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 · Al Fresco at Amical
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Al Fresco at Amical

Nancy Krcek Allen - May 25th, 2009
Alfresco at Amical
Dave Denison brought a vision for outdoor dining to downtown TC

By Nancy Krcek Allen

In 1993, when would-be restaurateur and chef Dave Denison and partners leased a former quilt store on Front Street, they knew outdoor dining would give their restaurant a special place in diners’ hearts. So with considerable expense, they pushed the building back, engineered a support system underneath it and poured 22,000 pounds of concrete.
It cost more than anticipated. “(I know) people thought, ‘what are you doing? It’s just a coffee shop,’” says Denison. “We felt it would differentiate us from every other place. I still don’t know who has a completely covered patio street side. There are people who make a special trip Up North every year. In their minds they are saying, ‘I’m going to eat outside and I’m going to eat at Amical.’ I’ve had people just run and sit down—like musical chairs. It’s like they won the lottery. You’ve got to smile, because that’s what the patio is all about.”
Amical’s patio seats 31 guests. With its roof, drop screens and gas infrared heaters, you can dine outdoors spring, summer and fall—with an occasional winter day thrown in.
“New Year’s Eve two years ago we served out there,” says Denison. “It was full of people during the day and at night. If it’s around 25 to 30 degrees—and not windy, it’s not bad—and if we put pads on the seats, fire up all the heaters and it gets full, it’s warm.”

Restaurateurs are no strangers to jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Outdoor seating has strict rules and regulations—especially if the restaurant serves liquor. That’s why you must have staff seat you at Amical. “You have to have control,” says Denison. “If you look at the deck at Scott’s Harbor Grill—there’s a way to get off the deck, but you can’t go in that way. You have to go through the restaurant and past the hostess. The Liquor Control Commission needs to know who is sitting where, so no drinks are sneaked off.”
The City monitors outdoor dining too. They enforce the liquor laws and make sure there is room for people to walk past. There must be a five-foot clearance from the curb or from the nearest obstacle in front (like a tree) to the edge of the seating area. If it juts out onto city property, the restaurant must remove it nightly.
Denison started his culinary career in Birmingham, Michigan. He met his wife, Nancy, who was a waitress at a restaurant, and they moved to California. Denison nabbed a job as a regional chef for a corporate restaurant chain and traveled around L.A., San Francisco and Sacramento. In 1989, the Denisons moved back to Michigan; in 1990 La Senorita hired Denison as their corporate chef and he traveled from Traverse City to Petoskey, Saginaw and Mt. Pleasant. Denison went on to work for two years with Jim Milliman at Hattie’s in Suttons Bay, going from corporate Mexican into fine dining.

Denison’s Amical is now in the enviable position of what realtors and restaurateurs say all successful restaurants must have: location, location, location. “This didn’t always feel like a good location,” says Denison. “But, we felt that being on the 100 to 200 block of Front Street in Traverse City was the place to be. Regardless of what was happening, the Bay was not going anywhere. It took a lot of perseverance, a lot of belief and some capital to keep doing it. We had to wait it out and get people to discover us. So it evolved into a good location.”
Indeed, Amical’s patio, downtown location and French and Mediterranean bistro-style restaurant featuring a creative menu, eclectic wine list, award-winning desserts and cookbook-themed dinners, have won them a special place among Traverse City restaurants.
Lunch offers soups like French Onion ($4/$6) and house favorite Tomato Soup En Croute ($6), appetizers like Monterey Crab Cakes ($11) and Sesame Seared Tuna, an array of salads like Asparagus-Citrus Salad ($10) or Blackened Salmon Caesar ($11) and entrées like Shrimp with Israeli Couscous ($12), Chicken Pot Pie ($10), quiche, cracker crust pizzas, pasta, omelets, sandwiches, wraps and crepes.
Dinner is the lunch menu with more. Start with soup or appetizers like Pâté de Maison ($9) and Five-Onion Mussels ($12), many salads, and complete entrées like Roasted Chicken ($16), Marinated Stuffed Portobello ($17), Pappardelle with Braised Lamb ($18), Sugarcane-Marinated Duck ($20) or Slow Braised Local Rabbit ($22).
Sunday brunch offers omelet choices ($8/$9), egg filled-croissants ($8), Amical French Toast with almond Bavarian crème and berries ($10), Fresh Fruit Crêpe ($7), Belgian Waffle with fruit ($8), Sautéed Tilapia on wilted spinach and mushrooms ($11), Simple Breakfast with scrambled eggs, potatoes, fruit and bread ($7) and Eggs Milano—basted eggs, tomato polenta and shaved ham with pesto hollandaise ($9).
“Our guests say over and over, ‘you know, every time I come here it’s consistent—it’s good service and good food.’ That’s important to us,” says Denison. “It’s boring to some, but it’s hard to do. Our goal is to keep improving—because you’re only as good as your last meal.”

229 E. Front Street Traverse City, MI 49684
(231) 941-8888 FAX (231) 941-8893
Dinner served nightly 5:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Lunch served Monday - Saturday at 11 a.m.
Sunday Brunch served 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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