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, January 19, 2009

Tastemakers: The Inaugural Balls

Dining Rick Coates Okay, history is being made this week with Barrack Obama becoming the first African-American President of the United States. President Obama is poised to possibly become one of the greatest presidents of all time, if he is successful in leading this country out of if its current doldrums. Faced with a multitude of challenges -- including two wars and one of the worst financial crises the country has ever seen -- the Obama administration has its work cut out for them.
Monday, January 12, 2009

Tastemakers: Bowers Harbor Inn Big Three Dinner/Monavie Acai

Dining Rick Coates It seems Congress is not the only one willing to help bail out the “Big Three” automakers. Bowers Harbor Inn on the Old Mission Peninsula is currently giving away a free dinner to all who buy or lease a new car made by one of the Big Three automakers. The purchase or lease must take place at a local dealership.
Now, on the surface a free dinner might not seem incentive enough to purchase a new car. But having dinner at Bowers Harbor is not just your average out-to-eat experience. My first fine dining experience (that I recall) as a kid was when I was about 10 and was at Bowers Harbor Inn. The chef came to our table and could tell that I was restless and asked if I wanted to help him out. He said they needed someone to catch frogs from the pond out back so that they might be able to serve fresh frog legs for dinner. So I headed out back. Well, I guess the chef didn’t think I would actually catch any frogs. I ended up catching a dozen and being proud I headed into the kitchen, opened the box, and before I knew it frogs were jumping all over the place -- including into a fry pan and soup pot.
That was a long time ago, and I have dined several times since at the Inn including 20 years ago for my first wedding anniversary. I had my favorite that night and it remains my favorite today: their Fish-in-a-Bag.
Monday, January 5, 2009

Tastemakers: Amical cookbook series Secrets of the Red Lantern/ Michigan Cabernet Franc

Dining Rick Coates I have speculated in previous writings that while cookbooks are great sellers, they are probably the least read after their purchase. I have more than 200 in my collection and at least 50 of them I have never used to prepare a recipe. Recently, my daughter and I started cookbook Sundays where we take one of my cookbooks and create the evening meal from it. I would like to take credit for it, but I stole the idea from Dave Denison at Amical in Traverse City.
Denison has been offering a cookbook series for years at Amical. It starts in November and continues through the first week of May. Along with his culinary team, he creates a menu from a featured cookbook. At Amical the menu is featured for a whole week. I love this concept because it gives you a “try before you buy” opportunity with the cookbook.
Monday, December 29, 2008

Tastemakers: Taste the Local Difference 2009/ MIchigan Sparkling Wine

Dining Rick Coates Last year in my Tastemakers column I pledge to “go local” in my eating and buying habits and to keep track of my efforts and report back a year later. As I wrote that column I stepped on the scale and it was ugly. I was 241 pounds -- 60 pounds more than my wedding day weight. Now there is a danger in working in and writing about the business of food and drink, and weight gain is one of those hazards. My 6’3” frame and my signature sweatshirt look hid those pounds somewhat from the public, but looked and felt like that “s” word.
So I made a decision one year ago to change my approach. One part of that was to watch my consumption habits. I write about the appreciation of food and drink, but I had reached a point of not appreciating what I was consuming. Some weeks I would attend 10 or more events that had “free” food and drink, and I took full advantage.
Monday, December 29, 2008

The Cedar Rustic Inn

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen As near as a hairdresser is to your ear, your stylist might slip in a word about his or her favorite place to dine and drink.
You should listen up.
Hairdresser Mark Lizenby, owner of Hair Force One in Traverse City, has been planting good words about the Cedar Rustic Inn in Cedar. Lizenby is one of many Leelanau County locals who have discovered Cedar’s secret treasure.
“Mark is here every other day, to eat dinner or for carry-out,” says Nikki Ackley, who with husband and chef, Aaron, runs the Cedar Rustic Inn in Cedar. “We didn’t expect local loyalty so early—local people are our bread and butter. We couldn’t make it without them.” said Nikki Ackley.
The Ackleys have an impressive resumé of restaurant and bar experience. Aaron, a four-year graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, has been in the restaurant business since 1989. He has worked at Art’s Tavern, La Senorita, the Homestead, the Casino, Boone’s Prime Time, the Village Inn and the Cove. “We wind up knowing everybody because we’ve worked in so many places,” says Aaron.
“I have bachelor’s in English,” says Nikki. “I tried to find a job teaching, but it didn’t work out, so I waitressed. It prepared me for now.”
Nikki is the restaurant’s front-of-the-house manager. “In the winter I work mostly weekends.” She spends time with the couple’s two children, Annabelle, 4, and Adrienne, 5 months. “In the summer I work full-time.”
Monday, December 22, 2008

