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“A Good Meal” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Rowe Inn Restaurant

The Rowe Inn Restaurant
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Ranked #1 of 5 Restaurants in Ellsworth
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $20 - $40
Cuisines: French, European
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions, Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Accepts American Express, Accepts Discover, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Off-Street Parking, Full Bar, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Description: The Rowe Inn of Ellsworth, Michigan, offers an intimate, casual atmosphere of fine dining for Charlevoix, Torch Lake and all of Northern Michigan. You'll find our seasonal menus and expansive fine wine collection perfect for any occasion. Individuals, couples, groups and families are equally welcome and catered to. All our meals and wines are served with passion and commitment unsurpassed by anyone in Northern Michigan's fine dining industry.
Madison, WI
Level Contributor
115 reviews
59 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“A Good Meal”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 26, 2013

Good food, good experience overall, and worth the visit even if it's your only night out to eat during your visit to the area. It wouldn't take a lot to kick The Rowe up a notch to meet its storied reputation and the expectations generated by its menu prices, and I hope the proprietors will heed the constructive criticism of reviewers here who genuinely like the establishment and wish for more. I've got two favorite top-flight dinner destinations in remote, rugged wilderness settings in California and New York, so I know it can be done. The dishes look just as you picture them when you read the description -- no artful finishing or creativity in the composition and presentation (in fact our 3 different entrees were plated identically with the very same sides -- someone below mentions "assembly line" and I'd have to agree). The dining room could easily be made to look a bit more sophisticated and still true to its woodsy locale -- it looks a bit too much like an inexpensive lunch cafe. Service was a bit too casual for these price points. The woman who advises on wine was very helpful and personable and added a lot to the experience. I'd have appreciated a more informed waitress better able to speak to the dishes on the menu or, better yet, a brief tableside visit from a chef, owner or maitre 'd. I'd like to have seen stand-out daily specials. I'd like to have seen more evidence of local sourcing. There is no reason The Rowe can't be a "wow" experience. It's a "good" experience.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank PrairiePaddler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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99 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    65
    9
    13
    4
    8
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Clifton, Virginia
Level Contributor
233 reviews
161 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
“good experience overall”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 8, 2013

The Rowe for me goes back to the 70s I think. In the beginning it was not just the experience but the food and the wine and everything was top notch. I have been two or three times in the past four years and again last night and it just does not seem the same. The phrase that comes to mind is "long in the tooth". The overall experience is very good but individually each segment is just ok. The biggest disappointment for me was the food quality which for years was the primary Rowe selling point. I would rate the food "just servicable" against my expectations. I think over the years they simply turned their popular items into a production menu service. My mind recalls odd menu items needing to be explained and that wowed us with taste, not now. My mind recalls someone coming to the table to talk wine and make suggestions, not now. My mind recalls debating with friends if we knew of a place with better food than the Rowe, not now. My mind recalls some relatives calling around the block because the Rowe was having a tasing of new dishes and everyone heading out to taste something new and different, not now. My aunt used to have one of the Rowe special menus hanging in her kitchen. Collectively last night I tasted the shrimp (average), crab cakes (decent but not great), the duck (yawn), Sockeye (so un-memorable I forgot it was what I ordered), the brownie dessert (we were so full we brought them home and they are sitting uneaten in the fridge, soon to be tossed). The only item I thought was unique was the apple slaw which was ok but it is just a side. I am certain there were other dishes on the table I tried and I cannot think of them. None were memorable. Three points because the waitress was fun and kept cool with a big table.

My wife just read this and agrees with this review but noted the cucumber soup was very good.

Stay away from the downstairs bathrooms which smell like a sewage pit. Go upstairs.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Pjay99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eastport, Michigan
Level Contributor
80 reviews
64 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Birthday/anniversary dinner to remember”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 27, 2013

We went to celebrate our anniversary & my wife's birthday. The Rowe has been around for sometime and has a rather limited menu in size, but a good variety of choices. I had Kushiyaki Japanese beef tenderloin with pickled vegetables, and my wife had Shrimp Louis. Both were very good. We skipped the salad and ordered cheese and pickled vegetables. We chose house-bottled wine called "Dummy". It was a multiple varietal blend. The combination was outstanding. For entree my wife had sea bass that was wonderful. I put Julia our server on the spot for some help. After a few questions I settle on a filet. It was prepared perfectly medium rare and excellent. Deserts were great and Julia put a candle on my wife's brownie for the birthday touch. I don't remember the "wine lady’s name but she was fun, she presented us with a signature Rowe Inn wine for an anniversary gift. The place was very busy and every course can promptly, well prepared and well presented. We have been to the Rowe many times before and this was by far one of the best dining experiences there yet.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Jim G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Petoskey, Michigan
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Celebration ends on a sad note at the Rowe Inn”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 24, 2013

Our family birthday party for my husband was not festive and not memorable at the Rowe Inn.
The food was poorly prepared (I could not cut my lamb with a steak knife) and others complained later in private. The vegetable was hardly a half serving and it was overdone. There was no effort to be festive or special. The wait people were like robots. They never asked if everything was okay, although they were available to get something. There was no celebrative atmosphere in the private room. It was rather embarrassing to have recommended what I thought was the best. Surprising that I can't even remember the dessert although we requested a birthday cake. It was not that!

  • Visited July 2013
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
5 Thank Ellen492
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Okemos, Michigan
Level Contributor
143 reviews
108 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Lived up to expectations”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 18, 2013

My parents have raved about the Rowe for decades. When I was a kid vacationing up north my parents would get a pizza for my brothers and myself and dine at the Rowe without us. I had a wonderful dinner here Saturday with my college roommate. The server was very attentive as was Laurel (the "wine dummy".) Food was excellent, I had the cucumber soup and three-cheese polenta, my friend, the beet salad and filet Mignon. The atmosphere was charming, we dined outside. We plan to visit again next summer.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Anne K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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