Mark and Matt's Chili Trek
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Restaurant NameSpike's Keg o Nails
Address301 N James St
City, State ZIPGrayling, MI 49738
Phone989 348 7113
GPS Coordinates LAT 44.661189 LONG -84.71384

Restaurant AtmosphereCountry bar
Chili HeatNone
Chili FlavorSome
Chili TextureAverage
Chili Prices$2.00 for a cup, $3.00 for a bowl
Chili Fixin's3 packs of nasty golden crackers

Comments by Matt Fuerst
Rating: 3
I've realized that I have now written something like 47 articles detailing "man dates" with Mark. Someone reading the site definitely could get the wrong impression, since that's a lot of man on man action. From now on I am going to needlessly mention something macho in the beginning of each review just to maintain my manliness.... so, here goes nothing. Last week I engaged in mortal combat with another man in a ring for 3 rounds. I was punched in the face, I punched him in the face. I tasted blood. Afterwards I drank a lot of beer, crushed some cans on my head and oogled at women on the dance floor (Hi Jill!) (because real men don't dance, they just laugh and curse at the men that can).

With that out of the way, we can return to our regularly scheduled broadcast. Mark and his brother-in-law have done a camping and fly fishing trip for the last few years so I got the call up from the minor leagues this year and joined the big boys on their trip. Mark recalled receiving some propaganda for a bar up near Grayling, Michigan (our intended destination) for a bar called Spikes Keg o Nails that claimed to have some earth shattering burgers. A quick trip to google beforehand landed a menu showing homemade chili so we knew it was time to put our game faces on and prepare to mow on some chili.

Spikes has as much atmosphere as you would expect a place called Keg o Nails to have. Out the wazoo. Once you walk in the door you are presented with an old west style swinging double doors. Cool. The place is all dark wood with exposed beams. Very nice. Lots of fishing and fly fishing paraphernalia adorns the walls and windows. Great stuff. Spikes was pretty busy and we took the only open table. We each ordered up some chili and a famous Spike Burger and awaited some country goodness in a bowl.

Sadly, Spikes didn't really deliver on the chili. I was pretty hungry and darn cold at this point so I was ready for some chili warmth, but I felt a bit let down. Someone "tried" with Spikes chili, it's not straight out of a can and someone had to mix a few ingredients together, but they kept it fairly bland and without any spice to speak of. Spikes also decided to play it safe and not go too wild with vegetables or beans. Both are present, but in too conservative amounts to really get you to feel strongly either way. Overall, it's chili (not coney sauce) but chili played too safe in every way. People, try to do something with your chili. Take it in a new direction. Playing it safe in every way - flavor, heat, ingredients - leads to general disappointment, not satisfaction.

I don't mean to get my hate on against Spikes, but it's hard to see how their Spike Burger got much of a reputation. Smacking some bland beef together and grilling it makes it a "Matt Fuerst Burger", which is neither tasty nor world famous. You gotta throw some butter, cheese, garlic salt or a second meat into a hamburger before you start calling it world famous. Preferably all 4 in large quantities.

Still, there aren't a lot of options up in the Grayling area. They have a working bathroom (which is a bonus since where we camped didn't have some an amenity), some heat and I imagine some up north hunnies on a weekend night. Stop by for the atmosphere and don't expect too much from the grub.
Comments by Mark Everest
Rating: 4
Matt and I were planning a fly fishing trip in the Grayling / Frederic area and thought we would be able to find some fine chili 'Up North'. I had a business card from Spikes Keg O Nails which offered buy 1 Spike Burger get one free. The mighty internet told us that Spikes served chili so we knew where we were going for lunch. The website also says that 'Wet waders are welcome'. You gotta love a place that caters to the hunters and fisherman.

Spikes is a pretty popular place in Grayling - the parking lot was full as were most of the tables inside. The inside is somewhat cabiny (a word?) - Nice lacquered wood tables and plenty of hunting and fishing stuff about. Chili was still on the menu so we ordered up a bowl and a Spike Burger. Can't wait!

It came, topped with cheese and onion in a Styrofoam cup! What a let down. I know I'm weird on this topic but, I think a restaurant should serve it's food with real plates, bowls, and utensils. I didn't order it to go. Plus it's tomato based and that's kinda gross in Styrofoam. Anyway, I got passed that because they at least gave me a real spoon with which to shovel away. I dug right in and found it to be pretty chunky but that's about it. Hardly any flavor and zero spice. Man, I'm tired of having plain Jane chili. Isn't that on oxymoron? Plain chili. It did eat like a meal - it was pretty hardy - some beans and beef but just not much else. It was closer to a stew than chili because it didn't even have noticeable chili flavoring in there.

I gave the overall enjoyment a 4 mostly because of the nice restaurant surrounding and the heartiness of the chili. The flavor just isn't there.

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