Midwest Living Review
Grand Traverse Resort is a lovely place to play golf. But known for its robust conference business, the hotel is not exactly what we'd describe as warm. So we were pleasantly surprised when we dined at The Aerie, the resort's 16th-floor restaurant with 18-foot-high ceilings and a wall of windows offering sweeping views of Grand Traverse Bay and the golf courses. We'd seen the menu online and read about the restaurant's approach, but you don't fully appreciate the cuisine and the attention to detail until you're actually in the dining room and try the dishes for yourself. What's great about the Aerie, in addition to the seasonal menu, which can change weekly, is the service. Jennifer, our server, could talk easily about regional wines and microbrews and ingredients -- an easy conversationalist who had no airs when it comes to great food and flavors. The restaurant claims it provides casual dining. Yes, we suppose it's casual in that you can dine in your golf shirt and khakis without anyone thinking twice. But the plates are not casual at all. During our early June visit, we tried the parsnip and apple soup with a honey-cider syrup ($6); raspberry-spinach salad with cracked peanut brittle ($6); New York strip steak with melted blue cheese and carrots and asparagus ($30); bananas Foster made in an egg roll with, what else?, cherries and homemade butter pecan ice cream ($6). Our dining companion ordered a scallop appetizer bathed in morel mushroom cream sauce ($8.50); a shaved fennel salad with grapefruit, purple radish greens and pistachios ($7); grilled pork flatiron with hen of the woods mushrooms, charred leeks and smoky pancetta cream ($16); and a strawberry-rhubarb tart ($6). Each dish arrived at the perfect temperature. The sauces were flavorful without dominating the other ingredients. The portions were just enough to satisfy. And the whole experience, watching the sun set from windowside perch, made for a lovely evening. In a foodie town like Traverse City, The Aerie stands among the best and is worth a stop.