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Le Naro

Al Parker - December 29th, 2005
The management of Le Naro Pub is guided by a simple philosophy.
“We want people to feel comfortable and special at the same time,” says the Lake Leelanau eatery’s general manager Randy Smith. “When folks come here, they’re the guest of honor and will get special treatment. At the same time, we’re not pretentious at all.”
They’re not pretentious, but they are far from run-of-the-mill. 
The restaurant’s unusual name comes from the original name of the village of Lake Leelanau, French vernacular for “The Narrows.” Later, Le Naro was given a post office and christened Provemont. In 1924 the village and the post office were renamed Lake Leelanau.
But don’t let that Le Naro Pub moniker fool you. This is far from a beer and burger joint, although you can enjoy a tasty Le Naro burger – a full half-pound of specially seasoned beef on a Kaiser bun – with your choice of several national or regional brews. 
Along with burgers, reuben sandwiches, patty melts, chicken wings, cheese sticks, and other typical pub fare, Le Naro Pub’s menu boasts such rare pub fare as:
• Brick Chicken, a semi-boneless chicken breast char grilled under a brick and seasoned with olive oil, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs.
• Blue Crab Cake Dinner, three succulent blue crab cakes served with a savory Le Naro sauce.
• Bleu Cheese Encrusted Flank Steak, which is char-grilled, sliced on the bias and topped with crumbled bleu cheese.
Other hearty meals include a daily pasta special, a grilled filet mignon, a marinated top sirloin steak, a whitefish platter and a satisfying chicken pot pie. 
For those eating light, an array of fresh and tasty salads are available. Some favorites with diners include the Le Naro Chopped Salad – featuring chicken, cherries, tomato, cheddar, red onion, sunflower seeds and shaved fennel – and the Le Naro Pub Cashew Chicken Salad, served with tomatoes and greens.
Overseeing the bustling kitchen is chef Janeen Volosevich, an energetic Boston native who honed her culinary skills at The Bowery and Trattoria Stella before joining the Le Naro Pub team. 
“I believe you don’t have to spend $50 a plate to get great food,” says Janeen, whose specialties include chicken marsala, jambalaya, and chowders. “We’re devoted to providing really quality food at a fair price. Food for me is not only a passion. I have a lust for it.”  
One of her passions is baking fresh bread daily. She’s especially proud of her cinnamon cherry bread, the only one of its type served in the region. Patrons will also want to try her savory focaccio, imbued with basil, oregano, and sage.
Le Naro Pub is very much a family operation. The owners are Randy’s mother Catherine Smith, his brother Tracy, and Tracy’s wife Erin. Before opening Le Naro Pub in June 2005, the family owned and operated Key to the County, a fine dining establishment, at the same location.
Many area diners went into a state of culinary mourning when the Key closed its doors at the end of 2004. It had fashioned a reputation for quality fare, drawing customers from across Northern Michigan. But after the fine dining experience, the Smith family wanted to go less formal – sort of put the fun back into dining – in a family eatery.
“We’re emphasizing the same quality and values as the Key, now with good homemade, comfort food,” explains Erin. “We’re all food people here. Le Naro Pub offers affordable comfortable dining for everybody – from the farmer to the banker.” 
After the Key closed, it took six months to renovate and redecorate the building. They received some help from local artist Diane Deering whose mosaics and other art works accent many of the restaurant’s walls. The result is a friendly, comfortable atmosphere that caters to families, couples, and single diners alike. 
In addition to the main bar/dining area which seats about 75, Le Naro Pub features The Fireplace Room, where two dozen can dine in the warmth of a cozy fire. There’s also a large game room that features two pool tables, darts, huge high definition TVs, and a pinball machine. In the summer, the restaurant’s patio area accommodates up to 50 for al fresco dining. 
“We’re very accommodating for special occasions, such as birthdays or parties,” adds Erin. “Also all of our menu items are available for carry-out or for catering.” 
The Smiths are making a special effort to attract a solid base of local customers. “We want this to be a year-round locals restaurant,” says Erin. “If we make it comfortable and a good value for locals, the tourists will follow.”
They also use local products, especially fruits and vegetables, whenever possible. Le Naro’s extensive bar selections feature a variety of local wines and beers on tap. They welcome anything that is local.  
Reservations are usually not necessary at Le Naro Pub, but are recommended for special pre fixe dinners to be served at the Pub’s upcoming New Year’s Eve celebration.  
Le Naro Pub is located at 104 Main Street in Lake Leelanau, just south of County Road 204, tucked right behind NJ’s Grocery. During winter months, it’s open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Le Naro Pub is closed on Sunday and Monday.  For more information, call Le Naro Pub at (231) 256-5397.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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