The lights are on once again at 45 N. Main St. as a new restaurant has made Three Rivers its home and filled the vacant storefront. Once housing Venue 45, the restaurant stood nearly-empty for two years before the Miller family got involved and made plans to open The Kent Eatery and Spirits.
Like every other citizen of our town I was devastated to see the previous establishment shut down during the pandemic, but I was chomping at the bit to see what the new restaurant had to offer. “Show me what you’ve got” was the phrase repeating in my mind as my dining companions and I walked in for dinner…and The Kent delivered.
Our party, a total of four, were greeted with warm welcomes when we arrived for our 7 p.m. reservation, and we were taken to our table and served waters. Our server was more than happy to let us take our time to scan their menu, which we needed desperately as it had yet to be posted publicly to social media. The beverage list has many options and includes varieties of white wine or red, several types of beer, and six different cocktails.
While my two companions ordered a coke and a glass of The Loop Sauvignon Blanc ($9), my father picked The Perfect Manhattan ($12) and I selected The Wrubble ($12). My cocktail, named for the canine “mascot” of The Kent, was refreshing and delicious. Made with gin, elderflower liquor, and lemon, it was bright and tangy yet also sweet with hints of perfume. My first sip instantly made me think of spring and I found myself finishing every last delicious drop before the meal was over.
With our thirsts sufficiently quenched it was time to get acquainted with the appetizer menu. Featuring selections like smoked whitefish spread, roast pumpkin soup, meatballs, and even foie gras, we weighed our options and ultimately ordered the “Crispy Chicken Wingz” ($12). The appetizer arrived promptly and were three large and intact chicken wings covered in a rich and sweet maple-mustard glaze, then finished with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. We made short work of the chicken, devouring every tender bite of meat and licking the sauce from our fingers with zero shame.
Our entrees came to the table next, with the Half Roast Chicken ($24) arriving first for my date. The chicken was cooked beautifully, tasting like it had roasted low and slow for hours judging by how delicately it fell off the bone. Beneath the bird sat stewed onions and garlic in a mustard jus, and all the rich and comforting flavors melted together in perfect harmony.
The next entree arriving was for my mother, and she had ordered the Grilled Cheese ($12). The bread itself was thick-cut style and was housing a delicious medley of white cheddar cheese, provolone cheese, and a thick smattering of apple butter. I had never tried a grilled cheese like this before, and quickly declared it to be my new favorite. The apple butter brought a delightful surprise to an otherwise-ordinary dish, and I was excited to learn that you can also ask the kitchen to add brisket next time for an extra charge of $4.
My father and I both ordered the Steak Frites ($26) and we were equally pleased with our selections. Though not asked how we wanted our steak cooked when we ordered, both of our cuts of meat were an acceptable level of doneness for our liking. There is a choice of a Hollandaise sauce or garlic herb butter to be slathered on, and we both picked the latter. I will admit that I couldn’t quite taste or see the butter sauce, but I didn’t miss it. The steak was melt-in-my-mouth tender, and the french fries that were snuggled in beside it were just as tasty.
Though our bellies were now satisfied and nearly-full, we couldn’t resist sneaking a peek at the dessert options. We decided to skip the bread pudding ($7), and instead ordered the apple crisp ($7) with four spoons. It came to the table and we didn’t hesitate to dig in, scooping into the maple ice cream on top to discover a delicious crumble topping with pecans and apples that were cooked in all the familiar spices. We all kept remarking on how the apples were perfect — soft and sweet, but still having a crispness to their flesh that reminded us of fall. It was a decadent end to a lovely meal, and we all rested our spoons in stuffed-stomach-solidarity.
While it does seem unclear the direction The Kent will decide to go as far as a theme, decor, or permanent menu, it does seem obvious that it is operating under the guidance of a chef who is comfortable in the kitchen and confident in his skills. It would be a mistake to attempt to compare this new establishment to the one previous, because the Miller family is here to leave their own memorable mark on Main Street.
Their ambition is partnered with an eagerness to serve and that is apparent in their warm hospitality and in every bite of their food. Pack up your appetite and head to The Kent for your next dining-out trip, and be prepared for an experience that is well-planned, well-executed, and well-worth your time.
The Kent Eatery and Spirits is currently open Wednesday-Saturday from 4:30 p.m. until 9:30-“ish” p.m.
Beca Welty is a staff writer and columnist for Watershed Voice. For more SW Michigan foodie reviews, follow along with Beca on Instagram: @bites.with.beca.