IWD 500: Mission Table Restaurant, Traverse City, MI

The Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant entrance to the Bowers
Harbor Inn Estate, home of Mission Table
We had delayed our anniversary dinner on our recent Northern Michigan trip a few days, as Sault Ste. Marie was a bit devoid of places we wanted to celebrate a special dinner together. Instead, we figured Traverse City, which we would visit a few days afterward, would be more fertile ground for such an eatery.

My spouse and I had initially targeted The Cooks' House for our anniversary dinner, but alas our lateness in deciding our destination thwarted our attempts to obtain a reservation at this well-regarded eatery. However, they were kind enough to recommend Mission Table for our special dinner, which proved to be a worthy restaurant to celebrate our momentous occasion.

Unbeknownst to us, Mission Table is but one part of the Bowers Harbor Inn Estate. This historic estate was renovated and retooled in 2006 into a multi-purpose facility which included a distillery (Civilized Spirits), an event facility (the Peninsula Room), our recommended Mission Table Restaurant and Tasting Room, and a restaurant that we would more likely normally frequent (Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant and Microbrewery.)

The latter restaurant proved to be a pleasant surprise as we had arrived early for our dinner reservations, so we got to have a nice look around. Aside from the typical bar food options, the restaurant sported bottles and drafts of Jolly Pumpkin's ales as well as selections from Civilized Spirits and their sister brewery North Peak. We decided to grab a glass of a draft pouring of their Biere De Mars and it's tart almost cider-like profile proved to be an excellent pre-dinner starter.

Clockwise from top left: pan-seared Lake Trout, Maytag Blue
Cheese Cheesecake, Lamb Shank, Sunset on Traverse Bay
Mission Table is not really signed as such from the road, as it is essentially a fairly intimate room within the estate set aside for more exquisite dining options. Its interior mixes modern architecture with some rustic touches such as a large stone fireplace and wood plank tables. As we found out, a seat by the west-facing windows will treat you to a pretty tree-shrouded view onto Traverse Bay, which becomes more enhanced if you manage to have your meal timed with the sunset over the horizon.

The restaurant boasts about a menu that relies on local sourcing and seasonal ingredients. The smoked Michigan whitefish appetizer ($9), served with house-made flat bread, fennel, cucumber and a mustard sauce started our meal on the right foot with a cavalcade of flavors worth savoring.

Our main dishes were also well executed and tasty affairs. My spouse's lake trout ($26), a pan seared filet served with kale and potatoes in a smoked ham hock broth, proved to be the winner of the dishes. Not that there was anything wrong with my braised lamb shank with duck confit, white beans, escarole and duck jus. The lamb was cooked tender and fell off the bone and was a very rich dish. That fact, plus its sheer size, made it impossible me to finish as I was saving room for dessert.

My spouse again took the dessert honors as well; her cheese-loving genes were in high heaven with the Maytag blue cheese cheesecake topped by cherry compote, candied almonds and a honey gastrique was simply divine.

On the other hand, my flourless chocolate torte dessert was a bit of an odd duck. The components combined were good, but the individual components (the torte, the raspberry sorbet, chocolate sauce and the shortbread cookie) were outstanding on their own. Nevertheless, I was quite happy that I saved that room for this bit of decadence.

In the end, Mission Table lived up to its recommendation as a special occasion dinner destination and is worthy of seeking out when dining in the Traverse Bay area.

Mission Table
13512 Peninsula Dr (Google Maps)
Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 223-4222
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2019: No updates of note needed re: social media links.

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