Its current iteration – as the restaurant New York – has had locals and tourists alike coming for 24 years next month.
Chef/owner Matt Bugera has worked to keep the place elegant, but with a casual vibe.
White tablecloths, dark wood, forest green walls, and the white tin ceiling contribute to the restaurant’s upscale ambience.
But hey, this is Northern Michigan, and the New York is perfectly comfortable for patrons whether they’re in suits, jeans, or shorts.
Dining room manager Bill Miller says this welcoming atmosphere is part of the restaurant’s appeal, and is mandatory in a resort town.
“We have 800 [year-round] residents,” he said, “but up to 15,000 in the summer.”
Starters include everything from lobster bisque; duck egg rolls; Maryland-style crab cakes; roasted beet salad with spicy pecans and goat cheese; and an arugula salad with grilled artichokes, shaved Parmesan and a zesty lemon vinaigrette.
Fish entrées include whitefish, which is broiled, baked with pecan crust, or sautéed with capers. There is also scampi sautéed with tomato, spinach, kalamata olives and garlic, tossed with spinach egg linguini. New York’s Scottish salmon is served with a sauce of dried cherries and almonds and roasted vegetable couscous.
Meat lovers can opt for the filet with Bearnaise sauce; hanger steak marinated with herbs and red wine, topped with Roquefort butter; rosemary roasted chicken; or pork chop with Traverse City cherry chutney.
There are also various daily specials, both starters and entrées. And even if it’s not offered, customers know enough to order their favorites. Bugera says they’ve tried to change up the menu and take certain items off it, “but customers won’t let us do that.”
The New York also offers a range of desserts and specialty mixed drinks. Adhering to the New York theme, they serve a New York Bloody Mary and a Joe’s Manhattan, though there’s also a nod to Kentucky with a Knob Creek Hot Toddy, and a Moscow Mule with Michigan-made Valentine Vodka and Gosling’s ginger beer.
There’s also a large wine selection and Scotches, too.
Another appealing draw is the daily Early Bird special, which allows diners seated by 5:30pm to choose two entrées for the price of one.
“That’s year-round,” said Miller.
As with many other Northern Michigan eateries, Bugera says the whitefish is probably the restaurant’s best seller; a close number two is his personal favorite, the lamb.
“The lamb has been on the menu for about 15 years,” he said. Whether it’s the lamb shank, lamb chop, ravioli, or stew, he says it’s always a top pick.
“I use different sauces,” he said. “We try to customize all our dishes with the appropriate sauces and vegetables.”
Miller says another popular choice is the spicy Korean Bossam lettuce wraps, with basmati rice and sriracha sauce, offered as a special.
THE REST OF THE STORY
The New York’s history dates back to 1904.
Four brothers – Thomas, Simon, William and Leo Leahy – took note of the activity around the depot area of Harbor Springs. A train ran every half hour to and from Petoskey, while others arrived from Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Detroit. Summer cruise ships docked just a block away.
The brothers pooled their resources and opened a hotel, which included a lobby and bar – for gentlemen only – and bowling alley on the main floor, with dining room, kitchen and sleeping rooms above.
In 1912 the bowling alley was transformed to a theater. When Prohibition forced the closing of the bar, this space was remodeled into the dining room, with the second floor being used for parties, dances, meetings, shops and display rooms.
In 1977, the upstairs was converted to residential condos and the downstairs reconfigured into today’s New York restaurant.
That’s where things stood when Bugera took over.
“When we first bought it, it was [also] a breakfast place. At dinner, it was more of a burger and drinking establishment,” he said. “We changed it to dinner only – fine dining.”
Appetizers start at $4; salads at $5. Entrées begin at $16, though the two-for-one early bird special makes everything more affordable.
The New York opens for dinner seven days a week at 5pm, with the early bird seating by 5:30pm. This summer, Miller says the restaurant will be opening at 4pm for drinks, with a special bar menu. It closes at 9pm, but stays open later in the summer.
The New York is located at 101 State St. in Harbor Springs. Call (231) 526-1904 or visit thenewyork.com or its Facebook page.