Boone’s Long Lake Inn

20 09 2008
  • 7208 Secor Rd.
  • Traverse City, MI 49648
  • (231) 946-3991
  • Website
  • Menu
Boones Long Lake Inn outside Traverse City

Boone's Long Lake Inn outside Traverse City

Whenever we go on a trip, I like to find the place where the locals go for a meal.  You can always find good spots in the tourists hubs as well, but it’s those out of the way places that a tourist might have a hard time finding where the real gems are.  Boone’s Long Lake Inn came from a recommendation from Ang who said she and her fiance will find a reason to drive to Traverse City just so they can go to Boone’s.  That was a good enough recommendation for me, so we headed out of town to find Boone’s.

Boone’s is located a few miles outside of town on Secor Rd.  I damn near missed the turn for the driveway.  The sign came up on me pretty fast, but since there was no one behind me, I slowed down in a hurry to make the turn.  The restaurant sits at the end of a short drive.  When we got up the hill, we came into a huge parking lot that was pretty empty.  We were pretty early for dinner, so it was questionable whether we would even be able to get a meal here.  There’s a sign posted on the outside of the restaurant with the hours and they just opened for dinner about ten minutes prior to our arrival.

When we got inside, we were met by a host and shown to a table.  The dinning room is massive.  It’s divided into three separate, gigantic spaces.  In addition to the dining rooms, there’s a bar and banquet rooms.  Boone’s is huge.  Our waitress came over for drinks and told us about the specials.  Steaks had been recommended, but I don’t normally eat steak at restaurants.  Too expensiveand I’m a little picky with how it’s cooked.  I like it medium rare and that seems to be open to interpretation for some reason.  There was plenty on the menu that looked good.  I ended up ordering the single bacon wrapped pork loin.  The pork chop came with choice of potato and a salad.  I chose french fries for the potato and got a side salad with Italian dressing.  The most interesting thing about the salad were the croutons.  They were obviously homemade.  They were crispy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside.  Before the meal, the server brought out a loaf of warm, homemade bread.  I would assume the croutons are made from that left over bread.  Side salads are usually uninteresting and bland, but the croutons made this salad just the opposite. Read the rest of this entry »


The Cooks House

19 09 2008
  • 439 E. Front St.
  • Traverse City, MI 49686
  • (231) 946-8700
  • Website
  • Menu
The Cooks House near downtown Traverse City

The Cooks House near downtown Traverse City

7:30 AM is early.  Not for most people, but for J and me, anything before about 11 AM might as well be pre-dawn.  Why were we up so  early, you ask?  Our goal was to be on the road by 9:00 AM and in Traverse City by lunch.  Guess what?  We made it!  Out the door by 8:30 and in the Cherry Capitol by noon.  Our first stop was going to be lunch.  I had been scouting this one out for a while.  I noticed a blog on Good Food Hunting called From Behind the Stove.  The writer is a chef at a tiny restaurant near downtown Traverse City.  I knew if we ever made it north, The Cooks House would definitely be a stop.

So, we pull into downtown Traverse City just after noon.  I was a little worried because I kept reading about how great this place was and how it was starting to catch on with foodies.  Reservations are strongly recommended for dinner.  I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case with lunch.  The Cooks House is located just a few blocks from the main downtown business district on Front Street.  It’s a very inconspicuous building.  We actually drove by it without realizing it. We found a parking garage two blocks up then headed back the way we came on foot to seek out the shop. Read the rest of this entry »

Black Forest Brew Haus & Grill

1 09 2008
  • 281 Heinlein Strasse
  • Frankenmuth, MI 48724
  • (989) 652-6060
  • Website
  • Menu
Sullivans Black Forest Brew Haus & Grill in Frankenmuth, MI

Sullivan's Black Forest Brew Haus & Grill in Frankenmuth, MI

My parents have been to Lansing several times since I moved here from Central Illinois.  On I-94 going through Indiana, they always see a billboard for Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.  Christmas is a big deal in my family and this year it’s even more special. My brother and his wife are expecting my parents first grandchild.  My mom, dad, and aunt decided to come north for Labor Day and I suggested we drive over to Frankenmuth to check out the town.  I heard it was pretty touristy and it was.

