May 27, 2016

Viva Italia!

Viva Italia!



Is that a stupid tourist photo of someone holding up the tower of Pisa?!  Damn right it is!  That’s my brother, Chef Matt, and thankfully he’s better at cooking than he is at being a tourist!  Frankly, we suck at being tourists and we’re glad for it!

If you didn’t know, Matt and I just got back from 11 days in Italy.  I can’t even describe how much fun we had!  One of us is married and the other engaged, so you can imagine what it’s like for the two of us to escape the country together.  It’s a rarity to say the least!

Our trip started last year in Detoit at the Carmela Food Show.  Carmela Foods is a purveyor of fine wine, dry aged beef, and really sexy imported goods!  We were chosen by the team at Carmela to compete in their annual East vs. West competition, where two teams of chefs from Eastern Michigan go head to head against two teams from Western Michigan.  We met some great friends that day, including Chef Chris Perkey from Osteria Rossa and the new Iron restaurant in Grand Rapids.  Go try his food as soon as possible!  He’s so good, I asked him to cook at my wedding!  Anyways, first place prize was a trip for two to Italy to partake in one of the largest food shows in the world. We were lucky enough to win!

Fast-forward to Mother’s Day of this year….what a great day to start vacation right?! Wrong, it’s the busiest day of the year for the restaurant industry!  In fact, that day alone is worth 2-3% of the YEARS revenue, so we ran the line until crunch time then hit the road for the airport!

Tip: For the best airline experience, drink plenty of red wine before your flight so you can sleep the trip away.

I didn’t sleep a wink during the flight.  I had my usual wine at the airport bar, but rather than sleep, I bonded with a defense contractor seated next to me.  It turns out we had a few mutual friends and common interest in guns…

We touched down in Bologna 14 hours later, after a brief transfer in Amsterdam.  Of course while we waited in The Netherlands we had a bottle of Champagne and some cured fish so that made it better.  Airport food always sucks, but this was certainly the least sucky I’ve had.  I have to be careful now, because on my last trip home from Montreal, a fellow traveler called me out for eating garbage! Being a chef means upholding standards, although in my defense, there wasn’t much of a choice.

When we arrived in Italy, we were whisked away by our driver Massimo.   The Mercedez was a welcome relief from the cramped airplane seats!  We had a brilliant conversation via Google translate about food, motorcycles, American politics, and how great Italian women are.  Don’t worry Alli and Lauren, he was provoking it and we didn’t partake in the girl talk 😉 One hour later we arrived in Parma.

I have to tell you, on first thought, Parma reminded me a lot of Michigan!  There were plenty of hay fields, large farms, and rural landscape.  The land is pretty flat and the climate was similar to when we left.  We crashed for the night, looking forward to the show the next day.

When we arrived at Cibus (the food show), I was shocked at its size and the grandeur of the venue (Fiere di Parma)!  The show was absolutely massive and probably holds the world record for varieties of olive oil in one spot!  Unfortunately, it was mostly made up of high end grocery brands.  We try not to be too bitchy, but Matt and I are very spoiled when it comes to food stuff.  We try to support the small craft producer, not the mega farm/factories.  Fortunately, there was a GREAT beer and wine section, so we enjoyed that for the rest of the day.  We decided to take the rest of the week off from the food show.  Why hang around one show for a week when there is so much to explore, right?!  The next day the real fun began.  Fun is a word meaning enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure, and I’m pretty sure it comes from the Italian word Fiat.

I’ll tell you one thing, driving in Italy is not for the faint of heart BUT if you’re as adventurous as Matt and I, the Fiat is the way to go.  With it sleek curves, petite wheel base, smooth manual shifting, and spacious hatch back trunk, the 500 will make you feel like George Clooney benching a quarter ton of pure cast iron.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, makes you feel more manly than two 6’1″ men cruising the A1 at 175 kM/hr in a Fiat 500.  Trust me.

