Eat at the Jockey Club on Mackinac Island for these Grand Reasons
When travelling a big part of the adventure is finding unique culinary experiences. You are hungry. You are in unfamiliar territory, and all you can do to keep from getting hangry is to find some place that ticks all your gastronomic boxes. And for me, while exploring Mackinac Island, a gorgeous time capsule on Lake Huron, the Jockey Club did just that.
First a Little About the Restaurant
- The Jockey Club has been pleasing guests since the early 2000’s. Before its inception, it was known as the Snack Bar.
- Steins adorn the ceiling and are all owned by the members of the club. Should members come in for a drink, the team will fetch their steins from the display and serve them with their own steins.
- The Jockey Club is classed as casual fine dining. It is a less dressy alternative for guests not wishing to dress as formally as required for other Grand Hotel restaurants.
- The staff are known for their incredible balance.
- The indoor dining room seats a small capacity of 32 people
- The head chef has been creating the daily specials for the Jockey Club for three seasons. He is originally from the Philippines and studied gastronomy in the USA.
The restaurant brings the love and perfection of equestrian art together with talented and flavourful gastronomy. As you head inside to the mini dining room, marvel at jockey hat lamp shades, Irish plaid equine-style carpeting, horse knobs and carved chairs, and an incredible staff that “horses around” to satisfy your every request.
The Incredible Food
I knew that we would be spoilt when dining here, but even this expectation was exceeded. The staff here presented us with a tasting of various appetizers, mains, desserts, and bespoke libations. Below is a photographic and descriptive account of our meal which satisfied not only our palates, but also our gastronomic hearts.
This gorgeous presentation certainly took fruit salad to a whole new level. Seasonal produce chopped, diced, and delicately placed on a block of sea salt, garnished with caviar, made for the perfect course to whet our appetites. The salad we were served included ripe avocado, cucumber, mango, and watermelon. The salt was a nice touch as it brought out the sweetness of all the flavours. Plus the chef artistically added floral shaped pieces, and fresh herbs from the Grand Hotel’s own garden.
I love these crustaceans. They are a guilty pleasure that I could eat and eat and eat. So of course when I was surprised with a beautifully flavourful and textured plate of tempura-style shrimp, my eyes lit up like the start of the Olympic games. The breading was of the perfect thickness and softness, the Asian spices were perfectly blended with just the right portion size, and the taste was pure heaven on a plate. The presentation also blew me away on a classic Denby-style pottery plate, piled high in the middle and capped with a flower resembling a Hawaiian volcano. And just like a volcano, my taste buds erupted embracing all the flavours at once. The chef outdid himself with his take on one of my favourite species of seafood.
The Asian influence continues with these delightful breaded and fried avocado pieces. These were a burst of flavour with every bite. Avocado has a soft texture that literally melts in your mouth as the flavours dissolve on your palate. This was such a treat and the perfect start to our culinary extravaganza.
Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter
So now all the stops have been pulled and the ultimate in meal courses came to the table – Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter coupled with vegetables and daily potato hash. Truly a masterpiece, the steak melted in your mouth with each forkful leaving you to savour the jus and the truffles fused together. Those who know me are aware that my preference for steak is medium rare with mushrooms, onions, or on occasions, HP sauce. Well that was until I had this dish. My friends, this was a steak beyond steak, a medium rare gourmet delight where the butter brought spice and extravagance to the table. I actually caught myself closing my eyes with each bite savouring the moment. Yes. It was that good.
Whitefish with Cape Beurre Sauce & Ravioli
Another brilliant culinary blend of flavours here. Whitefish is a common fish of the region and is plentiful in Lake Huron. The freshness of the catch combined with breadcrumbs, butter, and the accent veggies made this delicate main the perfect follower to the tempura of stronger flavours.
