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: Red Ginger Volcano Pork/ Michigan Craft Brewed Beer

Rick Coates - February 7th, 2011
Red Ginger Volcano Pork
Take away the snow and add 50 degrees and this weekend in downtown Traverse City might seem more like the middle of July than the middle of February. With two high profile events--The Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival and The Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival taking place--along with a full musical lineup at downtown nightspots, larger than normal crowds are expected this weekend. Finding a seat at a local eatery might be a challenge so plan early and when possible make a reservation.
Even with major events taking place, I have noticed recently that several downtown eateries have been packed, including mid-week. Just a couple of weeks ago I stopped at Red Ginger on Wednesday night late in the evening to find a pretty full restaurant. This comes at no surprise to regular diners at the downtown Traverse City restaurant scene.
Since opening a little over three years ago, Red Ginger has become a popular dining destination. Located right next to the State Theatre, Red Ginger along with Amical and Phil’s on Front have become popular pre and post movie gathering spots.
Red Ginger’s executive chef Dan Marsh (also co-owner with his wife Pam) and his team deliver night in and night out on quality and consistency while continually experimenting and blending traditional and contemporary approaches to their dishes rooted in Asian style cuisine.
While typically I find myself ordering a selection of small plates or off the sushi menu which is popular with many, one should not over look the main plate menu offered at Red Ginger. I enjoyed the Volcano Pork, which was an oven-roasted-fall-off-the bone pork shank set on their house-made spaetzle and topped with wok seared shiitake mushrooms, baby spinach, baby arugula and a white soy broth. It was worth venturing down the menu to make this discovery.
My meal was exceptional but equally important was the service. With so many great restaurants in the region, often what sets the great ones apart from the good ones is service. Red Ginger is in that “great” category and in my several visits the service has always been spot on including this last time as my server Walter never missed a beat. It was obvious that Walter knew in great detail every offering on the menu. He answered questions, romantically described menu items and flavors and guided my wife and me to our selections that evening. I am often challenged at recommending places to eat, not because of the quality of food but because of inconsistent service. This is not the case at Red Ginger.
So if you are visiting the region this weekend, be prepared for crowded restaurants, plan ahead and if you are fortunate to dine at Red Ginger you won’t be disappointed. For a look at the Red Ginger menus go to www.eatatredginger.com where you may also make reservations online or call them at 231-944-1733. --Rick Coates

Michigan Craft
Brewed Beer

At this weekend’s Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival, Michigan made beer will be taking center stage. Many of the 40 plus breweries on hand will be from Michigan with several of those from Northern Michigan. The modern beer industry, better known as craftbrewing, is still in its infancy. Here in Michigan, laws were introduced and passed in the late ’80s and early ’90s allowing for the creation of brewpubs and microbreweries.
In 20 years Michigan’s thriving brewing industry is contributing over $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million annually to the Michigan economy. In terms of the overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation with 80 plus breweries and more on the way. The Michigan Brewers Guild, which represents most of the state’s breweries, has proclaimed Michigan “The Great Beer State.”
Locally, several breweries are thriving. Short’s in Bellaire recently added a major production facility in Elk Rapids to keep up with demand. Rumor has it that Right Brain Brewery in the Warehouse District of Traverse City is also looking to expand their production facilities.
Twenty years ago, restaurants and bars wouldn’t think of not having Budweiser or Miller products on tap, today that holds true for Michigan made beers. Some restaurants and pubs are even going as far to offer only craftbrewed beers on tap.
After this weekend’s Microbrew & Music Festival that is expected to draw 3,000 plus, the 6th Annual Michigan Winter Beer Festival takes place in Grand Rapids on Saturday February 26 at the Fifth-Third Ball Park. The 5,000 tickets for this event are almost sold out. Coming next month is the popular Suds ‘n’ Snow Festival at Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City and also Brewski Fest at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs.
Michigan beer is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Events like this weekend’s Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival offer a great opportunity to sample and seek out the latest offerings from Michigan brewmasters. For more information on the Michigan beer scene check out www.michiganbrewersguild.org. --Rick Coates
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