Saturday, August 25, 2012


Mana, at Traverse City's The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, is a grand lunch stop amidst a day of wandering.

PLEASE NOTE that Mana is no longer with us, sadly. In its place is a very fine establishment by the name of Pepenero. The review on this eatery is coming soon!

"Real Men Eat Quiche."

You can buy that slogan on a tshirt at this joint. And these guys actually believe it. To them, quiche isn't some fluffy little affair, it's a meal. A real man's man feast. To make it even MORE bad ass, they say that ladies eat it too!

Mana's dining room is the Mercado hallway. Great people watching, great food!

In case you haven't noticed, we've returned to The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, AKA the old State Hospital in Traverse City. Today, we dine in the midst of the Mercado. All manner of artisans ply their trades here. One of my favorites would be Mana. 

Nothing is left to chance at Mana. Their priority is great food for you.

This place is a simple joint. Hence the shorter blog. They have one goal: to fill you up with amazing food. And, on a routine basis, they meet that goal.

The atmosphere is rather industrial. One feels as though they may have just wandered into the local meat and fisherman's market's vendor restaurant. I love it.

Something else I love? Their menu! Let's get to it!

That Mana from heaven saying? This is where it comes from.

First off, don't miss out on the outstanding quiches made freshly every day. Their desserts rock too!

They do have a fixed menu, though. It is also not to be missed. Let's just say that you'll be doing a lot of not missing on your trip here!

We'll start with my favorite section, the sandwiches. And, of course, we'll start with my favorite sandwich! The Cuban! This sandwich is pork loin, grilled ham, swiss, lettuce, tomato and homemade Cuban Mojo on a French Baguette. Yum!

Another favorite involves Nutella and peach preserves on Mana bread. Whoa.

These guys have a great little selection of fixed sandwich options. Prices range from $7-$9.

Other options include a lovely slaw dog, some awesome soup du jour specials made daily, and a grand chopped salad. These other options range in price from $3-$8.

As for drinking, no alcohol here, but they do have Northwoods Soda and Higher Grounds Coffee, local favorites, for sure.

But, as mentioned, the quiche is the highlight. If you're only getting one thing, get some quiche!

One of the many treasures found whilst wandering the old State Hospital's hallways.

As I've said before, dining is all about amazing food and an outstanding experience. Well, being able to enjoy some seriously delicious nosh amongst the surroundings of the old State Hospital certainly fits that bill! So, my suggestion for your lunch today? Go Mana! It certainly is from heaven. (Sorry, that joke had to make it in to this at some point!)

(All photos by Brooks Vanderbush)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Apache Trout Grill

Traverse City's Apache Trout Grill is the perfect spot to enjoy some Great Lakes bounty and beach side sitting!

There's something to be said for location. One could be supping on a delectable bit of Mahi Mahi and throwing back some supremely scrumptious local brew, but, if that one's view is a parking lot full of cars, that tantalizing dining experience certainly leaves one feeling as though something was missing......

At Apache Trout Grill in Traverse City, that problem plagues no diner.

The trendy, visually pleasing bar area is a grand spot to unwind....or wind up!

Apache Trout Grill, situated next door to the Grand Traverse Yacht Club, is certainly a favorite of the boating set. But it is by no means exclusive to the boating set. An upscale city grill ambiance mixes well with a slightly "lodge" type feel for indoor diners. In the warmer months, Apache has one of the best patios in Traverse City, complete with a full service tiki bar.

And the view, oh my, the view! In warmer months, sailboats rock back and forth as the sun glints lazily off of East Bay. The Old Mission Peninsula stretches out across the water and downtown Traverse City's skyline breaks the tree tops in the distance. This is one of Traverse City's best dining views, to be sure!

The fishing lodge decor isn't just for show here at Apache Trout Grill.

And, speaking of dining, these guys certainly do it right! As you'll notice in the pictures that accompany today's blog, they put out quite a spread for their Sunday Brunch, one of the best brunches in the Grand Traverse region.

