Located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, The Antlers restaurant prepares homemade meals seven days a week. Because of its collection of 300-plus mounted trophies, owner and manager Chris Szabo often quips that The Antlers is just as much a “taxidermy orphanage” as it is a restaurant.
“All of the trophies were given to the restaurant and we never sell any of them,” said Szabo, who adds there are more in the attic. Original artwork and mounts line the walls, hang from the ceiling and fill the nooks and crannies of the bar and dining area. A casual hunting lodge décor adds to the friendly and authentic atmosphere.
Szabo and his team are happy to share the history of the building, which first opened 100 years ago. During the Prohibition era, the location was a speakeasy that presented itself as an ice cream parlor. The apparatus that rang bells and whistles to warn of a raid by the Feds are still used, but to herald the announcement of a birthday, other celebrations or to greet groups gathered for a tour meal.
When The Antlers is the meal stop following a themed Soo Locks tour, like the pirate tour, Szabo will arrange to carry that theme into the dining experience. Szabo will schedule costumed servers, a walk-the-plank activity or maybe a mini-skit.
The restaurant’s northern Michigan menu extends into Canada as poutine (pronounce peu-tin) is a favorite. Poutine is the national dish of Canada. “Our version uses twice-fried potatoes, white and orange Wisconsin cheese curds, tossed with steaming homemade gravy,” Szabo said. “Our kitchen bakes our own bread. We cut our own [potato]fries.”
Favorites with a USA twist include Michigan Cherry Chicken, Paul Bunyan Burger, and fish and chips.
“We suggest sharing a plate of Whitefish Dip — local Whitefish in a cream cheese spread — served with rustic flatbread crackers, maybe a side of fried pickle chips,” Szabo said.
The Antlers is located on the south end of the Soo Locks. Motorcoach parking is available.
Article by Mary Lu Laffey