We put almost 2000 kM on that car in 8 days!  We visited about 24 cities, ate and drank as much local food, wine, beer, liquor, and amaros as possible! *We did this responsibly and do not condone drinking and driving* Wow, what an experience!  We came to Italy without a plan and I think that’s what made the trip so magical!  We opened up Google Maps, randomly picked cities, and strayed from the path often!  Take a back road, go visit a small city, meet the locals, eat their food!


Funny story……we went out of our way to visit the region of Barbaresco.  I LOVE wine (If you haven’t noticed) and this region is famous for kick ass wine!  We were headed from Parma to La Spezia and, somewhere along the way, I noticed the name Barbaresco on the map.  To be honest, I was a little distracted by the roaring power of the Fiat in my hands.  With my wanderlust, I didn’t put too much thought into the decision beyond “Oh, let’s go there!”  You know what I mean…Its like AHH, piece of candy or OOO, something shiny! When we arrived, it was NOTHING like I expected.  “Where are the vines? Where are the beautifully manicured vineyards?  Where are the people?” I thought. This town looked like a bad mash up of an Italian hillside village and Detroits west side!  We decided to turn around and head out.  That’s when I seen the sign……..we were in Barbarasco not Barbaresco! Luckily we found a small wine shop and the woman inside was a gem!  She was clearly passionate about wine and was incredibly knowledgeable.  She helped us pick a few great local bottles and we were on our way!

One of the greatest thing about Italy in my opinion is that each region has its own specialty, honed and crafted over hundreds of years!  Now for you Americans out there, a region in Italy is not like a region in America.  When we think region, we think the Midwest or New England.  An Italian region is TINY, more like a large county.  A 30 minute drive means a complete change in flavors!  Name it…Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello di Zibello, and Parmesan Cheese in Parma, Balsamic in Modena (pronounced MO-din-uh), Salame Finocchiona in southern Tuscany, Pizza in Naples, Sfogliatelle in Casserta, fish on the Amalfi Coast, the list of incredibly delicious things to eat in Italy is unreal!

Italy is such an inspiring place, especially for Chefs.  It’s like Mecca for food and wine!  Now most people will say, what did you learn? Will we see Pizza on your menu? No, you won’t.  Will I serve a gorgeous Italian meal that I copied from a quaint little trattoria? Hell no.  Why not you ask?  Artists use the works of others to provoke thought, rather than something to copy!  At The Mulefoot, we take great pride in creating artful dishes with local products that fit into our style of casual-yet-sophisticated modern American Cuisine.  I was inspired by three major things, pride, tradition, and simplicity.

Why do so many Americans want to run away from their homes?  I LOVE Imlay City!  After 11 days away, I couldn’t wait to come back to my home, my job, and my family!  Yeah, sure there are I things I don’t like about my community but I get off my ass and do something about it!  There will always be things to improve or maintain, but there are even more GREAT attributes already here to enjoy.  Italians take PRIDE in their communities and it’s clear to see.  Matt made a great comment when we were in Lucca that kind of caught me off guard.  He said, “Wow, this town just never stopped existing!”  He was spot on!  Lucca is an ancient and medieval city just north of Pisa that began as a settlement in 180 BC!  It simply never stopped existing because the community takes pride in it!  They have beautifully maintained walls, cannon turrets, and gates from 16th century AD!

Italians also take pride in what they produce.  If they make Balsamic, they only make balsamic.  If they make Parma ham, they only make ham.  If they make ceramics, they only make ceramics.  I’m not suggesting you don’t diversify but I AM suggesting that whatever you do, you make it the BEST you can!  They also take the time to pass their lifetime of knowledge to their children who carry on the craft!  There are quite a number of producers in Italy that have been going strong since the 14-,15-,and16- hundreds!  We don’t even have the capacity to grasp that ammount a of time being from a country that is only a few hundred years old!  They embrace traditional methods with respect and reverence.

