Heading to the Traverse City area this summer? Read on to see what’s NEW. Not only is a certain celebrity couple opening a winery, but I found a restaurant expansion, a brand new restaurant, and a new-to-me restaurant (one-year old) during my recent trip.
SPAGHETTI JIM’S EXPANSION
I was in the area Memorial Day weekend for an open house that Spaghetti Jim’s hosted to feature the expansion. It more than doubles their seating area, and it makes a great banquet room. Owners Jim and Ann Abfalter started making and selling their fabulous pasta in 2010 and opened the restaurant one year later on South Airport Road.
They have a passion for pasta and it shows. They make hand crafted pasta in five cuts (spaghetti, fettuccine. linguine, paparadelle, tagliarini) and five flavors (organic whole grain farro, spinach nutmeg, roasted tomato, buffalo wing, and saffron). If you are a pasta lover – fresh is the way to go. It has so much more depth and character than commercial dry pasta. It cooks up quickly which helps to keep the kitchen cooler on hot days of summer.
The pasta is made from Michigan eggs, and the restaurant dishes feature local produce – often from their own garden. Local meats and cheeses are sourced from Cherry Capital Foods, a distributor who handles local and Michigan products. Purchase the pasta in their on-site store or Burritt’s Fresh Market, Oryana Food Co-op, and The Village Market in Elk Rapids.
More room at Spaghetti Jim’s
NORTHERN NATURAL IS ONE YEAR OLD
As a happy accident, I came across Northern Natural, on Front Street, in downtown Traverse City. It’s a small place, but they have what you need for a delicious, local meal. They serve their own organic wine and hard cider and opened this small restaurant with food to accompany the beverages. They serve pizza (I had one with MI asparagus and morels), appetizers, sandwiches, and soups.
They source from over 29 local farms! The cheeses come from Grassfields and Terrel and sometimes Boss Cheese and Idyll Farms (goat cheese). Their cider apples come from Kaleva and Bear Lake, and the wine grapes are grown in Leland. The menu changes seasonally. They’re building a new off-site kitchen in Kaleva, so they can source local meat. Their current kitchen is small and not set up for uncooked meat.
Cider Flight from Northern Natural
Pizza with local morel mushrooms and asparagus
I was also fortunate to be in Traverse City for the opening weekend of The Franklin. They were barely open and super busy. The restaurant is owned by the same people that own Trattoria Stella, so I bet The Frankin will be just as popular and delicious. I don’t like to press too much for information when a restaurant is brand new, but I did ask my server a few questions. They are gearing up for lots of local flavors.
They serve Michigan-produced beer and wine. The chicken is local and soon the lamb will be too. They serve Lake Superior walleye, and Michigan cheeses and produce – which right now is mostly greens.
I ate the tomato soup – which was the best I’ve ever had – and the stuffed poblano pepper entree. The décor is as beautiful as the food. The space includes a beautiful, 120 year old back bar. It reportedly originated from a bar in Marquette and has been resting in a barn in Leelanau County since the 1980’s.
Beautiful Bar at The Franklin
Tomato Soup and Michigan Wine
As I was touring wineries on Old Mission Peninsula, I learned that celebrity couple Amy Smart and Carter Oosterhouse are starting a winery along with Oosterhouse’s brother Tony. It’s called Bonobo (which is a type of monkey) and is located on the Southern end of Center Road. The building is barely under construction, although their website indicates a summer 2014 opening.
More about them soon, I hope.
Bonobo Under Construction
It’s easier to find Hawthorne Winery – in it’s second season – from the road.
The view from Hawthorne is the same!
Right Brain Brewery made a beer for Oryana Food Co-op. Delish!