We were in Munising for eight meals. For three of them, we bought cheese, crackers, fruit and a variety of other stuff and ate in our motel room. Here’s what we did for the others.
Friday Breakfast — The Navigator
The lady at the motel told me this place had the best breakfast in town. We got a seat by a window overlooking the bay.
There was a zip-locked baggie full of water hanging on the wall next to the window. I asked the waitress what it was for. She said the restaurant had a problem with flies and somebody had told her that bags of water would help. As the bag was closed, I’m not sure what effect it could possibly have, but there you are.
About 20 feet from where we sat, a young woman was live broadcasting the local oldies radio station.
I ordered eggs with hash browns and bacon. They weren’t bad, but I wouldn’t recommend making a trip to Munising just for breakfast.
Friday Supper — Muldoon’s Pasties
We saw this place when we drove into town on Thursday and knew right then that we’d eat one meal there because you simply can’t travel to the Upper Peninsula without eating pasties. We weren’t really swayed by the “Voted the #1 Pasty in the U.P.” part of the sign. Every pasty shop in the U.P. makes this claim. They never mention who does the voting.
Inside it was basically a gift shop with a kitchen attached. There were no tables inside, so we ate out on the porch.
We all ordered beef pasties. They were tasty, with excellent crust. I don’t think they were quite as good as the ones we had at Joe’s last October, but they were close. I did swipe a bit of my wife’s gravy to dump on top.
Friday dessert — The Frozen Flamingo
We passed this place several times during the day. They had a sign out front advertising “Hand-dipped Ice Cream.” We debated amongst ourselves what “hand-dipped” might mean.
Finally, we decided to go inside and find out. I asked the woman behind the counter. She didn’t say anything — she just made hand motions that looked like she was doing the Hokey Pokey in slow motion. It was obvious to her that I wasn’t catching on, so she said, “We scoop it by hand. It isn’t soft serve.”
Oh. I had the sudden thought that this was a bit of information that had been communicated to every other person on the planet but had, somehow, been hidden from me. But why “hand-dipped”? There isn’t any dipping involved. If the sign said “hand-scooped,” I would have known exactly what they meant.
Anyway, I passed up the electric blue ice cream and ordered Mackinac Island Fudge. It was chocolate with brownie bits, and it was very good.
Incidentally, this place fit in with the pattern I’d noticed all over town. No business was just one business. The Navigator served food and operated as a radio studio. Muldoon’s was a gift shop and pasty kitchen. The Frozen Flamingo sold ice cream and a wide variety of pink shirts, hats and jewelry.
Saturday breakfast — Falling Rock Cafe
This was a standard coffee shop, with a wide variety of coffee and simple pastries and breakfast sandwiches. It was also a used bookstore. See what I mean?
I ordered a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin, but they were out of bacon. I found it a bit surprising that a place that specializes in breakfast would be out of bacon — especially since there was a grocery store next door. Instead I got ham. It was good, although it took 20 minutes to prepare. The nacho chips were a bit unexpected.
The ambiance in the place was great. Bookshelves lined all the walls. There was a piano in the corner — they frequently have live local music. The cafe caters to local book clubs, community groups and art classes so it can stay open year round.
I got caught up in the spirit of the place and bought a book — Ordeal, by Nevil Shute. When I got home I discovered that I already had a copy. So if you want it, let me know.
Saturday snack — The Hen House
I had plans to abandon my family and head off on a solo adventure on Friday afternoon. To balance the scales a bit, I agreed to stop by this gift shop/fudge store. (Again with the two businesses.)
This wasn’t a total loss. It gave me a chance to play the Gift Shop Game. In case you aren’t familiar with this game, let me explain. I developed it several years ago when I found myself accompanying my wife on shopping forays with a disturbing frequency. The rules are simple. Pretend that you can have anything in the entire store absolutely free. Then wander around and see if you can find anything that you would want at that price.
At The Hen House — if you don’t include the chocolate-orange fudge which was very tasty — I found nothing. The owner of the store was very OCD. She had a tiny paint brush with which she had to sweep up every last crumb from the previous customer before she could even think about taking my wife’s order. I finally couldn’t take it any longer and went out to wait in the car.
Saturday supper — Dogpatch
I returned from my solo adventure rather late and it was close to 7:30 before we went out in search of supper. There aren’t very many restaurants in Munising. We’d hit most of them except for Hardees and a sit-down restaurant that looked a bit fancier than we were in the mood for. That left Dogpatch, which had for a theme the old Al Capp comic strip L’il Abner. I thought that was an odd theme for a restaurant in Northern Michigan.
It had been a hot day and the air conditioner wasn’t up to the task in the far-flung dining area where we sat. While we waited for the food, I got up to explore and discovered a gift shop, of course. I also went outside to take some pictures.
I ordered the Great Smokey Mountain, which had ham, bacon and Swiss cheese on an English muffin and, now that I think about it, looked a lot like what I had for breakfast. It was pretty good.
Sunday breakfast — The Navigator
Normally, on the final day of a vacation, I just want to pack up and go home. But this vacation was different. I was very reluctant to leave. We decided to eat a leisurely breakfast in town before heading south. We headed back to The Navigator. I ordered eggs and hash browns again. While we were waiting, a disheveled-looking guy in his 60’s began yelling in the back of the restaurant, “Spanish toast? Spanish toast?” He wandered up to our table and, with accompanying gestures, continued asking his question. I nodded at him briefly but could tell he was inebriated. The three of us looked away, buried our faces in our menus and paid him no mind. After a minute or so, he said, “You’re not paying any attention to me anyway.” He walked away a few steps, then came back and leaned over our table. In a conspiratorial whisper loud enough to be heard in the Lower Peninsula, he said, “I got drunk last night.”
He left us alone and began chatting with the head waitress. We could hear much of the conversation. He was telling her that he had slipped on his way in, so they owed him a free breakfast. The waitress called the owner and handed the phone to the drunk. He quieted right down. The waitress said, “He said I could give you breakfast, but you’ll have to wait outside for it and then you have to leave.” Humbled, the drunk did as she asked.
When our order came, I discovered overdone hash browns and the two smallest eggs I’ve ever seen. I guess we should have headed home earlier after all.