I’ve been trying to contact Chris Boyle and sync up with him for about a year. Unfortunately, our tables were never able to connect. Being a history buff, I wanted to see the plans of the Dark Sky Tavern with what was likely one of the last buildings standing out of the old wood mill town of Port Crescent.
Boyle was the founder and creator of Port Austin Kayak, a PAKs garage, and many other projects on Upper Thumb. I was surprised, but not shocked that he was renovating such an old landmark on the Port Austin Road.
The site of the old Buccaneer Den Restaurant has been a bustling beehive of activity for over a year, and I knew Boyle had made extensive renovations with the old restaurant and motel. So I was curious to see what it would look like.
Big household projects and no energy to make dinner
We had just come to our place from Cassville a couple of weeks ago and were finishing up a long day of home improvement projects. Needless to say, we were too tired to fix anything. So we decided to head to Dark Sky Lodge. We were amazed and pleasantly surprised by the look of the old restaurant at the end of Port Cresent Road.
Open and airy restaurant
First, let me say Boyle did a great job with the old Buccaneer Den. I remember Pirate as something outside the central casting of the Mad Men series in the 1960s. It was dark, smoky, and a bit unwelcoming.
However, they did a great job with this former The dark lair of death In an open and welcoming place. There is a distinctly informal feel and outdoorsy patio for large groups; All in all, I would say the word was “comfortable”
Simple Menu in Dark Sky Tavern, Classic Choices
Their menu is laid out on one simple page, with some of the favorite grill items you would find at any serious grill restaurant. Our server, Nora split between us in the main dining room and a large party on the patio. Since we later understood that she had only been serving for a month, she did a great job juggling her big party out with us.
We ordered burnt ends as an appetizer, my wife ordered BBQ nachos as dinner, and I ordered the BBQ plate with smoked breast meat and pulled pork along the sides of the barbecue beans and mac and cheese. We hardly had a few sips of beer before our order arrived at the table. Yes, Nora pushed our order to the front of the line, so we didn’t have to wait for the big party to arrive. This was a professional move by someone very new to the industry. Nice touch.
Burnt ends – not to be missed
We order the burnt ends with a little trepidation. From our experience at barbecue restaurants, these rib ends tend to be as dry and tough as beef bacon. However, what arrived with the beer was a little tray of the tastiest, delicious, and I will say, the most delicious BBQ you will encounter anywhere. They were so rich that we didn’t finish them during dinner, and they came home with us as an aperitif the next day.
BBQ nachos, a lighter flavored option
If you’re not hungry but want to sample something delicious, I’ll have grilled nachos on the appetizer side of the menu as dinner. Melissa ordered it with pulled chicken, and it was delicious and tasty. It was an excellent alternative to the heavy taste of smoked and grilled meats.
Main event – roast platter
I ordered the barbecue platter with smoked brisket and pulled pork along with BBQ beans, macaroni and cheese, all considered Classics in the world of barbecue. I was not disappointed. The breast meat was fresh and tasty, and I nibbled on little bits along the way. Pulled pork, eh? She needed the barbecue sauce that was parked on every table.
The barbecue bean side items were tasty and a bit sweet and could be ordered as a home-made option for all of them. Macaroni and cheese, well, it was just plain macaroni and cheese, nothing too special. I consider the best mac and cheese in Michigan belongs to the Clarkston Confederation of Oakland County.
During the first visit, we didn’t try it, we noticed several great vegetarian options. Smoked lentils and the famous jackfruit are served on grilled nachos. Smoked lentils are also a side item, and Michigan cherry salad for a lighter option.
There are also menu items for kids ten and under. For example, they have pulled pork and pulled chicken steak with mac and cheese for only six dollars, which is a great option for the little ones.
Final thoughts for dinner at Dark Sky Lodge and Tavern.
Everything was so rich and delicious that we couldn’t finish it. So we took it in a box home and made our way. I think it’s been over a hundred years or more since people came to the former Lumber Town of Port Crescent for a full meal like what we had this evening.
We’ll be back, and hopefully, we’ll meet again with Mr. Doyle and discuss what he’s going to do next about the wonderful little town at the end of the Port Austin City Road.