Kirby House is Grand Haven’s hidden gem


Though Grand Haven is a local summer favorite and a typical destination for a Grand Rapids resident to get away, up until a week ago, I had never been. Thus, during my weekend-long sojourn to the coastal town, I didn’t know where to start concerning the plethora of available dining options. Luckily, for the whole weekend, I was accompanied by a few friends, all of who are seasoned Grand Haven experts.

My ‘tour guides’ raved about local restaurant Kirby House for the weeks leading up to our trip, so I arrived very excited about this sensational dining wonder. Sure enough, despite our beach runs, quaint streets, and charming cafes, Kirby House proved to be the shining highlight of our whole weekend in Grand Haven.

A self-proclaimed “classic American restaurant,” Kirby House is housed in a retired hotel building. It retains its old-world glamor through the eclectic decor and unique setup. From the island bar place in the middle of the floor to the classy booths surrounding it, one could practically imagine the hotel lobby that existed there a few decades ago, significantly enhancing the character of the eatery.

Kirby puts its defining spin on the most classic of American dishes; even staples like salad and pasta were replaced with alternatives like “stone fruit salad” and a unique take on drunken noodles. With a comprehensive and distinctive menu full of unique dishes as such, making a decision was difficult. Eventually, my table settled on a combination of entrees from all over the world, including Thai noodles, chicken parm, salads, and pasta.

While Kirby was packed on this Friday night, its popularity in no way detracted from our experience. Grand Haven is notorious for being sleepy and tranquil during the off-season, so the fact that the restaurant was crowded speaks to its demand with the locals.

Once our food arrived, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Kirby’s unique touches blended with the classic dishes. The creamy macaroni incorporated subtle crunches through breadcrumbs, the chicken parm was uniquely built off a marina base, and the drunken noodles were unusually doused in a savory sauce. Each dish was remarkably unforgettable, and the distinctive twists were striking.

Especially upon hearing that my group was celebrating two 18th birthdays, our server was funny, helpful, and warm, significantly enhancing our table’s experience. The desserts he suggested were spot-on; the delectable turtle cheesecake and rich brownie sundae quickly disappeared off our table. While the prices were slightly elevated, this was to be expected from a touristy-area, and the restaurant’s proximity to the beach was priceless.

With Grand Haven serving as a common destination for many residents in our area, Kirby House serves as a viable staple for diners to look forward to. Its distinguishing additions to conventional dishes have rendered it a remarkable restaurant in my book.