Adrian, MI: Hooligan’s Grill

It’s 1 PM in Adrian, Michigan, on a Sunday. South of Tecumseh and north of Delta, Ohio, the city’s home to three minor colleges, one pretty big hospital, and a small branch of the River Raisin. So, you’d think there’d be something – anything – to eat, even on this most holiest of days, the Sabbath.

Turns out there’s nothing.  Nada. That’s all folks. Stop the presses. The city has officially shut down and it’s time to go home.

Well, OK. There might be one or two places to eat, and one of those might be Hooligan’s Grill.

Beware. From the outside, Hooligan’s looks like a normal, harmless Irish pub, the kind of place you patronize when wanna overpay for Guinness and pick up cougars. Inside, though, it’s a dangerous, dangerous mix of upscale and tacky, a bizarre mishmash of stuff that shouldn’t go together. Why, you have suspended lights vs. a mounted moose head, exposed bricks vs. a photo of a young boy and girl smoking and drinking, shit food vs. pretensions of fine dining. It’s enough to make your head spin before the first drink.

And it ain’t Irish or German or whatever in the least.

But hey, what did I know? Maybe they were being purposefully ironic. Y’know, hipster. It could all be fuck you, Sid Vicious-style punk sentiment, and I’m the clueless irrelevant jerk that doesn’t get it. Strap on a fanny pack on me and shoot me to the moon.

Then I took one look at my spray tanned, beach blonde waitress and I knew it wasn’t a joke. Hooligan’s is for real. This is really happening.

Honestly, it’s times like this that when I wonder what the in the Sam fuck I’m doing with this blog. I could be writing weird historical fiction posts that no one understands or wants. I could be writing about trivia so obscure you’d never care to know, my insides safe and sound. But no, here I am, shoveling more greasy, cheap, bullshit Michigan slop down my throat for easy hits. I’ve gained at least 20 pounds over this shit.

I… I could be sexy still.

If it sounds like I’m in the midst of an existential crisis, you’d be too if you’d eaten what I affectionately termed “Hooli Sludge”. They probably had a slightly more attractive name for it, but I can’t imagine it did it more justice than my off the cuff descriptor. Picture big chunks of potato fried to hell and back and four or five shrimp with tiny slivers of grilled onion and peppers, all served on a small ass plate like it’s fucking delicacy.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Eating Hooli Sludge is like having a cannonball shot at your stomach. It’s as if they thought grease alone could salvage any dish, no matter how half-assed, plain, and starchy. A noble thought, to be sure, but horribly incorrect nonetheless. The chef’s cute attempt to add the colors of Irish flag to this putrid dish with the onion and pepper medley was simply insult to injury.

My stomach hurt for the next day. Look. I’m not usually one to complain. I like to think that I have the constitution of a lumberjack, the pain tolerance of a chronic bath salts abuser. But this one got me, man.

It got me bad.

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12 thoughts on “Adrian, MI: Hooligan’s Grill

  1. hahaa, I don’t mind the poster of the girl drinking and the boy smoking, as to me it does have that hipster irony. But by god, hooli sludge sounds horrifying. very descriptive post!

  2. LOL can I ask you what you ordered? I actually work at Hooligan’s (as a server), and I can’t figure out what it was. The Hooli Pasta? Love the humor in your post, just want to know what you ate so we can fix it in the future…

    It could’ve been the Hooli-sauté, if so, just know we are working to improve our Gluten-free and vegetarian menus. If you ever are stuck and starving in Adrian again (God help you) order the Fish Tacos, they are healthy, delicious, and a relatively cheap meal at a “classy” joint.

    Hooligan’s has tried to cater to a more sophisticated crowd, but unfortunately it doesn’t appear to exist in the area. Rotting heirloom veggies laying waste in the refrigerator while burgers and fried onions flew out of the kitchen. Gotta cater to your market, lol. Cheers!

  3. I’m sure I had bad luck, too. I know as a writer I’ve had moments where I was caught with egg on my face. Had I ordered differently, maybe I’d be whistling a different tune. Who knows?

    That said, I think if Hooligan’s wants to be known for its food, it needs to refocus on being really kick ass at cooking one or two thing. I’ve never been to a bar and grill where the food was truly great, usually because the menu is pulling itself in five different directions. It is what it is. But when I see a small white plates and higher prices, I expect a little more, which is why I found Hooligan’s so confounding.

    Best of luck! It’s good to know there are people at the restaurant engaged in the end product. I was actually in Adrian to check out the Croswell, and maybe if I’m back I’ll check out the fish tacos.

  4. Damn, George – you really dropped the hammer on this joint! The scathing review was fun to read, mostly because that is so out of character for the blog.

  5. I was gonna write about the Croswell, but a nagging pain in my lower intestines persuaded me to point my eye towards Hooligan’s. As you noticed, I don’t usually write bad reviews – I lack the motivation. But honestly, Andrew, it was a terrible experience, and when my stomach start tying itself in knots a few hours later, I felt I had a civic duty to write this.

    Now as for the Croswell, I had a good time, but there was nothing compelling to write. I watched solid production in a well-maintained historic theatre, very similar to any other older theatre I’ve been to. That’s it. Nothing really jumped out. With some research, I could probably write some decent historical fiction-type stuff about it, but that’s a whole ‘nother animal.

  6. No worries, you wrote what you experienced, which is a sad truth for us, but the truth nonetheless. We have been through several managers in the past few months, and just hit our first anniversary being open March 1st, so this is the kind of criticism we need to become the restaurant Hooligans should be. If you ever do get stuck in Adrian again, we’d love a second chance! Thanks again for your insight 🙂

  7. You did get ONE thing right: “the clueless irrelevant jerk that doesn’t get it.” Spot on with that comment. Actually TWO things right: “Honestly, it’s time like this that when I wonder what the in the Sam fuck I’m doing with this blog.” Your ‘journalism’ and attacks on this very cool spot, if anyone reads you at all, are clueless, third rate journalism. This restaurant has a dozen locally sourced, unique dishs, is a small town urban pioneer in the revival and rebirth of this city with roots back to the early 19th Century and is worthy of more than your dripping sarcasm. Go back to your Midtown Detroit condo or downtown Ann Arbor loft and pick another hobby.

  8. What kind of idiot writes THIS about Detroit’s Roma Cafe: “Comparing it to Olive Garden, it wins hands down.”

    I finally figured it out–you got your restaurant experience washing dishing at Olive Garden. Now it all makes sense.

  9. I was served a bad dish. Should I pat everyone on the back regardless? What do you want me to write? Look at how you’re putting me on blast for writing what you perceive as a poor post. It’s the same deal. That’s the fun of the ‘net.

  10. It’s historic and I love the food, but it’s pretty clear that the Roma Cafe of today is catering to a more budget conscious crowd, i.e. the type of people that might eat at Olive Garden. The demographics have changed and the people in charge have responded.

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