Along with the other 7,900 citizens of Three Rivers, I was positively giddy when the newest addition to downtown dining opened their doors to the public for the first time just a few weeks ago. The rumor of a brewery had spread through our town for over a year, and the delay due to the pandemic had seemingly made their opening day feel like only a dream. Useless Creatures Brewing Company (41 North Main Street, Three Rivers) has now officially entered the chat, and it instantly has raised the bar for this small town.
The ambiance inside the taproom is warm, lively, and welcoming. Eclectic artwork dots the walls, the sounds of laughter and conversation flow from every corner, and cozy spots to dine and drink and play board games are bountiful.
My crew and I placed drink orders, and grabbed a table (only one was available when we arrived around 6:30 on a Saturday evening) to begin our night. I selected a 16 oz. draft of You’re Turning Violet! ($6.50, available in 5, 10, or 16 oz), which is a wheat ale brewed with Michigan blueberries that is refreshing and slightly tart. As a go-with I chose the Giant Soft Pretzel and Cheese ($10), which was an enormous, fluffy pretzel generously coated in everything seasoning and accompanied by an absolutely addicting cheese sauce. Seriously. Order an extra side of the sauce (or a gallon) and thank me later.
We took our time enjoying our appetizers and brews while taking in the friendly atmosphere surrounding us that can only be found in a small town. This brewery has quickly become the “place to be” and we marveled at all the familiar and new faces filling the room and contributing to the space’s energy. When it was time for a refill I went back and ordered a 10 oz pour of the Tiki Wheatiti, a New Zealand Wheat Ale made with pineapple and toasted coconut. This, my friends, is the beer for which you have been waiting. Every sip was reminiscent of a tropical paradise, and made me forget about the impending doom of a Michigan winter.
Useless Creature’s food menu is refreshingly limited, which immediately tells *this* foodie that the offerings are made with the freshest ingredients, and with the most attention to detail. My assumptions were confirmed when our dinners were on our table and our jaws were on the floor. My first dining partner ordered the Falafel Wrap ($11), which is stuffed with a house-made feta dip, cucumbers, pickled red onions, kalamata olives, lettuce, tomatoes, and perfectly-crisp and fluffy falafel. I was pleasantly surprised by how addicting each bite was, and I love this option for days I’m not overwhelmingly hungry — or I’m in the mood for something light.
My second dining partner chose the weekly special, The Mushroom Smash Burger, which consisted of two smash patties, white American cheese, sautéed mushrooms, gruyere cheese crisp (!), and caramelized garlic-black truffle aioli on a toasted brioche bun. I took one bite and instantly wished I had ordered this for myself, and also wondered how I could con my friend into giving me the other half. For my meal I chose the Asian Chicken Sammich ($13) and opted for the fried pickle-brined chicken thigh dunked in the sweet and spicy Asian barbecue sauce, topped with kimchi slaw, green onion, and sesame seeds.
Any former regrets I had about my entree selection disappeared after my first bite when the crunch of the kimchi and the slight kick from the barbecue sauce hit me. This sandwich checks all the boxes for me, and is the ideal pick for anyone who can handle a little heat!
Our extraordinary downtown has truly hit the jackpot with this new eatery. Whether you are stopping in for a freshly-made and unforgettable meal with friends, or grabbing their signature brews to-go (32 oz cans called “Crowlers”), you are guaranteed to leave with a satisfied belly, a smile on your face, and a brand-new meaning behind the word “useless.”
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