I recently spent some time in Petoskey and did the usual stroll along Lake and Mitchell streets, popping into McLean & Eakins Booksellers, Symons General Store, and a few other favorites. One of them was the American Spoon, where I was surprised to find a cafe adjoining the shop selling jams, jellies and condiments made with Michigan-grown fruit and vegetables.
It turns out the the American Spoon Cafe & Gelato has been around awhile (how I missed it during previous trips to Petoskey, I don’t know) and the menu, of course, features some of American Spoon’s best products complementing locally grown produce, meats and cheeses. The menu is simple but enticing; among the classics is the burger, topped with aged cheddar, local bacon, American Spoon’s Apple & Onion Jam and housemade pickles.
“It’s as lovely a place as you can have lunch in northern Michigan,” said Noah Marshall-Rashid, son of Justin Rashid, who co-founded American Spoon back in the early 1980s. “We’re in a lucky position to actually deliver what we promise: genuinely locally sourced, fresh food.”
The cafe started as a reason to launch a gelato business and has evolved over the years to become a full-service cafe offering Michigan craft beers and a nice selection of wines from the Great Lakes State and around the world.
“We felt the Italian style (ice cream) was similar to our approach in fruit perserving. It’s really about flavor first and sugar as a supporting role,” Marshall-Rashid said.
My family and I popped into the cafe before the seasonal change in menus and I was lucky enough to enjoy a terrific whitefish sandwich, pan seared and crowned with a dill cucumber slaw. The hit at our table, however, may well have been the Breakfast Sandwich: local eggs, cured pork belly, cheddar, basil and American Spoon’s Heirloom Tomato Preserves on homemade English muffins. There may not be a better breakfast combination.
We all left with gelato — made fresh daily, with up to two dozen flavors — in hand and vowing we’d be back. Unfortunately, that’s probably not likely until next spring and another trip Up North. American Spoon Cafe & Gelato closes for the season at the end of the month and doesn’t reopen until May.
And the company has no plans to open cafes at any of its other stores in Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Williamsburg, Traverse City or Saugatuck.
“I think we’re going to keep it really focused and continue to improve the experience we can deliver in Petoskey,” Marshall-Rashid said. “The focus is still on our preserving business and retailing and mail ordering our products. We think of the cafe as a great celebration of Northern Michigan and everything we do.”
I couldn’t have said it better.