By Cymbre Foster
Special to the Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — More than two dozen restaurants will be participating in what promises to be one of the most delicious weeks of the winter when the third annual Traverse City Restaurant Week kicks off Sunday, Feb. 24, and runs through March 2.
Hosted by the Downtown Traverse City Association, Restaurant Week will have participating restaurants offering diners three-course meals for $25 per person.
Many of the menus are created specially for the event.
“Restaurant Week will offer the opportunity for patrons to explore new dining establishments or enjoy their favorites,” said Colleen Paveglio, DDA/DTCA marketing director. “It makes an affordable night out for a couple.”
This year several new restaurants will be participating, including Om Cafe, which opened in July of last year on Lake St. in the former Loading Dock bar location.
“This is our first Restaurant Week and we’re looking forward to it,” said Ryan McManus, one of the owners of Om.
Om offers an array of foods for the vegan and vegetarian as well as those with food allergies. McManus calls it “tasty, healthy food for anyone.”
They will not only offer diners a choice of regular menu items, but some new ones as well.
“We want to offer a couple of our staples to people who haven’t been in so that they can get a sense of our food,” explained McManus.
Diners can chose from the Buddhist Priest Stir-fry, an Om favorite that features sautéed veggies, tamari with either soba noodles or organic brown rice or Seitan Stroganoff, a combination of mushrooms, peas, goat cheese, meritage wine and egg pappardelle.
Just for the week, diners can also try an adzuki black bean cake with whipped yams, sautéed kale and a ginger cream.
Josh Vinocur, executive chef at Sorellina and Harrington’s by the Bay, has been busy creating special menu items for the week-long event. This is also Sorellina’s first Restaurant Week. The semi-fine Italian restaurant opened in May 2012 on Park St.
“I didn’t want to do anything on the menu,” said Vinocur. “If you come in, it’s a good exposure for the types of food we serve and also showcases the direction the food will take in the future.”
At Sorellina, Vinocur promises diners a modern interpretation on traditional Italian with dishes liked espresso-rubbed beef carpaccio and a butter-poached Maine lobster with lobster tarragon risotto and citrus saffron vinaigrette.
For the third year, Reflect at the Cambria Suites Hotel on Munson Ave. will participate. Scott Neuman, formerly the owner of Scott’s Harbor Grill, is now assistant general manager at the Cambria and has made some changes to the menu, said Ron Robinson, director of operations of Summerside Properties, which includes the Cambria Suites.
“We want people to know we have a fine dining restaurant in our establishment that is open to the public,” said Robinson.
Their menu will feature dishes like a Maple Glazed Salmon with maple syrup from Kingsley, a Lake Superior Whitefish Pate and their signature cherry bread pudding with a warm sweet vanilla cream.
The owners of Harbor 22 on M-22 in the former Scott’s Harbor Grill location are looking forward to having people come in for their first Restaurant Week. The Greilickville restaurant opened last year and will feature a special menu that includes an array of local and house-made foods, said Veronica Simpson, office manager.
“We’re really looking forward to having people come in and try our food,” she said.
Diners will find creations like creamed tri-colored orzo with poached carrots and celery, crispy pickled pearl onion and spinach chips or a parmesan artichoke and spinach-stuffed whitefish.
This year the public may enter to win a prize package including a $50 gift card from each participating restaurant, valued at more than $1,000. Visit downtowntc.com or call 922-2050 for more information and the complete list of participating restaurants and their menus. Reservations are strongly suggested.
2 c. Plath’s bacon thick cut into lardons (small sticks or cubes)
1 sweet onion, medium dice
2 c. leeks, cleaned and cut on bias
6 c. of peeled and small-diced Idaho potatoes, in cold water
2 T. flour
2 oz. butter
1 quart fish stock or store-bought vegetable stock
2 c. fish scrap/whitefish sausage (or 6 cans of clams in sea water drained)
2 sprigs thyme
1 c. fresh corn off the cob
1 bay leaf
4 oz. beer
1 quart whole milk
1 pint cream
In a large stock pot, melt butter and sweat bacon and thyme sprigs tied with twine. Cook until bacon is rendered but not crispy; add onions and leeks and sweat. Add potatoes and flour and stir until mixture is thick. Add beer, milk, cream and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add fish and taste to adjust seasonings. Cook until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Add corn at end. Yields 2 quarts.
Maine Lobster with Lobster Tarragon Risotto and Citrus Saffron Vinaigrette
4 4-oz. lobster tails, shelled and cleaned
2 lbs. unsalted butter
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 c. arborio rice
61/2 c. lobster stock
2 T. fresh chopped tarragon
1/2 c. dry sherry
1 T. spanish paprika
1/2 c. good quality grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. white balsamic vinegar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. granulated sugar
1 c. pomace/olive oil blend
Salt and pepper
For lobster tails:
In a heavy stock pot over low heat, combine 2 lbs, butter and 1 c. olive oil. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer. Add lobster tails and cook until meat is firm and bright red, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove tails and keep warm
In a heavy stock pot over medium heat, add 1 c. poaching liquid from the lobster tails. Add 1 T. each minced garlic and shallot and cook until aromatic. Add rice and cook until it begins to give off a slightly nutty aroma. Deglaze the pan with dry sherry and add paprika. Stirring rice continuously, begin ladling warm lobster stock into pan 1 c. at a time. Do not add more stock until previous stock has been absorbed. Cook rice until al dente. Finish with fresh chopped tarragon, grated Parmesan, salt and fresh cracked pepper.
In a small sauce pot, add white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, minced shallot, saffron, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer until mixture is bright yellow and transfer to blender. Puree the mixture in the blender and add oil in a slow steady stream until completely emulsified.
Spoon risotto to the center of the plate, placing the curled lobster tail on top and drizzle the vinaigrette over top. Finish with micro greens. Marvel at your own handy work and serve. Makes 4 servings.
Cherry Bread Pudding and Vanilla Cream Sauce
1 can (21 oz) Benjamin Twiggs cherry pie filling
18 slices white bread with crusts on
2 oz vanilla
1 quart half and half
3 cups sugar
Combine half and half, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Cube bread and add to mixture, then stir to coat all of the bread with liquid mixture. Place half of the bread mixture into a 3-quart oblong baking dish (approx 9-by-14), then layer pie filling on top and cover with the remaining bread mixture.
Cook at 350° for 75-90 minutes or until set.
Vanilla Cream Sauce:
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, remove from heat.
The bread pudding can be served at room temperature or warmed in the microwave. Top with vanilla cream and enjoy.