Blue Tractor Cook Shop
Sunday was L’s actual birthday so we sort of let her dictate the day….to a point. She wanted to start the day in the water park at Great Wolf Lodge, so that’s what we did. The park opens at 10:00 and we told her we could swim until noon then we would go eat lunch, come back and relax for a little bit, then swim the rest of the afternoon.
It was a little harder getting L out of the pool than we anticipated. She promised us she would leave when we asked her too…but…yeah…she’s five.
We finally got everyone back to our room and changed into regular clothes to go out for a little bit. There are still a few breweries in Traverse City that we haven’t eaten at yet, but I had another idea. Actually I was a little hesitant because the dinner menu looked better than the lunch, but I decided to go with it.
Blue Tractor Cook Shop is in Traverse City’s Old Towne Neighborhood on Union Street just north of Eighth Street.
The restaurant is on the same spot as the historic Novotny Saloon which dates back to the 1880’s. The original building burned in 1978 and the current building was built as almost an exact replica. There’s a plaque on the outside of the building marking it as a Michigan Historic Site.
We walked in to the restaurant closer to 1:00 on a Sunday afternoon. The entrance opens right up to a small waiting area and the host station. There are dining rooms on either side of the host station with a nice large bar right in the middle. The old design of the building actually makes the space really interesting. There are a lot of support beams and walls that block off the space from being one big open room….but it doesn’t feel like you’re cramped either.
The hostess grabbed a couple menus and took us to a table sort of near the bar and near other families. We took a regular four top over the the high top tables because B is still in a high chair and that just doesn’t work with those types of tables.
This location of Blue Tractor isn’t a brewery (the Ann Arbor Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery, obviously, is). I was a little surprised they didn’t have any of their own brews on tap, but they did have a pretty good draft beer list that both Jessica and I could find something on.
I chose Dark Horse’s Plead The 5th Imperial Stout. This is one of my favorite stouts even though this is the regular version and not the amazing BBA that’s only available in bottles once a year in Marshall.
J stayed a little bit more local and ordered the Nomad Cherry Cider which is a product of North Peak Brewing Company. She’s had Nomad before but never this one. It’s a little more sweeter than most cherry ciders which always come off more tart to me.
So, earlier said I was hesitant because the dinner menu looked better to me. Well, they must do dinner all day on Sunday because that’s the menu we got which gave me a few more options. I mean, there was plenty on the menu I would have loved, but I really wanted brisket and I really wanted it as a sandwich.
I ordered Chopped Brisket Sandwich. This sandwich is slow-smoked brisket with just a drizzle of a house BBQ sauce. It’s topped with pimento cheese and apple slaw (I actually had this put on the side) on an onion roll. This sandwich was everything I hoped it would be when I first saw it on the menu. The brisket was so tender and salty. The cheese coated everything. The bread, the meat, everything. It was such a delicious compliment to the smokey, salty meat.
The sandwich comes with house-made BBQ chips, but I upgraded to the fries. They were a thicker, steak fry type of thing that I used to soak up the extra cheese and BBQ sauce that fell of my sandwich.
J was able to combine two things she really likes in to one meal. She picked the Pork Mac & Cheese. The house smoked pulled pork is served on top of a gouda mac & cheese and topped with the house BBQ sauce. Everything about this plate was amazing. The pork was tender and juicy. The pasta was swimming in the cheese sauce. The BBQ sauce added a delicious sweetness to top the whole thing off.
L was also interested in mac & cheese, but hers wasn’t nearly as fancy as J ‘s. She got the same mac & cheese without the pork topping it. Fortunately, L spoke up and told the waitress she didn’t want anything on top of it which confused the waitress a little bit until I explained she doesn’t like bread crumbs on her mac & cheese. The dish would have came with bread crumbs and we probably would have had a meltdown. Instead, L ate the entire bowl plus most of the appleasauce that came as the side.
The bill for this delicious meal was right around $40 before tip and it was so worth it. I told J I was a little hesitant on this place, but I’m so glad I skipped the brewery for lunch and went with this instead. Blue Tractor is a pretty great spot in an even greater building. This is definitely a place to go looking for when looking to eat out in Traverse City.