Travel Destination: Petoskey, Mich. Update

IMG_4032Over the holidays, I went back to two of my favorite restaurants in Petoskey, Mich. Both Chandler’s and City Park Grill know gluten-free (celiac-safe) and vegan, and even have multiple options available. 

I’ve blogged about my go-to dining locations in the Boyne City/Petoskey area before since I travel to the region – in the northwest part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – frequently. If you’ve never been to Petoskey, you need to make it there. I’ve been traveling to Petoskey for two decades and the city, which sits on Lake Michigan, has grown tremendously. Like most of the larger cities Up North, new restaurants, stores and things to seem to pop-up every time I visit.

I keep going back to Chandler’s and City Park Grill because they are always reliable. I’ve had varying experiences at other Petoskey restaurants, but I know I can always count on these two places to be able to safely prepare me something good.

Chandler’s

As I wrote before, Chandler’s is a high-end, European-inspired restaurant. Each night they feature a different dinner menu depending on what’s in season. I have never seen a vegan entree on the menu, although many of the options are gluten-free. The first time I ate at Chandler’s I spoke to a chef before I dined and he told me what he could make: a delicious quinoa and corn stuffed pepper, which could have been in my top 10 best dishes at a restaurant.

On my most recent trip, when I made the reservation (a must during the holidays and on weekends), I was assured that the chef would be able to make me something based on whatever was on their menu. They do have TONS of delicious veggies and creative dishes so I was not worried. Due to my previous experience, I went in with high expectations.

When we arrived, I informed the waitress of my needs and she happily went to talk with the chef on what gluten-free and vegan dish he could make. She said he could make me a black bean stew with roasted veggies. This sounded great and I mentioned several of my favorite vegetables I saw on their menu. However, when I received my meal, it wasn’t really a “stew” but rather black beans with the veggies with a splattering of a fantastic verde sauce.

It was good, but I wish I would have asked for more sauce. When I left, I still felt sort of hungry like the dinner lacked something. They did have potatoes on the menu so more of a black bean hash could have been better.

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Will I go back? Of course! Since they are so willing to try and make me something I can enjoy, it’s always fun to see what they will come up with. Plus, they are GREAT with preventing cross-contamination, even in a small kitchen.

City Park Grill

As I mentioned previously, City Park Grill is a speak-easy-style, former Ernest Hemingway haunt that has been opened since way back when. It doesn’t seem to change even as the city around it does, and that’s what’s great about it. The restaurant doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not and attracts an equal number of locals to out-of-towners with its laid-back atmosphere and live bands on the weekend.

Every time I go to City Park, I make a mental note to take a picture of their special gluten-free/vegetarian/vegan menu. And every time I forget. But yes, one of the coolest things about the restaurant is that it has this menu specifically designed with meals that people who follow those diets can order from. In my case I cross-reference what’s on the gluten-free and vegan menus to pick what I’m going to have.

On this visit, I started off with the vegan wedge, and subbed cucumbers for the croutons that come on it. Being vegan, you don’t often get a wedge as a salad option since they usually contain bacon, cheese and some sort of creamy dressing. It seemed like a nice change from the typical salad so I went with that. My waiter had no trouble making the substitution.

For my entree, I ordered the vegan portobello mushroom stack that came with quinoa, sauteed veggies, and a caper sauce. Since the caper sauce wasn’t on their gluten-free menu, I asked for the tomato sauce that usually comes on the pasta instead. It’s my favorite and I know it’s safe.  I also got a side of their vegetables of the day… yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms and cabbage with herbs. Their sides are huge and always worth it.

Everything I ordered was all very yummy and very filling. The lead image is the portobello mushroom stack. Next time I’m in the area, I will sure to go back and get a picture of the special menu. If you visit Petoskey, definitely stop by and check it out for yourself.

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