Before we did the tourist thing, we needed to find something for lunch.  My parents had been on the road since 8:00 AM CST and we arrived in Frankenmuth at about 2:00 EST.  Everyone kept saying, “Go to Zehnder’s” or “You have to eat at the Bavarian Inn.”  I did a little research and noticed the chicken dinners everyone raved about were $20/person, so that was out.  Seems pretty expensive…even for an all-you-can-eat.  I mean, really, it’s just chicken.  I didn’t get a whole lot of suggestions when I asked for one on Chowhound, but I ended up stumbling across a website for the Black Forest Brew Haus & Grill.

We ended up finding Black Forest right across the street from Bronner’s. My family was marveling at just how big the Christmas store was when I turned in the driveway for Black Forest.  They all turned around and said the same thing about the big, castle looking building we were now sitting in front of.   We hit up the brew pub during off peak hours.  It wasn’t quite lunch nor was it quite dinner.  We were right in between so there weren’t a whole lot of people in the restaurant at the time.  We were met at the door and show to a table in the dining area to the left of the bar.  Besides the bar area and the dining room, there was a four seasons patio not far from where we sitting.  Upstairs, there were big banquet rooms.  The dining room and bar area is realy spacious.  There are high exposed ceilings and lots of seating.  There is a big room enclosed in glass where the distillers sit.  Read the rest of this entry »

Election Day BBQ – Final Update

5 08 2008

I hope everyone did their civic duty today and voted in all the non-races in the Lansing area.  I haven’t yet, but I do plan on it before the polls close.  It’s a little wierd.  I haven’t voted on Election Day in a few years.  Illinois has early voting or what the Reform Michigan Government Now (which I strongly oppose) calls No Excuse Absentee Voting.  Our polls were also automated, so I figured I’ll use today as a practice vote for November since I hear Michigan still use paper ballets or optical scan maybe?

Anyway, since it is Election Day, it’s a good day for a BBQ, huh?  I know that’s bad logic, but everyday is a good day for a BBQ.  My girlfriend actually isn’t going to be able to leave work for dinner, so we’re being nice and smoking some pork butts for the whole office.  I’ve never blogged about my cooking, but I thought I’d share the journey since I know some people at her office read this, it’ll just get them hungrier and then, as a negative side effect, hype up my pulled pork and give me expecatations I can’t possibly achieve.

Anyway, we got two Levandowski pork butts from L & L last night.  We went with two smaller ones instead of one big one hoping to cut the cooking time down some.  I put my rub on last night and threw them in the fridge.  I used a Bobby Flay rub and this is one of the few I don’t stray from.  It is so freakin good.  I used to use my own brown sugar based rub, but this one is so much better.  Just a little bit of heat.  I cut down the measurements so I only make what I was going to use today.

4 teaspoons Ancho Chile Powder
2 teaspoons Spanish Paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground corriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Chile de Arbol powder


This is what my two pork butts looked like when I threw them on the grill at about 1:45

I used this on a pork tenderloin one time and thought I had died and gone to heaven.  I pulled the meat out of the fridge and fired the grill up about 1:30.  I use natural hardwood lump charcoal instead of briquettes so the fire got going pretty quickly.  I added some hickory chunks and chips to the coals and threw the butts on the grill.  I’m trying to keep the temperature down around 250, but it’s not always easy with a Weber Kettle grill. 

Keep checking back between now and 6:00 or so.  I’ll update with pictures as we go along.  It’s so sad that Lansing doesn’t have a real BBQ joint.  This stuff is so easy to do with a little patience and the result is incredible!

