Inside The Kitchen: McGee’s No. 72 in Traverse City

With forkfuls of hand-crafted combos and plates piled with surprising flavors, there’s only one word to describe McGee’s Number 72.

“It’s unctuous,” said Corporate Chef Joshua Vinocur. “It means having a nice mouth feel. Unctuous.”

The restaurant opened the day after Christmas, filling 7000 square feet off M72.

“This building was actually built back in the 80s, it was constructed to be a cart storage facility for the golf shop at the Grand Traverse Resort,” explained owner John McGee. “Which ironically, I was here as the assistant golf professional and opened the cart barn.”

John and business partner Glen Harrington own two other restaurants in Traverse City, making this the third kitchen that Chef Josh over sees.

“I put a lot of thought into making things that were approachable for the guests but also had, like, foodie content…ya know? ‘Cause I like food.”

Headlining the gastro-pub menu is the fried duck and waffles. So, when does one actually eat said duck and waffles? John says anytime of the day. Dessert even works, too. 

It starts with sturdy base of Belgian waffle—with a little kick.

“How’d you think of jalapeno cheddar for a waffle?” I asked Chef Josh.

“I like the contrast of spicy and sweet. Is always nice to play off in food. And I like cheese.”

And playing off traditional southern collard greens, Chef Josh wilts baby spinach and roasted red peppers in rendered bacon fat.

Then the duck is butter flied and jumps into a few other baths before the big fry. From seasoned flour to buttermilk, these quackers are double dunked for a crispy outer shell. 

The waffle is sliced rotates with the duck, building up around the braised greens. It’s served with honey and confit garlic butter plus Michigan maple syrup that’s infused with ancho chile, garlic and ginger for a sweet smokey goodness.

And while the duck and waffles are popular, the smoked gouda chicken pasta has sold more than any other menu item in these first three months.

It starts with seasoned chicken breast browned in oil, then set to the side.

Garlic and shallots are added with portabella mushrooms and asparagus tips. And then we bring back the chicken.

“Thin slice the chicken breast which is par-cooked at this point. We’re basically gonna poach the chicken in the sauce we’re about to make. Which is a good way to cook chicken.”

Heavy cream is added followed by penne pasta and then it all melts together with shredded smoked gouda cheese.

And when your plate arrives to the bar, table or even patio… count on every good flavor to be matched perfectly with good service.

Chef Josh sums up the experience. “It’s like food Tetris. Making all the pieces fit just right.”