Nestled in the quaint bustle of down town Traverse City is Amical Restaurant, a Meditteranean style Bistro. Surrounded by old style buildings (like historic State Theater) where you can spend hours shopping, and overlooking the Boardman River and West Grand Traverse Bay, Amical adds to the truly unique downtown Traverse area. Owner Dave Denison opened the doors in 1994 as a quick service bakery and café, then watched as it evolved a few years later into a full Mediterranean bistro style restaurant. Amical offers a truly unique quality, rotating its menu 7 months a year beginning in November and ending in May. Each month they take a different cookbook and create their menu based on that cookbook. Coming up in March, 2012 will be “660 Curries”, in April “The Art of Simple Food” and in May “Rosa’s New Mexican Table”. Amical isn’t afraid to try something new, and they do a great job of keeping things fresh. Something else unique about Amical is its open kitchen. You can watch the chef’s in action as they prepare your food!
First Course of Business
We began our evening with Amical’s specialty, “Tomato Soup en Croute”. This homemade blended tomato soup is baked with a puff pastry crust that was flaky and tender. The presentation was great, but the flavor was even better. Along with the Tomato Soup we had the Smoked Whitefish Pate. The Pate had a light cream cheese base, blended with scallions and whitefish. They get their whitefish fresh from John Cross Fisheries in Charlevoix, not too far away. The Pate was mild and creamy, and was an excellent compliment to the tomato soup.
Next we had Sesame Crusted Tuna. This rare, chilled Tuna came on thin crackers with wasabi and hot mustard. The flavor was fantastic, and the Tuna was mild. The wasabi and hot mustard were well balanced and we really enjoyed it. Finally, we had the Olive Twists and they were hands down my favorite appetizer! They were twists of pastry stuffed with feta cheese and tapenade, which is pureed or finely chopped olives and capers. Bake to perfection, they were light and flaky, and were served with a homemade orange pepper cream sauce.
Oh the Entrée’s!
Where to start? How about “Fennel-Vermouth Braised Lamb”! If you love lamb, you’ll love this meal! This lamb shank is slow cooked, and fall off the bone tender. No knife necessary here, all you’ll need is a fork. The lamb was served in a rich tomato based sauce, on top of creamy polenta (which has a corn meal base) and broccolini. Next we had the “Cassoulet” . This is a bean stew of sorts topped with a duck leg. The mixture of pork belly, white beans, tomatoes and chorizo was fantastic, and the duck leg was tender and moist. Lastly, we had the “Cod with Rosemary and Pancetta”. All I can say is WOW! I’m partial to fish as it is, but this was incredible. Flown in the day before from the Alaskan Seafood Company, this Cod was as fresh as it comes. Pan seared, and served on top of creamy polenta, along with fresh vegetables and topped with homemade bacon, this mild fish was tasty and light. You can’t go wrong with anything you choose here! Head Chef Al Schmitt and Sous Chef Ben Hoxie do a great job and always keep things fresh. Keep in mind that they have a gluten free menu as well.
Dessert? …too full!
Don’t make this mistake – you have to save room for dessert! Amical has an incredible assortment of desserts – some which are made on site, and others which are ordered from the Underground Cheesecake Company. We made sure to try the award winning Raspberry Crème Brule, which is made on site. In a word – awesome! It was creamy and sweet and was gone too quickly! It is gluten free so that anyone can enjoy it. We also tried the Blackbottom cake, which is gluten free as well. This was a chocolate lovers paradise! This dessert had three layers of chocolate – mousse, cake, and ganache. The cake was moist, the mousse was creamy, and the ganache was sinfully sweet. All of their desserts looked incredible, and you can order any of them to go as well.
We Love Grand Traverse and We Love Amical!
The next time you’re in Traverse, as you make your way onto Front Street be sure to stop by Amical for some of the finest views, amical service and a dining experience worth the beautiful city it is from. I promise you won’t be disappointed; it was absolutely worth the stop and will be next time!
229 East Front St, Traverse City