Make sure to click on the READ MORE link every hour or so for updates Read the rest of this entry »

Girl Scout Donates Pigs to Food Bank

29 07 2008

I had to post this story.  Ellen Sponsler, a Girl Scout from Parma, is donating fifteen pigs that she raised to the Food Bank of South Central Michigan.  That’s 3,000 pounds of food.  I can’t even imagine how much money this girl could make at auction, but she’s giving all of it away.  In the process, she will earn the highest award a Girl Scout can recieve, the Gold Award.

Sponsler has participated for five years in 4-H, which offers buyers of fair animals the option of donating them to food banks. Sponsler decided to bypass the auction and send the pigs straight to charity.

“We are just thrilled that Ellen has such an understanding of the needs of her community,” Holly Cavinder, community outreach coordinator for the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, said in a statement. “This donation of pigs to the food bank will help feed the hungry in Jackson County, providing something that is lacking for many individuals who struggle with food security.” Read the rest of this entry »

Merindorf Meats & More – Williamston

28 06 2008
  • 500 Williamston Center Rd.Merindorf Meats & More
  • Williamston, MI 48895
  • (517) 655-2898
  • Website

If there’s been one constant on this blog over the past week, it’s been commentors that keep telling me I need to shop at Merindorf Meats.  They kept talking about the store in Mason, but somehow, I ended Williamston instead.  We were at Frandor Shopping Center where my girlfriend sold some gold.  After getting more than she expected, she suggested going to the meat shop everyone kept talking about on the blog.  Since we were already out and didn’t have an address, we put “Mason” and “meats” in her GPS.  Merindorf popped up, but the Williamston store is the only one that came up.  It wasn’t all that far and not being familiar with the area yet, we thought maybe people were saying Mason but it was really in Williamston, so we went. Read the rest of this entry »

The Great BBQ Sauce Debate

26 05 2008

Well, it is Memorial Day and pretty much everyone, including me, fired up the grills for lunch.  I stayed away from anything that needed sauce, but the Lansing State-Journal stirred up the debate in this morning’s paper.

The core of the barbecue sauce debate is simple: vinegar-based vs. tomato-based.

It’s strictly a Southern squabble, the battle line starting with the vinegar crowd in eastern North Carolina. As you move west, tomatoes take over. And the closer you get to Texas, the sweeter and darker red the sauces get.

But for non-Southerners, it’s hard to understand the fuss over a sticky substance spread over a chunk of meat.

It’s not strictly for Southerners.  I hate when I see people drowning ribs in a Kansas City style sauce.  My preference is actually somewhere between vinegar and tomato based.  I use a sauce similar to what Neely’s BBQ in Memphis uses.  It is a tomato based sauce heavy on ketchup (which is vinegar based itself), but I add a lot more cider vinegar.  I probably double or triple their recipe.  I like the sweetness of the ketchup, but I really like the tanginess of the vinegar. 

Memphis BBQ joints really showcase the differences in sauce.  There’s Neely’s which uses a thin tomato based sauce.  Rendezvous uses a traditional southern vinegar mop sauce made up of pretty much just vinegar and pepper.  Then Corky’s uses a thicker tomato based sauce.  Once you reach the Memphis region and beyond, your starting to get more variety.  Sweetness starts to take over from tangy and brown sugar, molasses, and honey start getting added.

Keep going west to Kansas City and you’ll run into a totally different animal.  KC Masterpiece is the standard as far as Kansas City sauces go.  Really think tomato based sauces that are really messy.  Head south to Texas and your somewhere in between Memphis and KC.  I would suggest reading the LSJ article for a detailed explanation of the different regions.

And just think, we’re JUST talking about sauce here.  We haven’t scratched the surface as far as BBQ. There’s the ribs vs. chopped pork vs. pulled pork vs brisket debate.  There’s baby backs vs. spare ribs or St. Louis ribs.  There’s secret rubs….and everyone has a strong opinion either way.  For me, heaven is a rack of baby backs with a chili pepper based rub with a thin, vinegary, tomato based rub.  No matter what, I’ll take  great BBQ, whether it’s mine or someone elses, over a salad anyday.