Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jolly Pumpkin

The unique decor and wonderful lodge like atmosphere make Traverse City's Jolly Pumpkin a grand place to dine!

Ah Jolly Pumpkin, how I love thee.

This restaurant, a short drive out Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, is beautifully appointed.  The fond memories of Bower's Harbor Inn and the Bowery (the restaurants that once inhabited this old mansion) still echo within these walls.  Instead of the high end Bower's Harbor Inn, there is now Mission Table, which is, in my opinion, looking to be world's better.  I have yet to experience this bit of elegance, but when I do I will pass along my little opinion.  For now, we will discuss The Bowery's replacement.

Booths, high-tops and tables all come together in an effort to allow you to enjoy Jolly Pumpkin's fare.

Set-up within a beautiful old home, the Jolly Pumpkin occupies the back half of the mansion.  The decor within this joint is spot on.  I love the atmosphere, from the huge wooden front door, to the bar and the seating areas.  There does not appear to be a bad table at this restaurant, each has its own unique place and reason.  Love it.

North Peak brews mix with Jolly Pumpkins sour Belgium style creations. Many take some getting used to.

The food here is always fun as well.  From crab tator-tots and truffled French fries on the appetizer menu to the summer vegetable plate and the constantly changing fresh fish plate on the entree menu, I have yet to find a loser. 

Jolly Pumpkin is popular for artisan pizzas as well.  My favorite is the wild mushroom pizza, but, if that doesn't float your boat, there are six others to choose from.  You can grab a steak off of the wood fired grill, dive into a Bison sloppy joe or delight in the ever wonderful salmon sandwich.  Don't forget to ask about their specials as well.  They oftentimes get quite creative with the specials menu.

The food, and people that serve it, are both excellent here at Traverse City's Jolly Pumpkin on Old Mission Peninsula!

Now, this place promotes itself as a brewery.  It is, in fact, part of a family of restaurants including Blue Tractor and North Peak.  Both wonderful establishments with great beer that you will soon be able to read about.  But, when at Jolly Pumpkin, be cautious of the beer.

During my first excursion there I was quite excited to taste the juice of their various taps.  I chose Bam Biere, a beer heralded as a "top 25 beers in America" pick from Men's Journal.  I eagerly brought the cup to my lips for my first taste of this man-loved beer and was instantly hit with a very unique flavor.

Here's the rub - these beers are not for the beginner. Me and my…..shall we say……very experienced (ha) palate adore these brews, but, when I've introduced less experienced friends or family, they do not share my pleasure.

A lot of their beers share a strange, sharp flavor/bite. Strange, that is, to the uninitiated.  I am not sure why, but it is quite vexing to some!  During my last trip, I sampled their Fuego Del Otono, it was amazing.  However, much to my dismay, I ordered their light beer and did not catch the name of it, because it was also amazing.  A crisp, buttery delight.  I will be going back for seconds of each for sure!

Even though many brews are an acquired taste, you are certain to find something that pleases behind the bar at Jolly Pumpkin.

The moral here is one that you should follow at every restaurant, be careful.  Jolly Pumpkin can be a truly amazing experience, just be sure to ask for a taste sample of the beer before you dive in to one of their liter bottles or tall drafts. I love them, but, again, not for beginners!

(All photos by Brooks Vanderbush)

1 comment:

  1. Jolly Pumpkin is famous for their "sour" beers. These Belgian knock off's are getting very popular here in the States, but have been around in Europe for centuries. They require a little getting used to that is for sure! There is little in-between with these styles, people either love them, or hate them. I hated them at first, but I am coming around as of late.