Saturday, August 7, 2010
A Trio of Restaurants That Get It
When traveling, I always look for locally owned restaurants that cook from scratch. They offer the best quality and usually friendly service. Often locally owned restaurants will take the time needed to source and coordinate the purchases of locally produced meats, dairy, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I recently traveled to Traverse City, MI and visited some great restaurants.
Trattoria Stella http://www.stellatc.com/
Trattoria Stella is located just south of downtown Traverse City in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Or as the locals call it: The Commons. The wooded, sprawling property was one of several State owned asylums for 104 years. The existing building was renovated and the restaurant opened six years ago. The Commons is also home to other locally owned food businesses, such as a coffee roaster, bakery, farmers market, and two wine tasting rooms.
Along with the impeccable service from friendly staff, the food is fabulous. The menu changes twice daily (they serve lunch and dinner) based on which local foods are available at the time. The farmers deliver right to the restaurant. I ate an arugula salad with local goat cheese and blueberries. My entrée was vegetarian pasta. The beer and wine list feature Michigan products. Their list might be the largest Michigan produced beverage list anywhere. We splurged on Larry Mawby’s 2002 Mille sparkling wine, since we knew that they were sold out at the winery.
Mission Table http://missiontable.net/
As you wind along the wooded streets of Old Mission Peninsula, you will see restaurants sprinkled along the way. Mission Table is located in the former Bowers Harbor Inn. Same owners; new name. This fine dining restaurant overlooks the West arm of Grand Traverse Bay. It shares a parking lot overlooking a vineyard and is sited with its sister restaurant, one of the Jolly Pumpkins’ several fine establishments in Michigan.
The Mission Table’s philosophy is to use the best ingredients available from the local farmers and fishermen. They take inspiration from the beautiful land and waters in the surroundings. We had a lovely dinner starting with an appetizer of stuffed squash blossoms and a Jolly Pumpkin beer. The service was great too. The beverage list features the Jolly Pumpkin artisan beers and Michigan wines.
Jolly Pumpkin, Old Mission http://www.jollypumpkin.com/traversecity/
This restaurant is in the same stellar setting as Mission Table. It is also a brewery and distillery. The wood paneling and stone fireplace give it a rustic feel. The floor plan is open, yet the restaurant feels cozy. The menu features sandwiches, pizza, and full entrees. I had a local beer and an open faced vegetarian sandwich featuring locally grown veggies. The beverage menu features their artisan beers, wines, and spirits.