Happy Hour

A weekly snapshot of Happy Hours around the region…

Everyday, open-7 p.m., $1.75 highballs, $2.50 house chardonnay, $2.00 drafts, $1.00 off everything else.
310 Cass St., Traverse City

Sunday-Thursday, 3-6 p.m., $1 off all drinks.
422 North 5th St., Roscommon

Lulu's Bistro
Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., $3 wells, $2 off drafts, select $5 wines.
213 N. Bridge St., Bellaire

Boyne River Inn
Everyday, 3-6 p.m., 1/4 off drinks.
229 Water St., Boyne City
Rendezvous Lounge, Odawa Casino
Thursday & Friday, $2.25 domestic drafts, $3.25 well drinks, $3.25 house wine.
1760 Lears Rd., Petoskey

Choice Bits!

Round-the-region snapshots of the dining scene. 

RUTHIE'S CHICKEN & DAIRY TWIST: Roasted chicken and ice cream, malts and shakes.
201 N. Bridge Ln., Bellaire. 213­-533­-8538.

Practically an Up North institution, the place to find out the latest fishing or snowmobile news from the locals and visitors who gather for their hearty breakfasts, steaks, burgers, soup & salad bar, & homemade desserts.
10921 Main St., Honor. 231­ 352­6585.

When you've worked up an appetite from all the bowling and karaoke that Boyne City Lanes has to offer, you'll find a selection of hearty fare to choose from, including homemade soups & desserts. Cocktails are served at the Lanes,with live entertainment and glow ­bowling nights.
1199 West Boyne Road, 231-­582­-6353.

Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner. Full Chinese menu, as well as Hunan & Szechuan entrees.  Daily specials, special combination plates,  a lunch & dinner All You Can Eat Buffet. 
616 S. Mitchell St., Cadillac, 231­-876­-8888.

Take a trip back to the '50s where chili dogs & frosted mugs of root beer are still served up by carhops at this All ­American institution. Elvis has been known to make an appearance during their annual summer “A&W Cruise Night” in August, as do cars from the 50’s and 60’s that we remember well.
At the bottom of the hill, 21 Lake St., Frankfort,  231-­352-­9021.

From Antler Ale to Wolverine Wheat, Big Buck specializes in microbrewed beers. Offering the usual beef and buffalo burgers, steaks, and ribs, plus more unusual fare, like their portabella sandwich with red onion marmalade and provolone cheese.
550 S. Wisconsin Avenue, Gaylord, 989­-732-­5781.

A refined atmosphere, subdued lighting, and an appetizing selection of epicurean treats awaits the diner at this Harbor Springs corner landmark. Menu selections range from their smoked whitefish ravioli appetizer to their Atlantic salmon, baked polenta and eggplant, tomato basil fettuccine, or filet mignon ­ and their brunches include one of the best versions of Eggs Benedict around.
101 State Street, downtown across from Bar Harbor, 231­-526-­1904.

Pool tables, a full bar, friendly service and a varied menu make the Village Inn popular with families and locals.  Dinners include Lamb Skewers, Blue Corn Enchiladas, Charbroiled Whitefish, Lasagna and Ribeye.  Also burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and pizza.  Lunch and Dinner.
Just north of the blinking light 116601 Lacorre Ave. on M­22,  Empire. 231-326­-5101.

One of Petoskey's first restaurants, Jesperson's is famous for homemade pies and fresh turkey. Breakfast and lunch.
312 Howard, Petoskey, 231­-347­-3601.
Located in Building 50, grilled panini's, soups, wraps, baked goods, specialty coffees and teas.
1200 W. 11th St., Traverse City, 231-­947­-7740.

Home · Articles · News · Dining · Half Shell Heaven
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Half Shell Heaven

Sandra Serra Bradshaw - January 26th, 2006
It might be cold and snowy outside, but step into Whitney’s Oyster Bar & Pub of Charlevoix and be greeted by the warmth of both atmosphere and staff. Owned by Chuck and Gina Whitney, the restaurant was opened on July 4, 1992. Winters offer a respite from the summer crowds – a relaxing nautical atmosphere, muted lighting and background jazz piped in. The restaurant is widely renowned for its oysters, and locals are happy Whitney’s is open year ‘round.
“We have been doing this a long time,” said Whitney, who, with his wife Gina, makes sure things are impeccably run. “We take pride in our restaurant – we have built our reputation on hard work and great food. But the third item we stress – and stress it most - is customer service. Many of the up north restaurants have seasonal workers – they come and go. We try to bring in local staff and thoroughly train them to our expectations and keep them on. We try to bring in local kids as bussers; when they turn 18 they are off to college and come back during the summer to train as servers.
“Twenty plus of our servers have been here at least two years,” he added. “We are proud that our service gives the big city feel and our patrons know this and appreciate it.”
Of note, the restaurant employs 16 persons in the winter and 60 in the summer – they are that busy!
A good 80% of Whitney’s diners come from Traverse City. “We consider all of Northern Michigan as our ‘local’ community,” explained Whitney. “And now they know our second floor is dedicated to non-smoking, which is getting to be a very big thing in the industry.”