But, on a day to day basis, these guys are none too shabby either!

Apache Trout Grill hosts one of Traverse City's best Sunday brunches.

Upon entering a place with "Trout" in the moniker, one has certain expectations. You won't be disappointed here at Apache!

The lunch menu is incredibly satisfying. I'll make it easy for you and name off a few highlights from each section.

And one of the best patios in Traverse City as well!

A favorite salad is the Baked Goat Cheese. It features crisp bacon, tomato, mixed greens  and toast points with fresh herb arugula pesto. This salad goes for $12.95. Salad prices on a whole range from $11.95-$14.

I am a sucker for crab cakes, and Apache Trout Grill knows their crab! This is why, when it comes to the Starter section, I always lay down the $10.95 needed to score their delicious crab cakes served with garlic aoli cream sauce. The starter menu is vast and varied. Its prices range from $7.95-$14.

"Apache Favorites" is a great section to order from for the beginning Apache enthusiast! I'd sample the Baja Shrimp Tacos. They're $10.95 and they come with two flour tortillas filled with lightly fried shrimp, salsa, sour cream, avocados, red onion, lettuce and swiss cheese, they also feature an avocado egg roll! "Apache Favorites" range from $9.95-$19.

For many folks the "Fish" portion of the lunch menu is always a hit, including me. Here, I go for the Parmesan Encrusted Whitefish (Lightly breaded Lake Superior filet deep fried, topped with Parmesan cheese with marinara sauce. Served with garlic mashed potatoes and a vegetable) for $18.95 or the Rainbow Trout (pan fried filet with peppers, onions and feta cheese in a white wine sauce) also for $18.95. Fish prices range from $18.95 to $23.

Soup? No question. Always snag a bowl of the Shrimp and Lobster Bisque. $6.95. Good Lord, it's yummy!

Now, I'm not much of a pasta guy, but if you put some of Apache's Crab Cake over Six Cheese Sacchettini in front of me, I'm suddenly Italian! This feast consists of real crab meat (always important, no crab with a "K"!) sauteed crisp and placed in a lemon caper sauce over cheese filled Sacchettini....or Little Purses...for only $16.95! other pasta prices range from $14.95-$19.

The sandwich section is a popular lunch stop on the menu. I'd snag the Whitefish Sandwich, it's tasty and simple, $9.95. Sandwiches range from $8.95-$12 and come with french fries or cole slaw.

Finally, there's burgers! Try the Mighty Mack! It has Thousand Island dressing, sweet onions, shredded lettuce and Tillamook cheddar cheese. $10.95. You can't beat it! The other burgers range from $8.95-$11 and, again, come with fries or cole slaw.

The wine selection is grand and the beer list is large, if a bit light on local selection.

The dinner menu has much the same as the lunch menu. Differences being a few additional large plates. Of these, I thoroughly enjoy (and recommend) the Salmon Oscar under the Fish section (grilled salmon served with house bernaise sauce, a crab cake and asparagus) for $23.95 and the Seared Sea Scallops, also under Fish (seared scallops served with lemon caper buerre blanc) for $29.95.

A "Steaks" section is also new to the dinner menu. I'd suggest the Boursin Filet for $29.95 (an 8oz filet topped with boursin cake, mushroom cap and demi-glace). Other steaks range in price from $18.95-$30.

Another difference between the lunch and dinner menu is the addition of "Barbecue" to the dinner menu. The barbecue here is grand. Dishes in this section range from $15.95 for chicken breast to $23 for a full slab of ribs.

One of Traverse City's best (and only) tiki bars. There's nothing like sipping a Hurricane while watching your boat come in!

As would be expected from a joint like this, the wine lists and beer lists are extensive. Unfortunately, many of the beers are not exactly local, something that I think would thoroughly improve this already amazing beach side restaurant, but, oh well, I'll just saunter up to the tiki bar and order myself a tall glass of coconut rum and pineapple juice. Yuuuuummmmm.

(All photos by Brooks Vanderbush)