The Riverside Inn is on the Leland River, about 40 minutes from Traverse City. It is a 114 year-old historic inn and restaurant in the heart of Leelanau County. It sits on the waterfront offering lovely views for the diners and has a dock for those that wish to arrive by boat. It was built in 1901 but mostly burned in 1924 and began business as both restaurant and inn again in 1925. The Vilter family bought it in 1997 and did major renovations in 2017 but have recently sold the property. Downstairs is the bar, as well as the restaurant and upstairs are the 4 guestrooms. They have a large wine list and focus on locally sourced ingredients. The large tables are set with white tablecloths and black napkins and music is in the background. Some bench seating is along the wall matched with black upholstered chairs and the tables are set with wooden black chairs. Lots of wood is on the ceiling and walls, some of which have mirrored inserts, with painted brick making up some of the walls. Lighting was lowered except for the sun pouring in the windows.
We enjoyed a well-made martini while deciding on our choices.
There was one appetizer special of mussels but no entree ones. We started with the Asian Veggie Fritters which are house made fritters with bok choy, piquillo peppers, broccolini, quinoa and creamy goat cheese. They are tossed in sesame seed and panko and fried to a golden brown and then served with a sesame tamari glaze and garnished with scallions. They come 2 to an order and had arugula on the side with dressing underneath. Totally crisp on the outside, they were soft in the interior. Very fun but not extraordinary. The dressing was good but not intensely flavorful.
The Heirloom Tomato Salad came with Loma Farms salad mix and heirloom tomatoes with Boss Mouse Feta, basil vinaigrette and house made croutons. This was the last of the heirloom tomatoes but they were still quite nice. The dressing was simple but everything in the salad was perfectly dressed and flavorful. The croutons were made with the same baguette that you get with your order. It was light, simple and tasty.
The Bread was served with herb butter. Although the baguette bread was not crisped or warmed it was nicely doughy and chewy alongside a well softened butter. You can’t go wrong here.
Duck was a pan seared Maple Farms duck breast served on parsnip puree with sautéed spinach and topped with spiced orange-apricot compote. The duck was cooked rare, as ordered, and wonderful. The accompaniments were all good, especially the sweet parsnips. The sauce was delicious with the slightly chewy duck. A good plate of food.
The Short Ribs were braised short ribs served on Yukon Gold whipped potatoes in braising jus and finished with a horseradish gremolata alongside sautéed haricot vert. There were several good sized chunks of tender beef in a wonderful sauce. The lovely whipped potatoes were slightly chunky and some of the pieces of beef were better than others but overall it was well flavored. The green beans seemed more like that than haricot vert and could have benefitted from a minute more of cooking. This was the better of the two main dishes.
The Housemade Ice Cream was pecan and it was served with caramel. Not much caramel but the vanilla ice cream was well studded with toasted pecans and topped with caramelized ones. It was a very good dessert.
The Apple Rose Tart was made with a house made shortbread crust, Bardenhagen apple butter, apple slices and topped with a cider reduction. I got it with ice cream. The crust was excellent and perfect with the tasty apples tops swimming in the cider reduction sauce. The flavorful dessert was perfectly paired with vanilla ice cream. Not only was it a pretty presentation, it was yummy.