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, April 6, 2009

Tastemakers: Bear Claw Brewery steak stackers/Sirius maple dessert wine

Dining Rick Coates Bear Claw Brewery Steak Stackers
The general rule of thumb is that most places do one thing real well and everything else just okay. For example, nightclubs and bars that have live music are typically known for their music or good dance scene. Rarely are they known for their food. But there are exceptions, and during my travels through Northern Michigan I have come across many a tavern that has excellent food. For example, the Clear Lake Bar north of West Branch has some of the best walleye anywhere. The Side Door Saloon in Petoskey has great burgers. The perch on Friday night at the U&I Lounge in Traverse City is hard to beat. For years I have been heading to Happy Hour Tavern (north of Leland) for their burgers and whitefish sandwich.
Monday, April 6, 2009

Thai this

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Thai This...
New café offers a taste of Thailand

By Nancy Krcek Allen

It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes an extended family, five kids and two cities to raise a restaurant. Not to mention talent, determination, nerves of steel and hard work. Myker Vang Hang has them all. Myker and her husband, Cheng Hang, are the owners of the newly opened Thai Café in Traverse City.
Monday, March 30, 2009

Good things happen at Shirley‘s

Dining Robert Downes Good things happen at Shirley‘s
Robert Downes 3/30/09

The first thing you notice about Shirley’s Café Family Restaurant in Mancelona is the vibrant energy of the place. The restaurant gleams spic and span; there are plenty of smiles on the faces of the staff; and there always seems to be a good crowd of customers, drawn by the generous portions of good food.
That positive energy positively radiates from owner Shirley Tracey, who established the restaurant on US 131 in Mancelona just a year and four months ago. Since then, word-of-mouth has made it one of the most popular stops in Antrim County.
Monday, March 30, 2009

Small town Fusion offers big city fun

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Small town Fusion offers big city fun
Nancy Krcek Allen 3/30/09

When Bobbiesee and Va Chong Ku decided to start looking for a restaurant, Bobbiesee’s father told them to “just drive down U.S. 31.” So they did. In 2003, the Kus bought the former Joann’s in downtown Frankfort and turned it into a thriving Pan-Asian restaurant. “We fell in love with Frankfort,” says Bobbiesee. “We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
In May 2008, the Kus bought and remodeled the former Rhonda’s Wharfside, just down the block from their first restaurant. The new Fusion takes you by surprise with its sleek, big-city look. “Our intention,” says Bobbiesee, “was to provide a better dining atmosphere. We didn’t want to raise prices—we want to give good service, great presentation and taste, for a value price.”
That kind of dedication paid off for Fusion, which earned top awards for Best Asian Food and Best Appetizers from Northern Express readers in 2008.
Monday, March 30, 2009

Tastemakers: Food Safety Modernazation Bill of 2009 HRB875-S425/ International Riesling Foundation

Dining Rick Coates Tastemakers: Food Safety Modernazation Bill of 2009 HRB875-S425
RIck Coates 3/30/09

Over the past week I have received several calls and e-mails from concerned organic farmers and others about a new bill in front of Congress (House Resolution 875 and Senate Bill 425) known as the Food Safety Modernization Bill of 2009. The fear is that the legislation could possibly eliminate organic farming, farm markets and small farm operations such as small orchards and vineyards in this country.
With all of the recent food poisonings and recalls on mass-produced items that have contained e-coli and other harmful bacteria, it was only a matter of time before Washington D.C. was going to step in and do something. But is this bill really the answer?
First, here is a brief definition of the proposed bill from its sponsors: “To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.”
On the surface this sounds good, but if you dig deep into the pages upon pages of this proposed legislation you start to wonder if you will be able to grow food in your own backyard. In typical Washington D.C. fashion, the wording is complex and confusing and leaves room for a lot of interpretation. For example, this new agency would establish extensive and uniform inspections and growing and production requirements for all “food production facilities,” meaning any farm, ranch, vineyard or confined animal-feeding operation.
Monday, March 23, 2009

