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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Monday, October 6, 2008

Eat It To Save It

Dining Paula Drury McIntyre From roasted tomato hornworm larvae, to pit-roasted cactus flowers, Gary Paul Nabhan has sampled his share of foods unfamiliar to most of us in Northern Michigan.
A renowned ethnobiologist, conser-vationist, MacArthur “genius grant” recipient and author, Nabhan has traveled the globe, searching out the stories and tastes of many a region’s traditional foods. But his efforts aren’t about saving these foods for the museum shelves; instead, he aims to get these foods back on our plates to savor and enjoy. “Eat it to save it” sums up the approach.
And now his wanderings and his research bring him to Northern Michigan, where he’ll meet with local farmers, chefs, and others to identify foods in need of recovery and to offer assistance to those who wish to return these foods to the table.
He’ll also appear at Horizon Books in Traverse City on Friday, October 10, with local author and longtime friend Stephanie Mills, where each will read from their works and sign books following a local foods tasting.
In 2004, Nabhan joined the collective forces of seven likeminded organizations, including Slow Food USA, to form the Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) collaborative. RAFT’s goal is to help conserve and restore food traditions unique to the continent, and one of its tasks has been to create the first-ever inventory of North American food species and varieties.
Monday, September 29, 2008

Tastemakers: Bockwurst/ Oktoberfestbiers

Dining Rick Coates Okay so Bratwurst is the obvious food of choice for Oktoberfest. But, not so fast. Sure bratwursts are one of the five Bavarian food groups, along with Brauerwurst, Weisswurst , Knockwurst and Bockwurst. All of these, along with several other types of sausage are enjoyed pretty equally during Oktoberfest.
Depending on whom you ask, the Bockwurst style is among the all-time favorite styles of sausage in Germany. After all, it was created in 1889 to go with beer. It has been a staple of German menus ever since, and certainly at Oktoberfest.
Monday, September 22, 2008

Toski Sands

Dining Carina Hume For the past 40 years Toski Sands has been serving up the best in choice meats, fresh produce and hard-to-find ethnic goods in its handy location between Petoskey and Harbor Springs. Named after Northern Michigan’s recreational offerings – “to ski” and “sands” – Toski Sands was built by Dale Bradley and George Gerrie, who opened the separate market and party store businesses in April 1968.
Current owners Sue and Keith McGlaughlin are happy to continue the stores’ traditions of offering a wide variety of product, friendly service and small-store convenience.
“One of the nicest things about a market this size is we pack so many great items into such a small space,” says Keith McGlaughlin. “You can pull up to the door, we’ll guide you through the store if you want and even bring your groceries to your car. It’s the old-school way, with a total focus on customer service.”
Monday, September 22, 2008

Tastemakers: Perry Hotel/Timber Ridge Resort Microbrew Color Tour

Dining Rick Coates In previous Tastemakers I have written about Stafford’s as a company that has helped to raise the culinary excellence standard in Northern Michigan. I am always thrilled when I am invited to attend an event at one of their properties from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs. Stafford’s Hospitality purchased the Perry Hotel in 1989, saving it from the disaster created by Chicago stockbroker Art Curry (see our editorial archives on Art Curry) who bankrupted the operation.
Monday, September 15, 2008

Bigger is better at Gio‘s

Dining Al Parker When looking for a location for his new full-service Italian restaurant, Greg “Gio” Vereyken opted to go big – really big.
Gio, who brings some two decades of restaurant experience to his venture, opened Gio’s Trattoria Grille in a former Ace hardware store along U.S. 131 in Kalkaska. The mammoth space provides 12,000 square feet of space for dining, drinking and entertainment. There’s another 12,000 square feet of storage in the basement.
“I can’t think of anything that’s even close to this (in size),” says Gio with a smile. “Usually you’re trying to use every inch of space, but it’s such a different problem when you’re trying to fill all these square feet.”
Gio and his wife, Crystal, spent about six months of constant work installing interior walls to divide the area into a 2,000-square-foot bar area, a 4,000-square-foot main dining room and a 4,000-square-foot banquet hall. They painted the walls, redid the floors and added Romanesque decorations.
Gio’s mother, Sharon, contributed an artistic touch with murals and wall paintings that lend a distinctive Italian vibe.
Monday, September 15, 2008


