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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Hit the Peninsulas in Traverse City


2. Where to Eat

The subterranean dining room of Trattoria Stella.  

Reserve several weeks in advance for dinner at the Cook’s House, a popular downtown restaurant where seven tables are packed closely together in the living room of an old house. The open kitchen turns out seasonal dishes like local whitefish roasted in grape leaves with white cucumber relish, pea shoots, and baby leeks ($24), but the tasting menus ($50 for five courses, $60 for seven courses) are quite reasonably priced. If you can’t nab a dinner booking, stop in for small plates between 2 and 5 p.m. (Tuesday–Saturday).

Feel like you’re in a wine grotto at Trattoria Stella, a surprisingly lovely basement space with exposed brick walls and flickering candles. The daily menu highlights local produce in simple dishes like squash blossoms stuffed with fresh ricotta ($12), but specials, including handmade maltagliati with lamb ragù ($15) and quick-fired pizzas with house-made mozzarella and smoked tomato sauce ($12), are the main draw.

Head north for a fireside dinner at Mission Table, the area’s most authentic farm-to-table restaurant, which sources nearly everything it serves from the 22-mile peninsula it’s located on. In addition to crafting all beers and spirits on-site, the staff forages for mushrooms, makes sausage in-house, and does most of the butchering, pursuing a level of detail and quality that’s reflected in delicately flavored dishes like slow-cooked rabbit with fennel, beets, watercress, and aioli ($9) or a duo of lamb shoulder and loin, served with split peas, yogurt, and pea shoots ($13).

Published on Sep 27, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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