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 · Phil‘s on Front
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Phil‘s on Front

Nancy Krcek Allen - April 20th, 2009
New Bistro Destination: Phil‘s on Front

By Nancy Krcek Allen

Northern Michigan foodies will be happy to know that Phil Murray, former chef-owner of the popular restaurant, Windows, is back in the kitchen. This February Murray opened Phil’s on Front, a bistro and chocolate lounge.
Murray’s hits just keep on coming.
In 2006, after 21 years at Windows, Murray retired from restaurants. “I took lots of naps. I went bicycle riding. I opened Chocolate Exotica (and Windows Catering at West Front Market).” Murray smiles. “Then I got tired of having nights, weekends and holidays off.”
After a mission trip to Peru with Bob Foote and other eye doctors (no, he didn’t feed them—he helped with eye exams), Murray got a call from the owner of Ciao Bella, the space where Phil’s on Front is now located. “I think I had $19 in the bank,” says Murray. “I called old customers and investors and they came through. January 21 we began negotiating. We closed on February 2 and by February 12, we opened.”
Murray’s philosophy is simple: make people happy. “This is bistro versus fine dining,” says Murray. “Fine dining has died, it’s passed away. Here I do what I was doing at Windows for half the price. People would come out on a special occasion and spend $32 on duck. Here it’s $17. Now I see people coming in two or three times a week.”
Murray’s menu changes daily. He always features four or five fresh seafood dishes like crab, salmon, grouper, cod and mahi mahi. Perch and walleye show up when available. Offering from a recent menu were Roasted Vegetable Salad ($10), Barbecued Shrimp ($8), Lamb Shanks Provençal ($16), Prime Short Ribs of Beef ($16), Ahi Tuna Tamari ($16) and Blue Lump Crab Cakes served with Creole Meuniere ($18).

“I have always liked Phil’s food and how passionate he is,” says long-time Windows fan, Bob Purvis of Suttons Bay. “He wants to put out beautiful food with rich flavor. What impressed me most about his new place was the price. There probably wasn’t a dish over $20.”
“I think Phil is a fabulous cook and a fun guy,” says Purvis’s wife, Suzanne Rogers. “It’s different here (from Windows): he’s not serving those extravagantly beautiful vegetable plates, which no one but Bob and I probably ate—so I was thrilled to have a generous pile of garlicky fennel and roasted vegetables under my scallops.”
Murray’s trendy and innovative “chocolate lounge” is packed most nights. “I thought that we’d sell lots of red wine and chocolate,” says Murray, “but it’s the martinis that are off the charts. That was totally a shock. I recently had a Funky Monkey (Crême de Banana, Bailey’s, White Chocolate Godiva and Vanilla Vodka—$8) and thought, ‘my god this is good,’ so I had another. You really can’t taste the alcohol. I had to walk home.”
Caitlyn Fouch is the bar manager and drinkmeister. She’s responsible for the Funky Monkey and 39 other drinks gracing the drinks menu and chalkboard in the Chocolate Lounge like: Coconut Key Lime Pie ($7), Mango Madras ($5), Death by Chocolate ($8), Fudge Cycle ($7), Caramel Apple ($7) and White Chocolate Raspberry Martini ($8).

With these drinks, who needs dessert? But you really don’t want to miss Murray’s desserts.
Trained as a classically trained chef and saucier 30 years ago, Murray continues to take training in chocolate and pastry. “I took my first chocolate class in 1983,” says Murray. “I’ve taken six or seven more with pastry chefs brought over from France. It built my foundation. I think dessert makes people happy.” The restaurant’s dessert menu reflects Murray’s passion for pastry and dessert with Phil’s Soon to Be Famous Bread Pudding ($6), house made ice cream ($6), Classic Ricotta Cheesecake ($6) and Chocolate Paté ($6). Murray’s already-famous chocolate truffles shine serenely at diners from a glass-fronted case in the Chocolate Lounge.
“I don’t need a lot of money,” says Murray. “My goal for the restaurant is to give back, to create fellowship in the community.” With the downtown location, generous menu, fun atmosphere—and we can’t forget the chocolate—Murray is well on his way.
Call ahead for special nights like:
Monday: Half off entrées for those in the hospitality industry
Tuesday: Glass of wine $5.50/$6
Wednesday: Ladies half off everything except martinis
Thursday: Martini night—all martinis $6
Sunday: Family meals with choice of entrée, soup salad and dessert start at $9.50 per person.

Phil’s on Front Restaurant & Chocolate Lounge is located at 236 East Front Street in Traverse City. Open for dinner and drinks from 4p.m. until the last person leaves, usually 10p.m. weekdays and midnight on weekends. Look for lunches soon. Call 231-929-1710.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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