Everyone is a local at Art‘s Tavern

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen The ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu once commented on how inexhaustibly rich and different is sameness. He could have been describing Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor. If he’d ever had a conversation with owner Tim Barr, Chuang Tzu would likely have found a philosophical comrade.
“Our philosophy is no change -- but change,” says Barr. Barr’s efforts to keep Art’s the same -- while fostering slow, responsive and renewing change -- has kept summer hordes coming back year after year. “When we needed to put in new windows, we designed a plastic window that looked exactly like the old one. We replaced the old booths and made sure that the angle of the back, and the seat, were as near the same as the old ones. People waiting in line in summer will say to me, ‘Why don’t you put on an addition so you can seat us faster?’ I tell them that then we’d be like every other restaurant.”
Art’s familiar atmosphere has sometimes come with costs the public doesn’t see. “I spent almost half a million to straighten out our sewer system,” says Barr. “It was originally set up as a shared deal with the next door neighbor. I ended up buying the property and set up a state-of-the-art system to treat our waste water.”
The changes that do come are often at the urging of Tim’s wife, Bonnie Nescott. “My wife was the one who, before it was popular, urged me to bring in specialty beers and the different toppings for our burgers. We brought in salads because it was what she liked to eat. Our clientele has changed. When I bought Art’s in 2000, it was just burgers and fries. Now we sell more food than liquor.”
Monday, December 22, 2008

Tastemakers: Christmas Cookies/ Black Star Farms Spirit of the Season

Dining Rick Coates The other day a colleague of mine was talking about making cookies for the annual “Christmas cookie exchange” she participates in with her “girl’s night out” group. Now this Christmas cookie exchange concept was a part idea that Betty Crocker probably dreamed up. In the 1963 edition of her cookbook (my birth year and a gift given to me by my grandmother when I headed to college) she references the idea: “A popular once-a-year party is the Christmas cookie swap party. Friends and neighbors gather each bringing one dozen of her holiday specialty for each woman at the party. Cookies are set out to sample and admire and coffee is served. Afterward each one takes home a wonderful variety of festive cookies.”
Monday, December 15, 2008

A taste of the delicious Mideast at Zakey

Dining Al Parker Restaurant owner Nabiel Musleh is a man on a mission.
“My goal is to provide the most delectable excellent Arabic food experience in Northern Michigan,” says the outgoing owner of Zakey, a cozy little eatery tucked behind Roy’s General Store at the intersection of Three Mile and Hammond roads, south of Traverse City.
A native of Jordan, Musleh came to this country as a teen to get an education. He accomplished that goal by earning three college degrees and soon forged a career of restaurant management. Over the years he worked for a number of restaurants, including Wendy’s, Taco Bell, TGIF, Red Lobster, Applebees, Perkins and Minerva’s.
“Growing up, I had eight brothers and three sisters,” says Musleh. “My Mom would be cooking in the kitchen all day long. When we all got together, it was a celebration.
In 2006, while working two jobs, Musleh ran a booth out of Folgarelli’s Import Food Market on Traverse City’s busy Front Street. Later he brought Middle Eastern fare to Minerva’s at the Park Place Hotel.
“I did Middle Eastern food at Minerva’s and the response was overwhelming,” he says. “I decided to fill the void for Middle Eastern food in Traverse City.”
Monday, December 15, 2008

Tastemakers: Green Winter Solstice Party/Bell‘s Christmas Ale

Dining Rick Coates Chris “Wink” Winkelman has a lot of irons in the fire. He is the front-man for the band Soul Patch. In between gigs he operates the Home Grown Eatery in Traverse City (near the West Bay beach volleyball courts). This weekend Wink is doing something else he enjoys: organizing and promoting a music festival that is rooted in social causes involving the environment and the food we eat. The Green Winter Solstice Party will take place Friday and Saturday night at Short’s Brewery in Bellaire.
The two-night event will feature music from Wink’s band, The Fun-Dub-Mentals both nights, Luke Winslow King on Friday night and Pinky Lee on Saturday night. Offering samples of their products will be the Grain Train, Oryana Food Co-op, Home Grown Organic Eatery, Serenity Tea Bar and Cafe, Higher Grounds Coffee, Unity Fair-Trade Market Place, Paradigm Energy and Short’s Brewery. They will also have representatives on hand to talk about “how to go green” in your daily life.
Monday, December 8, 2008

Tastemakers: Christstollen/Hot Suttered Rum

Dining Rick Coates In The United States the “fruitcake” that makes its appearance this time of the year has become somewhat of a joke. During his heyday Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show often made fun of it, even Jay Leno has the occasional appearance from the “Fruitcake Lady.” Now the fruitcake really has no one to blame but itself for its lack of respect among holiday desserts. Most mass-produced Americanized fruitcakes are a far cry in taste and quality of their ancestors.
During Thanksgiving I found myself traveling through Grayling and noticed a sign for Goodale’s Bakery. I have a passion for neighborhood bakeries so I stopped in. They had just finished making loafs of “stollen,” the German style confection of fruit and nuts. Bakery-made fruitcakes are steeped in European tradition and are no way close to the “hockey-puck” loaf found in chain stores. Known as Christstollen or “Christmas Loaf,” this fruitcake originated in the early 1300s as a tribute to Bishop Henry of Naumberg. Legend has it that the hump shape in the bread is a tribute to the camels that brought the wise men to Bethlehem and the multi-colored candied fruits give the “stained glass” window appearance of churches.
Monday, December 8, 2008

