DINING & DESTINATIONS: Lakeside Charlies serves up a decent brunch

Sometimes finding a good place to eat is hard.

For the past two weeks, I have been struggling trying to find a place to review. The last few places I reviewed came from suggestions from our readers and I thank you for each suggestion. I truly enjoy dining out at new places.

However, this time it seemed to be a stab in the dark. I had no reader suggestions, so I asked the newsroom. Jim Crees, our editor, suggested Lakeside Charlies, at 301 S. Lake Mitchell Drive, so I headed north to Cadillac.

It was my first time visiting this establishment and I have to say my dining partner and I were pleasantly surprised.

Though I visited Lakeside Charlies in the autumn, it’s obvious from the exterior that the restaurant is a popular tourist stop in the summer. There was a large deck with a beautiful lakefront view. As my friend and I entered the restaurant, Alex, who would later be our server, greeted us. She was friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating for my request for a table away from other guests.

I told her that I did not want to distract other patrons from their dining experience with my photography.

The entire establishment was clean and the marina décor complemented the lakeside view. Lakeside Charlies has a variety of old boat hulls, motors and memorabilia with an aquatic theme. The scenic view of Lake Mitchell made the atmosphere perfect on the cool Sunday afternoon.

Since it was my first time at the restaurant, I was unaware of the Sunday brunch. I was hoping to order off the menu and try one of the specialties, but Alex said during brunch they only serve sandwiches, soups and salads. The regular menu would not be available until after 3 p.m.

However, for $12.95, the brunch was absolutely delicious. Alex pointed out that many of the main dishes change each week, but this week they had their Chicken Morel on the buffet. Lakeside Charlies sautés a boneless, skinless chicken breast and serves it on a bed of rice with a rich, creamy morel mushroom sauce.

The cream added a perfect note to accompany the earthy flavor from the morel mushrooms. The slices of morel mushrooms were plentiful even on the buffet.

The buffet has two main dishes depending on the time. During breakfast, the steam table features pancakes, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes and other items. During the lunch hour, brunch items switch over to the dinner entrees. The day I visited, the soup was a creamy feta tomato, but that also changes week to week. The tomato soup was richly satisfying yet delicately flavored. The pieces of tangy feta cheese complement the rich tomato flavor.

There also was smoked whitefish, smoked salmon, peel and eat shrimp, jambalaya, ham and roast beef. The cook working the buffet slices the beef and ham while being on hand to make omelets to order.

I was not impressed with the omelet station. I expected more with the class and feel of the restaurant. I expected flame burners and real omelet pans, while your choice of omelet fillings sautéed and sizzled as it was cooked in front of you.

Instead, I got a version of a Presto griddle and what appeared to be a single egg miniature omelet. The omelet was uninviting and simple. None of the flavors meshed and without salt and pepper at the table the omelet was a bust. Colleges and universities offer a better omelet station set-up.

However, the rest of the brunch buffet was wonderful, and I recommend trying it. Brunch includes a plentiful dessert bar with treats to sweeten the day.

Lakeside Charlies is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, with brunch served until 3 p.m.

If you do go in the evening, Lakeside Charlies offers a menu that features American fare. The mid-price range on the menu can be complimented with a modest wine selection. Dinner entrees include sautéed walleye, cedar planked salmon, prime rib, chicken and steaks along with other pasta and seafood dishes. The place has a full bar with a selection of craft beer. There also is a children’s menu.

Overall brunch was satisfying and I will eat there again next time I pass through the area. I want to try the sesame sautéed scallops I saw on the menu. They use tender sea scallops that are lightly breaded in a sesame seed cracker crumb mixture, sautéed until golden brown and finished with a Grand Marnier brandy sauce and served with rice and vegetables. That sounds like a dinner worth the trip.