When Scott Neumann agreed to run the restaurant inside the Cambria Suites hotel, he figured he would be working under a set of corporate guidelines. “The Cambria model is geared toward a very simple menu: Burgers, salads, the breakfast buffet,” says Neumann.
Though he had successfully run Scott’s Harbor Grill, his own restaurant overlooking the west shore of West Bay for 20 years, Neumann was prepared for some rules.
So much for expectations. Cambria Suites owner Alex Mowczan gave Neumann complete freedom to recreate Reflect Bistro in his own image. And while the breakfast buffet (with made-to-order omelets), salads and burgers remain, the rest of the menu is diverse, hewing back to many of the favorites from Scott’s.
“Alex said, ‘Do what you need to do. I want it to be known as a restaurant’ when he brought me on,” says Neumann.
So out went the cheesecake balls on a stick, and in came the shrimp pasta.
Reflect boasts not only a cozy dining room, but also a bar and lounge area, somewhat unexpected treats for a relatively modest-sized corporate motel.
Moreover, from September to mid-June, the lounge hosts live jazz every Thursday with Jeff Haas and Friends. Locals and guests alike typically fill the lounge, sometimes to overflowing.
The entire menu is available throughout the facility, so whether you’re eating in the dining room, at the bar, or in the lounge, you can choose from starters, entrées and desserts.
Neumann’s reputation followed him to Reflect Bistro, and as word spread of his new endeavor, former Scott’s patrons began to trickle in – and ask about their favorites.
“My old customers heard I was here. They asked for what they’d order there,” he says.
Sometimes that worked, and other times he found he needed to reinvent. “We tried the fish tacos,” he says, but they weren’t selling. So they became shrimp tacos and caught on immediately.
Another popular choice at his former eatery was the blue cheese dip. “I thought, ‘here’s a winner.’ But it didn’t sell at all,” he says wryly. Instead, he turned to a cream cheese dip enhanced with spinach, artichokes and herbs, and it immediately became popular.
The menu at Reflect isn’t necessarily extensive, but it manages to hit most all the sweet spots (that includes desserts like flourless chocolate cake, cheesecake, and cherry bread pudding). Small plates start things off: Caprese bruschetta, Philly cheesesteak eggrolls, black bean nachos, and customers’ favorite spinach and artichoke dip served with warm fried pita topped with Parmesan.
Among the entrées are staples from the waters like walleye, coconut fried shrimp, and sesame seared ahi tuna, as well as ribs and teriyaki-enhanced beef tenderloin kabobs.
Salads include the Ensalada Cancun (a former Harbor Grill favorite), with grilled chicken, black beans, olives, radishes and jicama on mixed greens; a raspberry chicken and cashew salad with avacado and fresh berries; and steak and romaine wedge with hard-cooked egg, hot and sweet maple bacon, and Gorgonzola dressing. Featured sandwiches are the ahi tuna grill, grilled turkey club, and a half-pound burger.
At lunch, the sandwich menu expands with the addition of a Jamaican jerked chicken grill; a Cuban sandwich with ham, pork and provolone; and a portabella mushrooms grill with horseradish aioli on grilled rosemary ciabatta. Specialties include a chicken fajita wrap, buffalo chicken tenders, quesadillas and omelet of the day (though the lunch items aren’t listed on the dinner menu, they remain available throughout the day).
The former owner of Scott’s Harbor Grill, Scott Neumann now runs Reflect Bistro at Cambria Suites in Traverse City.
The crab cakes are srved with a fiery sriracha cocktail sauce.
The Asian Lettuce Wraps are beautiful, tasty, and a popular choice. Photos by Cathy Boissoneau
“The most popular entrée is the salmon,” says Neumann. The fish is grilled, then basted with a maple glaze reduction and finished in the oven. Neumann says the maple syrup is locally sourced from Olds Brothers in Kingsley, then enhanced with chili pepper flakes, ginger and garlic. “It’s wonderful,” he says.
The bison meatloaf is a newer creation. Neumann says he was looking for a way to customize the old standby, and bison “is an up-Northy kind of thing. It sells like crazy.”
For slightly smaller appetites, Neumann points to the stir-fry lettuce wraps, with stirfried chicken, Asian vegetables and cashews, surrounded by crispy romaine shells. “People love them. They look like a flower,” he says.
Those with a sweet tooth have a bevy of choices, though it’s hard to top the fresh berries in a Grand Marnier-enhanced whipped cream. It’s light and flavorful.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Neumann is delighted to be bringing many of his favorite dishes – and customers -- from across town at the former Scott’s to Reflect. That includes Taco Tuesdays, now changed to Taco Thursdays. Patrons can get seafood tacos for $4; margaritas and Coronas are also $4.
Though it is a corporate enterprise, Neumann looks to local sources for as many products as he is able to get. “We buy local when we can,” he says.
All of Reflect’s draft beers are local.
Sandwiches start at $9, salads at $6 and starters at $7.50. Entrées start at $16.
Reflect is located inside Cambria Suites at 255 Munson in Traverse City. It is open daily from 6am to 11pm.
Online, go to TraverseCityCambriaSuites.com or look for it on Facebook.
Clockwise from top left: Cambria Suites dining room (photo courtesy of Cambria)