House-made Spinach Pasta with Crab, Pesto, and Cashews
After enjoying steak, fish, and a gorgeous array of appetizers, we were graced with a homemade pasta dish. This delightful course was pure flavour mixing the spinach with the pesto and cashews. The nuts added that inviting crunch that sets this pasta above the rest. With each mouthful you can taste the pesto and fresh spinach in the clearly homemade pasta noodles. If you are looking for a satisfying comfort food with a touch of elegance, this dish is for you.
Tile fish with Sateed Leeks, potato scales, and Cauliflower Puree
This one was one of my absolute favourite dishes of all. The fresh and light taste of the tile fish mixed with elegantly tiled potato topping, and accented with the pureed cauliflower made a heavenly concoction on a plate. I have never had such a creamy puree in my life that complemented a fish course so beautifully. At this point I was getting quite full, but somehow found room to indulge in this beautiful fresh catch. I complimented the chef on the intricate presentation, not to mention the sheer luxury of the dish itself.
Now I know what you’re thinking after seeing the photos above; how could I possibly have room for dessert? As my father would say I “must have a hollow leg.” I quite possibly do as somehow I was able to find space to enjoy this delightful banana caramel sweet treat. Close your eyes and allow your taste buds to be tantalized with this combo: bananas, caramel sauce, homemade ice cream, walnuts, and the sweet spot – rum. Clearly the perfect ending for such an incredible meal.
The chef’s daily signature dessert, a confection of blueberries, flour, and hazelnuts, topped with a dollop of cream, truly spoke my palate’s language. The soft and moist texture of the sponge mixed with the slightly bitter blueberries made for the perfect flavour fusion. I usually don’t gravitate to blueberries, but there is something to be said about wild blueberries picked fresh in the region that makes these all the more appealing. This dessert was a pleaser and it certainly made for a delightful conclusion.
The Exclusive Libations
So not only were we spoiled with bespoke courses, flavour fusions, and personal visits from the chef himself, but we were also surprised with two of the Jockey Club’s original cocktails to complement our meal. I love cocktails, especially in the summer months as the fruity flavours are all that much sweeter in a warmer climate. And the details were astounding! The stir sticks accompanying the drinks sported horseshoes to keep on theme with the restaurant. Incredible! I do also enjoy a glass of wine with dinner now and then, but I feel in the summer that cocktails like the ones we were given truly accentuate the entire experience, satisfying us in both meal and potent potable.
The Mango Froze
My husband loves mangoes and buys them by the carton. He just cannot get enough of this tropical fruit that reminds him of home in Australia. So of course, I had not qualms of giving him this delicious alcoholic slushy complete with pure mango rum, and mango puree. I had to bring him back from cloud nine to finish his dinner he loved it so much.
The Yellow Bird
So this is actually the restaurant’s secret recipe! Truly a delicious summer drink to try when you come, this cocktail ticked all the boxes for sweetness, flavours, and ultimate presentation. One hint on the flavour as I was sworn to secrecy on all the ingredients, but if you like bananas, you will love this cocktail!
The Jockey Club was the perfect conclusion to our time on Mackinac Island. Stepping back in time and listening to hooves over revved engines was truly a gift that I hope to receive again really soon. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to a perfect day on such a beautiful Island that thrives through the mist of Lake Huron, the old world charm, and the classic gastronomy that never goes out of style. I highly recommend when visiting Mackinac Island to pay the Jockey Club a visit. Not only will you be presented with delicious food for all tastes and diets, but you will also be entertained and served by some of the most talented and attentive staff you could ask for. The manager Onique (Unique with an “O”) was a true host ensuring our evening was as perfect as possible. Make your reservation and bring your appetite with you for an experience that is truly “Grand.”
Need help planning your romantic trip to Mackinac Island? Get our incredible Free Honeymoon/Romantic Getaway Journal on the sidebar here.
Want to Shout us a Cuppa Jo? We Cannot Thank you enough. Click here for details!
Check out our incredible travel essentials for your next trip in our shop!
Travelling to the USA? Don’t be a ninny and go without insurance!
We were a guest of the Grand Hotel’s Jockey Club Restaurant while travelling to the island. All views expressed within this post are our own and were not influenced in any way.