In respect to food, my biggest inspiration was the combination of pride, tradition, and simplicity.  One of the most important lessons a Chef can learn is when to stop.  Young chef’s have a terrible habit of trying to put as many exotic ingredients into a dish as possible!  Take a lesson from the Italians….Choose the BEST products from those who have invested their life in perfecting the craft and don’t cover it up!  The Napolitanos give you a choice of two pizzas, marinara or with basil and cheese.  That’s it!  They bake it in a brick oven then dress it with olive oil.  Nothing more.  They do this because they believe they have the best tomatoes, the best Buffalo Mozzerella, and the best basil.  They are actually insulted if you bastardize those flavors by covering them up with other ingredients.  Don’t even think about putting salumi on a pizza……that’s intended to eat raw!  Ironically, we always put pepperoni on pizza here in America.  I am a huge proponent of experimenting and invite my team to try new things on a daily basis, but the key is to let the quality of the ingredients shine.

If you know me, you know how important traveling is to my life.  It’s where I get rest, inspiration, and a greater respect for people.  With my busy work schedule, I find it necessary to take a break at least once a quarter and I use that time to explore the world we live in.  For me, the ability to learn other people’s culture is what makes life worth living.  All in all, I recommend that everyone takes a trip to Italy at some point in life.  Whether you travel for the sights, history, or culture, you will find tons of amazing things in Italy!

Thankfully, the best of culture can be experienced through the stomach!

Michael Romine

Executive Chef and Owner

The Mulefoot Gastropub



December 16, 2015

Slow Foods : Why Local Matters

Slow Foods : Why Local Matters

*** We Didn’t Write this*** Its so Great we Had to Share.

This is a Blog Post from Slow Food Northshore :


Why Local Matters

The best food is grown close to you.

Nothing tastes better than food you grow yourself. But if you can’t grow your own, consider buying directly from local farmers. Why?

Local, organic food tastes better. Food grown in our area is usually picked within the past day or two. So, naturally it is crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Local farmers support biodiversity by growing varieties that are not grown on large, industrial farms.

Local, organic food is healthier. Most fruits and vegetables start losing nutrients as soon as they are picked. When crops are grown just a few miles away, harvests can be more recent and produce can be picked at the peak of freshness. Since local, organic food is fresher and has no pesticide residue, it’s better for you. Organic also means it’s not genetically modified, which has yet to be proven safe.

Local produce stays fresh longer after you buy it, because it was so fresh to begin with.

Local food is a better buy. By choosing local produce at farm stands, farmers’ markets, pick-your-own farms and grocery stores, you are paying for taste and vitality, not transportation or packaging.

Local, organically grown food supports a clean environment. Locally grown food significantly reduces the present average of 1,300 miles food travels from “field to plate.” By buying locally grown or produced food, you are reducing your carbon footprint. Organic food, grown or raised without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics or hormones, supports a healthy environment, and healther you. Smaller producers tend to be the best stewards of the land and water.

Local food strengthens our local economy. Buying local keeps your dollars circulating in our community and ensures that farming and local food production will remain viable in our area. Think Slow Money

Local food gives you peace of mind. One of the greatest benefits of buying locally grown or raised food is developing a relationship with the farmer. This allows you to ask questions like: Do you use any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer on your crops? How are your hens raised? Relationships built on understanding and trust are the foundation of strong communities.

October 30, 2015

A Lesson In Building…


Starting a festival is a lot of work. We began building “Art in the Rough” about three months ago as a way to promote Imlay City in a new way. You see, Imlay City is in a competition called “America’s Best Communities”. As semifinalists, we were awarded $65,000 to begin a community revitalization plan and part of the deal is that there can be no profit made by the city. When we had a little extra left in the budget, we decided to host a kickoff party. What was original called “mike’s crazy pop-up art show idea” became Art in the Rough.

My goal when dreaming up Art in the Rough was to prove to my community and our neighbors that Imlay City is more than a dried up farm town. We have so much potential here, and the future is bright! Imagine Imlay City with a surge of culture! I BELIEVE that Imlay City will become a FOOD and BEVERAGE DESTINATION in the next 5 years. I BELIEVE that Imlay City will be a buzzing town FILLED WITH CULTURE i.e. art, music, people of all kinds! Art in the Rough is a celebration of that belief!

