The Boathouse

Traverse City, Michigan


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The Boathouse serves veal, lamb, chilean sea bass (an endangered species), Kobe beef and foie gras (from the liver of horrendously tortured geese). Could there be a more offensive menu? I don't doubt that Chef Eric Nitollo is talented, but he clearly is not educated about the sources of his menu items or he is not compassionate enough to care. Either way, I'd stay as far away from this restaurant as possible.

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The very last entry on the dinner menu is the (very affordable) vegetarian dish. You'll notice, though, that it tells you to ask for details. My girlfriend and I, both of us vegans, eyed the entry cautiously. Any vegetarian or vegan knows where these things typically lead--bland pasta, some greens, nothing more. An online review assured us things were better at the Boathouse, so we decided to chance it.

We were wise to do so. We asked our waitress about the vegan dish, and moments later Chef Eric emerged from the kitchen to discuss our options. His enthusiasm was evident. He asked us what foods we did(n't) like, and invented some dishes on the spot: fresh asparagus tempura to start; jicama salad (with sriracha sauce), purple sticky rice, and fresh sliced ginger and wasabi for her; quinoa salad (with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parsley, and huckleberry), with homemade hummus, pita slices, and fresh cucumber for me. Everything was incredible. It compared favorably with the best vegetarian restaurants in the country, including Greens in San Francisco. And this from a restaurant that caters primarily to omnivores!

In sum, I recommend that vegetarians and vegans staying in northwest Michigan take the time to visit The Boathouse, and to deliver themselves into Chef Eric's capable hands.

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