If you aren’t visiting the Porcupine Mountains and don’t live in Ontanagon, you probably won’t stumble upon Syl’s Cafe. For those who are visiting the mountains, you’ll likely drive through Ontanagon, at least if you’re coming from the east.
It’s a typical small town about 20 minutes east of the State Park. It has Syl’s Cafe, which is open all day, and maybe a couple other places to eat. Syl’s may be the only breakfast spot around because it was bustling on my visit, though it was a Sunday.
Syl’s has a little bit of everything like most cafes, but Pannu Kakku sets it apart. Since one-fifth of the population is of Finnish descent, they have to have Pannu Kakku, which is a Finnish pancake. And of course, as seen on their menu, they also sell a cooler full of pasties. Heyooo!
It’s hard to compare fresh crusts with ones you cook in your own oven because anything can happen. That said, this crust still passed a lot of tests (cooked from frozen about 40 minutes at 350). It was a bit hard on the edges since I probably kept it in the oven a minute or two too long, but it was good overall. There wasn’t much flake to it and again, that could’ve been because of the oven. Otherwise, Syl’s has the crust part down.
Unfortunately, everything was kind of ruined by the meat. All of their pasties may not be like the one I had, but it was incredibly fatty. That’s fine to an extent, but there were pieces of fat in almost every bite. It became a problem because in addition to being chewy, it was stretchy and when you take a bite out of fatty meat in a pasty, you have to rip it out.
The insides were a bit overloaded with salt and that got to be a little too much since the pasty is probably a pound. I’m not sure they use rutabaga, but there was a heavy ratio of meat to potato, which may have something to do with the low-grade meat used. I assumed their pasties were also Finnish, but I didn’t see any carrots in mine.
The crust makes these pasties. Without it, I’m not sure what the final tally would be. While I won’t seek these out the next time I’m near the mountains, I’ll still consider hitting up the Cafe as one of the only places to eat in town.
Taste: 3 (out of 5)
Crust: 4 (out of 5)
Pasty Presentation: 2.5 (out of 5)
The Shop: 3 (out of 3)
Would I come back for Pasties?: 1 (out of 2)
Total Pasty Rating: 13.5 (of 20 points)
(Reviewed Winter 2020)