Coast 236 offers a tranquil escape from reality

Coast 236
Photos: Coast 236

By Kelsey Smith

At Coast 236 Restaurant & Bar in Saugatuck, it’s all about keeping things fresh and celebrating the lakeshore’s local flavor.

Grilled oysters
Grilled oysters

“Every coastline brings with it an air of freshness and wonder,” said Mindy Trafman, general manager and partner of Coast 236. “Coasts can be recognizable and new, and predictably unpredictable in a way that can surprise.

“Sourcing meaningful ingredients from water and land, we passionately craft approachable coastal-inspired fare with unexpected details,” she said. “We specialize in fresh fish and local vegetables.”

Coast 236 opened its doors on Culver Street in the former Hercules Bar and Grill in late 2018. Open year-round, the restaurant serves up creative, flavor-packed dishes, and no visit is ever the same.

Chef Mike Kenat
Chef Mike Kenat

“Recently, we hired a new executive chef, Mike Kenat, who comes up with the most interesting and delicious dishes I have tasted in a long time,” Trafman said. “Mike changes his menu every week to keep it fresh and exciting, and I have to say, I have been blown away by his food — and it takes a lot to blow me away. This gives me the freedom to work on the floor, spend time with my guests and do what I love most — create wine and food pairings. It’s all about creating that fantastic experience.”

Specializing in fresh seafood and sourcing local ingredients when possible, Coast 236’s popular dishes include the salmon, scallops, halibut and Cornish hen.

“If there is one item I think everyone should try, it’s Mike’s grilled oysters with tart apple, horseradish, chive and BLiS smoked sea salt,” Trafman said. “We pair them with a Muscadet wine from France’s Loire Valley. The wine is like the fresh sea jumping out of your glass — tasting the briny oyster with the wine is perfection.”

Cornish Hen
Cornish Hen

And although serving high-quality cuisine and wine is a top priority for Coast 236, providing exceptional hospitality is just as important.

“We strive to give each guest the Coast 236 experience,” Trafman said. “It starts with a breezy and beautiful atmosphere — when you walk in, you feel like you are on vacation — I still have that same feeling when I walk into work every day. 

“We are avid followers of the COVID-19 safety mandates and want guests to know they are safe as there are 6-feet distancing rules, masks worn and sanitation stations, and every safety precaution is taken,” she said. “Our front-of-the-house team makes each guest feel welcomed and provides exceptional hospitality throughout the night. One of the most rewarding things right now is to walk around the dining room and outdoor garden seating, and see guests laughing and enjoying their time at Coast 236 — that is something we cannot take for granted anymore in today’s world.”

Coast 236 Restaurant & Bar
236 Culver St., Saugatuck