Saturday, August 20, 2011

Centre Street Cafe

Traverse City's own urban lunch scene is tucked away near the intersection of Garfield and Centre Street, hence the name, Centre Street Cafe.

If you came here seeking well kept secrets of Traverse City dining, then this little section of the blog is for you.

Within certain circles, Centre Street Café is the epitome of today’s modern local urban cuisine. One wouldn’t know by looking at it, though.

From its non-descript location (not walking distance to downtown) on Centre Street (imagine that!) just off of Garfield Avenue, tucked behind Agave (a sweet Mexican joint) and next to a martial arts academy, this little café gives off the aire of a local greasy spoon favorite. My friends, it is most definitely MUCH more than that!

Within the unassuming walls (covered in local art for sale) rests one of Traverse City’s most amazing culinary experiences.

Frequented by the local business class, this café is often hoppin’. Once you grab the menu, tucked lovingly behind the napkin holder on your table, you’ll begin to understand why so many people leave the confines of downtown to venture out to this café.

As you begin to peruse the offerings you’ll notice combinations that you have never dreamed of before. One of my very best friends describes the Tom On The Town sandwich as “Thanksgiving dinner.” She adores it. From wasabi and apples on one sandwich, to shark on another, no matter what your taste buds are screaming for, you are certain to find a mix of flavors that will make them say “ahhhhhh.”

A great finish to an amazing meal, do not miss Centre Street Cafe's desserts!

Now, when many people hear of Centre Street Café’s various sandwich offerings (I believe that the menu holds a little over 500,000 different sandwiches {that’s only a slight exaggeration}), they tend to dismiss it as a great place for a sandwich, which it most certainly is, but it is so much more.

My first suggestion is to check the specials' boards once you have wandered in. Exotic meats, vegetables and spices often grace these boards. The owner, Pete, is a self taught chef whose creations are the stuff of legend.

Centre Street Cafe, in Traverse City, takes lunch to a whole new level, one reason why it is so incredibly popular with the locals!

Sit back and allow me to indulge you here.

On this particular day, the specials board listed the following scrumptiousness:

Ahi Enzio- Seared prosciutto wrapped Ahi tuna served with an Arugula and lentil salad with shaved fennel, crisp pancetta, red onion and green beans.

Good Lord.

Elk Macario- Fresh herb seasoned ground elk meat-balls with house made herb-tomato sugo and crumbled goat cheese over whole wheat gemelli pasta.

Sweet Virgin Mary and the orphans!

Smoked Duck Pizza- House made smoked pulled duck, cabernet poached pears, exotic mushrooms, fresh sage, gorgonzola, red onion and cilantro. Balsamic-fennel-onion reduction.

Dios mio. For real. All this and the most expensive thing is around $13. Heaven!

Small but stylish, Centre Street Cafe lets its food do the talking for it.

People, this is one of my favorite TC locations. Everytime I leave this cafe, I feel that I have truly experienced a genuine bit of culinary excellence. The atmosphere is real, the creating is done before your very eyes and the staff who work at this place are some of the most outstanding of any restaurant I have ever experienced.

If you are seeking culinary excellence on a fresh, local level while in Traverse City, search no farther than Centre Street Café.

My parting piece of advise to you is simple. If you take the time to seek out the exquisite fare at Centre Street Café, DO NOT CREATE YOUR OWN SANDWICH. While the ingredients are the freshest and the taste still defeats any other establishment, you will be missing an entire experience, the experience that makes Centre Street Café stand apart from the other restaurants of Traverse City: the unique combination of flavors that will soon have you hopelessly and completely addicted.  It should be a crime to have a "create your own" section on a menu in an eatery such as this.

Once you have tasted Centre Street Cafe's scrumptiousness, you will be one of the privileged few who can whisper sweet nothings to those around you about that amazing place on the outskirts of town. The whispers are growing. This place won’t be a “secret” for long.

Catering of all sorts and forms is available from the crew at Centre Street Cafe in Traverse City. No matter what you love, there will be an option for you!

Added bonus: They cater.  No matter what you envision at your event, Pete and his staff will concoct a creation that wows, take my word for it!  (And Levar Burton's too!)

(All photos by Lisa Kelly)

1 comment:

  1. I hear the wait staff there is wonderful!!