Dining Rick Coates These next 30 days in Northern Michigan are my favorite. As the colors change and harvest happens at the wineries, apple orchards and pumpkin patches, this is a great time to tour around our wonderful region. My itinerary always includes a stop in downtown Petoskey. The array of locally-owned shops and eateries and the stunning views of Lake Michigan as a backdrop make Petoskey one of the most sought-after destinations in Michigan year round.
Last year while exploring what was new in Petoskey, I came across Feast Market & Café and immediately fell in love with this contemporary version of the old school deli. Owned by Sarah and Scott Schomak, Feast offers an eclectic menu that may be enjoyed at the café or for take out to the office or home. Petoskey has a nice waterfront park and on a fall afternoon, enjoy a picnic with sandwiches from Feast while over looking Little Traverse Bay and fall colors along the Harbor Springs shoreline.
Monday, September 8, 2008

Epic guys head up the Epicurean Classic

Dining Rick Coates This weekend, The Epicurean Classic will celebrate its fifth anniversary in Traverse City. In five short years the event has become one of the premiere culinary events in the country. It has helped to propel and inspire Northern Michigan to become the “foodie capital” of the Midwest.
The event is loaded with cooking classes and demonstrations and features the authors and chefs of several newly-released cookbooks. The Epicurean also features several wine-tasting opportunities with some of the top wineries and the world’s best wine importers. The three-day affair also includes some of Northern Michigan’s best wineries as well as an assortment of Michigan micro-brewed beers.
The Epicurean Classic was the vision of Mark Dressler and Matt Sutherland, both who work as consultants in the book publishing world. Sutherland has longtime area foodie who has put on culinary events in the past and has been active with several charity culinary/wine events in the region. Dressler has had a longtime passion for food and wine and his work as the program director for the Book Expo—the largest book industry tradeshow—has given him the inside track in attracting several cookbook authors to the Epicurean Classic.
Dressler and Sutherland sat down and reflected on the first five years of the Epicurean Classic, from the frustrations to the celebrations. They also gave some insights as to the future of the Epicurean during their interview.
Monday, September 8, 2008

Tastemakers: Epicurean Dinners/ Grand Reception

Dining Rick Coates From its inception, the Epicurean Classic has incorporated “local” into its format. One of the most popular events during the three-day affair is the Friday night “guest chef” dinners at area restaurants. This year, the dinners have been expanded to 10, and pair at least one -- and in some cases two chefs -- with the culinary team at the local restaurant to create a menu based on the guest chefs’ new cookbooks.
In addition to the guest chefs, area restaurants will each host a top wine importer for a special pairing opportunity for the particular menu of the evening.
According to the Epicurean organizers, the Friday night dinners have become one of the fastest-growing events over the weekend.
Monday, September 1, 2008

Tastemakers: Fat/Tasting Pavillion

Dining Rick Coates My appreciation for “fat” began during my childhood. I remember cutting away the fat from a piece of ham, only to have my grandfather Coates take it from my plate, put some mustard on it and say to me: “Ricky, you’re missing out on the best part of the ham.” If my grandfather were alive today he would be buddies with Jennifer McLagan, the Canadian chef who has been on a mission to put traditional flavors back into the kitchen by using “bones” and “fat.”
Monday, August 25, 2008

Tastemakers: Smoked ribs/ Belgium beer me!

Dining Rick Coates For years Labor Day has ranked as the second biggest BBQ day of the year (Fourth of July is number one).  But grilling year-round even during winter months has become more and more popular. I grill as much outside in the winter as I do in the summer. One of my favorite dishes to make is smoked ribs.
Now, there are a lot of ways to smoke ribs successfully, and trial and error is how you will eventually find what works best for you. Here are tips that have been passed on to me by masters of the grill:
First: “24-hour marinade.” A good friend of mine told me this is the best rule for anything smoked. He said he would follow smoked fish and rib recipes that called for marinating for four hours and that just is not long enough. Of course I have other friends who do not believe in marinades and prefer rubs. The secret here is lightly coat your ribs with olive oil before applying the rubs. I like both ways, so it really is  a matter of preference.
Monday, August 18, 2008