Tastemakers: Pontresina Surf-N-Turf

Dining Rick Coates Pontresina Surf-N-Turf
Rick Coates 3/23/09

While restaurants continue to take a contemporary, creative approach to their menus it is nice to go old school from time to time when dining out. A recent visit to the Pontresina in Gaylord (located at the Otsego Club) provided that opportunity. Surf –n-Turf became popular in the ‘60s at east coast steakhouses. While Surf-n-Turf originated with steak and a lobster served on the same plate, today it is considered any beef and seafood combination.
Pontresina, named after Gaylord’s sister city in Switzerland, has built a reputation as being one of Northern Michigan’s best fine dining destinations. They blend the scenic beauty of overlooking the Sturgeon River Valley with inventive menu items. Lobster tails are all about timing; too long, to tough; not enough time, too slimy. So it was a welcome relief to have a perfectly prepared lobster tail paired with a nice filet of beef tenderloin. When ordering beef from Pontresina, certainly one may choose to have it prepared traditionally but I suggest having it Hong Kong style.
Pontresina has it all, ambiance, exceptional service, a first class table top presentation and that all important basket of fresh rolls served with fresh whipped herb butter and roasted garlic. They also serve their homemade Maytag slaw made fresh daily.
Monday, March 16, 2009

Foo0d fight/Epicurean Classic

Dining Rick Coates Last fall after five years in Traverse City, the Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College announced it would no longer host the annual Epicurean Classic. That sent shock waves around the Northern Michigan foodie community.
Community leaders from the mayor to tourism industry officials went to work to find a new location for the popular fall festival. They were unsuccessful and Epicurean organizers announced a month ago they were moving the event to St. Joseph (a shoreline community close to Chicago).
There has been a lot of speculation and a lot of “they said, we said -- they didn’t, we didn’t” going on as to how this could have happened. But after careful examination it appears that this was a good decision for both the Epicurean organizers and for those who oversee the Great Lakes Culinary Institute.
The real loser here is Northern Michigan. The Epicurean Classic brought a major spotlight on the region bringing top notch chefs, drink experts, the media and a lot of foodies from all over the country to the area. It shined a bright light on the local restaurant scene as well as the wineries and farms of the region.
Monday, March 16, 2009

Lumberjack‘s Bar & Grill

Dining Danielle Horvath So what do you do in this economic downturn in the automotive industry if you are a former auto salesman? If you are Paul Schell and Rich Lewis, you buy a shuttered bar/restaurant in Benzie County and bring it back to life. Thus, the former Sleepy Bear Lounge on US 31 in Honor has been reinvented as Lumberjack’s Bar & Grill.
The bar/restaurant has been an Honor institution for decades. The original building was the town hotel for years and was rebuilt after having endured three fires in 20 years, the last in 1984.
Schell and Lewis, along with their wives, Mindy and Tina, met 10 years ago. Between their friendship, business experience and desire to get involved in the community, they have remodeled, refurbished and opened for business on February 27. They picked Lumberjack’s as a reflection of the lumbering history of the area.
Monday, March 16, 2009

Tastemakers: Betsie River Rock Steak/A toast to Bruce Simpson

Dining Rick Coates Crystal Mountain in Benzie County has become a four-season resort destination with amenities that appeal to families, couples and those girl or guys getaway weekends. While the focus might be golfing, skiing, the water park and the new spa, one should not overlook the culinary aspect of experience at Crystal Mountain, especially dinner at the Thistle Pub & Grille.
The culinary team has adopted the philosophy of embracing “local,” by partnering with local famers, wineries, breweries and other establishments to “provide customers with the freshest, most flavorful produce as well as other great Michigan products. We believe it’s important to support small, local economies as well as promote the environmental benefits of reduced food transportation miles.” The restaurant has designated local menu items with a special symbol.
Monday, March 9, 2009

Martha‘s Leelanau Table

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Everywhere you look, Martha Ryan’s new restaurant, Martha’s Leelanau Table, has a personal touch. Walk into this house-converted-into-restaurant on Suttons Bay’s main street and you’ll feel as if you are walking into a hip auntie’s home. Sunlight pours into the glassed-in sunroom, the walls are bright with color and a curio shelf on the dining room wall shows off a collection of mementos Ryan has gathered in her travels.
“This house had a family history before us,” says Ryan. “We built the wait station with a set of original drawers. The daughter of the previous owner, Ray Priest, came in and recognized her dad’s initials on them.”
Fond of European cuisine, Ryan features bistro and continental food with wine and beer. Her home-cooked dinner menu entices with dishes like chicken piccata, chicken Parmesan, braised hanger steak, roasted mussels, pasta, polenta, risotto, French onion soup and fondue.
Monday, March 9, 2009

