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Restaurants Recently Reviewed...

Ross Boissoneau - May 12th, 2014  

Since January 1, you’ve read (or missed!) seventeen profiles of area eateries. As part of our RestauranTour issue, here’s a recap:

Centre Street Cafe, Traverse City January 6 issue

On the menu:

Sandwiches, wraps, soup, salads and weekly lunchtime entrées like smoked grouper tacos.

Signature items: Black bean dip served with tortilla chips and swamp soup.

One of the area’s busiest lunch spots, owner Pete Boothroyd says the tomato, spinach and Swiss cheese soup was named by accident. “One of our customers said, ‘It looks like something that came out of the swamp.’ Another customer heard that and thought that was the name. They told someone else, and people started coming in and asking for the swamp soup.”

Check it out on Facebook.

Aerie at Grand Traverse Resort, Acme January 13 issue

On the menu: Dinner entrées include filet, pork chops, lamb, chicken and seafood; appetizers like smoked trout salad crostini, Caribbean jerk mussels, and Kobe meatballs.

Signature items: Butternut squash beignets; pork tenderloin with celeriac mashed potatoes; vegetable sautée with curried quinoa, sautéed cashews, chickpeas, dried cherries, red cabbage, and butternut squash cubes, topped with fresh cilantro and cranberry vinaigrette.

Grand Traverse Resort’s flagship restaurant sits atop the resort’s tower like an eagle’s nest. So its name – Aerie – fits perfectly.

Visit GrandTraverseResort.com.

TJ’s Pub, Manistee January 20 issue

On the menu: Freshly prepared sandwiches, soups, salads and pizza.

Signature items: The Tuscana, a turkey and cheese sandwich, is enlivened with tomato and house-made basil pesto and served on a crusty ciabatta roll; the Americana features sliced prime rib with sautéed onions, peppers and cheddar with au jus. Patrons have their choice of four cheese toppings and five sauces for the crispy flatbread pizza.

Named for founding father Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell, also the namesake for its upstairs sister operation, the Ramsdell Inn, as well as the famous Ramsdell Theatre.

Go to TjsPub.com or check out the Facebook page.

Siren Hall, Elk Rapids January 27 issue

On the menu: Fish and seafood dominate, from clam chowder to mussels, with specials like sesame seared tuna or sandwiches including Port of Elk Rapids fried perch. Other favorites include crispy goat cheese cakes, gyro sandwiches, pasta, steaks and ribs and pizza.

Signature items: Two items stand out, according to the owner, chef and restaurateur Michael Peterson. “The oysters are what people come in for,” he says. Also tops for regulars is the cioppino, a fish stew with shrimp, scallops, mussels, calamari, and fresh fish in a tomato saffron broth.

It is housed in an old auto mechanic garage, giving the spacious restaurant a unique industrial feel.

Go to SirenHall.com, or log onto its Facebook page.

Scovie’s, Charlevoix February 3 issue

On the menu: Fresh baked goods, salads and sandwiches, ribs, and a host of chicken dishes for dinner.

Signature items: Northern Michigan chicken salad with dried cherries and toasted almonds and the burgers are the most requested items. Dinner favorites are pecan-crusted walleye, topped with an Amaretto beurre blanc; sautéed perch, finished with white wine and lemon; and chicken Jerusalem, chicken breast sautéed with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes & kalamata olives, then finished in a chardonnay cream sauce.

Once a month Scovie’s hosts Dinner and a movie, with a screen lowered from the ceiling and menu often derived from the film.

Go to scovies.com, or check out its Facebook page.

Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor February 10 issue

On the menu: Burgers, pizzas, steaks, fish, salads, and Mexican favorites.

Signature items: “The burgers all hand-pressed and ground in-house,” says owner Tim Barr. That enables them to regulate the amount of fat and air in the burger.

The chicken jalapeño soup has been a mainstay for 15 years, stemming from jalapeño peppers that fell into a pot of cream of chicken soup simmering on the stove.

Art’s is at heart one of those quintessential small-town hangouts. Barr says it’s his job to talk to patrons. “My wife calls it my living room.”

Go to ArtsGlenArbor.com or check out its Facebook page.

Clam Lake Beer Company, Cadillac February 17 issue

On the menu: 40 beers on tap, mostly Michigan microbrews. The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, pizza, salads and quesadillas. Early risers can choose from a number of breakfast sandwiches, as well as specialty coffee drinks.

Signature items: The sausage and goat cheese pizza features a wild mushroom pesto sauce. Other favorites include the French Dip, with provolone cheese, haystack onions, and horseradish cream sauce; and curried cashew & pear salad, with spring greens, grapes, curried cashews, pears, bacon and house honey mustard dressing.

