots of your own Grandwich experiences.

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