Officially it is The Village at Grand Traverse Commons and I really wanted to see this place and perhaps get a bite to eat, before a few more wine tastings, I mean sometimes I really have tunnel-vision or so it seems. I enjoy things of beauty, age and grace and can truly revel in architecture from days gone by. The Northern Michigan Asylum finished their first building in 1885, and some may think that is the perfect setting for me. Northern Michigan Asylum eventually became the Traverse City State Hospital, as many institutions that were originally built for Tuberculosis Hospitals were no longer needed, once that disease was eradicated. Over the years from the time of the Asylum to the Hospital, it grew to be a thousand plus acre site within Traverse City and it was rather self-sufficient with farms, warehouses, a power plant and other adjunct buildings. Some forward-thinking individuals saved this entire complex from the wrecking ball and building by building they are slowly renovating and re-utilizing the structures for an assortment of uses. We walked through one of the earliest renovations that now contain boutiques and shops and restaurants on the garden level of the building with an assortment of business in the floors above and this is right across from a three hundred acre park that was being used for a charity event while we were there, hence parking was tough, but we had the good fortune to find something rather close as we pulled into the grounds. The old chapel on the grounds is now used for weddings, banquets and even theatrical productions, and besides office rentals, they are now selling condominiums and loft residences. We strolled through the ground level corridors looking at the assorted shops, I guess the old merchant in me, still admires small businesses. Interspersed in the corridors one will also see some old artifacts that were found within the huge complex from the hospital days that were luckily not tossed out as junk. Also while we were walking around, we had to side step a good crowd that were on a guided historic tour, which if we had more time, I would have enjoyed, as they were explaining what the different rooms were originally constructed for, as well as the old steam tunnels and they were also going to see some of the structures that have not been renovated yet. It is also considered one of the largest mixed-use historic redevelopement projects in the United States. It was a charming way to spend the morning.
Halfway through our exploration of the corridors we discovered The Red Spire Brunch House that showed real moxie for utilizing almost every square foot to create a restaurant and even with tables out in the corridor as well, the restaurant was packed. We actually had to leave our phone number as we explored the rest of the corridors as we waited for a table to be open. A table was not possible, so we sat at the counter and on the other side of the counter was a hive of productivity as we were watching the kitchen do their magic. I have to tell you, that since I was a child, my Mother used to make me poached eggs with her poaching pan and I have never stopped enjoying them to the point that I very seldom have fried eggs, except as an omelet; and that may have been the start of my being a pain in the arse about food. I had the Traditional Eggs Benedicts while my Bride had Crab Benedict, which substituted home made crab cakes for English Muffins, and my dish surprisingly had English Muffin Bread rather than the classic muffins.
This brunch may not have even been mentioned, because I didn’t notice it at the tables out in the corridor, but at the counter we discovered that they were making Mimosas. Not only did they have Mimosas, but they made them in the manner that we prefer, a glass of bubbly and a soupcon of orange juice. The first time that I saw this particular bubbly was in Las Vegas, but we have now encountered it often, and in fact I have noticed in some newspaper ads for brunches around the Detroit area that they tout that they use Wycliff. Wycliff Brut California Champagne is by the William Wycliff Winery which is under the umbrella of the Gallo Winery group. This screwcap bottle of sparkling wine is geared strictly to restaurants and catering companies, so that the consumer cannot check the retail price of the wine or buy it on their own. Since it is part of Gallo, I am sure that they have made sure that they were grandfathered in with the term “California Champagne.” This wine is made by the Charmat Method, which is a more economical way of producing a sparkling wine and since it was being mixed with orange juice, it was more than adequate. Traditionally the wine would be made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and I will presume that all or part of those grapes are being used. All I can say is that it was a great way to start the day off. The only thing lacking was the pop of the cork. Our day was off to a great start.