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Kilborn‘s Fish

Kristi Kates - June 28th, 2010
Fresh from Kilborn’s Fish: A destination with a reputation north of Harbor Springs
By Kristi Kates
Originally established in the late 1990s as the Blue Corn Grill and
Bistro, Harbor Springs restaurant Kilborn’s Fish was the brainchild of
Magnum Hospitality, a restaurant group that also runs popular Northern
Michigan restaurants Red Mesa Grill in downtown Boyne City and the
upcoming Cafe Sante on Lake Charlevoix.
Blue Corn became The Fish in 2000; in 2008, the restaurant would
change hands and leave the Magnum Hospitality family for a family of
its own, namely the Kilborns.
John Kilborn, along with his daughter Lorna Kilborn, who serves as the
manager and bartender, and his wife Debbi Kilborn, also a “permanent
fixture” in the restaurant according to Lorna Kilborn (“she is also
responsible for the beautiful flower beds in front of the restaurant,”
Lorna Kilborn enthuses), purchased the restaurant that year, and
reopened it in 2009.
Mr. Kilborn’s experience with such a venture?  Plenty. He’s well-known
in the area for his diligent efforts at several of the area’s dining
establishments, from Harbor Springs’ own The Pier (where he began as a
dishwasher) to his additional work at Lorenzo’s and East Jordan’s The
Today, his own restaurant, Kilborn’s Fish, is now a landmark
destination for diners in spite of its somewhat remote location out on
State Road (towards Cross Village.)

“We often see customers on a nice day who are just ‘out for a drive,’
and we really are only five miles north of Harbor Springs,” Lorna
Kilborn explains, “the customer response last season was very
gratifying, even with the poor weather holding back the crowds of
seasons past.”
Lorna Kilborn says that they gain new customers both by word of mouth
- tourists and locals alike - and by advertising in local
“The Fish has had a popular reputation locally for years,” she says
In addition to Debbi Kilborn’s artistic efforts with the landscaping,
the interior of the restaurant beckons customers, as well, with its
friendly atmosphere.
Casual and “themed” without being too kitschy, the interior focuses on
blue tones, and features comfortably-spaced seating arrangements and
quirky silhouettes of fish hanging from the ceiling.
And just in case you might think this a too-literal representation of
the menu selections - several of the fish silhouettes are wearing
sunglasses. (Your dinner, of course, is not.)

There are several reasons for the Fish’s local fame. As one might
guess from the name, the Fish’s menu is focused primarily on fresh
seafood entrees.
“The two most popular items are the Walleye Almondine, served with
Vegetable Risotto and fresh vegetables, and the Panko-Coated Sea
Scallops, served with Dauphinoise Potatoes, Wilted Spinach, and a
Wasabi Honey Viniagrette,” Lorna Kilborn says, “our food is bright,
fresh, flavorful, and presented beautifully.”
Her father, of course, agrees, and points out some of the other
favorite menu items.
“We also serve clam chowder, and include a Caesar salad or Dinner
salad and our famous Garlic and Parmesan Ciabatta bread along with all
of our entrees,” John Kilborn says.
Plenty of beverages and a full wine list round out the offerings of
this off-the-beaten-path restaurant that’s worth seeking out.
“Our focus is on providing our best food and drink at a reasonable
price for our customers,” John Kilborn says.
“Our restaurant is definitely a hidden gem,” his daughter Lorna agrees.

Kilborn’s Fish is located at 2983 State Road just north of Harbor
Springs, telephone
231-526-3969.  The days/hours of operation will be changing throughout
the summer to best serve their customers, so it’s best to
call ahead.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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