From its inception until 1882, Cadillac was known as the village of Clam Lake.

Owner Dan Minor decided that taking on the historic name was particularly apt given the tap room’s historic feel, with the exposed brick walls and the metal prints extolling the area’s history.

Go to ClamLakeBeerCo.com, or visit its Facebook page.

Sisson’s Main Street, Leland February 24 issue

On the menu: Various baked goods, from cookies to scones to muffins and other treats. Deli sandwiches (roast beef, turkey, ham, tuna and egg salad) are all served on freshly made herbal bread.

Signature items: Cherry chicken salad, Orange Toast and Cheese Wookies.

The Orange Toast are sweet, citrusy crisps with fresh orange zest and special butter. The Cheese Wookies are savory minibiscuits midway between soft and crunchy that were originally served at the Leelanau Country Inn alongside salads.

Owners John and Linda Sisson have worked side by side for 30 years. “We owned the Leelanau Country Inn for 21 years and sold it in 2005. The goal was to slow down a little bit – but it hasn’t worked out that way,” says John Sisson with a smile.

Go to SissonsMainStreet.net, or check out the Facebook page.

The Jolly Pumpkin, Traverse City (Old Mission) March 3 issue

On the menu: Eclectic pub fare, like fried goat cheese, crab tater tots, nachos made with pulled pork, and French fries with truffle sea salt. Sandwiches and entrees such as hickory-smoked baby back ribs, steak, perch, pasta, and pork. Several house-made beers on tap, as well as its own distilled spirits, and wine from Old Mission vintners.

Signature items: The Bam Biere is a favorite brew, lower in alcohol. The Rocket Arugula salad has mango ginger Stilton cheese, fried parsnips and spiced walnuts. Parmesan-crusted whitefish, available as a special, as well as the items from the grill, like the ribs.

What was once the casual eatery behind Bower’s Harbor Inn is now a fun, engaging gastropub, with a variety of microbrews and spirits, including that of Genevive Stickney, the well-known ghost of Bower’s Harbor Inn (now open seasonally as Mission Table).

Go to JollyPumpkin.com.

The Dish, Traverse City March 10 issue

On the menu: Salads, focaccia, ciabatta and other sandwiches, soup, quesadillas, and smoothies. For breakfast, scrambled egg burritos and an oatmeal bar.

Signature items: TC’s Favorite salad lives up to its name, with dried cherries, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese. Not far behind is the Dish Bistro salad, with sliced green apples, mandarin oranges, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese. The most popular wrap is the Grumpy, with kalamata olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, artichokes, red onion, roasted pepper hummus and lemon parsley vinaigrette. “It’s my absolute favorite from our menu,” says co-owner Patty Hickman.

Co-owner Randy Waclawski says they love being in the middle of the busy downtown. He and his partner have seen continued growth in business over their time at the Dish. “There’s more foot traffic downtown. The more places, the more people,” he says.

Go to TheDishCafeTC.com or visit its Facebook page.

Dinghy’s, Frankfort March 17

On the menu: Seafood including Atlantic Cod sliders served on mini French rolls, coconut shrimp and deep fried shrimp, and panfried walleye or whitefish. Also sandwiches, burgers, chicken, and quesadillas.

Signature items: The smoked meats, such as brisket, pulled pork, BBQ chicken and the like are what spread the eatery’s fame. “The ribs are flavorful and tender and by far are the most popular,” says Steve Christian, who’s owned the Frankfort eatery since 2000. Another treat is the bomba, a spicy jalapeño pepper stuffed with Monterey jack & cheddar cheeses, tucked in a wonton wrapper, then deep fried & sprinkled with Cajun seasonings.

The nautical décor at Dinghy’s is prominent, from the record-setting brown trout caught in Betsie Bay behind the bar to paddles, a ship’s bell and other seafaring items. Car ferry signs hang from the ceiling, while old maritime maps and photos adorn the walls. Don’t forget the shark guarding the back hallway.

Go to DinghysRestaurant.com, or visit its Facebook page.

Pleasanton Cafe, Traverse City March 24

On the menu: Baked goods from its namesake bakery, including handcrafted breads, muffins, scones, cookies, croissants, and Danish. Sandwiches include turkey with chipotle mayo, ovenroasted flank steak, roasted veggie and curried chicken salad. Salads and soups complete the day’s menu.

Signature items: Owner Jonathan St.

