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Tastemakers: Phil‘s on Front Chocolate Lounge/ MYNORTH Passion Brew Brew with Benefits

Rick Coates - February 8th, 2010
Phil’s On Front Chocolate Lounge
Chef Phil Murray has been on the cutting edge of the culinary scene in Northern Michigan for the past 25 years. His Window’s restaurant was a popular destination for years on West Grand Traverse Bay and while the entrées and service were always exceptional, so were the homemade confectionary creations.
A few years back he opened Chocolate Exotica in Traverse City, featuring an array of chocolates and desserts. Recently he opened Phil’s on Front (across from the State Theatre), and Murray has picked up right where he left off when he closed Windows.
The menu changes daily and Phil’s on Front is open seven days a week including for lunch. In addition to his restaurant, Murray also has a Chocolate Lounge that greets guests as they walk in. The Chocolate Lounge features assorted chocolate cocktails and handmade confectionary offerings from Chocolate Exotica as well as several signature desserts. If there is anyone out there who doesn’t like chocolate, there are always a couple of desserts available for you as well.
At the heart of Murray’s success are his personal philosophies on preparing food: “I put my personality and my passion into my food. The “giving” aspect is very important to me. And though I’ve been cooking professionally for nearly four decades now, my passion for what I do just keeps growing. New ideas and creativity are as strong as ever, as is my commitment to bringing people together for great food and fellowship.”
If you’re looking for a great place to take your sweetheart this weekend, Phil’s On Front should be on your short list. For a look at the menu (it changes daily) and pictures of the various chocolate offerings, go to --Rick Coates

MyNorth Passion Brew “Brew with Benefits”
MyNorth Media (Traverse Magazine) has partnered with area craftbreweries (Jolly Pumpkin, Right Brain Brewery, Short’s Brewing Company and North Peak Brewing Company) to create a special Valentine’s brew to benefit local food banks. Each brewery will use the same recipe to create a Warm Winter Brown Ale romantically and seasonally titled Passion Brew. Participating breweries will start offering this “Brew with Benefits” on tap Friday, February 12 and it will also be prominently featured at the Cherry Capital Winter WonderFest and Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival (see St. Valen-Libations article).
Passion Brew evolved out two years of Traverse Magazine profiling the microbrew industry in Northern Michigan. At the end of the series Right Brain Brewery proprietor Russ Springsteen approached MyNorth asking the question: “What could local breweries do to show their united front while benefiting an area charity?” Rachel North of MyNorth Media and Springsteen sat down and created the “Brew with Benefits” concept. Mid Country Malt Supply Company has donated the malt, and while each brewery will use the same recipe, brewmasters will offer their own interpretation of the Winter Brown Ale. “You will want to visit each brewery to taste what the brewmaster has come up with,” said North.
This is a great concept and comes at a time when area food pantries find their shelves empty. The cash proceeds will give them a much needed lift. It also points to the brotherhood (sisterhood) that exists between the local brewers. Visit participating breweries or check out to learn more or to read the articles in the series. --Rick Coates

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