Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cousin Jenny's

A mainstay in downtown Traverse City, Cousin Jenny's is grand place for breakfast out!

Although Cousin Jenny's has been occupying the corner of Union and State Streets in downtown Traverse City for as long as I can remember, I have never made the choice to wander underneath its Union Jack.  That all changed a few days ago when Lisa and I were looking for a breakfast spot, doing our usual "Where do you want to go?"  "I don't know, where do you want to go?"  

Cousin Jenny's offers outdoors seating, perfect for people watching during Traverse City's Film Festival or Cherry Festival.

We made a split second decision as we passed under the stop light at Union and pulled up beside Cousin Jenny's. 

Now, my first experience with Cornish Pasties was a rather surprising one.  I had no idea what they were when a friend suggested we stop and grab some on a road trip through Michigan's Upper Peninsula (home to MANY a pastie joint!).  I expected a "pastry" experience, but instead was served beef and potatoes.  Now, we all know the "WHAT IN THE WORLD??" moment that takes place after your taste buds register something completely unexpected.  That was my first impression of this true working man's feast.

Inside Cousin Jenny's, the atmosphere is warm and inviting.

Pasties were brought about by a need for working men to have a hardy, transportable meal.  This was no frills, fuel the body dining for sure!  In fact "Cousin Jenny's" is the term given to wives of miners working in a location in England that escapes me at the moment.....Northern I think.  Not going to Bing it, this is not a history lesson.  Besides, the two wonderful owners of Traverse City's Cousin Jenny's will happily fill you in on the history of the term and the history of all other things having to do with their inviting establishment.

The food is real stuff of the earth type fare, perfect for a Sunday morning. Or any morning in Traverse City, MI!

For my breaking of fast meal, I chose the above pictured "Bacon."  

What was my impression?  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  The taste is quite rustic.  The breading comes through strongly, flaky and hot.  The middle tastes of exactly what it offers: Bacon, hash browns, eggs, cheddar cheese, red pepper, celery, onion and sour cream (served on the side). 

As mentioned before, this is true country food built from a working man's diet.  It fits in one hand and fuels you for a day at the beach, shopping downtown or running the Bayshore Marathon!  None of which miners were known for...

The pastie is what I like to call "raw eating."  Nothing about the food is ACTUALLY raw, mind you.  I use this term when the chef allows the food to speak for itself.  There is no fancy trim, there are no over the top seasonings, there is no attempt to fool the taste-buds or whisk you to heaven.  This is the stuff of peasants, the food of hard working men and women and you can taste the history with each bite.

Sweets and sides also populate Cousin Jenny's food cases.

While their main dish is decidedly frills free, their various other offerings do indeed delight the senses in a most splendid way.  Key Lime Pie Cheesecake (I am severely addicted to anything claiming the Key Lime as an ingredient) and blueberry muffins are NOT to be missed!

British or not, Traverse City's Cousin Jenny's is certain to please!

Overall, this place is certainly one of Traverse City's most unique experiences and, in my humble opinion, one of the very best breakfast or lunch joints around! The prices are also very reasonable, special pasties run about $4-$6. 

Stop by Traverse City's own British breakfast and lunch joint today!

In closing, I can guarantee that this experience is not for everyone.  If you like your food to have 15 levels of flavor, 7 consistencies and a multitude of ingredients, Cousin Jenny's is not right for you.  However, if you enjoy the "salt of the earth" sort of dining that comes from an experience based on a peasant's diet (something many chefs, including my preferred travelling foodie- Anthony Bourdain, will tell you results in the very best of creations), then Cousin Jenny's will certainly delight! 

This is Raw Eating with a bit of cheesy British flair.  Love it!

(All photos by Brooks Vanderbush)

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