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, 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.
Monday, February 9, 2009

Tastemakers: Red Ginger chocolate & wine tasting/Anahata Balance Kombucha tea drinks

Dining Rick Coates When chocolatier Mimi Wheeler opened Grocer’s Daughters Chocolates five years ago in Empire, she had many missions. It was important to her to make chocolates using high quality and often organic ingredients. She has even traveled to Ecuador and spent time with those who grow and harvest the cocoa beans that become the chocolate she uses.
Many of her chocolates use herbs from her Leelanau Peninsula garden or other fruits grown in the region. Equally important to Wheeler is promoting others in the area: “We believe in cross-marketing and we promote many other food artists with similar ideas and practices of sustainable production.”
Monday, February 2, 2009

Vasquez Hacienda

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Many restaurateurs would tell you that it takes a family—not just any family, but a tight-knit family—to run a successful restaurant. Al and Elaine Vasquez’ Vasquez Hacienda is a case in point. They will celebrate the restaurant’s 35-year anniversary in September.
“I love the people—it’s a family thing,” says Elaine. “The kids who return to work summer after summer keep me young. They come back to see me with their kids—now I’m on to the third generation! I grew up in the restaurant business. My parents came here in 1948. They owned the Rainbow Gardens (where Pearl’s is now)—they were there 25 years. The circle goes on and on.”
“I have nine brothers and six sisters,” says Al. “They have all worked here off and on. My sister, Clelia Bolton, has been here since day one. My wife, Elaine, and Clelia run the kitchen. My sister-in-law, Mary Vasquez, waits tables. Our kids (Jennifer, Al Jr. and Nick) were brought up here. They have done it all: cooked, bartended, you name it they can do it. Nick does the entertainment on Friday and Saturday and Al Jr. sings. Al Jr. has a landscaping company so he mows the grass and snowplows for us.”
Monday, February 2, 2009

Tastemakers: The Cook‘s House a Foodie destination/Toast the localo difference

Dining Rick Coates Chefs Eric Patterson and Jennifer Blakeslee opened The Cooks’ House Restaurant last year “to celebrate the bounty of agriculture and artisan-made products that are found in Northern Michigan.” By showcasing a “field-to-plate” philosophy, the two have found a formula that has their 18-seat eatery among the hottest places to dine in Northern Michigan. Author, local foodie and Epicurean Classic co-founder Matt Sutherland has called The Cooks’ House “as fine a restaurant as any north of Chicago and Detroit.”
Sutherland and his wife Victoria were the “guest cooks” a week ago with a menu that featured duck. The Sutherland’s arrived at 10 a.m. and worked alongside Patterson and Blakeslee preparing a five course meal that wowed the 18 patrons who were fortunate enough to get reservations.
Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Hog Cafe

Dining Al Parker Traverse City’s newest restaurant is a place where customers with hefty appetites can pig out on ham.
Restaurant veterans Jeff Mugerian and Dean Van Steenburg have a simple philosophy for their new eatery, the Happy Hog Café that opened in mid-January.
“We want everybody to walk out of here with a hearty meal,” says Mugerian, who has owned and operated several restaurants in Traverse City, including Pepper’s Grille. “Nobody’s gonna go hungry, that’s for sure.”
Open for breakfast and lunch, the Happy Hog Café is heavy on ham from Dearborn Ham, well-known for quality pork products.
“Our customers will be enjoying ham that is handcarved off the bone,” explained Van Steenburg, who has cooked and baked at many area businesses.
Before opening, Mugerian and Van Steenburg spent weeks refurbishing the location. The result is a fresh, clean look that features a black and white tile floor, orange walls, a black ceiling and Harley-Davidson memorabilia.
“It looks like a Harley dealership,” laughed Van Steenburg, a Harley lover. “That fits right in with the Happy Hog theme.”
Monday, January 26, 2009

Tastemakers: Hooters Hot Wings/FORTY-FIVE NORTH 2007PINOT GRIS

Dining Rick Coates The Hooters in Traverse City is getting ready to celebrate their second anniversary since opening on US 31 in East Bay Township. Last year, the popular chain with 450 locations in 46 states and 21 countries celebrated 25 years in business.
Because of the nature of their business, Hooters at times finds challenges in opening. In fact, even in the college town of Mt. Pleasant, the franchise has to find a different location than the one they had hoped for originally. When Hooters first announced they were going to open in Traverse City 12 years ago, they were met with a public outcry of opposition. The proposed location at that time is now home to Outback Steakhouse.
Monday, January 19, 2009

The Robert Burns Supper

Dining Rick Coates One of the benefits of writing about food and drink is being afforded the opportunity to attend many dinners and events throughout Northern Michigan. I attended 114 dinners and receptions that had a food and drink focus in 2008. While selecting the best one is not easy, certainly the Robert Burns Supper last January at the Betsie Bay Inn (located in downtown Frankfort) easily makes my top five.
The Betsie Bay Inn will again host such a supper to pay poetic tribute to Robert Burns, who was born in Scotland in 1759. In a life that spanned just 37 years, he earned the title “Scotland’s favorite son.” Each year on January 25 (or a date close to his birthday) his life is celebrated and honored throughout Scotland and around the world wherever Scottish clubs and organizations exist. The Betsie Bay Inn’s 4th Annual Robert Burns Supper will take place Saturday January 24.
Monday, January 19, 2009

A Winter Dinner at Nonna‘s

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Though Nonna’s sits on Leelanau County’s doorstep, it feels a world apart. As you drive up the winding, snow-covered expanse off M-22 near Glen Arbor that leads to the spacious Homestead resort grounds, it’s even quiet. So different from summer hubbub, it’s almost mysterious. Soothing.
John Kloo, the restaurant’s front-of-the-house manager, is the first person to greet you as you walk through the door into the intimate warmth of fireplace and food. In the background Sinatra sings popular Italian songs. “Nonna’s is Glen Arbor’s hidden gem,” says Kloo. “It’s the perfect little getaway.”
If you’ve lived here long enough you might remember the 52-seat restaurant through several incarnations — its last was as a spaghetti house. “When I first came here in 2005,” says executive chef John Piombo, “Nonna’s was red-checked plastic tablecloths. It just wasn’t my style.” Piombo left for a year to take a job in Miami, but he wasn’t really happy there. After a call from the Homestead, he returned in early 2008. With him came the white linen and sophisticated menu that reflect his sensibility.