The establishment is modeled after an oyster bar Whitney visited back east during the early ’70s.
“I traveled to around 75 oyster bars along the Hudson River and all the way between Maine and New York to research how I wanted our restaurant to be,” he said.
The oyster bar he styled his restaurant after had been in business since the early 1700s. “It was an inn, butcher shop and tavern then,” Whitney said. “People would stop there to drink good beer, eat good food and stay overnight on their way to New York City – they were known as ‘the drovers’ – they drove their cattle and sheep – walking all the way from their various farms to take their livestock to slaughter in the city.”
The top two floors of Whitney’s overlook Round Lake Basin and the marina with beautiful views. The third floor – open in summer only – is an open-air deck, where cold appetizers and drinks are served – very popular with the college student crowd. “It is filled to the gills with young people enjoying the food, drink and company,” said manager Paul Audrzenjewski.
The oyster bar is very popular.
“We serve the finest oysters you can get – the Malpeques from Prince Edward Island,” Paul explained. “They have an unequalled taste and a superior appearance.”
Oysters are versatile seafood, and Whitney’s serves them in many ways.
“In the shell they can be baked, steamed, grilled, or used in specialty dishes such as Oysters Pommery – we make our own special pommery sauce for the oysters and it’s also great on the crab cakes as well, and other seafood. We also serve our oysters fried. Our sous-chef, Simon Perron, has been here seven years – he knows his stuff and is just excellent.”
An extensive menu is sure to please any diner. For starters, cold appetizers include oysters on the half shell, jumbo peel and eat shrimp, smoked Norwegian salmon or smoked whitefish pâté. If you can’t decide which to choose, Whitney’s offers a combination cold platter as well.
Hot appetizer offerings include escargot, twin Maryland crab cakes, five different kinds of quesadillas, fried oysters (most popular), and shrimp Whitney served with spicy breadcrumbs and a special sauce.
A variety of salads include Michigan field greens, Whitney’s Caesar in four varieties, chef salad, and a tossed side salad.
If you are in the mood for a sandwich, there are many to choose from: John Cross of Charlevoix’s whitefish served on a Kaiser roll, yellow fin tuna, or pan-fried oyster. For the non-seafood eater, Whitney’s offers grilled cheese, ground round, open-faced rib eye, BLT’s, club sandwich and grilled breast of chicken sandwiches. Homemade soups are also on the menu, such as New England clam chowder, Whitney’s seafood chowder, or the chef’s soup of the day.
Whitney’s offers veggie, chicken, shrimp and chicken Caesar wraps rolled in Lavash bread and served with lettuce, tomato, onion and Parmesan cheese and your choice of dressing on the side.
Main course shellfish selections on the menu are mouthwatering - my dinner was two generous sized Maryland crab cakes that were seasoned to perfection and served with crispy carrots and green beans with hand-planked fried potatoes. Other selections include shrimp scampi, oyster stew, fried oysters dusted with cornmeal – a definite favorite among patrons – steamed mussels tossed with sherry, tomato, green onions over linguini, clam linguini in a traditional white wine sauce and scallops à la Whitney in a delectable creamy ginger sauce.
Fresh fish dinners include John Cross’ whitefish, King Salmon, and yellow-fin tuna. Fowl food lovers may choose from chicken and shrimp curry over rice with raisins and coconut, chicken Marsala on linguini, or a half herb-roasted chicken with a warm artichoke tapanade. Fresh Angus beef on the menu includes New York strip steak or beef tenderloin filet. Nightly dinner specials are offered, which can range all the way between pot roast and blackened salmon over rice with a Boursin sauce, depending on Chef Perron’s whim.
To top off my meal experience, my waitress, Brienna, served up their signature drink - an awesome bloody Mary, which I thoroughly enjoyed “virgin style.” It is another of Whitney’s secret recipes and one I am trying to duplicate at home. There is the usual spicy taste to the drink but then a certain hint of sweetness. “People come in just for our bloody Marys,” Audrzenjewski said.
I had to turn down dessert but was sent home with Whitney’s sumptuous chocolate cheesecake.
Entertainment is offered with Karaoke on Tuesday evenings during the winter. On Saturdays Nelson Olstrum entertains. “He is a favorite in the north and has been playing his Margaritaville style music for the last four years here,” explained Paul. “He is our in-house one-man band and very popular with our patrons.”

Whitney’s Oyster Bar of Charlevoix is located at 307 Bridge Street, downtown Charlevoix (231) 547-0818.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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