*****THIS RESTAURANT IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED*****
Many great Roadfood restaurants are blue-collar diners, dives, and truck stops. We tend not to gravitate to eateries with vegetarian proclivities, where the menu boasts of the integrity of natural ingredients, fair-trade coffees, heirloom veggies and artisan amusés. Not that there’s anything wrong with all that stuff, but usually the food lacks soul.
Sweet Water Cafe is a place with an elevated consciousness, and it also glows with soul — Upper Peninsula soul. I put this cheerful place on in my little black book if only for its wonderful homemade breads and for the locally-made maple spread offered at breakfast. Maple trees are part of what make Michigan’s Upper Peninsula so beautiful in the fall, and syrup made from their sap is as big a deal here as it is in New England. In addition to providing it for pouring on French toast and pancakes and to sweeten yogurt in the morning, Sweet Water offers ramekins of spreadable maple paste about the consistency of peanut butter. Applied thickly to house-made three-grain toast, it is a veritable maple orgy. I also like it dolloped on hot winter grain cereal and even on grilled potatoes.
Sweet Water’s menu promises that everything is a cut above normal. Burgers come from naturally raised local beef and are served on made-here oatmeal wheat buns. Bacon in the BLT comes from Vollwerth’s of Hancock, Michigan. Fruit salad is freshly cut. The grilled cheese sandwich is available with cafe-made pesto. While it is an especially good place for breakfast, one non-breakfast meal we recommend is Lake Superior whitefish. The day we came to dinner it was baked just-so, leaving the freshwater jewel heavy with moisture and sweet lake flavor. It came sprinkled with lemon pepper atop a bed of buttery limp spinach leaves and it was crowned with a globe of melting herb butter.