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.

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Tastemakers: North Peak Herbed Fish & Chips/ New Holland Knickerbocher Gin

Rick Coates - February 21st, 2011
North Peak Herbed Fish & Chips
(TC Restaurant Week)
The concept of a “Restaurant Week” in Traverse City is long overdue. A few years ago a week-long celebration (The Festival of the Senses) to promote the culinary and cultural virtues of the region was attempted, but the idea fell short of the mark after only a couple of years. The reason: on the surface the idea of partnering with your competitors seems to go against traditional capitalistic principals.
But next week, 18 restaurants in and around Downtown Traverse City will come together to promote Traverse City Restaurant Week (TCRW) from February 27 - March 5. These “restaurant weeks” are popping up all over the country in communities that understand that having one or two great restaurants is just not enough. The buzzword is “culinary tourism” and restaurants play a pivotal role in one’s travel. It is great to see the local restaurant scene take a page out the wine industry playbook and and start collaborating with each other and to realize that your neighboring restaurants are not your competitors but instead your partners in promotion.
Now it is the responsibility of us in the community to embrace this concept and get out next week and support the local restaurant scene. Use this opportunity to visit a restaurant or two you may not have dined at before. All the restaurants will have a special $25 menu that will offer three courses with the guest getting to select from a variety of offerings in each course. To view the participating restaurants and their menus for TCRW go to downtowntc.com.
I decided to get ahead start and pre-sample the menu at North Peak Brewing Company. Consistent winners year after year in a variety categories in the Northern Express Readers Choice Awards, North Peak has built a reputation of a great lunch spot, a place for family dinners and an after work gathering place for cocktails or their several handcrafted beers.
The North Peak TCRW menu is loaded with several of their menu favorites. For my first course I opted for the Calamari that is dusted lightly with cornmeal and flash fried to perfection and served with an orange horseradish mayo. Since I dine often at North Peak as a member of their Brew Club, I decided to select menu items I have not tried in the past, otherwise I would have ordered the Gorgonzola Dip with cherries and pita chips, my standard appetizer.
For the main course it was the Herbed Fish & Chips. This fresh Great Lakes walleye was dipped in a handcrafted beer batter seasoned with herbs and served with a side of tarragon-ginger tartar sauce, Chinese mustard slaw and pub fries.
This was a hearty dish that I paired with North Peak Pale Ale.
My final course was the Chocolate Seduction Cake with a cup of coffee. This was an exceptional value for $25 and I look forward to my return trip to North Peak (www.northpeak.net) soon, but next week it will be Reflect at Cambria Suites and Mission Table (formerly Bowers Harbor Inn) the two restaurants on the list I have yet to visit. --Rick Coates

New Holland
Knickerbocker Gin

For awhile it seemed like gin was on sabbatical as young professionals were being taught cocktail lessons by professor vodka. Vodka has dominated the cocktail lists in recent years, from martinis to the energy cocktail craze at clubs such as Red Bull and vodka. But gin is back, rested and refreshed and ready to reclaim its glory among the ranks of classic spirits in the world of cocktails.
Three hundred years ago in England “The Gin Craze” catapulted gin to the beverage of choice among the working classes but an “epidemic of drunkenness” also resulted and by the middle of the 18th century on average 3 gallons of gin were being consumed annually per person. Over the next 250 years gin has been on a roller coaster of popularity and sales have been flat until just recently.
The renewed popularity of gin is partly a result of the recent micro-distiller movement in the country. One such micro-distiller leading the way is New Holland Brewery (Holland, MI) which opened their artisan spirits division in 2006 and has been producing, whiskey, rums, brandy, vodka, hopquila and gin.
Knickerbocker Gin was named in honor of the Dutch explorers of the new world and the gin pays tribute by taking an exploratory approach itself. This gin is very aromatic and is twice distilled, infused with flavors from more than a dozen herbs and spices. Typically, gins require some mixer to either enhance or mask flavor. Not Knickerbocker; enjoy this gin over the rocks as is or give it a martini feel and add a couple of olives.
Knickerbocker Gin also makes an excellent martini. Ever wonder why its called a vodka martini? Because a “true martini” is made with gin. Here are a few tips to making a great martini with gin. First, make sure you put your martini glasses in the freezer for a couple of hours. Fill a pitcher or shaker with ice cubes (not crushed or shaved ice this will water down the cocktail), rinse ice cubes first to eliminate any odors absorbed from the freezer. A good ratio is five parts gin to one part dry vermouth. Stir, do not shake (shaking is vodka) for about 20 seconds and strain into well chilled martini glass and add your favorite garnish.
To learn more about Knickerbocker Gin or the other artisan spirits from New Holland Brewery check out www.newhollandbrew.com or look for their products at area speciality stores and restaurants. --Rick Coates
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