By Sheryl Oswalt
Just west of Vicksburg, nestled in the woods and bordering Portage Creek and Barton Lake, is a beautiful 310-acre golf course known as Angels Crossing. New to the golf course this spring are the expanded menu offerings at the club house, Creekside Grille. Both the course and the Grille are owned and operated by the village of Vicksburg. Holding the position of Food and Beverage Director is Joe Tsui.
Many may already be familiar with Tsui; his family owned and operated the Peking Palace on S. Westnedge in Kalamazoo for over 22 years. After the sale of the property there, Tsui pursued other options, including working as a restaurant consultant.
When a one-month commitment at The Vault stretched into a year and a half, it gave him a chance to reconnect with Vicksburg area locals who had been loyal patrons of the Palace and renewed his desire to get back to working on the front lines. Village President Bill Adams, Manager Ken Schippers and Golf Pro Jeff Rohrstaff approached Joe about expanding the food service options at the golf course. He jumped at the chance to get back in the thick of things.
My visit to the Creekside Grille was very pleasant. It was rather quiet as many of the league golfers were still out on the course. The staff was attentive and I was particularly impressed when multiple staff members stopped at our table to check on the food. Although tempted by my favorite, a Reuben, I decided to try the special on the chalkboard menu–the Kung Pao Chicken. As a self-proclaimed fan of Chinese food, I tend to stay with what I know and I have never ventured far from the staples of General Tso or sweet and sour chicken but something about the special intrigued me. Maybe it was the Oberon. Regardless, it was fantastic! My husband said his sandwich was very good as well. According to Wikipedia, Kung Pao is a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken (or steak), peanuts, vegetables and chili peppers. According to Tsui, the secret is the stock. He makes his stock from meats and vegetables and not from a can.
The printed menu includes twelve regular offerings, not including the half-pound grilled hot dog with kettle chips. Each entrée is named after one of the holes on the course. Along with the printed menu, they offer up to four daily specials. For now, they don’t have “fixed” daily specials but you can call anytime to find out what is on the “chalkboard” menu for the day. Busy nights at the Grille tend to be Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, league nights.
When asked what the favorites are adding up to be, my Kung Pao chicken was on the list as well as the chicken tacos. Tsui said he had to urge a particular group into trying something other than the chicken tacos one night. While they trusted him and agreed to try something new; they all went back to the chicken tacos the following week. I had to chuckle when he made fun of himself and mentioned his love for Mexican food. I think his exact words were, “I’m the Chinese guy from California that grew up on Mexican food; I can make a mean taco!” Fish and pasta dishes have also proven popular and this fall he plans to continue to add to the menu and mix things up.
Joe says he likes to have fun and make everyone’s visit enjoyable and from my interview I believe he makes that happen. It’s a challenge for him to run the kitchen and interact with customers but his goal is to do both. He likes to experiment and surprise people with an eclectic menu. While seating is limited to 100 people inside the Creekside Grille, they also offer off-site catering–staffed or non-staffed. All meals are customized for the specific event and run the gamut from boxed lunches with sandwiches up to full-course hot meals.
So if you are looking for something new; check out the Creekside Grille where you can go with something new and exciting or tried and true. I think you will find it satisfying; I know I did!