Tastemakers: Michigan blueberries/ Chateau Fontaine

Dining Rick Coates There are certain traditions and rituals that I look forward to each year. One of those is our late August visit to Benzie County. As a fast-paced family of four, this is one of those reconnect weekends. It includes a stop at the Cherry Bowl Drive In, Trick Dog Gallery and Coffee Shop in Elberta, along with an afternoon at the Elberta Beach and dinner at the Cabbage Shed. The next day will include a visit to Gwen Frostic’s gallery and print shop, and then off to Frankfort Beach before an early dinner at the Betsie Bay Inn.
On our way back to Traverse City we will make a two-hour stop at the Baatz Blueberry Farm near the Cherry Bowl Drive In. This is a great family activity and we harvest several pounds each year. The first order of business once we return home is to make fresh homemade blueberry muffins. We enjoy fresh blueberries throughout the week in our oatmeal and pancakes, and over the top of Moomer’s vanilla ice cream. I take a couple of bottles of True North Vodka from the Grand Traverse Distillery and infuse them with fresh blueberries.
Monday, August 11, 2008

Chestnut Valley

Dining Kristi Kates Harbor Springs’ Scott and Kurt LaFave know how to put their money where their golf is. The CMU grads-turned-real-estate-pros, who have been visiting Harbor Springs for the past 40 years (since their days as kids at basketball camp), have embraced a favorite summer vacation destination more than most - by purchasing and revitalizing it. That destination would be Harbor Springs’ Chestnut Valley Golf Course, which was originally established in 1994, fell on hard times in 2006, and was reopened by the LaFave brothers in May of this year.
Monday, August 11, 2008

Tastemakers: The Cook‘s House/Red Bull

Dining Rick Coates A couple of weeks ago in Tastemakers, I listed 31 downtown Traverse City restaurants for visitors and residents to check out during the Film Festival. I was proud of the fact that by memory I was able to list 31 eateries all within a few blocks of each other. Proud until a reader called and said: “How and the hell is The Cooks’ House not on that list?” I sank deep in my chair. I had no excuse, except for the simple fact that the reality of getting older is starting to sink in as I find myself in the early stages of what some call “senior moments.”
A trip to The Cooks’ House is anything but forgettable. Located in the quaint building on Front Street that once housed Patisserie Amie, The Cooks’ House is the creation of chefs Jennifer Blakeslee and Eric Patterson. I was familiar with both of their culinary talents from past projects as Blakeslee was the sous chef at my kids’ school and Patterson used to give cooking demonstrations at Black Star Farms’ Farmer’s Markets and was the chef at Ciao Bella. Their previous joint venture was at Andre’s, a French restaurant in Las Vegas.
There are a lot of things to like about The Cooks’ House. The first is their commitment to local sustainable cuisine. A quick glance on the chalk board and you will find around 35 area farms and growers that comprise the ingredients for their menu. “We shop local first and 95% of our menu comes from things grown or produced in Michigan,” said Patterson. Blakeslee is the daytime chef and Patterson handles the evening shift.
Monday, August 4, 2008

Tastemakers: Elephant Ears/Chateau Grand Traverse Gamay Noir Reserve

Dining Rick Coates When I was hired to manage the Northwestern Michigan Fair 20 years ago, everyone kept telling me about the legendary Gibby’s fries. They were right, and Gibby’s fries have been a staple not only at the fair, but also at the National Cherry Festival for years. I know that people actually go to festivals and fairs just to get Gibby’s fries.
Another staple at county fairs are elephant ears. In Canada (since they don’t have elephants) they are called “beaver tails.” Elephant ears are essentially fried dough flattened out to look like a big elephant ear or beaver tail, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar or cinnamon.
Monday, July 28, 2008

Firefly is TC‘s new party place

Dining Al Parker When they decided to transform their riverfront restaurant 310 into a new eatery, veteran restaurateur Jeff Wiltse and his wife Trish knew exactly what they wanted.
“It was a sign of the times,” explained Wiltse, who also owns and operates Bubba’s Restaurant and Bar, Giovanni’s Roadhouse, Grandview Catering and TC Food to Go. “Fire Fly (Lounge) had always been the most popular part of 310, so we kept the Fire Fly concept and expanded it into a restaurant.”
For whatever reason, the public had wrongly pegged 310 as a high-end, upscale, sort-of-stuffy restaurant, with its Fire Fly Lounge forging its own reputation as a fun, casual party place.
The Wiltses want people to know that the casual party vibe is alive and well in the Fire Fly restaurant. “We want to be known as the party place, a fun-loving bar with killer food,” said Wiltse.