A Sea Grant family meal: Dinner at Karl’s Cuisine

By Rhett Register, Michigan Sea Grant Communications Program Manager

Rhett joined Interim Michigan Sea Grant Director Catherine Riseng on a road trip to visit Extension Educator Elliot Nelson in Sault Ste. Marie. During their visit, they made a special stop:

Karl’s Cuisine in Sault Ste. Marie offers Great Lakes regional food, homemade beers and wines, and an unbeatable view of thousand-foot freighters being raised or lowered 21 feet through the Soo Locks.

Here’s another interesting fact: It is the family restaurant of Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Elliot Nelson.

Before Elliot began working at Lake Superior State University as an Extension Educator, he helped his family establish the restaurant, working summers and even creating a signature sandwich.

Though the “sliced chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil, Michigan dried cherries and peppercorn ranch” sandwich he created was tempting, this is a seafood blog — and I had heard good things about their seafood. Karl’s sources many ingredients from local farms and always has fresh whitefish and walleye on the menu from a local tribal fishing company. With this in mind, I opted for the whitefish ratatouille, a special.

It was the right choice. Summer vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash) in marinara covered Lake Superior whitefish and homemade vermicelli. It went very well with the Poe Lock Brown Ale, also brewed in-house.

Karl's whitefish vermicelli_adj
If the whitefish ratatouille special is any indication, Karl’s serves up excellent seafood dishes. Photo: Rhett Register

As we enjoyed our food, the 224-foot State of Michigan, a training vessel of the Maritime Academy in Traverse City, locked through from Lake Superior, possibly headed home.

Resisting the temptation for dessert and for going next door for a round of mini-golf (the family also runs the adjacent mini-golf course) we walked across the street to watch another vessel, the 767-foot Kaye E. Barker, lock through.

Karl's trip boat
The Kaye E. Barker slips through the Soo Locks as the sun slips toward the horizon. Photo: Rhett Register

It was a race between the sun setting and the vessel being freed from the lock. The sun won — it takes 40-60 minutes for a ship to go through the locks — and we headed to our rooms, but not before stopping at another spot on the Sault Ste. Marie strip, Zak’s, for some hand-dipped ice cream. I opted for Michigan Pothole, an apt way to end a day that had begun 330 bumpy miles south at the Michigan Sea Grant Ann Arbor office.

Karl's trip ice cream
What better way to cap off a long day than with an ice cream cone? Photo: Rhett Register

If you want to learn more or visit Karl’s Cuisine, you can find it here:

447 W Portage Ave
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Tel: (906) 253-1900

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