Farm to table is a popular concept and a strong rebuke against processed foods. Of course, factory farms are still called farms, but the point is there, nonetheless. But what do you call a meal at an actual farm? I’m thinking “table on farm,” and remember, you heard it here first. So, when I paid a visit to Pond Hill Farm on the outskirts of Harbor Springs, Michigan, it was quite a delight to eat food around animals that could probably be classified as pre-food.
As you drive through the Tunnel of Trees in Northern Michigan, you get the feeling that it could go on forever, that there could literally be no end to the trees. And most likely that was actually what Michigan was like a few hundred years ago. But, the tunnel ends eventually and the light at the end of that tunnel is the Legs Inn, which feels out of place in what can easily be referred to as the middle of nowhere.
There are a few things I like to take pride in when it comes to food. The first is that it’s hard to pressure me to order something once I’ve set my mind on something else. Call it stubborn, but it’s gotten me this far. The other is that I basically avoid fish at all costs. Yet, in two sittings I managed to break both of those rules at The Villager Pub in Charlevoix, Michigan.
It’s hard to go wrong with bar food, but it’s usually pretty heavy stuff. So, when I entered East Park Tavern in Charlevoix, Michigan with a stomach that knew it needed to eat something for dinner, but wasn’t especially hungry, I hoped there would be something I could find. Instead of making my way to the full on entree menu, I went for the appetizers and the wings caught my attention.
It would have been much more convenient to go to Blue Tractor BBQ in Ann Arbor. After all, I seem to get there about once a year. The trouble is that every time I’m there I can’t help but stop at Zingerman’s, with an occasional other restaurant thrown in once every blue (or maize) moon. Instead, I went to the location a number of hours further away in Traverse City, Michigan, not far from Sleeping Bear Dunes.
The world has a few different styles of pizza: New York, Italian, Chicago, Detroit, etc. Yet, it takes a bold pizza purveyor to deliver something that doesn’t quite fit into a predetermined style. Mancino’s Pizza, which seems to have a series of somewhat affiliated locations around the midwest, has done just that. It was in Petoskey, Michigan that I snagged one of these pizzas for the first time.
At 8 miles around, Mackinac Island is known for a few things. A beautiful hotel, horses, bikes and even some food. That food is fudge, so I’ll not bother with writing about how Murray’s Fudge is the best, but the island is not without other restaurants catering to the throngs of tourists that make their way and need something to eat. On this visit, we left the main drag and found Ice House BBQ.
Harbor Springs in Northern Michigan is a long way from Japan, but that doesn’t stop a place called Vernales from sporting a Wagyu Brisket Burger. You see, Vernales is kind of a sports bar masquerading as an upscale restaurant, so it only makes sense that if they are going to serve a burger, it’s going to include some fancy beef. And after a long time looking over the menu, I knew that burger was what I had to have.
Petoskey is a lovely little town and the main drag of it is even lovelier. Situated in the middle of it is a coffee shop and sandwich place appropriately named Roast & Toast. It, too, is lovely. And while I’m no fan of coffee or ampersands, I do appreciate a good toasted sandwich. Seeing as it was lunch time, it seemed a wise choice.
Harbor Springs is a lovely little town up in Northern Michigan, and yet between it and Petoskey (another lovely, somewhat bigger town), there isn’t much beyond trees, condos, lakes and a couple of ski mountains. Oh, and there’s also Teddy Griffin’s Roadhouse, which has been situated there as long as I can remember. They serve up a combination of bar food, fancier European-style food, Great Lakes food and some of the most delicious bread in the world.