Good food, art and scenic views

By Megan Westers

Fine dining, much like good art, is enjoyable because it creates an experience for the guest. Diners expect good food, but exceptional service and extra amenities, like a breath-taking view, sets restaurants apart. Located where downtown Petoskey and Little Traverse Bay meet, the staff of Palette Bistro has taken the idea of creating an experience and made it their operating philosophy.

 “Food is the beginning. We have fantastic views and outdoor seating. We want to create an experience for everyone who sits down, and we want to wow people,” said Mike Zagaroli, Palette Bistro’s general manager.

Chef Jeremy Pomeroy designed palette Bistro’s menu. It offers a north Michigan twist on Mediterranean fare. Offering lunch and dinner every day, the menu is made up of small plates like specialty salads or their famed forest floor soup; large plates like braised beef or their John Cross salmon; and wood-fired pizzas. They’ve also added brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Brunch has become extremely popular. We’re sort of known for our benedicts, and you’ll find a lot of them on our brunch menus.” said Pomeroy, noting the smoked salmon benedict is currently his favorite dish on the menu.

With two dining rooms and two outdoor areas, the restaurant is a popular venue for private events like rehearsal dinners and wine dinners. The bistro also doubles as an art gallery. “Palette Bistro is a play on words,” Zagaroli said, “palette of an artist but also the palate on the tongue. We always have five or six local artists that we change quarterly.”

Palette Bistro’s community focus, showcasing local art and taking part in local events, is encouraged by its owner, the Wineguys Restaurant Group. The downtown Petoskey company has been in business since 1996 and has cultivated two other successful dining destinations in the lakeshore town.

“One of my favorite things about being the chef here is the creative freedom I have. They pretty much let me have at it,” Pomeroy said. “I get to work with a lot of local farmers and good people. The guests are really the best part; they really appreciate the food, and that’s why I do it.” See the current issue for the full story.