A stunning view of the Straits of Mackinac with passing ferries and freighters lies in front of you during your meal at the Carriage House on Mackinac Island. Located downtown, inside Hotel Iroquois, the Carriage House offers fine dining with a laid back atmosphere. Guests can sit in the glass-enclosed dining room or on one of the outdoor waterfront verandas where the beach is just steps away.
“Our location down on the water can’t be beat,” says Sam Barnwell, third generation evening operations manager. “You can sit at a table having lunch and be 5 feet from the water. If the wind is blowing out of the east you can’t sit there because you’ll get wet. Even in our dining room you’re only 60 feet from the water’s edge and you’re looking out at the Round Island Lighthouse and freighters.”
The view alone is worth the trip, but the restaurant’s signature American cuisine, created under the direction of Chef Jim Lahti, makes dining at the Carriage House a culinary experience. Taste the locally caught whitefish while a breeze from Lake Huron stirs across your face, or sip a cocktail with friends as the sun sinks below the horizon.
“What we’re really known for is our whitefish,” Sam says. “My grandfather found these broiler pans in the ’50s and we’ve been using them ever since. It gives you a very moist, very clean whitefish compared to baking or grilling.”
Sam’s grandparents are Sam and Margaret McIntire, the owners of Hotel Iroquois and Carriage House. The McIntire family has owned and managed the hotel since 1954.
“Back when my grandparents first started the hotel it had 14 rooms, and they added the dining room in 1958,” Sam says. “They did everything— the housekeeping, the kitchen, whatever needed to be done. It’s still that way with our family business. My grandmother is there every day at 8 am. She oversees all the housekeeping and is there for dinner every night.”
The Carriage House is partnered with other family owned businesses in Michigan, which allows them to create their signature dishes.
“The other thing we’re known for is our steaks,” Sam says. “We source all of our steaks from another three-generation business in Detroit called Fairway Packing. We’ve been able to create a really custom meat program because we’re working with another family owned business.”
The restaurant also works closely with Bill’s Farm Market in Petoskey, Otto’s Chicken in Middleville and Carmela Specialty Foods and Fine Wines in Fraser. During the summer, the shortcakes and sundaes made with Bill’s fresh fruits are a must try.
Sam’s pick from the menu is their new salmon dish with fennel pollen.
“It’s a very simple salmon with fennel pollen and sea salt,” he says. “Just the simplicity of it and the crispness and aromatics of the fennel pollen make it one of my new favorite dishes.”
The custom menu, extensive wine list and nightly entertainment at the piano bar make the Carriage House a perfect spot for an anniversary dinner while the inviting atmosphere calls for a mid-afternoon cocktail and snack.
Click here to view their menu, or call 906-847-3321 to make a reservation.