Its unbelievable how much effort goes into an event like this! As I sit here contemplating the effort, it occurs to me how building an art show is like building a community, or a restaurant. The components that make us successful are the same!

Step 1. Passion is a requirement.
No offense, but if you lack passion, nobody will give a shit about your cause. Honestly.

Step 2. Have a Reason
Without reason, nobody will follow you. Art in the rough plays a VITAL role in revitalization by bringing CULTURE which brings EXCITEMENT and INTRIGUE.

Step 3. Forget about the hours
Building something new takes commitment. You will not succeed if you’re concerned about your effort. You must become a martyr for the cause!

Step 4. Hit the pavement
I mean this figuratively, but in many ways, literally! Get out there and fight! Be willing to reach out to those you do not know! DON’T BE AFRAID! I’ve never met a timid leader nor a nervous entrepreneur.

Step 5. Stand strong for your cause
Success requires relentless pursuit of perfection! Never waiver for any reason. You will be approached with opportunities to sell out, and its up to you as the fearless leader to stay true to your conviction and FIGHT FOR THE CAUSE! Never give up!

Step 6. Have a Vision
You need a final destination before you can give directions on how to get there! Imlay City WILL be a food and beverage destination, and I have dedicated my life to making sure that happens. Hows that for a vision?

Step 7. Have fun!
Nobody wants to be around an old sourpuss, so loosen up and smile a little! Laughing will not kill you. I promise.

Step 8. Work hard for the RIGHT reasons!
We have experienced tremendous support from our community! I believe that we are supported because our efforts are for the right reasons. Have integrity!

Step 9. Don’t make excuses!
We have a “family value” at The Mulefoot we call MacGyver. Give me a shoelace, a paperclip, and a air compressor and I will make a bomb! There is no problem that my team cannot solve. We are limited only by our minds!

Step 10. When you fall, get back up
You will fail. I once received a call from the bank informing me that the State of Michigan levied my bank account for $10,000. Do you have ANY idea what that feels like after 9 months of 100-hour work weeks with NO PAY? It sucks. It just plain sucks. The point is, you don’t sit around and cry all day. You get off your ass and figure it out! Never give up. Never give in! Remain steadfast in your mission for greatness!

Step 11. Help your neighbor. We’re a team!
Spend locally, support your neighbor, give to your community! I am not suggesting that you give away all of your hard earned dollars. I would encourage you to invest your brain power and energy into your community! I promise that energy will be returned with interest!
I don’t claim to be an expert in business or civic policy, but what I do know is my experience building “things” in Imlay City! There ideals have helped me become successful and continue to be rules that I live by.

I hope that I have been an encouragement to all of you, and I am very serious when I say that I WILL HELP YOU START A BUSINESS IN IMLAY CITY! This is the land of opportunity! We have the most gorgeous farm land in the entire country! YOU HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM with the DDA, Chamber of Commerce, the City of Imlay City, and in ME! The Mulefoot team is here to help in any way necessary to promote a community of craftsmanship and quality! There is plenty of available AFFORDABLE real estate in downtown, and we want YOU there!

See you soon in Imlay City!

Michael Romine

October 16, 2015

The War between Quality and Quantity


There is a battle raging, and we are loosing.

In today’s profit driven society, the american consumer is the victim.  What’s even more obscene is that we are funding the campaign against ourselves!!  We fuel the fire that destroys us.  How depressing.

What would happen, if we as a community, decided to choose QUALITY over quantity?  What if we chose a local company over the big box store?

At the Mulefoot, we have one driver, and that is the QUALITY!  When we decided to open in Imlay City, people literally thought I’d lost my mind.  My own community thought we would fail because we wouldn’t sell a $7 burger.  The idea of purchasing ‘cheap’ has been so ingrained in our lives in Lapeer County that our community at large didn’t believe we could be successful!  We put our own economical “head in the noose” by blindly following the rhetoric of corporate america!  We would rather buy a shitty piece of furniture from IKEA and replace it every year than support an AMERICAN craftsmen.  Get this folks–hand crafted products maintain their value, and the coolness factor always comes back!  Why wouldn’t you buy the better version that will last generations?

