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Aug 30, 2006 10:24 PM

quick comments - one week in northern Michigan - fish, etc.

-Freshwater Lodge, Traverse City.

This place was back in top form following last year's mildly disappointing visit. The bacon sage trout was excellent. Almond duck tenderloins, while perhaps a bit too close to chicken fingers, were delicious, as was the accompanying raspberry-jalapeno sauce. I sampled and enjoyed the elk medallions. It seems the smoked fish sampler has been replaced by smoked salmon.

-Stafford's Weathervane, Charlevoix.

The planked whitefish was simple and fresh; next time I'll try something more adventurous. The Great Lakes chowder was superb.

-Dogpatch, Munising.

You should indeed drive several hundred miles out of your way to see the Pictured Rocks and hit the fried seafood buffet here. Lake trout is the star here. I wish I knew all the proper adjectives to describe it. Loved the fish, loved the coating, not much more to say about it, but try to get here by any means necessary. There is also very good whitefish, perch and smelt. I wanted to check out some of the non-lake options - skipped the cod - the shrimp and little crab cakes were decent but focus on the lake fish. I liked the chicken wings too. There's a very good dessert, some midwesternish concoction involving fruit and Cool Whip.

-Muldoon's Pasties, Munising.

I liked the beef pasty here.

-Mackinac Grille, St. Ignace.

There were about 15 things that looked intriguing on the menu. I enjoyed the fish boil (whitefish), the whitefish dip (I got the baked version, which was excellent), and even the salad bar.

-Java Joe's, St. Ignace.

Can't vouch for the lengthy menu of pizza, omelettes and such, but I liked the espresso.

-Manley's, St. Ignace.

Service was surlier this time around. Lake trout was pretty good, as were the cheese curds. I liked the menominee better, as it was fishier and smokier.

-Cup Of The Day, Sault Ste. Marie.

While the gruff fellow at the counter reinforced my dark side vis-a-vis the obliteration of mom-and-pop coffee joints by Starbucks, I applaud the $1 maple-flavored brew.

-Village Inn, St. Ignace.

Whitefish livers, hmmm. Not really sure what to compare this to, but I'm just not really a liver guy, so I enjoyed the bacon accompaniment more than the liver. Taking a break from fish for the main course, I enjoyed the Italian-type sandwich and the fries. Friendly, casual joint - I'd like to try it again and check out the whitefish.

-Bessie's, St. Ignace.

I gladly skipped fudge in favor of a beef pasty dessert.

-Grayling Restaurant, Grayling.

This pleasant diner eased my pain over missing the exit for Big Buck Brewery. The cinammon French toast was a very good counterpoint to the smoked pork chop (more like ham than what I think of as a pork chop.)

-Zehnder's, Frankenmuth.

This legendary spot sure doesn't need my help, but don't knock it just because it's popular. You've heard about the chicken, but how about the pickles? I'm sure the sausages, sauerbraten, etc., are fine, but you MUST have the chicken. It's not exotic, but it is addictive.

-Anschutz Cafe, Breckenridge.

The setting was jaw-droppingly perfect - an old-timey agricultural Main Street that seemed worlds away from the Wal-Marts of Mt. Pleasant and Saginaw. As it turns out the sociological intrigue was slightly better than the food. I liked the juicy pork steak; this was no gentrified "other white meat" tenderloin. But in the midst of farm country there's no excuse for the 95%-iceberg salad.

-University Cup, Mt. Pleasant.

The captive audience of non-drunk CMU students should be thankful that this place has very good coffee and cheerful service. I don't normally get raspberry mochas but I get them here.

-PM Steamers, Ludington.

An icon drops a few notches. The service was incredibly slow. In lieu of taking orders, the waitress was lighting candles at a nearby table. The famous nuttty walleye no longer exists. The fish is available in several permutations of sauce and cooking method; I was told that broiled was closest. The fish itself was good, and the sauce was nice and maple-ish, but not exactly the same as the old sauce. The house salad is still first rate. The "strawberry cobbler" had more peach than strawberry but it was excellent nonetheless.

-Cherry Hut, Beulah.

I didn't know whether to have chicken so soon after Frankenmuth, but the baked chicken special turned to be one of the sleeper hits of the trip. I don't know what flavor it was exactly, but it was awesome, and the accompanying wild rice was a pleasant surprise. The pie continues to be superb.

-La Senorita, Traverse City.

Perhaps not obscure enough for serious hounds, but I've always enjoyed it. This time I got the chicken fajitas; I liked the meat, and all the various accompaniments.

-Ham Bonz, Traverse City.

Given the edge-of-town location and the strange operating hours, I expected something a little better. The pulled pork sandwich was enjoyable, but it was more about the sauce than the meat, which was seriously shredded. They were very amiable so I'd like to return, maybe for an omelette.

-Scalawag's, Traverse City.

As they are more famous for whitefish, I didn't know what to expect from the walleye. Battered like the usual cod, the walleye was very good. But the fries were a huge disappointment, and the whitefish chowder didn't have much fish

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  1. Wonderful survey. Will be in Munising next week and now very much look forward to hitting Dogpatch. Thanks so much!

    1 Reply
    1. re: burton

      My parents live in Munising. They always hit a fish fry on Friday in Cooks, MI which is actually more near Manistique. I think the place is called Sidetrack or On the Tracks. Basically it is the only place in Cooks. They have a small but good salad bar and very good fish. Salad bar has the typical creamed herring and various other northern treats.

      As for Munising food, they like the Pizza at the Buckhorn, I am not so crazy about it.

      There is a small town in I want to say McCain or McBain that has the hugest cinammon rolls I have ever seen and they are delicious.

    2. Fried trout at Dogpatch in Munising was really good. Perch - and pretty much everything else - was just fair. Also enjoyed the pasties at Muldoons (especially the beef).

      In Marquette the whitefish at Vierling's Saloon was simple and wonderfully fresh. The big new place next to the waterfront, Upfront, was a disappointment (though the bread was nice). Pasties at Jean Kays - blah. Finally, breakfast at Sweetwater was just terrific - omelette, granola, berry drink concoctions.

      1. Dogpatch in Munising is great - the blueberry cobbler is fantastic.

        Java Joe's in St Ignace is on the top of our list for breakfast. It's only open from Memorial Day - Labor Day and we try to hit it every time we are in the area and they are open. Stuffed crepes are out of this world.

        1. I think Stella, in Traverse City, is the best food I've had in Michigan... pricey, but so, so worth it!

          1. I agree about Stella's, the service was what I expect in a place like that. Located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is the former state hospital facility in. So it adds a fun twist. all dish I have ate are wonderful, great capriccio, and bloody Mary from scratch. clean fresh feel in side.