Ann About Town: The Cosmos
I saw The Cosmos first on Facebook ─ tables plastered with comic book images, walls painted with space-themed murals, and plates filled with pizza. Pizza with eggs on top, pizza with duck on top, pizza that looked like it was created by someone who is really interested in flavor and actually eats real Italian pizza.
I had to go to, even though it was (a tiny bit) outside of East Lansing. I took my son Skeletor, largely because he can order anything he wants, which means I can have a taste without wasting a whole order. I also took him because he has a car and I don’t.
It’s a little place, The Cosmos, just past (and attached to) Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern. One can, in fact, order Zoobie’s drinks at The Cosmos, although the restaurant has a liquor license and a case in the front is stocked with a variety of beer and wine. We sat at a two-top next to one of the life-sized murals and took it all in, from the open kitchen to the light fixtures that echoed the multi-spiked Zoobie’s sign.
Super-cosmic space mural
We started with an order of Duck Fat Fries, which were crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and served with a spicy catsup. He ordered the Pepperoni pizza, and I ordered the Fried Cheese Salad which had been highly recommended.
Duck fat fries
The pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven, was prepared with skill and restraint. The crust was in a different universe than the usual wet cardboard, and it was topped with enough mozzarella, but not a rubbery blanket thereof. On top of the cheese was not just pepperoni, but Andouille sausage, Tasso ham, and pancetta.
The menus also includes a Crispy Duck pizza, a Sweet Potato pizza and a Bosc Pear pizza, and since I really can’t have more than a slice, I realized that I would have to soon find a series of people willing to go with me and order different pizzas so I could try a slice of each.
Fried Cheese Salad sounds like an appetizer at a chain restaurant with cutesy old bicycles and rusted metal signs covering every wall. This is not. It’s a bed of field greens with cherry tomatoes and candied pecans dressed with a honey mustard vinaigrette and topped with three crumb-coated and fried balls of tangy goat cheese. I’m just going to leave that there.
Fried cheese salad
Reader, I was back before the week was out, with Captain Carnivore. That time, I noticed the list of artisanal cheeses hanging over the register. A cheese and fruit board is available as a “Shareable,” along with the Duck Fat Fries, Fried Pickled Veggies, P.E.I Mussels and our selection, Rock Shrimp Tempura. We decided that a couple or a group could make a pretty interesting dinner out of Shareables and an adult beverage or two.
I considered Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Fig and Bacon jam, but could not resist another Fried Cheese Salad. Captain Carnivore ordered the Grilled Hangar Steak pizza which is topped not only with pieces of steak, but with blue cheese, horsey sauce and a pile of crispy fried leeks.
Rock shrimp tempura
The service was quick and cheerful, and I was pleased to note the diversity of the crowd, including two older couples, a member of a local metal band, two college-aged women and a couple with a baby. If you have dietary restrictions, check the menu online before you go. There are several salads that appear to be gluten-free, and several vegetarian options, but I’m not sure about choices for vegans. I don’t see it as a great choice for super-picky eaters (by which I mostly mean children who eat nothing but chicken nuggets) but really, that’s okay.
I am, by the way, hoping to try the Crispy Duck and Sweet Potato pizza in the near future. That means someone has to go with me, order them and eat all but one slice. Oh, and the one with the egg on top.
You know where to find me.
The Cosmos is located at 611 East Grand River Avenue, in Lansing.
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