I love the example that Europe provides, specifically Copenhagen, Denmark.  The epicenter of Copenhagen is also the oldest part of the city.  Extending from the center are rings of development.  The Danish preserve the old, and utilize undeveloped space for the new.  The danish would never dream of tearing down their history!  Matt and I peeled peas for Noma, in a building that was built in the 1500’s!!  Heres the crazy part, not only are those building still being used, but they’re highly sought after!  If I spend $1mil on a finely crafted building,  it is worth it because my family will continue to profit from its assets for centuries!  Thats a no brainer for long term growth.   It’s sound investment.

The idea is that QUALITY transcends everything else, and applies to all of life.    Quality is a lifestyle and a CHOICE!  You are the strategy, the soldier, and the weapon that can defeat the enemy!  When you are choosing where to shop, buy the HIGHEST QUALITY you can find.  For your children’s sake, stop shopping at Walmart.

When it come to food, poor purchasing decisions will literally kill you! Eating manufactured/processed food will literally put you on the fast track to a long, slow, painful death!

I have a dream for Imlay City and that dream is to be the voice of the craftsmen.  I am a craftsmen, and when it comes down to it, the craft is what makes my heart beat!  When you spend your next dollar, will it be given to the craftsmen or squandered to the masses?

Love you all!


October 11, 2015

Get outside of your box!

Get outside of your box!

Sometimes I get an overwhelming urge/need for fortified wine! If you don’t know what I mean, GET OUTSIDE OF YOUR BOX!

There are so many things to consume in the world. Why on earth do we subject ourselves to a monotonous diet? If all you drink is riesling, go buy a bottle of Chateau d’Originac Pineau de Charentes! The voluptuous, mouth coating texture of this incredible wine takes you on a sensual roller coaster! This wine is like 50 shades of taste, all different, one after another!

We just hired a new steward and before the end of his first day, he had “seen 30 things he’s never heard of and tasted 20 of them!” You should try it too! Don’t give in to the norm. Don’t pick the things you know. Eat excitedly! #gettothefarm #getoutsidethebox

love you all!


Mike Romine

Executive Chef/Owner

The Mulefoot Gastropub

August 18, 2015

The Mulefoot Gastropub – Our Story

The Mulefoot Gastropub – Our Story

We believe that food should be Local and prepared with passion. The Mulefoot Gastropub is a farm to table concept utilizing most of its products from local farmers within 20 miles of the restaurant. We are located in Imlay City in the heart of Lapeer county; Which is one of the most diverse agricultural counties in Michigan. Identical twin chefs Mike and Matt Romine have been around the United States and as far a Copenhagen Denmark to hone their culinary ability. They have made the decision to bring these skills back to Imlay City and create the Mulefoot Gastropub.

The Mulefoot’s namesake comes from the heritage breed of pork that is served at the restaurant from their local family farm eight miles from the restaurant. We strive every day to bring new and inventive flavors in a comfortable setting. This is a pub. We are not fine dining. Our products are of the highest quality and prepared by hand. Everything we do is craft; from from first courses to beverages. We invite you to come experience a true farm to table experience…. in the community in which your farm products are born.

The Mulefoot Team

June 29, 2015

Don’t Come Here?


Imlay City, why the hell would you go there? That is the message I heard when I began my journey of building The Mulefoot Gastropub. It didn’t matter where I was or who I talked to, their response was always the same. Why Imlay City? Are you crazy? Well, as a matter of fact, yes I am! I am crazy and everyone on my team will tell you that!

I’m crazy because I believe in something that is not visible to most people. I have a vision of the future where our community prospers from our QUALITY not our QUANTITY. I’m crazy because I don’t need someone else to go before me to make sure the path is safe. I am not afraid to fail! I BELIEVE IN MYSELF AND MY TEAM! I believe in my town even when they didn’t believe in themselves!

