Foodie Finds: Best Place to Eat in Saugatuck, Michigan

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Sep 16, 2009 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Foodie Finds: Best Place to Eat in Saugatuck, Michigan

Lake Michigan

This past weekend, we spent a few hours at Lake Michigan. It was lovely - my very favorite beach (Oval Beach, in Saugatuck, Michigan). There were crowds of people -  swimming, flying kites, walking, looking for the perfect rock. The water was warm, and we swam for more than an hour. It was the perfect end to summer. After towelling off, changing, and dusting the sand from our feet, we drove over to a new restaurant in Fennville (neighbor to Saugatuck), called Salt of the Earth. This fantastic rustic American eatery and bakery just opened on August 25th, taking over the spot from the previous (and wonderful) restaurant, Journeyman.

The outside beckoned us in, with classic paint, flowers, and a sign just glinting in the sun, hinting at the treasures within.

Salt of the Earth

There's a bakery and coffeeshop at the front, filled with fantastic desserts and a dwindling supply of artisanal bread, baked by Mari Reijmerink. If you'd like a loaf to take home, be sure to speak up for it when you walk in - the loaves go flying off the shelves.

Salt of the Earth

Inside, there are beautiful wooden tables and very calm walls, and the restaurant is divided into two main rooms. The noise was muted - everyone was enjoying their meals.  Salt of the Earth does host many bands (mostly Michigan-based), incluing folk, bluegrass, jazz, and Irish for an adult audience. You can check their music schedule on their website.

We were entranced with the menu, and had a difficult time deciding what to eat. We both wanted the soups listed on the Fresh Board - Ed got the Roasted Mushroom Cream soup, with braised wild mushrooms and micro arugula. I chose the Michigan Sweet Corn Puree, with smoked peaches, shrimp, and fried tapioca. Our server, Janet, was extremely knowledgeable and explained to us the ins and outs of the menu, her favorites, and the extensive drinks menu (more to come on that). We then also chose wood-fired pizzas for dinner, despite the extremely delicious-sounding menu. Other features we were pondering were the Heirloom Tomato salad (Halloumi cheese, warm bacon vinaigrette, micro arugula); grilled bone-in pork chop (cowboy beans, salsa verde); an extensive list of shared plates, including farmer's table greens, brick oven spinach and cheese gratin, marinated fruit with shrimp and crab ceviche, pan seared great lakes perch, house made aged cheddar pierogies, and more. There were sandwiches (corned pork on rye! cilantro chicken!, BLT!, and more...), pasta, and fantastic entrees with interesting sides.

Salt of the Earth

Salt of the Earth

Now I have to say, I LOVE brussel sprouts. I asked for a sample of the bacon-balsamic brussel sprout and they were the BEST brussel sprouts I've ever had - tender and sweet and tangy and smoky. I could have eaten a whole plate of them.

After we placed our order, we were lucky enough to chat with Jerry Hill, manager and investor in Salt of the Earth. He shared with us the history of the place - it is owned by Mark Shrock and Steve Darpel, local guys who own the building (and Darpel Construction). After the previous restaurant, Journeyman, left, they wanted to fill a hole that was left in the town. They hired an incredible chef, Matt Pietch - who came from Michael Symon's Roast in Detroit, the Ford Advertising Agency, and is also a certified pastry chef. He is participating in many local events including Porkapalooza 2009. He is working hard to emphasize local beer, food, and ingredients. He makes everything from scratch - his own bacon, cures his own meats, and makes his own ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Jerry noted that they are "honest, hard working, community minded, and straight forward  - we deliver a great value that is unmistakable to all our guests."

 

Salt of the Earth has certainly done things to set them apart from the competition, including very reasonable prices, low set prices for wines, supporting local businesses and farms, and creating a place for both locals and visitors (Saugatuck is only a few hours from Chicago) to come. I know they will benefit from both tourism (Chicago people love food) as well as the local market (we all love food, too!).  Their drinks menu is refreshing - using fresh herbs in their specialty sips. You can choose from a Sage Rub, Raspberry mojito (fresh mint), scratch-made margarita, Lavendar cosmo, rosemary breeze, cilantro splash (Grey Goose, Tanqueray, fresh cilantro, lemongrass and green tea, ginger, lime juice), and more.

Although our daughter wasn't with us this time, the kids menu is fun - organic PB&J, pasta, pizza, or house grilled cheese. All of these are a far cry from the norm of fried chicken tenders and fries that we try to avoid. THANK YOU, Salt of the Earth!

So...after talking with Jerry (not long enough - he's passionate about sharing Salt of the Earth), our pizzas came. Fresh, hot, and delicious. Ed is allergic to cheese so his was without - he'd gotten a meat pizza, with all hand-cured meats. He loved it. I had gotten a white pizza, with chicken and fresh local spinach. Also incredible.

Salt of the Earth

Salt of the Earth

Alas, we were too full for dessert, although I was mighty tempted. why?
wood-fire toasted s'mores (homemade marshmallow, graham cracker, milk chocolate, salted caramel)
hand-blended milkshake (local gelateria Palazzolo's gelato, local cream, and either chocolate, berry, malted PB, or vanilla)
trio of sorbet (toasted coconut with lime-blood orange-pinappe- cinnamon crumb-oven roasted pineapple.

We'll have to go back. Again, and again.

Welcome to Saugatuck, Salt of the Earth! We're so glad you came.

Salt of the Earth
112-114 East Main Street
PO Box 235
Fennville MI 49408
Phone: 269.561.SALT (7258)

http://saltoftheearthfennville.com/

 

Comments (5)

  • farsighted girl

    11 years 1 week ago

    I've passed through Saugatuk before and wish I knew about this place. Love the name, the soups, white pizza, raspberry mojito and wood fire-toasted s'mores! Brussel sprouts, not so much.

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    11 years 1 week ago

    farisghted girl - there are LOTS of great places to eat in saugatuck - chequers, su casa in fennville, and more - but salt of the earth is now my very favorite! you should try the brussel srpouts - my husband doesn't like them either, but liked THESE!

     

    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

  • Beth Whitman

    11 years 1 week ago

    Roasted mushroom cream soup sounds like just the thing for me on a cool fall night!

  • Kerry Dexter

    11 years 5 days ago

    Jessie,

    your description of the food and how much you and Ed enjoyed it is really lovely. roasted brussel sprouts are the best, to me -- how did they prepare them?

    and -- what a great sign. thanks for the picture of it.

     

    Kerry Dexter

    Music Editor, WanderingEducators.com

    http://musicroad.blogspot.com/

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    11 years 1 week ago

    thanks, friends - their food was just incredible, to be honest! the brussel sprouts were in a balsamic glaze. and sort of wood-fired - crispy on the outside. YUM!

     

    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

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