Soulful, Soothing, Serentity

Dining Al Parker In a downtown that is percolating with coffee shops, a Traverse City family business offers visitors a soothing, healthy beverage that has been an integral part of the Zen Buddhist culture for centuries.
Serenity Tea Bar & Café, located in a century-old building across from the historic State Theater, offers 70-some organic, fair-trade specialty tea drinks, plus an impressive menu of organic vegetarian food.
“We really try to focus on having things as local as possible and as natural as possible,” says Jack Fivecoate, who owns and operates the tea bar with his brother Kerry Hanley and their mother Jill Pluckebaum.
Leave the hustle and bustle of Front Street and enter Serenity Tea Bar & Café and the impact is immediate and, well, serene. Visitors are greeted by a gurgling fresh water aquarium and a warm vibe.
For four months the mother and sons worked to renovate the 113-year-old building, stripping away decades of tacky décor and grime. They had to put in the tea bar and upgrade the electrical and plumbing in the ancient building.
“We were remodeling from Dec. 1 to March,” says Kerry. “It was tough.”
Monday, December 1, 2008

The House that Doggs Built

Dining Al Parker Sometimes the business world moves in mysterious ways.
For example, before launching his restaurant in Traverse City almost three years ago, House of Doggs (HOD) owner Nick McAllister eyed a sweet Union Street location that he was unable to nail down. So he opened HOD in a converted house near the east end of Front Street.
After a couple of years, McAllister was able to relocate – right to the site he had originally wanted for his popular hot dog palace.
“The move has worked out great,” says McAllister, who opened in the new location on June 4. “We’re right where we wanted to be and we even have eight convenient parking spots for customers in the rear.”
Like the former location, the new-and-improved House of Doggs reflects McAllister’s love of music and pays a not-so-subtle homage to the House of Blues. Guitars, record albums, posters and dozens of photos, plus an assortment of pop bottle caps, cover the walls and tabletops. Neon signs punctuate the scene, while a mélange of music videos play as customers enjoy their dogs.
Monday, December 1, 2008

Tastemakers: The Bluebird‘s Ethnic Nights/ Short‘s Uber Goober Oatmeal Stout

Dining Rick Coates If you asked Skip Telgard, proprietor of The Bluebird Restaurant in Leland, his favorite time of the year, he will tell you right now. Sure, summers in Leland are hard to beat, but this is “Ethnic Night Season.” The Ethnic Night dinners have become a wintertime tradition at The Bluebird and they resume again this week with food from Greece on December 3-4. Next week the focus is on Italy.
Dinners are served on Wednesday and Thursday nights until spring (with a “Greatest Hits” dinner served at the end of April). One exception to the dates is the “Christmas in Santa Fe” menu, which will be served on Sunday and Monday December 21-22.
Monday, November 24, 2008

All about Thanksgiving Turkey

Dining Kristi Kates Question: Why did the turkey cross the road?
Probably because a group of these birds - often seen in Northern Michigan attempting to slowly and haphazardly cross the road in front of your car - are members of what is called a “rafter,” although they’re often incorrectly called a flock...
It’s thought that this bird is so unintelligent that it will look up directly into a rainstorm until it drowns itself...
And the domestic version of the bird is perceived to be so dumb that it doesn’t know it can’t fly (the wild variety flies quite well, however - at least enough to find itself a perch in a tree.)
In spite of these downfalls, Benjamin Franklin thought of it as a “noble and courageous” bird, and felt it should be the symbol for the new United States of America (it lost, obviously, to the eagle.) But no matter how you, er, slice it, the focus of many Thanksgiving dinners around the country is none other than the turkey.
Monday, November 24, 2008

Tastemakers: The art of seasoning/Forty-Five North Pinot Noir Rose ‘08 Nouveau

Dining Rick Coates The holiday season is here and for most of us, we willbe entertaining guests or taking a dish to a party in the coming weeks. During a conversation with a chef at this past Epicurean Classic, she told me that “Americans over-spice their foods.” We ended up having a long conversation about the “art of seasoning.”
When you take meat, seafood or a vegetable and add spices, ultimately you are doing one of two things: You are either “seasoning” or “flavoring” it. The art of seasoning is to enhance and bring out the natural flavors. Flavoring is an attempt to change to true flavor of the item you are preparing. Here is an example: if you lightly coat a piece of salmon with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, you are seasoning the salmon and bringing out its true flavor. If you coat the salmon with Cajun spices and blacken it, then you have changed the flavor of the salmon.
The “art” of this starts with making a quality selection of whatever it is you are going to prepare. If you seek out the best beef, poultry, seafood etc. from your local market, then you want to be careful not to over season. instead, you want to celebrate the natural flavors. The second step in the process is preparation. In order to enjoy the natural flavors, make sure you have properly prepared the item by not over or under cooking it. The best person to ask is the butcher for preparation ideas.