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Restaurants & Bars

Three Oaks, Michigan – Mesa Luna

Al Ehrhardt | Aug 25, 200407:52 PM

I started writing this at least a month ago, but never finished.

Mesa Luna is the latest fine dining option in the Harbor Country area of southwest Michigan. It was opened a few weeks ago by Sam Luna, who previously was chef at Jenny’s/Moxie’s in Union Pier. We had a wonderful meal there recently. Our waiter, Alan, was very knowledgeable with the menu options and offered some nice comments.

The warm interior has an Avec-like feel in the fact that the walls and ceiling are paneled in knotty pine. Very comfortable and handsome chairs are covered in a sage green Naugahyde. They were very lucky to have inherited the interior and furnishings as is. Art is provided by Lakeside Galleries. When we were there a couple of weeks ago, there was a very striking, and chowish, three piece study of apples by a French artist. The space was formerly a tavern, is not very large, and has a handsome wood and copper bar (an inviting place for a martini and appetizer).

We started with sautéed veal sweetbreads (yes, in Three Oaks), which were with served with thin, streamed asparagus, fresh chives, and a pancetta beurre blanc. The sweetbreads were cooked perfectly. A crab cake with wasabi aioli and oriental mixed greens and sesame vinaigrette, while not the best crab cake I’ve ever had, was still very good. I had a taste of roasted garlic flan with shitake, Portobello’s, criminis, and toasted walnuts that was very nice. The salad mixed greens, Maytag blue, golden raisins, toasted walnuts, julienned carrots, and dressed with a yuzu basil vinaigrette was a nice combination and dressed just right.

Both ladies got grilled arctic char served with asparagus tips, walnuts, local grape tomatoes, apple wood smoked bacon, lemon bacon vinaigrette, and yukon frites. A great piece of fish and the whole was wonderful. Nancy thought it was the best fish dish that she has had in a long time. The guys both had a veal chop stuffed with peeky toe crab that was drizzled with Stilton blue vinaigrette. The chop was served with a wild mushroom and pea risotto. It was good, but I wound up ordering it by process of elimination. There were seven entrees and since I quickly ruled out four (two steaks, roast chicken, and vegetable Pad Thai) and my wife ordered the fifth one, I was down to two options.

We shared a trio of crème brulee, fresh local blueberry, vanilla bean, and cocoa. They were all great. Of course, Nancy the chocoholic pronounced the cocoa her favorite.

The wine list was small and did not have many imaginative choices, but they are very new. I ordered a pinot noir from the Marlborough region of New Zealand and I had never heard of the producer (only two pinot noirs on the list). It was served very warm. If I had caught it before the four of us had our glasses filled, I would have asked for an ice bucket for a brief dunk. They need to re-evaluate their wine storage.

Here are some other comments on meals from the week:

We had a very good dinner at Timothy’s in the Gordon Beach Inn in Union Pier. Grilled scallops (perfectly grilled) with a very good mango chutney and lobster stir-fry (even though it was pan-Asian in style, a very tasty dish, although a little light on the lobster) for appetizers. We got two of each app for four, but the lobster stir-fry was a very substantial dish. Four different fish entrees, lacquered salmon, grouper with a coconut crust, grilled red snapper, and I forgot the fourth one. Every one was very good (sorry about the lack of details, but it’s been a few weeks) and so were the sides. The crispy fried spinach served with my wife’s salmon was very different and good.

A nice dinner at the Roadhouse, but I think every year it loses a little. They need a wake-up call since they have been on autopilot for too many years.

Take out Mexican from Rio’s in New Buffalo was good, standard taqueria fare.

Another take out meal from Café Gulistan was delicious, as usual. The always-great Kavurma (lamb), Antepli Yahnisi (chicken), Lamb Kabobs, and Sharon’s recommendation of Ispanek (falafil patties in a garlic, mango, cream sauce) did not disappoint. My only issue is that the food is fairly expensive for Middle Eastern Fare.

I thought I would have a really good pizza recommendation, but I’m not sure. We ordered from Mario’s (in the fairly deserted strip mall on Red Arrow in Union Pier) the first night of the week. A really good white pizza (olive oil, sliced fresh tomatoes, ricotta, basil, and Parmesan) on Gwiv-worthy CRISPY, cracker crust. We ordered the same thing on our last day and the crust was thicker, not as crispy, and the cook had a very heavy hand with the ricotta. They were still only open about a month so hopefully the will become more consistent.

A lunch at Redamak’s provided the usual good burgers. I have decided that the double burger produces a sandwich that is really out of balance, just too much meat.

Sandwiches for the beach were from the Whistle Stop in Union Pier. The bread from Bit o’ Swiss bakery is always the best part of the sandwich, very pedestrian meats & cheeses. We really miss whatever place (the last was the Lone Radish, sister of Milk & Honey in Wicker Park) was operating in the little building in front of Lakeside Antiques.

The galleries are really sprouting up in Three Oaks. Blue Gallery has some very nice paintings and Kim Pruitt recently relocated Dawning Art the Gift from its previous location on North Avenue in Bucktown. Besides Kim’s paintings she has many other nice pieces, especially pottery.

Mesa Luna
13 S. Elm Street
Three Oaks, Michigan 49128

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