Fish Fryday #3: Breakwall Bakery & Cafe, Grand Marais
This is our third installment of Fish Frydays. On a not-quite-weekly but more-than-monthly schedule, we will patronize a new fish fry location in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. These outings will take place on Friday evening, with a review posted the following Monday. The goal is simple, try as many fish fry locations across the Upper Peninsula as possible while in the presence of good company. Have a suggestion? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.
Fish: Fried perch and walleye
Time commitment: 30-60 minutes
Total: 12/15 stars
This installment features a trip to Grand Marais and a stop at the Breakwall Bakery & Cafe. The Breakwall is still new to Grand Marais, having opened in June of 2014. Owner Tim Swift built the building out of locally sourced materials and the result is beautiful. There is plenty of beautifully crafted wood, cut and milled by Wolf Creek right in Grand Marais. They can expect to be especially busy next weekend as it’s the halfway point of the UP 200.
Let’s just say this was some fantastic fish. Breakwall offers an option of perch and walleye in the form of a dinner or all you can eat. Both perch and walleye were excellent cooked. If you’re looking for a tradition fried fish, the perch is the way to go, with a little extra breading and fried crispy goodness. The walleye offers a larger fillet for those who prefer a little less crispiness and fried taste. There wasn’t a single thing to change about the fish offering. The only thing I wanted was more than my stomach could eat.
The meals sides included a house salad, serving of fries, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Unfortunately the vegetables were severed a little cold, but that’s ok, we’re here for the fish and veggies are just filler. It was nice having natural cut fries, though they were a little soggier than preferred. The biggest thing missing was a beer option since part of the Fish Fryday journey is to pair a beer with each meal. We’re crossing our fingers this is something that will be added in the future, as we certainly recommend this stop for some good fish.
This time of year there is plenty of snowmobile traffic taking over Grand Marais. They keep this in mind with ample room to hang jackets, snowmobile helmets, and have large tables to seat six at a table. Missing from the seating is an option for an intimate date, but this is the kind of place you go with a big group and have some big laughs. There was a little confusion if Breakwall was a bakery, a cafe, or a fancy sit down restaurant, truth is, it’s a little bit of everything. The inside is decorated with some antique skis, taxidermy wildlife, and other nicknacks that make you feel at home in the Upper Peninsula. Then, we headed upstairs which was beautiful with big plush leather couches, hand crafted wooden tables that could seat a party of 16, and the perfect location for a group party. The only thing missing for an evening venue was the option for a cold adult beverage.
It was a surprise weekend getaway, a treat from my girlfriend Angie. I didn’t know where we were going when we headed East from Marquette. We sat down for a quiet dinner, the only thing missing from the previous excursions were others to visit with, or so we thought. Thirty minutes before arriving at Breakwall, we checked into the Hilltop Cabins. We were kindly greeted by the owner who won me over with a healthy supply of chocolates at the counter, and then I insisted that Angie sign the guestbook with her superior handwriting.
So there we were, enjoying our first bite of fish when an incoming text comes in. Checking my phone during dinner, rude, I know. There was a fuzzy photo of handwriting I couldn’t make out, and when I clicked to see the full-size it was the guestbook entry we had signed only 30 minutes prior, followed by the message “Great minds think alike!” Do we have stalker?! It was an erie feeling. Turns out it was our friend Alex and his fiance Liz. As if that wasn’t cool enough, Alex followed up saying, “Liz suprised me with a trip for my birthday.” Unbelievable. We love these serendipitous moments.
We invited Alex and Liz to join us for fish fry and we were collectively dumbfounded by the coincidence. And one of the reasons we all love the Upper Peninsula, because everywhere you go there tends to be a friend. Together, we enjoyed conversation about hipster haircuts, entrepreneurship, and weekend plans, with interruptions every 10 minutes to revisit our shared amusement of the evening. We headed back to the Hilltop Cabins for some cribbage, Yahtzee, and enjoyed a growler of ESP from the Lake Superior Brewing Company, kitty corner to the Breakwall in downtown Grand Marais.
It was a grand weekend, and the next fish fry is just days away. See you out there.