Harbor Haus (Copper Harbor, MI)

It’s been more than 20 years since our last visit to Copper Harbor. On that visit, we had a very pleasant dinner at the Harbor Haus. It was memorable for a few reasons: the view was very nice (on that visit, the September sunsets happen right around dinner time), having some very pleasant German food, and, somewhat comically, an annoyed couple at the next table who were upset that their table didn’t actually face the sunset (the restaurant faces the harbor to the east). I’m not sure what the couple really wanted, it’s not like they are going to jack up and turn the restaurant around…. But in any case, on this trip, we thought it would be nice to revisit the Harbor Haus, have some nice German food, and chuckle about our previous visit.

21 years later, walking into Harbor Haus, it’s still mostly the same experience; the downstairs features a large bar with picture windows to the outside, and most of the dining area is situated upstairs with a scenic panoramic view of the Harbor. One of the big attractions is seeing the Isle Royale Queen IV ferry returning from its daily run to the Isle; the whole waitstaff drops what they are doing and runs out to the lawn and dock alongside the restaurant to welcome the ferry back for the day. In our case, we used this somewhat strategically: the Harbor Haus is quite busy, with the busiest periods being 6pm (so that diners can watch the returning ferry), and 8pm (with the folks on the Ferry looking to get dinner). We scheduled a table for 7pm, so we watched the ferry come in from the town dock, and then got prompted seated during the lull, gazing out at Copper Harbor, Porters Island, and even getting a very faint few of the distance Isle Royale that we had hiked the week before.

Most of the Harbor Haus menu is German-inspired, with a heavy emphasis on local ingredients as well, so there’s a lot of local fish (whitefish and lake trout, in particular), a good JägerSchnitzel that I had on our previous visit, several sausage dishes, and a good selection of steaks and chops. For our appetizer, we started with their panko burrata: a very nicely battered and deep-fried 3″ cheese ball server up with a nice, rich tomato basil sauce and some nicely toasted sourdough bread.

For my main course, while I was rather tempted by both the jäger schnitzel or a ribeye, I decided to go with the pork tenderloin. Served up as a sautée with some fresh mushrooms, a veal jus, summer vegetables, and a scoop of wild mushroom risotto, I was pleased with this: the tenderloin was perfectly cooked and nicely seasoned, the mushrooms adding some nice woodiness, and the risotta (while a bit more mushy than I usually prefer) being a nice accompanying starch.

Carol opted for the glazed duck, which was an entire half duck, in a rich, sweet glaze roasted to crispiness and served up with lingonberries, veggies, and some spaetzle. I’m always partial to both glazed duck and spaetzle, and the versions served here certainly didn’t disappoint: the duck was soft, tender, and not buried by the glaze, and the lingonberries added a nice tart note.

After our main course, we also got a dessert: their chocolate and hazelnut souffle. I didn’t get a picture of it tableside; our server was quite efficient at delivering the souffle, breaking it opening, and pouring a nice, rich creme anglaise over it and dishing it out. But it was quite delicious, and one of the highlights of the meal as we sat back and enjoyed the start of twilight.

It was certainly great to get to return to the Harbor Haus. The view remains pleasant, the staff friendly, and the food enjoyable. We’ll definitely return if our travels bring us back to Copper Harbor again soon.

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