Restaurant Week returns with new twists

Stephanie Shomin, The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.
·3 min read

Feb. 20—TRAVERSE CITY — Thirty local businesses plan to serve three-course meals during this year's Traverse City Restaurant Week.

This year's event is scheduled from Feb. 21 through March 6. Downtown Development Authority Downtown Experience Coordinator Nick Viox said they added a week this year after reviewing feedback from potential participants.

"We asked what would benefit them," he said. "They wanted to keep the prices the same for the community and stick as close to the traditional Restaurant Week as they could."

Last year, the week involved 40 participants. The Franklin and Patisserie Amie closed their doors since then, and Towne Plaza posted to Facebook that the restaurant does not have enough staff to join this year.

Viox said Fustini's is also opting out, as the retailer temporarily closed its demonstration kitchen. However, he said they are eager to welcome recently-opened Brasserie Amie and returning restaurants.

"It makes me excited and hopeful, watching the menus come in," he said. "I'm hoping places are booking up quickly."

A regular participant is 7 Monks Taproom on Union Street. Co-owner Matt Cozzens said the new, two-week format allows people to come back if they desire.

"It's not too much pressure on restaurants, especially after a challenging 2020," he said.

The taproom offers Asian-style meatballs or roasted garlic jalapeno cream cheese pot stickers. Next, diners can choose a root vegetable and potato curry, lamb and pork meatloaf or filet. Brownie truffles are for dessert — something Cozzens said is different for them.

Wait staff, Cozzens said, suggests beer pairings and Low Bar serves cocktails and spirits.

He added that they have plenty of space to spread out, and Sheren Plumbing and Heating installed an iWave ventilation system in June to help thwart pathogens in the air.

"We're doing all we can to make people feel comfortable," he said. "It's about the experience when you're on site, the experience you get when you're indoors."

Reservations are available at 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. each day during the two-week event. Carryout is also an option. Either way, the three-course meal costs $25.

Mammoth Distilling, based in Central Lake, provides a $35 menu at its Traverse City location. Barrel room manager Cecilia Burgess said this is their second or third year participating.

"We're definitely a tasting room, but we also act as a bar," Burgess said. "We have a cool space. It's almost like a cocktail lounge."

Diners can choose from several starters and entrees as well as a couple desserts — all prepared by private chef Nate Knickerbocker. Mammoth Distilling General Manager of Operations Stuart Hickman helped create the menu.

"We're excited about it," Burgess said. "We don't get to do food regularly. It's always fun to wow them with food as well."

Reservations and walk-ins are accepted Sunday through Thursday both weeks. Live music is in house Wednesday and Thursday.

Traverse City Restaurant Week features three-course menus for either $25 or $35. Some restaurants accept reservations, but all are limited to a 25-percent capacity. Curbside pickup or takeout may be available during these restrictions.

"We are urging people to tip generously," Viox added. "Bring kindness and bring masks. We really need the support during this time."

As in previous years, people can share food photos to Facebook or Instagram. Tag Downtown TC and use #TCRW to enter the competition. The photo with the most likes receives the grand prize at the end of the two weeks.