By Kathy Buzzelli
Ten minutes north of Onekama and 20 south of Frankfort, meander off of M-22/Northwood Highway onto the serene drive of world-class, links-style Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course. Almost unexpectedly, the Nantucket coastal estate-style Lodge at Arcadia Bluffs rises into view, the only structure set against this sweeping backdrop of blue sky and scenic dune vista of Lake Michigan.
But it’s no mirage.
In 2010, Arcadia Bluffs’ clubhouse underwent a dramatic renovation. Instead of expanding the building out, new construction brought the building up, adding an elegant second level that features 15 guest rooms, all comfortably appointed with a king bed, desk, flat-screen TV, stand-up shower and private walk-out porch. Breakfast, laundry service and room service also come with each night’s stay.
On the main level, a triple threat of executive chefs runs a kitchen that supports the full-service Dining Room at Arcadia Bluffs with its private, fully-conditioned Sunroom and the Terrace, a true al fresco setting offering a bar, great lake views from umbrella teak patio tables and a protective glass windbreak.
Locally-sourced fare — as fresh and memorable as the view — has helped Arcadia Bluffs become a top dining spot for locals and guests alike.
A Fresh Approach
“We didn’t used to be a dining destination, but it has evolved into that over the last four years because we’ve really upgraded the quality of the food, the quality of the preparation,” shared William Shriver, Arcadia Bluffs’ chief operating officer. “Our three main chefs have brought that to the table with their imagination and their creativity.”
“Our food is seasonally inspired,” said Bret Phillips, who works in tandem with fellow executive chefs Ron Fiel and Matt Miilu. “We work with our purveyors to find the best quality ingredients, and because that changes so frequently, our menu adapts.”
“We work with our purveyors to find the best quality ingredients, and
because that changes so frequently, our menu adapts.”
— Executive Chef Bret Phillips
Patrons may not meet the growers from nearby Ware Organic Farm, but they’ll taste their spring greens and strawberries. They may not visit the 3.7-acre Grow Benzie farmstead near Crystal Lake, but they’ll enjoy the heirloom tomatoes produced here. Great Lakes whitefish and perch are also fresh and local.
The chefs take a sort of everyman approach to the menu.
“We try to keep a well-balanced menu of simple and comfortable food, versus composed and complex,” Phillips noted. “We also do like to offer adventurous dishes for people who are well experienced with food.”
That’s how fresh-from-Honolulu Pacific Walu arrived on the menu last season, served with a goat cheese risotto and butter sauce of bell peppers and orange. Arcadia Bluffs’ chefs are just as committed to simpler items like whitefish with cranberry rice pilaf and a fresh vegetable medley.
Outdoors, golf beckons. And what golf it is. Rated number 10 among America’s Greatest Public Golf Courses and number one among public golf courses in Michigan by Golf Digest magazine for 2011-2012, the 245-acre Warren Henderson and Rick Smith-designed course drops 225 feet from its highest point to the bluff, which is 180 feet above sea level.
There’s a total 3,100 feet of frontage on Lake Michigan. That means every hole comes with a water view — and sometimes, shall we say, a little breeze.
“The joke up here is we used to have a wind gauge on the roof and it blew off,” Shriver said.
From June to mid-October, the wind actually behaves most of the time. But early and late season golfers get a little extra bluster with their game.
Wind aside, the challenge builds as golfers go from one hole to the next on a course that has been compared to St. Andrews, Ballybunion and Cypress Point.
“The golf course has a flow to it,” Shriver said. “Every hole you get into, it looks like that hole should be where it is.”
While Arcadia Bluffs is a well-rounded destination in itself, it’s situated in one of Michigan’s top vacation playgrounds. Aided by staff at the Lodge with maps and tips, guests often take time out to enjoy nearby Arcadia’s small-town charms and public beach. Many also head further north to Glen Arbor and Empire to explore eclectic shops, eateries and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, or south to the beachfront attractions of Manistee and Ludington.
Seeking to sample Michigan vintages, visitors can plan a day trip to explore the wineries of the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas near Traverse City — another popular destination for its vibrant downtown and special summer events like the National Cherry Festival.
“We’re only an hour from Traverse City, but if you live in Chicago, Detroit — pick any metropolitan area — you could be in the Outback,” Shriver said.
For those people especially, he noted, this is heaven. ≈
Learn more at arcadiabluffs.com. Freelance writer Kathy Buzzelli lives in Traverse City.
Grilled Jail Island Salmon with Fresh Berry Mustard, Arugula & Apple Salad
4 6-ounce salmon (heads removed, skin on)
1 pint of each: blackberries, raspberries and strawberries
2 tablespoons whole-grained mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 Gala apple
4 ounces fresh arugula
½ pound of jasmine rice
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Sauce: In a food processor, combine ½ pint of each berry (reserve the rest), both mustards and honey. Mix until well blended. In a bowl, combine sauce with remaining berries and mix well.
Salad: (make right before service): Combine arugula with thinly sliced apple, olive oil and juice of lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently.
Salmon: (make after steaming rice): Gently season salmon with salt and pepper, brush with olive oil and lightly grill over medium heat until desired temperature. Drizzle sauce over salmon. Serve with salad and steamed rice.