Definitely put this on your "I need to go" list, even if it's only for their drop dead amazing onion rings, which you won't get anywhere else on earth (probably :). There are other items on the menu that warrant repeat visits, but the onion rings are just so freaking good.
I love everything about this place. They have great ideas and I think once they fully hone in on what they do really well and what the customers like they will be one of the best places in Traverse City.
I first started coming here when they opened a few years ago. They had some creative dishes that were filled with flavors and unique touches. It's a mix up of a variety of different types of food from sandwiches to Thai to pizza to gourmet entrees.
The first time I sampled the bacon wrapped pork medallions and the duck quesadillas. They were delicious! The pizzas and sandwiches were excellent as well. I want to rate them a five in my book, but I just can't. They have a couple inconsistencies with food and though I really do love them and the ambiance I just can't look past that.
Let's talk about the positives first. They do have excellent food when it's good. They also have various different week day events such as Thursday Korean night, Tuesday Seafood night with great lakes perch and other seafood items, Wednesday Italian night for couples and so on. They also are located in a remote area, which is good and bad. Bad that maybe new comers won't know where they are, but good in that you can easily find parking, go visit the Inside Out Gallery for art and cocktails or walk next door to the Brew Pub to have some organic microbrews. All of this is in their little creative 'art district' hub. It's really a nice setup, but I do hope that they are advertising like crazy to make sure people know where they are at.
I went downtown to try Craftwork (again) for a friends birthday. It was a lovely evening filled with great food, friends, and conversation. I really love the decor of the bar area. It's a non-pretentious atmosphere with community seating. And the food really did hit all the right notes. The first time I came here (when they first opened) I wasn't too impressed. The service was slow and the appetizers I got did not rock my world. In fact, some of them were even over done. I did really like the area and the atmosphere and ultimately that's what brought me back. I try not to judge new restaurants on their opening weeks because it takes time to get into the flow of things. Again, I'm very glad I gave Craftwork another shot.
Mission's Table is one of those places you read about and you plan and make sure you get there. I have attempted to go here many times and they were closed, it wasn't the right season, so on and so forth. So, when I finally made it there with some friends I was sooooooo excited. They are located in the same building adjoined to Jolly Pumpkin in a beautiful spot located on the peninsula. It's a great drive on sunny summer day. The water glows of blues and turquoises and you wonder how you ever lived your life not being there.
Mission's table is a more upscale dining establishment. I wouldn't wear my flip flops and bathing suit here, but I doubt they would turn you away. They are used to having summer vacationers I'm sure, but this is a place where you get course meals and it just seems like bad etiquette to show up like you just came off the beach. We ended up getting a bottle of wine and sharing small portions. Every single thing that we order was absolutely amazing. Cooked to perfection!
We ordered the following:
Risotto - summer squash, leeks, serrano ham, wisconsin parmesan
Arugula salad - apples, feta cheese, dried cherries, white balsamic
Roasted red potatoes
Duck (which was amazing! And doesn't look like it's on the men currently)
Soup - I can't remember what kind
If you are in Traverse City and it's the right season AND you are foodie you should get here. You will not be disappointed in the food or the sights. :) It's $$$$ so bring your big bills.
Mission's Table Restaurant
Alright, European-fusion or American-New I don't know, but what I do know is that Bastones has good pomme frites. That really should be all that you need to know to stop in. Their food is good. I have sampled a variety of their sandwiches and appetizers. But to be honest, I really just like their fries and potato soup. Is that weird? I basically will stop in to get those two items and drink.
Royal Oak locals love this place, but a great majority of Royal Oak locals never leave Royal Oak. So (I'm going to generalize), but they love places like Oak City Grille, Black Finn, and Tequila Blue. I won't even ever bother reviewing those places because I don't frequent there. Have I been there? Of course, I checked them out. Can't make an assessment until you go. But do I like them? Ehhhh... I just can't go places where the men spend more time on their wardrobe and hair than I do and the women have fried themselves at the tanning bed and wore their best stilettos just to meet up with a man that's prettier than them wearing an Ed Hardy shirt and fist pounding the air. Ha! I just like more low-key places where you can actually hear the people you are with. At some of the places the food is quite good, but I can get cheaper versions of the food at my local Chilis/Applebees.
Ok, back to Bastones. It's not my favorite place, but if a friend wants to meet after work for a drink here I won't refuse. However, I wouldn't go back on my own free will.
Another place that has a great location, but seems like it just misses the target is Republica. Republica in Berkley, Michigan has all of the right ingredients to make a great dish - but something still seems off. The menu sounds wonderful. We were drawn in with talk of roasted whole cauliflower with roasted garlic walnut sauce and house made lamb burgers with, feta, dill, scallions & greek yogurt.
served on brioche bun w/ a side of yiayia’s beans, and a gluten-free grilled cheese. The huge draw to this place was the gluten-free/vegan options.
The lamb burger was good. But honestly, I have had better lamb burgers that were juicier with better toppings in the comfort of my own home (see Lamb Pork Burger - Homecookin'). The gluten-free grilled cheese was fine. It was a lot of gluten free bread and not enough filling. I would suggest making it more and adding MORE cheese or thinning out the bread. The cauliflower was really the highlight of the meal. It was well done in presentation and the walnut roasted garlic sauce was excellent. You can't get this anywhere else around town so it's nice they have some signature dishes that will keep people coming in.
They have a variety of MICHIGAN craft beers. So they are supporting the great state of Michigan, which is always nice. I think I will try this place one more time, but I'm not expecting to have my world changed. I will probably get a decent burger/sandwich out of it. I'm hoping they start looking at reviews and see that they need to have their signature dishes and they need to do them well.
Giving you a taste of what I taste. From gourmet to everyday. No pretentious bull - just good food.