Tastemakers: Corned beef & cabbage/Irish Whiskey

Dining Rick Coates Depending on who you ask, corned beef and cabbage is about as Irish as pepperoni pizza. But each year millions of Americans, primarily Irish-Americans, consume lots of corned beef and cabbage in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Folklore has it that corned beef and cabbage is actually an Irish-American custom developed in the 1800s by Irish immigrants who substituted corned beef for bacon. Still, others believe that the Irish immigrants adopted this boiled dinner concept as their own from New Englanders who made pot roast dinners and even boiled dinners.
This sort of debate is best left over a glass of Irish whiskey. What is important here is that corned beef and cabbage taste great, but as with everything there is a trick in preparing it correctly.
Monday, March 2, 2009

Tastemakers: U & I Lounge Greek Dinner/Left Foot Charley Wine Growler

Dining Rick Coates Over the course of the past couple of years, more than 70 new eateries have opened in Northern Michigan. Our region has really become a “foodie destination,” which is great for the tourism industry. But it is also great for all of us who choose the Northern Michigan lifestyle year-round. It is exciting to see all of the cool things everyone is doing, especially with the focus on “local products.”
While there is the tendency to get excited about all that is new, it is also important not to forget about those things in our region that are tried and true. Places like the U&I lounge on Front Street in Traverse City that has been a popular hangout since 1935.
Monday, February 23, 2009

Tastemakers: Boyne Highlands Resort Short‘s Beer Dinner/2009 Michigan Winter Beer Festival

Dining Rick Coates On January 10, 1949, with a used single-chair lift, one run and a warming hut, Everett Kircher opened Boyne Mountain and forever changed the region’s winter economy. The Boyne properties: Boyne Highlands, Bay Harbor and Boyne Mountain have become an important four-season destination in Northern Michigan. From their humble beginnings 60 years ago, they have added several slopes, a handful of world-class golf courses, a water park and spa amenities. Boyne has also been good stewards and neighbors from a philanthropic perspective to becoming the hotel in the state to install Entergize, a state-of-the-art energy control system that reduces energy use by 40 percent.
Boyne has also been committed to a “local” philosophy by using local vendors and products, including offering several wines and beers from Michigan. They are currently in the middle of a beer and wine dinner series featuring wineries and breweries from Northern Michigan.
Monday, February 23, 2009

Crow About It Coffee & Cakes

Dining Al Parker The Dalgliesh family has been involved in many forms of artistry over the years, incuding photography, painting, woodworking, decorating, poetry, novel writing and music.
Now they’re expressing their talents through espresso at their new family-owned and family-oriented eatery, Crow About It Coffee and Cakes.
“Our goal is to present a positive, creative and comfortable setting for anyone and everyone,” says Sarah Dalgliesh, who was born and raised in Leland and worked in the restaurant business for about 13 years at Sugar Loaf, The Homestead, Boone Docks and other locales. “If you’re looking to stop in for a cup of coffee before work, or you’re looking for a place to meet friends, or just a place to put your feet up and relax, you’re welcome here.”
Crow About It Coffee and Cakes opened in November in a strip mall at the intersection of U.S. 31 North and 4 Mile Road in East Bay Township. Until recently, the building housed another coffee house, Good Harbor Coffee.
Monday, February 16, 2009

Tastemakers: The Catch Island Grill Jamaican Jerk Chicken Sandwich/Sage Restaurant Saturday Wine Tasting

Dining Rick Coates The location of 120 Park Street has been a gathering place in Traverse City for years. In the early ‘80s it was known as Billy’s and was a popular happy hour hangout. Dan Kelly took over and continued the happy hour tradition. Both Billy’s and Kelly’s were the place to be after work as a who’s who of the business community gathered, and both establishments had great reputations for dinner as well. In recent years the location was known as Pete’s.