by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
Under the banner of the Gilmore Collection of restaurants, the Bostwick Lake Inn (BLI) opened its doors for business this week Tuesday.
Your reporters had the good fortune to be invited as guests to one of three days of an invitation only soft-opening.
Soft-openings are meant to hone the skills and menu of a new restaurant’s management and staff. They’re kind of like shake down cruises or breaking in a new car if you will. Soft-openings are oftentimes like train wrecks but such was not the case during our visit last Saturday evening.
What was not to like? Gone is the decades old monochromatic white exterior along with an interior needing a little tender loving care. Now sparkling clean inside and out, you’ll love the vibrant new color schemes. History was not forgotten. The walls of the dining room displayed newly framed black and white antique photographs of the lake and the restaurant’s past that were freely provided by lakeside and area residents.
We loved the eclectic menu offerings. Variety is the spice of life and with an extensive menu, in part, of fourteen starter appetizer plates it was difficult to narrow it down to one or two so why not order three?
Cliff ordered Applewood Smoked Harrietta Hills Trout over baked herbed cheese with fried tarro chips. Nancy went with the Grilled Wild Gulf Shrimp with local asparagus 2 ways, both grilled and salad with candied ginger vinaigrette. Our attentive and knowledgeable server Rebecca suggested the third, Olive Oil-Spice Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with roasted pepper puree and golden raisins. Bursting with flavor and freshness, we could not fault any one of the three.
On to the main course. Cliff ordered the BLI Mac ‘N Cheese composed of rigatoni pasta, baby spinach, roasted garlic, slow roasted tomatoes, house cheese sauce, crispy asiago cheese, and crispy leeks to which he added perfectly grilled and sliced flank steak. Cliff was in “seventh heaven” stating it was the best Mac ‘N Cheese he had ever had, the mélange of flavors of the combined ingredients was that good!
Nancy, a seafood lover, chose Potato Chip-Sweet Corn Crusted Walleye. The generous filet was served with house remoulade and lemon on the side with grilled local asparagus, artfully arranged atop.
We shared bites of each other’s plates and a rather heated discussion ensued as to which was the best. Actually, we couldn’t split them. They were both that good!
We should have declined desserts but that evening’s selections were freshly baked pies that we simply couldn’t pass up. Cliff chose the Pecan Whiskey and Nancy the Lemon Chiffon; both came with real whipped cream on the side. Just excellent.
Decadence maybe, but together we enjoyed each and every mouthful and minute of our BLI experience.
As we dined that evening Greg Gilmore circulated freely among his guests and while at our table told us how proud he was of being able to work with his wife, Jacqueline, in the theme and décor of not only BLI but also Red Jet Cafe on Plainfield Ave. near Leonard St. Gilmore told us to stay tuned for future announcements of upcoming BLI offerings. He named music on the expansive deck, possible sailing lessons, kayak and paddleboat rentals, and Adirondack chair seating on the beach as but a few of future possibilities.
Gilmore’s face broke into a smile when he told us of Finn’s Shore Store. Named after his 7-year old son Finn, the little store front right off the lobby entrance to the restaurant will offer up a little bit of everything “lake”. It is sure to become a daily destination to the peoples of the “Lakes” community. Offerings are anticipated to be ice-cream, espresso, coffee, pies, pastries, t-shirts, seasonal women’s apparel, suntan lotions, and most certainly fishing stuff along with beer and wine packaged goods, and of course, restaurant menu items to go.
Gilmore said he didn’t want to forget his charming 11-year old daughter Lane in the family affair. We’d suggest he consider naming the paddleboat/kayak rental – Lane’s Lakeside Rentals.
Days and hours of operation of both the BLI and Finn’s Shore Store (8521 Belding Rd., Rockford) can be obtained by calling (616) 874-6361.