This month we roam the fine dining rooms of Traverse City restaurants, as well as restaurants in Harbor Springs, Brutus, Maple City and Walloon Lake to find menu items inspired by spring’s bounty of Northern Michigan leeks, morels and fiddlehead ferns.
7688 Maple River Road, Brutus, 231-529-4653
The tucked-away dining room at Pellston’s Hidden River Golf & Casting Club begins the season with a profusion of locally foraged morels and leeks in dishes like the Tee Box Pork Chop and Maple River Salmon. Dine to the whisper of a blue ribbon trout stream. www.hiddenriver.com/
1200 W. Eleventh St., Traverse City, 231-929-8989
Chef Myles executes his pan-Italian spring menu with a precision and flourish that landed him at New York’s James Beard House this month. Look for dynamic features harnessing earthy spring edibles intermingled with Stella’s housemade pastas. www.stellatc.com/
9001 S. Dunn’s Farm Rd., Maple City, 231-334-3944
Francophiles and foodies flood the dining room at La Bécasse, Leelanau County’s epicenter of French country dining, for timeless May delicacies like Noisettes de Veau or Morel Risotto. www.restaurantlabecasse.com/
101 State St., Harbor Springs, 231-526-6285
The high, hammered ceilings and vintage luxury of Harbor Springs’ iconic New York Restaurant show off Chef Matt Bugara’s innovations on classic cuisine. Look for the morel-leek-fiddlehead trifecta alongside New York’s sublime steaks and chops. www.thenewyork.com/
Walloon Lake Inn’s David Beier Talks Spring Edibles
Since 1981 chef/owner David Beier has maintained a culinary sweet spot on Walloon Lake, planting the French Relais & Chateaux tradition in the center of Hemingway country. This month we sit down with Beier to talk spring edibles.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST EXCITING ABOUT SPRING CUISINE?It’s a sort of awakening that moves us from the root cellar to the garden and enables lighter, brighter preparations contrasted with the earthy flavors of morels and asparagus. I love to harvest wild leeks and use them in my spring menus.
ANY TIPS FOR THE AMATEUR CHEF COOKING WITH MORELS AND WILD LEEKS?
Treat the ramps (wild leeks) as you would a strong onion or shallot: The flavor is very intense and enhances sauces. With morels I think it’s important not to crowd the flavor; concentrate on simpler recipes with proteins like chicken or rabbit that showcase the flavor of the mushrooms. WALLOON LAKE INN, 4178 WEST ST., WALLOON LAKE, 231-535-2999. www.walloonlakeinn.com/
Tim Tebeau is food and wine editor for Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. [email protected]