Dining igloos have returned along with the winter weather
I love a silver lining.
The winter dump we had earlier this week is only the beginning of a long, cold season, and some restaurants are making the most of it by resurrecting fun outdoor dining igloos.
The clear domes (which vary in size and material) are a perfect way to enjoy the wonderland of snow without being cold, and they also make for a private dining experience. These heated igloos also help the restaurant expand its seating capacity in the patio off-season.
Detroit Fleat in Ferndale is known for its colorful, sunset-facing terrace on West Nine Mile, and this season it has plopped down four structures. The food truck park (it has a bar and kitchen inside, and also a rotating cast of food trucks outside) has four igloos, two which cover picnic table seating that is good for groups.
Detroit Fleat is a more casual experience, but the igloos can be reserved. In fact, if you want to dine in an igloo this fall or winter, you'll need to do a bit of planning.
Lumen in downtown Detroit near Beacon Park was a hot spot for igloos last year. Reserve one of the private domes or a winter chalet that can accommodate up to 14 people via the Open Table app. There are some spending requirements.
The beer-centric restaurant also has a few communal globes that are shared with others and are seated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hold on to a little bit of fall with an igloo experience at Blake's Orchard & Cider Mill. Their geodesic dome season will start after Thanksgiving and roll through at least February. Like the others, these can seat up to 10 guests and reservations are strongly suggested.
Here, sip on all of the company's hard ciders as close to the source as possible, served in 4-ounce tasters, 12-ounce glasses or pints. The tasting room menu is stacked with elevated pub grub like truffle fries, charcuterie, flatbreads, brats and a big, Angus beef burger.
Out in Metamora in southern Lapeer County, the historic White Horse Inn dates back to the mid 1800s and was beautifully restored by new owners in the past decade. This year, diners at the white clapboard building can take their meal in one of two decorated outdoor domes that can accommodate up to 10 diners.
Guests can explore the entire menu from these domes, choosing among the homey entrees inspired by classic Americana. These include pot roast, buffalo meatloaf and farmhouse pasta. One of the things I love about White Horse is that it has a goulash dish on the menu inspired by a recipe from the 1964 winner of the Mrs. Michigan contest (who was Elvira Jean Egeland of Livonia, according to The Detroit News archives).
The White Horse's igloo season will stretch through February, and reservations 48 hours in advance are required.
There is a catch, though. These are for group outings, not romantic dates. Parties are required to spend $250, so consider that when gathering your pals or family. (A table of 8-10 to should have no trouble meeting this requirement.)
Reserve at thewhitehorseinn.com/igloos or call (810) 678-2276.
The White Horse is part of a restaurant group that also includes the Moose Preserve in Bloomfield Hills, Deadwood Bar & Grill in Northville and Camp Ticonderoga in Troy. The latter two restaurant also have similar igloo service. Reservations can be made at deadwoodbarandgrill.com/igloos and campticonderoga.com/igloos, respectively.
Like at White Horse, these are sturdy structures complete with decorated front doors and have different woods-y, winter-y themes with suburban ski lodge vibes.