Hilaire says of the coffee from Madcap Coffee in Grand Rapids, “The flavors are like drinking a glass of wine.” Manager Vanessa Clark says shortbread cookies top both her list and those of patrons. Of the other baked goods, the best may just be the Parmesan olive bread: crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, and has just the right amount of saltiness from the olives and cheese.

When St. Hilaire bought Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery last year, one of his first goals was to expand the business. That’s what led to the café in downtown Traverse City. He realized that for a lot of people, the bakery at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons “just wasn’t on their radar.”

Go to its Facebook page or check out PleasantonBakery.com.

The Bearded Dogg, Gaylord March 31

On the menu: Small plates include a variety of cheeses and meats, chili Thai tuna, cheese ravioli, and lentil dip with a mint yogurt topping. Sandwiches include corned beef and ahi tuna. Entrées include duck pasta, sirloin medallions, and prime rib/ sirloin-filled ravioli.

Signature items: The meat and cheese platter is a dazzling display which includes English Shropshire cheese, Spanish manchego, and a small feta cheese torte, alongside such cured meats as Calabrese salami, and several types of olives. Among entrées, best bets are the seafood pasta, house-made fettucine with a mix of scallops and shrimp, topped with thin-sliced Cappicola ham, and the salmon, glazed with lime-infused clover honey and topped with warm oregano goat cheese.

Chef and owner Chad Edwards opened the lounge connected to the Old Spud Warehouse, the emporium of furnishings and folk art owned by his parents. The offerings are just as off-beat as the décor, where old doors serve as walls or booths, the bar is made from a nunnery’s old floorboards, and antique (or at least well-used) tables dot the premises.

Mulligan’s, Cheboygan April 7

On the menu: Good food and bad drinks. The former includes American, Tex-Mex, and pasta favorites.

The latter? In The Woods (peach schnapps and ketchup); the Worm Burner (cinnamon schnapps and Bloody Mary mix); and the Beaver Divot (crème de cacao and clam juice).

Signature items: Breaded goat cheese medallions are pan-seared and finished with a ribbon of balsamic vinegar reduction; Devil’s Linguine, al dente linguine topped with sausage, capers, olives, garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes and a spicy red sauce; and ribs. “They are fall-off-the-bone tender. They’re great,” says manager Ashley Graham.

The restaurant is named for and features golf verbiage, including those tasty (?) drinks. “We’ve got a list of 18 bad shots,” says Graham.

Twisted Olive, Petoskey April 14

On the menu: Breakfast fare like Eggs Monaco, with asparagus, and saffron hollandaise or vanilla-scented pancakes. For lunch, salads, and pasta, pizza, and sandwiches like Whitefish Puttanesca or Mediterranean Chicken Salad with pine nuts and golden raisins. For dinner, grouper, ribs, salmon, chicken, and starters like lamb tostadas and steamed mussels.

Signature items: Croque Madame with baked ham, provolone cheese, and béchamel. Pumpkin salad, with roasted pumpkin, dried blueberries, candied walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese. Among entrées, owner Kirsten Okeefe and head chef Russell Miller point to scallops and rabbit as the best dishes.

Twisted Olive opened in May four years ago as a breakfast and lunchtime eatery. That changed a year and a half ago when Okeefe obtained a liquor license and began serving dinner.

Go to twisted-olive.com or visit its Facebook page.

Trish’s Dishes, Leland April 21

On the menu: Sandwiches, baked goods, coffees and smoothies.

Signature items: Roasted cauliflower bisque is rich, robust, and healthy too. The cherry chicken salad on sourdough is what Trish’s is known for, says owner Trish Kropp. The Moo Shu is a cross between wrap and panini. Grilled chicken, rice noodles, Asian vegetables and hoisin sauce are wrapped in a tortilla and grilled. “It’s really hearty and satisfying. I like mine spicy,” says Kropp.

You don’t have to go to Trish’s Dishes to get her prepared sandwiches, as they are available at over 30 locations in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. If you choose to visit, go to the new location in Leland, where Kropp moved in mid-March.

Go to TrishesDishes.com or find it on Facebook.

Bravo Zulu, Acme April 28

On the menu: Several different brews, and coming soon, food items like all-beef hot dogs, Polish sausage, and chicken wings.

Signature items: The apple ale, made originally with honeycrisp apples, has been a huge hit. “We went through 14 kegs in 14 days,” says owner Jeff Brooks. The Acme Cherry Bomb is a cherry-infused brew, pairing hops with local cherries, so it has benefited area farmers as well as Bravo Zulu patrons.

Brooks is a Navy and Army veteran who returned from combat to continue a battle, this time with PTSD. One of the suggestions from his therapist was to create a detailed plan for a business. “I had no intention of opening (a brewery),” he said.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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