Sample the Tastes of Mackinac Island
Recently we had a chance to ask a few of our travel writer friends about their dining experiences on Mackinac Island. Specifically, we asked about their favorite places to eat, to share a fun experience, or advice about dining on Mackinac Island. Here’s what they had to say…
By Amy Eckert
Everyone should experience fine living at the 19th-century Grand Hotel at least once. The world’s largest summer hotel is decked out in colors that might be described as garish anywhere else—here they just look like the colors of summer. Many of its rooms are furnished with balconies and jaw-dropping lake views. But the Grand Hotel’s dining is no less superb.
The elegant Salle à Manger fairly glows with crystal fixtures, yellow and green accents and diners dressed in their very best. Sit down to a dinner of freshly-caught whitefish, Michigan cherries or blueberries, and a glass of Traverse City Riesling, all of it served by an impeccable wait staff. Finish it up with a Grand Hotel tradition: a decadent pecan ball. The softball-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream is rolled in fine pecans and set in a puddle of warm chocolate fudge. Grand Hotel’s dining room isn't your run-of-the-mill restaurant experience. And that’s precisely the reason to go.
Amy Eckert is a freelance travel writer based in Holland, Michigan. She has been to Mackinac Island more times than she can count and always looks forward to a return visit. Visit Amy at www.amy-eckert.com
By Pamela O’Meara
Take a carriage ride to Fort Mackinac for a bit of history and then a delicious lunch at the Tea Room Restaurant, located in the old officers' stone quarters, which date back to 1796. My patio table with a bright yellow umbrella overlooked the sparkling water of Lake Huron and a picturesque harbor filled with boats, and once upon a time, fur traders and soldiers. My leisurely lunch included a cup of chilled strawberry soup with a swirl of cream on top, asparagus ravioli and mouth-watering chocolate torte. The patio was casual, but the food was elegant.
The Pink Pony’s upstairs screened-in patio dining room at the Chippewa Hotel overlooks the Mackinac Harbor and the beach. With music in the background, that’s where I enjoyed a dinner of fresh Lake Huron broiled whitefish with a light white wine, garlic and lemon sauce and served with a circle of rice pilaf and a generous serving of carrots and zucchini served julienne-style. My entree was preceded by thick tomato basil bisque and a light Michigan apple and goat cheese salad. Homemade key lime pie for dessert topped off the delicious meal. The historic hotel was built Victorian-style in 1902 in the heart of downtown.
Pam O’Meara is a staff writer at Lillie Suburban Newspapers (www.lillienews.com) in the St. Paul, MN area and a member of Midwest Travel Writers Association.
By Kim Schneider
I'm not one to easily pick restaurant favorites, but I am admittedly charmed by Mission Point's new chef, and also by the resort’s outdoor restaurant, Bistro on the Greens. Here you can eat to the backdrop of waves lapping on the rocks, under the stars, with heaters generously sprinkled across the patio for welcome warmth on a chilly evening.
I confess that on one Mackinac Island trip, my friend, daughter and I never ate anywhere else—and we weren’t even staying at the resort. We spent a lot of time biking, and we were always drawn to this particular bend in the island. At just about Mission Point, the route turns from town to country, street sounds from the clip-clop of horses and whiz of passing bikes to silence. Grounds here teem with vibrant zinnias and other flowering favorites, and just a bit further down the trail, magical formations like Arch Rock start to emerge.
And so here we’d stop to sample our emerging menu favorites. There’s the rock shrimp and avocado, served in a martini glass with a marinade of cilantro and lime (think ceviche, Mackinac Island style). Coming back again—and again—had an added benefit in taking the pain out of decision-making. We could try it all! One trip we’d go for a snack of truffle fries in garlic aoli and on another would devour the spinach salad with Maytag blue cheese and candied pecans. Once, I confess, we sat water gazing long enough for a late lunch to merge into dinner, for the first stars to dot the skies. And waiters, over the frequent visits turned friends, would just inch one of those outdoor heaters just a bit closer, then closer, to our grateful table.
Kim Schneider is a travel writer for Booth Michigan, Midwest Living, AAA Living and other newspapers and magazines. Follow her weekly travel columns about Michigan at mlive.com/travel.