I will never forget the day I put in my two weeks at Roberts Restaurant Group. I sat in the basement office of Town Tavern (Royal Oak, MI) with Chef Pat and told him I was leaving. I had just gotten full custody of my daughter and I was going home to be with my family and open a farm-to-table restaurant. You should have seen the look on his face when he heard I was going to open a place like The Mulefoot in Imlay City! He was so skeptical, maybe not because of my ability, but from the ability of the community to support a place such as The Mulefoot. He was worried about the price point, the ingredients, the philosophy and whether or not it would be financially viable. I can’t say I blame him as someone on the outside looking in!

Last week, I saw Chef Pat for the first time since our chat in the basement. Chef Matt(my twin brother) and I were at Motor City Casino representing The Mulefoot as the winner of Hour Detroit’s Best of the Best Restaurant for General Excellence award. I was proud because my dream, that few believed in, was not only succeeding but performing at the highest level of excellence in ALL OF METRO DETROIT! Out of literally THOUSANDS of restaurants in the booming food culture of Detroit, we were chosen. We are an HOUR (60 miles) drive away! That, to me, is EXCITING!

{I have tremendous respect for Bill Roberts and his team. I find them to be men of great character and integrity, so I was incredibly pleased to be congratulated by them.}

If I would have listened to everyones concerns about Imlay City, would The Mulefoot even exist? Is it Imlay City that is bad for business, or is it a lack of vision and drive that is bad for business? That thought brings me to my next point. DON’T COME HERE. If you are scared, don’t come here. If you lack faith in your ability and the skills of others, don’t come here. If you have are devoid of passion, please do not come here. Our town is full of OPPORTUNITY and we don’t want haters to stand in our way! If you have a skill and believe in a brighter tomorrow, please come here! Our town is ripe for the picking and ready for growth! All it takes is one more person to say I CAN DO IT. If The Mulefoot can succeed here, so can you!

The Mulefoot brings thousands of people from all over the Midwest to Imlay City on a weekly basis. You, as an entrepreneur, do not need to find customers! All you have to do is capture the attention of the people that are already coming here! Our guests are incredible people who care about quality, fun, and happiness! They are the QUALITY customer that every good business wants and they are already coming here! The question shouldn’t be “Why Imlay City” but rather WHY NOT?!

Imlay City was recently chosen as a semi-finalist in a competition called America’s Best Communities. We were chosen because we ARE the best and we will continue to be. Imlay City will support you in every way, believe me! I personally will support every dreamer who wants to call Imlay City home.

Who will join me?

I love you all!

Michael Romine
Executive Chef and Owner
The Mulefoot Gastropub


June 19, 2015

Little Hotties

Little Hotties

!!Picosssitos!!  Ayy Mami!

For those of you who don’t know, picoso means very hot, and anything with the suffix -ito is little, so picossito means “Little Hotties”!  By now, you’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about.

A “picosssito” is a salty, sour, spicy corn flour chip from Mexico.  You know, the ones that are full of chemical-laden-shit-ingredients that no respectable chef would ingest normally, but is secretly addicted to at their favorite taco dive? Yes, they’re the ones that stain your fingers nuclear red.

If you know me, you know I have a special fondness for all things from Mexico.  I love their food, music, folk art, attitudes, and mostly their people!  I’m sure the finest chefs in Mexico would stab me with their sharpest cuchillo if they thought I was promoting junk food as the pride of their homeland, so let me make it abundantly clear that I am not!   The only reason I even mentioned the “picosssitos” is because there is a left over bag on my desk, reminding me of how much I love mi amigos south of the border.  The depth of flavor captured in the cuisine of Mexico is truly remarkable.  Mexico, for me, represents a history of pride, love, and tradition that can be tasted in every dish.  Mexico is an experience.  I am so thankful that I get to experience that in my own home town!

Not too long ago, I was the Executive Chef for a resort in a tiny dessert town called Lajitas, Texas.  I lived in a small apartment with the kind of gorgeous sunset view that would literally leave you breathless.  The arroyos, mountains, and canyons left such an impression on my mind that I am often carried back there in my fondest daydreams.  The nature was my Mexican love at first sight!

