Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rowe your boat north

The Rowe Inn in the northern Michigan outpost of Ellsworth continues to maintain a high quality, delicious, and classy niche in the state's dining landscape.

A Saturday visit yielded a lively yet refined dining room, service akin to a visit to your best friend's home and food that reflected fussy foodies in the kitchen. And it all comes at a fair price for the value received. You not only are served a meal but a dining experience wrapped in a sublime atmosphere.

It is particularly gratifying to see that the Rowe outlasted its culinary neighbor, Tapawingo. While Tap was an excellent place in a gorgeous setting overlooking a lake, its edgy, more-out-there approach to cuisine apparently didn't have legs to appeal to the economically stretched palates of Michigan residents. The Rowe's formula seems to emphasize white-tablecloth standards updated and refreshed for contemporary tastes.

For an appetizer, I enjoyed mussels baked in asiago cheese, fresh bread crumbs and a splash of fresh cream. Significant other RA called a simple bibb salad with hot bacon vinegar very good, although the dressing got a bit heavy. My entree of duck breast with a slightly sweetened sour cherry sauce over wild rice reflected mind over matter; normally, I wouldn't care for a sweet sauce by the tart cherries made it perfect. RA raved over her beef tenderloin.

A 2006 Gigondas from the southern Rhone enhanced all the courses. Indeed, the Rowe's wine list is well constructed and shows the proprietor's care in what he offers his guests. There were excellent options at all price points from around the globe.

Simply, a wonderfully relaxing evening presented by people who care.

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