Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Filling Station Microbrewery

Outdoor seating lines the patio at the Filling Station Microbrewery in Traverse City during the warmer months.

Welcome to the Filling Station Microbrewery of Traverse City. No longer are the trains rumbling through or screeching to a steam or diesel spewing stop at this historic depot. Nowadays, the only rumbling comes from the brew house, the only smoke from the wood fired stone pizza oven. If you're a fan of artisan pizzas fresh from the flame's tender licking and handcrafted brews, then the Filling Station Microbrewery is the place for you!

One of Traverse City's newest breweries is receiving some rave reviews.

Located near Traverse City's public library off of Woodmere Avenue, this microbrewery focuses, first and foremost, on their beer selection. That selection is partnered well with some very creative and tasty artisan pizza offerings.

You'll notice that the urban minimalist atmosphere mixes well with the menu offerings and the slowly evolving industrial surroundings of this former home to numerous Traverse City rail based enterprises. Again, this joint doesn't need to tease your senses with any sort of flash or sparkle in the decor. They know why you're there, for brews! That's where they focus their dazzle! 

Urban and open, the decor at the Filling Station Microbrewery only adds to its offerings.

Despite the fact that the depot that houses the Filling Station Microbrewery was the epicenter of a hard working area, the views from the Filling Station's dining areas are perfect for a slice and a pint. The Boardman Lake is just a few steps away and the people watching is spectacular during the warmer months, what with one of Traverse City's many parks running adjacent to Boardman Lake's shores just beyond this eatery's windows, the TART trail cutting through that park, the library next door and a small marina and sailing school nearby as well.

The Filling Station Microbrewery near Traverse City's public library is a great place to meet and unwind.

We'll begin with the food! As stated, this eatery features wood fired pizzas and a lovely salad option. Some of the highlights of the menu include:

Cock O' The Walk for $14. This pizza features house made basil oil, oven roasted chicken, artichokes, oven roasted tomatoes and mozzarella.

Burlington Northern for $14. This pizza features garlic oil, roasted garlic, red onions, fresh pears, prosciutto, brie and a balsamic reduction.

Three Rivers for $12. This pizza features marinara, fresh basil, roma tomatoes and mozzarella.

As I said before, there is also a fun and tasty salad as well as a dessert pizza (for guys like me who can not live without dessert) that features Nutella, graham crackers, marshmallow and more. Yum!

The taps are magical at the Filling Station Microbrewery.

Now, on to the reason that this place exists! The beer! (also Yum!)

Each brew is listed under a track number, tracks 1-9. These tracks do change from time to time, so the beers listed below may not be the exact same as the ones offered during your visit. Be sure to check out their site for updates on small craft brews, etc.

Having said that, their current menu offers some tasty, fun examples of craft brewing, definitely worth a look and sip on your next trip to Traverse City!

Out of the 9 available treats, I'll list three, two from my set of favs, one from my lovely Lisa's preferred drinking style.

First (as always), my lovely Lisa.

Track 4 carries a Dublin Stout. 4.3% ABV for you tickers out there. It is described as a nice session stout.

My two picks are these:

Track 3 features a Bacharach Golden Ale, 4.4% ABV. It's a nice malty ale with a subtle bittering.

Track 5 is a Denver Brown Ale, 4% ABV. It has a higher finishing gravity, which gives body and sweetness to this mild ale.

Arriving on every track, some scrumptious brews!

Obviously, my tastes are my own. If you don't see something that tickles your fancy in the items that I have chosen to highlight, don't let that stop you from visiting this brand spanking new TC brewery! There are plenty of other options available on both their pizza and beer menus.

An ancient art conjures up some tasty fare at the Filling Station Microbrewery!
Traverse City is hoppin', literally. The number of breweries springing up throughout TC and beyond is astounding. Another brewery is slated to take up residence within the depot district very soon. Life is good here in the Grand Traverse region for lovers of both the hop and the vine. And, luckily enough for us all, local and visitor alike, these amazing concoctions are being paired with some superb culinary offerings.

Whether it be the fun, urban atmosphere of the Filling Station Microbrewery or any of the other outstanding dining experiences here in Traverse City and the surrounding regions, you will be hard pressed (hard cider pun, that's also a very popular and growing industry here in the Grand Traverse region. Aren't I just da bomb at these innuendos and sly transitions??) to find any other city or town that can rival Traverse City in culinary prowess, options of amazing local brews and vints (my own word, that).

