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: SlabtownCafe & Burgers Slabby Patty/Guiness Foreign Extra Stout

Rick Coates - February 14th, 2011
Slabtown Cafe & Burgers Slabby Patty
Trying to find the best burger in Northern Michigan is no easy task. In my travels I have come across many with Bubba’s, Mulligan’s and Don’s Drive In among my favorites in Traverse City. Certainly the Side Door Saloon and the recently opened Bay Burger in Petoskey are regular stops for me as well. My all time favorites have been the McMode Burger from Mode’s Bum Steer in Traverse City and the Tally Burger at Tally’s in Lewiston. 

Now Miller’s Bar in Dearborn is considered by many a connoisseur to be not only the best burger in Michigan but among the best in the country. Recently GQ Magazine cited Miller’s as one of the 20 best burgers in America. For the past several years it has won just about every people’s choice award in the Detroit area for best burger. The Miller burger is basic, no flair but juicy served on paper, the place is a poster child for Guy Fieri’s show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Sure, there is no shortage of great burgers up here in the North country and now enter into the mix the Slabby Patty from Slabtown Cafe & Burgers on West Front Street in Traverse City. Owned by Jeff “Pungi” Pownell and Toni Dye who, in just two short years, have found themselves among the top burger joints in the region.

While there is literally a burger for everyone on the menu (plus assorted sandwiches, soups and salads) the Slabby Patty ranks among the favorites. The half pound burger is stuffed with American cheese and topped with ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Order medium well for a juicy, flavorful burger, toss in a side of fresh cut fries or onion rings with one of the local Northwoods Sodas on tap, and you are out the door for under $10. Inspired by Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Pownell and Dye serve their burgers in paper bags. 

The combination of a flavorful burger, fresh ingredients and quick service (five to ten minutes at most) has made Slabtown Cafe & Burgers a happening place. While summertime affords outside dining during, these winter months indoor seating is limited, but the etiquette of the place requires you to share your table if you have empty seats. The secret at lunch time is to arrive early by 11:30 or order to go. 

While there are many tempting items on the menu, if you go for dinner, try the Slabtown Surf and Turf that consists of a healthy portion of smelt along with a cheeseburger, and large drink for $8.50.

Slabtown Cafe and Burgers is located at 826 W. Front St. in Traverse City. to see their menu check out www.slabtownburgers.com or find them on Facebook. To order take out call 231.932.1760.

--Rick Coates

Guinness Foreign 
Extra Stout

ast October Guinness reintroduced its Foreign Extra Stout (FES) into the United States. Guinness has been one of the most popular beers in the world since the brewery opened in Dublin, Ireland in 1759. Guinness is so popular that over 10 million glasses are sold every day around the world, and 1.8 billion pints are sold every year. Guinness  is available in over 100 countries, and while the flagship brewery is the St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, it is brewed at 45 breweries around the world to ensure freshness. 

I was introduced to Guinness Extra Stout while in college during an oyster eating contest when it was recommended to me by the bartender as the best beer to drink while eating oysters. I have been a fan ever since. Guinness is my plane crash beer. This is the time of year that I attend several beverage trade shows where there are hundreds of beers and wines available for tasting. Since it is impossible to taste everything being offered, I ask each vendor to tell me if I am on a plane that is crashing and I have time to enjoy one glass of wine or beer, which one should it be? This is my way to get them to tell me what’s best at their table. If I was on a plane and they announced we were crashing, I would want a Guinness to be my last beer.

Guinness FES is not a new beer, it was first brewed in 1801, made its way to the United States in 1817, and was discontinued in 1920 when Prohibition started. Foreign Extra Stout was originally brewed with extra hops, giving the beer a more intense flavor. The extra hops also acted as a natural preservative allowing it to survive long journeys overseas. Today FES is not only brewed with extra hops but a generous portion  of roasted barley resulting in a  bittersweet mouthfeel and a full-flavored, natural bite. 

Best enjoyed in a beer goblet to allow the aromas to swirl, Guinness FES pairs great with clam chowder, grilled seafood and chocolate dessert. It is available throughout Northern Michigan at retailers who sell specialty beers. --Rick Coates
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