Bortell’s specializes in fresh and smoked fish and on any given day has a variety of local fresh whitefish, walleye, lake perch, smelt, fresh and smoked trout, and smoked salmon that can be ordered to eat under the shade of the trees (there is no indoor seating) or to go.
The deep-fried whitefish was very fresh and succulent, the flaky white flesh covered in a light and savory batter. The lake perch was cooked to perfection, the breading crisp and the fish itself obviously very fresh, and the sweet and tender fried scallops bursting with juice. Unfortunately, the sides that came with the fish were not of the same standard. The coleslaw, although fresh, was too liquidy and lacking in the tang that one expects of a good home-made slaw. The fries were cooked from frozen and while tasty enough, were nothing special, especially given the freshness and quality of the fish.
Bortell’s is definitely worth the drive if you are in Northern Michigan in the summer months; just stick with the fish and forgo the sides. Also, don’t forget your cash, Bortell’s does not take plastic.