The Fogcutter was the fanciest restaurant in all of Port Huron. It sat atop one of the tallest buildings in Port Huron, a staggering 6 floors. I may have mocked it on occasion but I have always respected it for what it was. A symbol of better things, the glowing beacon of more.
My first trip to The Fogcutter came when I was in the 7thgrade and the Chippewa Junior High School band was sent off to play a few songs for the Board of Education. We were all in our Sunday best as we trotted out withmusical instruments in hand to play a few songs (the only one I remember is Wind BeneathMy Wings) for the suited adults as they ate. Afterwards we were given hot fudge sundaes in tall glass cups with long handled spoons. I remember these sundaes as being the best ever. I don’t know for sure that they actually were, but they were from The Fogcutter and therefore were understood to be the best.
This is what The Fogcutter looked like. The exterior walls were windows. Two of those overlooked Lake Huron and St Clair River. One had a view of the river and downtown Port Huron. From these windows you can also see the factories in Sarnia, Ontario. At night these light up like post apocalyptic Christmas trees. The interior walls are all brick and dark wood, with pictures of famous boats and other nautically themed items adorning them. The carpeting is plaid and plush. The chairs are leather. There is a lounge that is all dark wood and brick, from there you can see the prison and the library and the main street though downtown. You can pretend to see my street, if you are 12 and so inclined.
The Fogcutter defined my idea of elegance as a girl and even after I saw other elegant places, the definition The Fogcutter put into my mind remained.
In 2004 when I was planning my wedding I gave up on marrying in Detroit because of the expense and moved my nuptial plans to Port Huron. At first I did not consider The Fogcutter. It would obviously be too expensive. It was The Fogcutter. There was no way. So I found a venue for the ceremony and began ticking through the reception options. None of them were right. Finally I took a wistful look at The Fogcutter and realised that my idea of expensive had changed. 4 years of living in Chicago made The Fogcutter seem like a bargain.
I called their events manager and told her how many of us there would be, since the wedding was on Memorial Day weekend she gave us the entire restaurant instead of one of the smaller function rooms, for the same price. Memorial Day is not a big day for fine dining in Port Huron (or anywhere else really). When I walked back into the restaurant for the first time as we made a visit to prep for the reception, I felt 12 again. I managed to switch back into adult mode as we settled all the details. Open bar, hors d’oeuvres to be served at the start of the reception, DJ booththere, tables to be cleared after dessert, mundane details. I left giddy at the fact that I was responsible for that one night at The Fogcutter, I was responsible for the best restaurant in town. I was no longer a shy 12 year old who had never been any place so nice in her life.
There’s a picture of Jeremy and I arriving at The Fogcutter. I am wearing my vintage blue lace dress with my hair pulled back and a flower clipped into my bun and Jeremy is in his vintage Oleg Cassini suit (only $10 from the Brown Elephant!) and his old chunky glasses and we look as if we were photographed in the early 60’s. We also, more importantly, look tremendously happy.
I remember relatively little of the actual wedding ceremony. I remember laughing when the rabbi did the love is patient reading, I remember Dana crying when she gave us the rings, I remember smiling as we walked down the aisle together. But I remember so much of the reception. Laughing with my friends, teasing my brother’s best friend, dancing with my dad, my soon to be step-niece running laps around the dancefloor, nearly falling out of my chair as we were hoisted above everyones’ heads for the Horah, the first dance with Jeremy, laughing over the bar tab (Who drank 3 Bloody Caesars?), sitting in one of the plush lounge chairs with my friend Michael talking about Tori Amos and cigarettes, and so much more. It was an amazing night and so much of that is down to the fact that the staff of The Fogcutter did an astounding job. Like I said, I mock Port Huron fairly often, but sometimes things there are just right, and The Fogcutter was one of those things.
A year later we went back with my family for a nice lunch, to celebrate our visit home and as a late anniversary present to Jeremy and I. The staff remembered us and congratulated us again. We sat near the north facing window with a view of the bridges and the lake. I remember being surprised again at how nice it was and thinking that we would have to come back again someday.
And now, clearly, we can’t. I’m sad to see that The Fogcutter has closed. Not just for my memories of the place but also for what it stood for to kids like me, dreaming of someplace else out there in the world knowing that perched on the top of their town there is a restaurant filled with delectable bits of elegance with a view that stretches out past the horizon and into the unknown.
This is a maudlin post. I know. It’s not like I was planning a dinner out in Port Huron any time soon anyhow. But it makes me really sad to know it’s gone. The place was special to me, and I’m sure to a lot of other people as well.
Also, their artichoke dip was delicious. And they made a spectacular Bloody Mary.