Mountaintop dining is popular at ski resorts out west. While there aren't a lot of opportunities in the Midwest, there are a handful of ski resorts scattered around the Heartland that offer mountain top diners both great food and great views.
Mountain top dining is a popular evening activity at ski resorts out west. While we don’t have a lot of opportunity in the Midwest there are a handful of ski resorts scattered around the Heartland that offer mountain top diners both great food and great views. These five Heartland resorts offer dining experiences a mountaintop away from the every day.
At the top, pun intended, is Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner atop Boyne Highland’s North Peak where the lodge is set aglow by candlelight and an acoustic guitarist plays softly in the background. Dinners are available Saturday nights during February and early March for $72 per person, plus a 20 percent gratuity. Included is a 15-minute round trip sleigh ride. The beautiful lodge, a day-lodge for skiers, has wall-to-wall windows and high pine ceilings. White linen covered tables and a crackling fire greet diners. You can see the lights of the Mackinac Bridge, about 30 miles away, on clear nights.
The menu often includes French onion soup, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, fresh local vegetables, and roast tenderloin au poivre, followed by chocolate fondue with assorted fruits and cookies for dipping.
You'll discover the Lakeview Restaurant and Lounge at Shanty Creek atop the Summit Slopes. It offers incredible sunset views over Lake Bellaire and skiers and riders romp on the slopes below at night. Executive chef Andrew Reh, recently named Michigan’s rising Culinary Star of the year, whips up innovative regional fare coupled with local craft-brewed beers. Try the macadamia covered Walleye, a local fish and favorite, or the veal meatloaf with wild mushrooms.
Dinner is served nightly.
Heading on around the Great Lakes, Indianhead Mountain, an upside-down resort with its village and lodging on top of the mountain, offers the newly renovated Sky Bar & Grille and Dudley’s Lodge Restaurant. Sunset views stretch as far as the eye can see over an endless forest all the way to Lake Superior -- a glint on the horizon. Dudley’s, considered one of the region’s top restaurants, and is located in an authentic swayback barn that was part of the original homestead dating back to the 1930s. Try the BBQ baby back ribs with a sweet and spicy sauce or the boneless bourbon pork chop, grilled and glazed with a special bourbon sauce. The Friday Night Fish Fry, popular in Michigan’s UP, is not your typical cod. It’s local perch and walleye, a real treat.
Along Minnesota’s North Shore is Lutsen Mountain’s Papa Charlie’s Nightclub, which overlooks Moose Mountain, the Poplar River valley, Eagle Mountain and Lake Superior. It’s located in the mountain village on Eagle. A laid back atmosphere, it’s considered one of the top music venues north of the Twin Cities and also one of the top restaurants along the North Shore. Before the music heats up, enjoy dinner as the sun sets behind the surrounding mountain tops. Whiskey steak and maple BBQ ribs top the entrees. For fish lovers you can’t beat local walleye or the smoked lake trout dip, which is made up the road in nearby Grand Marais. A local classic not to be missed is Minnesota Chicken Wild Rice soup. The rice is gathered locally by Native Americans.
Overlooking another body of water is Chestnut Mountain’s Sunset Grille where the dining experience and the view are equally impressive. Perched high on a bluff above North America’s largest river, the mighty Mississippi, the view stretches across Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and the upper Mississippi River Valley. Ski slopes look like they might run into the river (they stop short), and sunsets are beautiful.
Meat lovers go for the veal schnitzel or beef short ribs braised in Guinness. Fish lovers can’t go wrong with the walnut encrusted walleye or the cedar-plank roasted wild salmon, a native tradition.
Photo: Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner at Boyne Highlands (Boyne Highlands)