My second love was even more profound but not as immediate.  When I started working in Lajitas, only one of the cooks spoke English.  A few others attempted spanglish, but mostly we communicated through hand signals and Google translate.  I found myself completely immersed in a language and culture that was totally new to me (besides Spanish class in middle school).  There is something to be said about a group of people who endure many hardships in life.  They are strong together, they support each other so much!  They are joyful and hardworking.  They smile, I mean REALLY SMILE, laugh deeply, and embrace one another!   If I mentioned in passing that I needed a new kitchen table, there would be one on the loading dock the following day!  Once I told a friend Vidal that I wanted a live chicken, and the next day it was there.  Thankfully, Vidal’s cousin was a chicken farmer!  You should have seen the hotel guests reaction when they drove past my apartment and found me outside killing chickens (wearing shorts, no shirt, and cowboy boots of course)!  As I worked next to these people every day, I realized that they have a way of living that every person in the world could learn from!  I sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, LOVE Mexican people!

For me, I feel that love EVERY TIME I walk through the door at Ruiz Taqueria in Imlay City.  It is not fine dining.  It is not gourmet. It is not over the top service and I’m glad its not.  Ruiz Taqueria is about the pork fat wafting in the air, the smell of chilies burning, and the masa permeating your nostrils.  Its AUTHENTIC, REAL, and DELICIOUS!  Don’t expect a salad, or guacamole, or cheese.  Its only tacos with cilantro, onion, and lime, salsa roja and salsa verde.  It always needs a shake of salt, but then they’re fantastic!  For the love of god, do not try to order a burrito!  Order the tripas, the lengua, or the cabeza and if you have a weak mind, don’t ask what it is! It’s cuisine with grit. It feels like the streets of Mexico and it’s the only restaurant I eat at in town.   In fact, my team and I have a tradition of eating here every Tuesday, taco Tuesday!

I invite you all to come to Imlay City for the day.  Start with lunch at Ruiz and tell them your amigos from The Mulefoot sent you.  After lunch, go north to Charlie Mann’s strawberry farm and show your children that berries don’t grow in plastic clam shells on the shelf at Kroger.  Finish with dinner and a cocktail at The Mulefoot.  Come to my town and experience the cultural diversity and flavors of the people here!  Oh, and by the way, if you are a craftsman/artisan and produce something with care, we’d love it if you’d stay!

I love you all, and I look forward to seeing you soon!


Michael Romine

Executive Chef

The Mulefoot Gastropub

June 5, 2015

Table Cloths And Cut Offs


Yesterday, I met my mother at the front door of our restaurant. In her hand was a yellow envelope addressed to me.  “What is that?” I asked her.  Her response really got my blood pumping! “You don’t want to know!” she said!  As a matter of fact, I DO want to know!  I knew in that moment that the envelope undoubtably contained a long list of bullshit from someone who clearly is missing the point.

Inside the envelope was only a wrinkled paper comment card that every guest gets with their check.

The Scores (out of 5)… food 2, beverages 2, service 5. Overall experience, wouldn’t come back.

The scores are the first thing I see when I look at a comment card.  They’re like a magnet for your eyes, ready to fill your heart with joy or rip it from your chest.  I can deal with low scores when there is a reasonable explanation and an opportunity for improvement but this clearly wouldn’t be the case!  The best part of this card in particular was written on the back.  Here are a few quotes….

“When I walk into a restaurant and see the help wearing jeans and cut-offs, I don’t expect to pay these prices.”

“With your prices, I expect white table clothes, candles, and wait staff dressed accordingly. ”

“When we were ready to leave, we asked if you had a senior discount and was told no.  Very disappointed with your restaurant.  With those prices, you won’t last long in Imlay City.”

Now I am confused!  I can’t decide if I want to rage or crack up in a hysterical fit of laughter!  Who are these people and how did they end up here?  Did they know a single thing about us or did they just happen upon us passing by? What century were they born in?  For Christ’s sake, the prices are printed on the menu! They’re not a surprise!  There were so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind.

