It’s 10:00 in the morning by the time my stomach starts complaining. I am on the road, camera at my side and exploring a stretch of wilderness between Alanson and Pellston.
As usual, I have skipped breakfast. I find it difficult to work up an appetite so soon after waking. Normally I’m good until midday. Today the long walk through the forest has stirred my appetite. I pull my phone out of my pocket, pop open Chrome, log into Yelp! and check for restaurants open in the area. One intrigues me. The Brutus Camp Deli.
‘Amazeballs!’ one Yelp! review reads.
“The bread is extra chronic this morning. Had to abandon my omelette so I could finish my toast,’ another says.
12 of 13 reviews rate the restaurant with 5 stars. The lone 4-star review says ‘My absolute favorite place to eat when I’m in Northern MI.’ I can’t find a negative comment about the restaurant. I am always on the lookout for local gems. This places seems to fit.
When I arrive at the Brutus Camp Deli I discover that the restaurant is well named. The little building looks just like a lumberman camp dining hall. The outside patio and main entrance is adorned with lumberjack tools and hunting equipment. The ambiance gives a glimpse to the hearty meal awaiting inside.
It is just after 11:00 when I enter, and there is a short wait for a table. I stand awkwardly against the wall, within arms reach of a young couple sharing a sandwich. The waitresses seem overwhelmed as they dash from table to table, yet when I look at the faces of diners everyone seems content.
After 10 minutes I am offered a table near the stove. The waitress is pleasant and we share a chuckle over the mess left by a small child. I order an ice-t. She offers a menu, but I already know what I want. “Your biggest baddest breakfast.”
The waitress flashes a playful smile. “The Camp Scramble,” she tells me. “3 eggs, ham, bacon, sausage and taters all scrambled together, coated with cheese and served with 4 pieces of toast. You best be really hungry.”
I tell her that I’m not a fan of scrambled eggs.
“We can make the eggs over easy, if you like. We’ll just put them on top.”
“Perfect,” I tell her.
I am astonished at the portions when the breakfast arrives. The Brutus Camp Deli prides themselves on using fresh ingredients and offering a hearty meal. This is the breakfast of a lumberjack. The scramble of meat, potato, and egg (they have to add at least one egg to keep things together) is enough to fill three or four grown men. The toast is cut thick. The cheese is plentiful.
I cut open the egg to allow the yoke to drip down over the scramble. When I take a heaping bite, I am rewarded with the flavors of bacon, egg, ham, sausage, potato and cheese. I take another bite. And another. Soon, very soon, my stomach complains again. This time begging me to stop. I look down at the plate and am disappointed to see that I’m only about a third of the way done.
“You need a box.” It is neither question nor suggestion.
I stare down at my meal, hands on my overly extended stomach. “Will it keep?”
“Heat it up and it’ll taste as good the next day.”
When I get home a few hours later, my wife decides to eat the leftovers as dinner. Between her and the kids they finish it all off.
I cannot rave enough about the Brutus Camp Deli. Not only was the meal one of my favorite all-time breakfast meals, but the woodsy atmosphere is classic Northern Michigan.
Plan $7-10 per person and bring cash. The Brutus Camp Deli does not accept credit cards. They are open daily from 7-2 and offer breakfast during the lunch hours.