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I had lunch at Traverse City’s best-kept gourmet dining secret last week. Lobdell’s, a Teaching Restaurant has it all: a gorgeous perch above Grand Traverse Bay, exquisite food prepared with superior ingredients and care, and fresh-faced, unflappable servers who earnestly want to make your experience fabulous.
As part of the rigorous curriculum at Traverse City’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute, students in the Contemporary Service and Cuisine class take turns working the prep kitchen, the front line, and the front of the house at Lobdell’s. Our server, Patrick Tilmann, graduates in December and has his culinary sights set on New York, Chicago or Spain. He and his classmates have taken in the theory and are now putting it to work. You’d be hard pressed to find a more smoothly run lunch spot or a team more wholly dedicated to their craft: Fresh tulips on the table with crisp linens, a carefully uncorked bottle of Peninsula Cellars Gewürztraminer, and seriously good food.
The orange balsamic dressing on the greens was outstanding. For lunch—among the three of us—we had a panini pressed with house cured duck confit and bacon, smoked mozzarella and an apricot and sage compote; a roasted vegetable and Boursin cheese strudel with a sweet roasted garlic tomato sauce; and Bellaire’s Glacier Springs trout with a white wine herb cream sauce rich with house cured bacon, mushrooms. No one shared.
Without hesitation (or restraint) I ordered the rhubarb strawberry ice cream prepped by the Garde Manger class. Tilmann explained these students are the “keepers of the food” whose semester’s task is to carefully prepare, guard and present cold foods. Give them an A!
Can't make it? As the Great Lakes Culinary Institute semester winds down, the last assignment for the Contemporary Service and Cuisine students is writing the menu for next semester’s incoming class. Be sure to check out the fruits of their labor in the fall when Lobdell's re-opens!