I encourage you to keep an eye on this blog for some amazing "do not miss" dining experiences here in Northern Michigan! Pass the word around! And hit up the Filling Station! It's easy to miss joints like this if you're new to the TC area or don't really get out too much. It is my aim here to make a resource for those that want to be "in the know" to actually have a constantly updated, actionable way to truly be in the know! Thanks for reading!

(All photos by Brooks Vanderbush)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Slabtown Cafe

Slabtown Cafe (Burgers) in Traverse City, MI is the perfect stop for the family on the the beach!
The windows are wide open, the sun is shining and my mug is sitting here next to me, sweating little beads of condensation, patiently awaiting my next sip of Short's Soft Parade, a right proper brew for the Summer! 

Another right proper part of Summer here in Traverse City is a sweet little spot just down the road and around the corner from my abode, Slabtown Cafe, otherwise known as Slabtown Burgers by us locals, possibly because of their slightly misleading sign. What is not misleading about this joint is the amazing food! 

Dine in or dine outside, it makes no difference. Traverse City's Slabtown Burgers is certain to please.

Now, dining in at this establishment is a true little local bit of fun. The atmosphere is fun, slightly cramped, but you tend to not mind, the people here are usually quite awesome. There's even a great porch and some picnic tables outside along Front Street and Spruce Street. The actual address of this place is 826 W. Front Street. Although the address is on Front Street, this burger stop is not downtown, it's actually across Division Street from downtown, right in the midst of the Slabtown neighborhood; my neighborhood. A great place to live! 2 blocks from the beach!

Slabtown Burgers, a local mainstay of summertime in Traverse City.

Now, shall we get to it? The food!

We'll start with the sides and lesser plates. Here at Slabtown Burgers, if you're not into burgers, no worries, there's plenty to go around!

There's salads! How about a Traverse City Salad? It's got a bit of everything we love in our salads up here. Dried cherries (of course, cherry capital and all that), chicken, walnuts, red onion, blue cheese and a cherry vinaigrette. All for $6.95!

They've got hot dogs! A fun all beef 1/4 pound hot dog dressed with ketchup, mustard, relish and onion makes for a grand treat, especially at the dirt cheap price of $2.50. Yum! Beeeeeef!

Fancy a wrap? Slabtown has you covered! My favorite has to be a wrap that is aptly named for Summertime here in TC: The Hot Chick wrap. It's got grilled chicken, pepperjack cheese, jalepenos, grilled mushrooms, onions, lettuce, tomato and mayo. All that for only $7.25.

They've got sandwiches! Lovely offerings like the Big Bird will bring you the fuel you need for playing on the beach! It comes complete with sliced turkey, swiss, lettuce, tomato, banana peppers, mayo and homemade sweet Lincoln honey mustard sauce served on a bun. Again, great price: $5.25.

They've got fresh daily soups, local sodas, awesome shakes, and great extras like onion rings, chili cheese fries and some of the best fresh cut French fries around! Smother them in some vinegar and you're in heaven!

You can even snag a slab of ribs for $12.95. That comes with coleslaw and fries.

Summer is here. That means it's Slabtown time in Traverse City!

But, I'm not going to lie to you here, the main reason that folks visit Slabtown is for the burgers!

Their chalk boards are full of specialty bun contenders.

Highlights include the Big Blue Burger (bacon and blue cheese stuffed burger dressed with ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion, a personal favorite, for $4.95), JD's Half Baked (topped with bacon, cheddar, potato, ranch, ketchup and a pickle for $4.85), The West Side (burger stacked with ham, swiss, american cheese and mayo for $4.85) and Pungi's Pepper Patty (with jalapeno, cream cheese and bacon stuffed burger with pepper jack, ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion for $4.85). They even serve up a homemade black bean veggie burger for the unfortunate vegetarian that may inadvertently wander through the door.

Don't forget to grab a shake at Traverse City's Slabtown Burgers.

Bottom line, summer is about to hit the Grand Traverse region, and there is no better place to be during the summer than outside, am I right? Course I am! When you come to Traverse City, you're here for the downtown shopping, the State Theatre, the concerts and shows and, yes, the beaches, hiking, boating, climbing, biking and scenic driving that this perfectly picturesque locale affords the lucky traveller. What goes better with those activities than a transportable meal?

Now, I realize that this area has certain places that serve transportable "food" claiming to be a king, an arch, etc. This is NOT an acceptable form of nourishment. It is neither local, nor is it food. If you're here to experience TC, do it locally, immerse yourself in this amazing experience that is Traverse City!

And, if you truly love the part of a trip that allows you to let go and not care about your diet or health, grab the Double Bypass Bag from Slabtown and hit the trails! See you at the beach!