Northern Michigan Restaurants: The terrain and coast of the Little Traverse Bay realm present an ideal setting for a September’s weekend in search of harvest flavors and lovely vistas.
September is harvest time in the North. Sun-soaked summer days and intermittent rains have been distilled into a pantheon of produce hanging heavy in orchards and spilling out of fields all along the Great Lakes coast, including the Little Traverse Bay region, from Petoskey on north to Cross Village. We suggest packing a weekend bag and a few of your favorite chef’s knives, because now is a perfect time to head north for a culinary getaway. Discover farm stands brimming, a Great Lake still warm enough to swim in and a quietude in the wake of the summer tourist crush.
Make your basecamp along M-119, the serpentine scenic highway running north from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. The legendary byway is flush with vacation rentals, from modest cottages to palatial retreats, seated above or below the bluffs that stare west at the glittering expanse of Lake Michigan and the Beaver Island archipelago.
Once situated, set out to explore the foodie riches harvested from local farms, forests and the Great Lakes. The dynamic indigenous restaurant scene serves up international flavors and American comfort couture, largely created with local ingredients. Specialty grocers, well-stocked wine shops and artisan bakeries round out the scene. We’ve surveyed the possibilities and mapped out a food-centric weekend retreat that balances dining out and relaxed lakeside DIY cooking with your pals.
Here’s our flyover for the weekend—tasty details and location information is fleshed out in accompanying boxes. The itinerary will require waterfront requiems, tree-lined twisty scenic highways, pastoral meditations, harvest bounties and plenty of good food and wine. But hey, those are just suggestions.
❑ Check into the cottage
❑ Unpack and unwind with an icy aperitif. ❑ Take in the view. Breathe.
❑ Dinner: American Spoon Café in Petoskey. Local flora and fauna prepared with artistic flourish. Loot the wine list. End with gelato.
❑ Breakfast: Twisted Olive in Petoskey.
Bloody Mary omelette. Truffle roasted potatoes. Time to hit the farm trail.
❑ Coveyou Farm. Pick up heirloom tomatoes and baby spuds for dinner. Use that extra trunk space for taking squashes back home.
❑ Boyne City Farmer’s Market. Farm eggs. Herbs. Honeycomb. The first fall mushrooms. Fill your basket.
❑ Lunch: Cafe Santé in Boyne City. Feed your midday hunger with fresh mussels and muscadet.
❑ Boyne Country Provisions & Wine Emporium. Troll the well-stocked emporium for wines worthy of tonight’s feast.
❑ Lavender Hill Farm. Lavender jelly for tomorrow’s breakfast. Skin products to keep you supple.
❑ Crooked Tree Breadworks. Parmesan pepper loaf for tonight. Seeded Baguette for tomorrow.
❑ Pond Hill Farm. You’re here for steaks of grass-fed beef and salad greens. You’ll leave with more.
❑ Dinner: Farm-to-Fork Feast at the cottage Eat, drink and be merry (see recipes).
❑ Brunch at the cottage. Brew coffee. Fry farm eggs and bacon. Toast a baguette. Watch the sun on the water.
❑ Jolly’s Cookies, for the road. Chocolate chip with sea salt. Toffee. Molasses. Let yourself go.
Your weekend's restaurant recommendations:
American Spoon Café, 413 East Lake Street, Petoskey 231.347.7004
Whatever you’re eating in this airy, stylish space was farmed or found nearby and then artfully prepared by Chef Chris Dettmer. The menu is fresh, seasonal and fluid, featuring deviled farm eggs with pork cracklings, shaved vegetable salad with goat milk ricotta or seared Lake Michigan Walleye with preserved lemon hollandaise. Drink the Hemingway cocktail because you’re here at his childhood summer home, then ply the short but creative wine list.
Twisted Olive, 319 Bay Street, Petoskey 231.487.1230
You’ll be forced to absorb an azure panorama of Little Traverse Bay while you drink artisan coffee and eat eggs Monaco with saffron hollandaise, vanilla bean pancakes or a steaming bowl of the proprietary Great Grains bedecked with brown sugar, dried cherries and toasted walnuts.
Cafe Santé 1 Water Street, Boyne City 231.582.8800
Expect the infectious buzz of a nouveau French brasserie complete with zinc bar, craft cocktail menu, Belgian draughts and beautiful views of Lake Charlevoix. Lunch on pâté maison, duck confit salad, or a steaming bowl of German-style mussels drifting in beer and mustard broth. Joie de vie aplenty.
Jolly’s Cookies 440 East Mitchell Street, Petoskey 231.622.8900
Keith Jolly does unspeakably good things with cookie dough in his gleaming historic storefront on Mitchell Street. Try the orange or sea salt chocolate chip, molasses or cherry oatmeal pecan. Sublime scones, cupcakes and muffins for backup.
From luxe log lodges to historic lakefront cottages, the Northern Michigan Cabin & Cottage Directory at MyNorth.com has lots of listings in and around the Harbor Springs/Petoskey/Boyne Country area. Late season weekend rates start around $200 a night. Check a sampling of our favorites.
Historic converted potato barn on the bucolic Brek-N-Ridge Farm property north of Harbor Springs. Foodie-friendly kitchen. $2,000/week. 231.526.9671.
Two hundred feet of pristine Lake Michigan beach. Huge stone fireplace. Bring friends. $2,500/week. 734.753.4824.
Sip your coffee and watch the sunrise over Round Lake just north of Petoskey. Vintage charm; modern kitchen. 734.414.3210.
Expansive lake views and classic cottage charm. 160 feet of private frontage on Lake Michigan. $2,500/week. 231.526.2320.
Where to apply the brakes and pull over to reap the harvest bounty.
4160 U.S. 31 South, Petoskey 231.348.1278
The Coveyou family has tilled this land since 1874 and still grows some of the North’s finest and freshest heirloom vegetables. Fill your basket with tomatoes, fresh herbs, squashes, shallots, sweet corn and new potatoes while feasting your eyes on a cinematic spread of Walloon Lake’s North Arm.
07534 Horton Bay Road, Boyne City 231.582.3784
Lavender honey, lavender jelly, lavender soaps, sachets and lotions: it’s like Provence right here in Northern Michigan. Linda Longworth and her family raise more than 25 varieties of the aromatic purple flower/herb on the west shore of Walloon Lake and convert the harvest into myriad creams and confections.
Downtown Boyne City
Northerners consider Boyne City’s one of the best farm markets around. Farmers, savvy foragers and tribal fishermen converge in downtown to sell September’s bounty.
2064 M-119, Petoskey 231.347.9574
Baker/owner Greg Carpenter bases his daily bread around a proprietary sourdough starter that feeds perfectly leavened loaves of cherry pecan, Parmesan pepper-bread and crunchy seeded baguettes. Don’t miss the Addictive Granola.
581 South Lake Shore Drive, Harbor Springs 231.526.3276
The Spencer family raises organic beef, lamb, pork and myriad vegetables at their farm north of Harbor Springs. Stock up on fresh September produce and proprietary pickled vegetables for the cottage or to take home.
Bonus! Get three great recipes when you order this issue: Tuscan Rib-Eye, Roasted Potato Salad and Heirloom Tomato Salad.