First of all, we are a gastropub.  That is, Gastro for gastronomy (the science of food and cooking) and pub for public house or tavern.  We are a bar with great food. That means you shouldn’t expect white table clothes!  I literally funded this restaurant with the tag line that we are “Fine dining without the bullshit!”  WE BUILT THIS RESTAURANT SO WE COULD HAVE GREAT FOOD AND BEER WITHOUT  THE PRETENTIOUS ATTITUDE!  INCREDIBLE FOOD AND SERVICE IN A LAID BACK ATMOSPHERE!  Our servers, who are all professionals (not “the help”), do in fact wear jeans.  We are not here to be formal! We ARE here to assist you in having a relaxed and delicious experience.

Secondly, we do not have discounts or freebies or blue plate specials and here is the reason why.  Everything we serve is made COMPLETELY by hand.  Our products are grown and hand crafted by HUMANS, AMERICANS, and PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY!  The people who make your food work hard, toil in the fields, slave in the kitchen, and devote their lives to giving you the finest flavor possible.  IT IS HARD WORK AND TAKES TIME!  We would be happy to give copious discounts if you would accept factory farmed, robot processed, chemical sprayed, disgusting crap (that isn’t really fit for human consumption) to be on your plate.  Actually. I rescind that last statement.  I would DIE before I succumb to spreading that filth around my community and especially to the people I love.

Now, I know my words may seem a little severe and scathing to those of you who live in a world of rainbows and butterflies and for that I apologize.  I am making a passionate plea to all of our community to consider the route your food takes from growth to the plate.  When you choose a restaurant, choose one who cares about you, the things you consume, and your community.  Choose your food based on QUALITY not quantity or cost!  When you support a quality restaurant like The Mulefoot, you are supporting local farms, local business, and local people!  We love you.  Honestly, from the deepest part of my heart, I love you!  Because I love you so much, I recommend that you do not come here if price is the most important part of your decision making.

In short, choosing to purchase cheap food is saying you do not care about the people who prepare your food or the people who  grow it.  Real chefs are professionals who study food, nutrition, and business.  Would you agree that they deserve to make more than $9 per hour?  What would happen if we as a culture EMBRACED great food and made it a priority in our lives?


With love,

Michael Romine, Executive Chef and Owner, The Mulefoot Gastropub

May 5, 2015

The Truth About Chicken

The Truth About Chicken
Here is the real truth about chicken.  Restaurants “kill” chicken to the point where its dried up and inedible. We live in a culture where your grandma cooked her chicken to the point it was drier than a popcorn fart. There are cultural misconceptions that our beloved protein is dangerous and must be fire ladened to the point where it lacks moistures and the enjoyment of flavor. The conception is we must overcook chicken to keep diners safe from salmonella. This is simply not the truth. The truth is that food factories produce illness through mishandling and incorrect storage. We believe in buying our chicken from reputable sources that feed them healthy diets (free range, steroid free, antibiotic free), provide them clean living environments, and  process them in clean facilities. The real facts are that produce caused nearly double the amount of salmonella illnesses than poultry in 2009. In reality, salmonella was not even the most prominent illness from poultry, clostridium perfringens was!
You know that redness on the thigh bone? It’s not necessarily because the chicken wasn’t cooked properly. Modern chickens are slaughtered at very young ages meaning that their bones are not fully calcified. They are soft and porous so as the meat is cooked, pigment will come from the bones and remain in the meat. To stop this, you must cook the meat well beyond the FDA recommended 165° F (which in itself is extreme but that is a whole different blog).
The result? Tough, dry, flavorless meat. Remember to account for carryover cooking; On a chicken breast it can be 5-7 degrees and on a medium sized roast it can be as high as 30 degrees so be prepared with your thermometer. This is why we recommend cooking with a sous vide. We use the Sansaire Sous Vide. This is a home versions but they work so well we use them commercially everyday and they are super affordable.
For the love of the chicken, PLEASE stop the chicken overcooking Madness!