Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel has a special offer for $130 per person this June. One must call to get the reservation (1-800-334-7263).
If you act fast, you can enjoy a five-course meal at the Grand Hotel on Friday, June 9, 2017, or Sunday, June 11, 2017, for only $130 per person. So, the two of you get dinner in Grand Hotel’s Main Dining Room, a night in one of their historic Victorian guest rooms and breakfast the next day for $260. (By itself, dinner at Grand Hotel is usually $80 each!)
How does that compare? Normal weekday rates generally start at more than twice that per person, $319.
But let’s talk food … There are three rotating menus for dinner. All of them read like a script from Downton Abbey. All have enough variety to sate one’s hunger for extraordinary fare, ranging from seafood entrees to lamb, beef or pork with a vegetarian offering that has this carnivore seriously considering a defection.
Here are a few of the descriptions that captured my appetite’s attention.
Dinner Menu 1:
Please don’t make me choose between sautéed Burgundy snails with brioche, porcini, shallots and pernod cream and the chef’s selection of east coast oysters with cocktail sauce and pineapple mignonette for appetizers. Perhaps you and a friend can get one of each and then share?
While the asparagus soup would be wonderfully fresh and local this time of year, I’m intrigued by the chilled strawberry-watermelon soup. Will the sweet fruits be balanced by the verjus rhubarb? And how will the candied pistachios be included?
Grand Hotel is serving trendy pork belly, as the trend starts to wane, and I have no trouble with that. It shows up on this menu, smoked, with the Berkshire pork tenderloin. Your plate includes root vegetable gratin, French lentils and green peppercorn sauce.
While you might savor the baked Atlantic salmon, the coffee-rubbed rack of lamb entrée diverts my attention from anything else on this menu. The lamb is served with fingerling potatoes, artichokes and a vintage port reduction.
Dinner Menu 2:
I don’t generally expect hamachi on Mackinac Island, so I’m delightfully surprised to find hamachi crudo with tarragon, puffed rice and a lime-serrano vinaigrette, as an appetizer. Don’t think sushi; there won’t be any soy or wasabi. Crudo is Italian for “raw,” and recipes call for a balance of spice to allow the fish to shine.
Grand Hotel’s lobster gazpacho, with cilantro oil is the perfect way to usher in summer. If you’re not ready to let go of spring, there’s the wild mushroom-eggplant bisque, for your second course.
Menu 2 lists a magnet duck breast, referring to the breast of a duck that has been raised for foi gras. Grand Hotel is serving maple-lacquered magnet duck breast confit. Often times this very large, rich duck breast is prepared like steak. Because Grand Hotel chef calls it confit, I believe he’s going to cook it slowly in rendered fat. It’s served with faro verde, almond granola, parsnips and Armagnac duck sauce. And it has my curiosity piqued.
I should also mention that Menu 2 offers a surf-and-turf of black Angus beef medallions and crispy shrimps. And there are pretzel-crusted venison medallions with glazed chestnuts, herb dumplings, red cabbage and lingonberry cream. (Aside: Pretzels are suddenly posh and popular.)
Dinner Menu 3:
For starters, if you choose the ahi tuna tataki, it’s closer to an expected sashimi preparation, lightly seared on the outside and served with kimchi, seaweed salad and yuzu-shoyu vinaigrette. Or you might try the crispy chicken avocado egg roll with Asian slaw, green tomato compote and black garlic aioli.
Frankly, I don’t know how you’ll choose a soup course from menu 3. I love lobster bisque and Grand Hotel’s bowl includes crayfish with smoked paprika cream. Or cream of white onion soup with pancetta and pumpernickel croutons. But how could one pass up a chilled sweet potato soup with (wait for it) hearts of palm (!) and cilantro oil.
The salad course here is a tossed (versus traditional sliced) caprese and adds sweet Vidalia onions to tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil oil and balsamic dressing.
While I’m a devout carnivore, I must pay homage to the vegetarian offering on menu 3—a root vegetable Jarlsberg cheese casserole (gluten free too!). It is served with portobello mousse, spiced beluga lentils (no caviar here, these lentils just look the part) and sun-dried tomatoes.
Additionally, Grand Hotel doesn’t ignore the white flaky bounty of our inland seas, serving a pecan-crusted Mackinac whitefish with mashed potatoes, mushrooms, littleneck clams and lemon-caper sauce.
Whatever menu one receives, there’s enough of a culinary adventure to keep you weighing options until you hit the bottom of your first glass. And while we’re on the topic of drinks, Elizabeth Schweitzer returns as Grand Hotel’s Master Sommelier this season, at the ready with the perfect beverage accompaniment.
All in all, the experience is worth the spiffy outfit required at Grand Hotel after 6:30 p.m. Gents, pack a sport coat and tie. Ladies, dress for a celebration: skirts, dresses, dressy pants suits.
I can’t leave the discussion without mentioning dessert. Yes, Grand Hotel asks us to sit up straight and wear our best duds, but it’s not so stuffy that it can’t have a little bohemian dessert fun. Marshmallow and Nutella bread pudding, for one, served with Ron Zacapa Rum Sauce. How about no-bake Oreo cookie cheesecake?! If you can’t turn off the posh posture, order the Tiramisu, the creme brûlée or the flourless, bourbon chocolate cake with salted caramel and hazelnut brittle.
This Friday, or Sunday: eat, drink, stroll the famous porch and get it all for a sweet deal, just in time to smell the lilacs.
… Did I mention you get breakfast too?
Please call 1-800-334-7263 for availability. Please check with Grand Hotel directly, on the details of any special offer, including this $130 Special Offer.