One of the places that I always make sure I get to when I visit my folks in Northern Michigan is Jesperson's in downtown Petoskey.
For 106 years the same family has been serving simple home cooked from scratch food to locals and tourists alike.
Hemingway is said to have been a daily visitor to the counter when he visited the family home at Walloon Lake. Basically open for lunch only on most days with people typically standing two and three deep waiting for a table or a spot at the counter but the wait is worth every minute.
During the winter I love to order a bowl of their chicken noodle soup filled with big thick noodles and big pieces of chicken or the spicy chili made with chunks of beef and tomatoes. But the one thing I always order is the grilled ham salad sandwich on dark rye.
My mom almost always orders the sandwich that I've only ever seen at Jesperson's, the grilled swiss and dill on rye.
One of these days I'm going to ask for a grilled swiss, dill and ham salad sandwich. I'm thinking that would be a great combo.
The one thing on the menu that makes Jesperson's a must eat at place in Northern Michigan is its pies. Trust me when I tell you, before you order your lunch, you better order your slice of pie. Many a time before I learned the secret, I would hear the pie selection and not order my slice only to have the pie gone when it came time for dessert. After missing out on their mile high meringue pies
one time too many, I got smart and even before the waitress tells us the daily lunch special, I will have my pie ordered.
Jesperson's makes everything for their pies from scratch, including the crust and fillings. They use local fruits for their pies so some of the flavors like peach and strawberry-rhubarb are only available when the fruit is ripe in the Northern Michigan orchards. Luckily, since Michigan is the captial of pie cherries, they are available almost year round in some form so you can normally get cherry pie even when there are three feet of snow on the ground.
On the day I was in Petoskey this last trip to find the tahini for the Bread Baking Babe bread last month, they had chocolate cream pie, strawberry-rhubarb (another of my favorites), cherry-berry (the pie that put Jesperson's on the map), banana cream, lemon meringue, coconut cream, blueberry, and peach.
After we finished lunch, Sarah, our bubbly and super friendly waitress, brought my mom, dad and I our pies.
My dad ordered the still warm banana cream pie.
My mom ordered coconut cream pie.
And, I ordered cherry-berry pie ala mode
with the ice cream on the side so I could take a really nice picture of how deep red the filling of the pie is with its combo of whole berry cherries, raspberries, and strawberries.
We also ordered a whole chocolate cream pie to take home for dinner that evening. Of course it was gone before I thought to take a picture.
I'm heading back home in a few weeks to enjoy a bit more of summer, get some golf in with my dad and Uncle Billy, and generally just hang out on the deck catching some sun (I hope). You can bet that at least one lunch will be at Jesperson's.
I may just have to order only pie for lunch...