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Looking for Ann Arbor restaurant recommendations

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  • RRL Oct 1, 2003 12:14 PM
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I'm heading out to Ann Arbor in late October, and am looking for recommendations for restaurants that accept reservations and are close to campus. I'm already familiar with West End Grill, The Earle, Moveable Feast, Gratzi Palio and other old favorites. Looking for something new!

Thanks...

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  1. Many of the Main St restaurants only accept reservations for groups of 6 or more. I don't often make dinner reservations, so I don't know for sure who accepts them or not.

    Cafe Zola is my favorite restaurant in town - Mediterranean bistro type place, really excellent.

    Eve is Ann Arbor's newest restaurant, and I haven't been yet. Anyone have a report? It's a contemporary French place where Kerrytown Bistro used to be. I'm planning to go for my birthday at the end of the month. A little farther from campus, but only a bit.

    Chop House does overpriced steakhouse fare well - if you want a big hunk of meat, that's the place to go.

    La Dolce Vita next door to Chop House has good desserts, cigars, armagnancs and ports, but service is usually quite pretentious, so go prepared to make fun of the servers and you'll be alright. If you're eating at Chop House or Gratzi, they'll reserve you a table for dessert.

    Moveable Feast is no more, essentially. It's now called Daniel's on Liberty, and is only open to the public on Saturdays from 6-9:30. The rest of the time they do private parties and functions.

    Hope that helps.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tammy Coxen

      I think I'd add West End Grill to that list.

      West End Grill
      120 W Liberty
      Ann Arbor
      734-747-6260

      Tried Eve last month and found it very good, though not spectacular. (I was a big fan of the previous place in that space, Kerrytown Bistro, so maybe I'm still adjusting.;-) Have reserves at Earle Uptown next week, so looking forward to that. If it's anything like the downtown Earle, I'm sure we'll love it.

      1. re: Tammy Coxen
        w
        Wayne Woodrow - Ann Arbor Michigan

        Tried Eve on Christmas Eve and had great food and a nice time. Service was exemplary and atmosphere hard to beat. Wine list is awesome and includes an unusually wide selection of good wines by the glass.
        Wife and I consumed a half bottle of Veuve Clicot ($39) plus a glass of very fine French Chablis ($14) and a Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon ($12)recommended by the knowledgeable and friendly server.

        Food was really excellent with my wife's seafood lasagna ($24) with prosciutto being unusual, original and delicious. I had the veggy entree special ($17) which was an assortment of vegetables and nuts in a terrific tomato sauce baked in taleggio cheese. I'm not a vegetarian but was intrigued by the description and I have to say I was very impressed. We split one dessert, a pear and dried cherry crumble ($6) which was great and the only really traditionally American dish we tried. The portion was large enough for a family especially when you consider that it came with ice cream and a delicious vanilla topping.

        Eve is not inexpensive but it is a very fine restaurant with great atmosphere, good service, interesting by-the-glass wine list and a really imaginative menu. We'll go back to Eve and we'll go back soon.

        Downers were few. Eve is hard to find in the dark unless you know your way around the Kerrytown market area.

        Bring a flashlight to read the interesting menu.
        The lighting is atmospheric but otherwise unsatisfactory.

        Decaf Coffee was not very hot and not very good. This probably serves me right for ordering decaf in the first place!

        1. re: Wayne Woodrow - Ann Arbor Michigan

          Thanks so much for the review! I'll have to check it out some time in the not so distant future - sounds like my kinda place!

          Do they do anything interesting with their wine by-the-glass program? Half pours? Tasting flights? How were the glasses? (Yes, I'm a wine geek, how can you tell?)

          And the regular coffee probably wasn't much better than the decaf - coffee service seems to be an almost universal shortcoming in good restaurants. I guess they'd rather we buy another glass of wine!

      2. The Earl has opened another restaurant closer to campus--the Earl Uptown. It is more refined and more expensive. They definitely take reservations--it may be hard to go on a weekend without them. I ate there in August and it was lovely. Nice service, delicious food. It's quite near Hill Auditorium if that helps you place it relative to campus.

        I would second the recc. for Cafe Zola. Not sure if they take reservations, but dinner there is very pleasant. Bistro-style but quite serene, especially compared to its noisy brunch and cafe during the day.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Devon

          Is the Earl Uptown in the Bell Tower Hotel? If not, let me know where. Thanks, D.

          P.S. Cafe Zola is our list to try as our daughter and son-in-law love it. Last week we were at the Real Seafood Co. on Main for their semi-annual beer and raw oyster fest. A good meal and lots of fun too.

          1. re: Donna - MI

            Yes, the Earle Uptown seems to have replaced Escoffier in the Bell Tower Hotel. Here's the listing from Arborweb:

            The Earle Uptown
            300 S. Thayer (Bell Tower Hotel) [map]
            994-0222

            Upscale French cuisine with a significant wine list. Tues.-Thurs. 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m.-11 p.m. (later during special events). Closed Sun.-Mon.

            Pricing is listed as $$$$ - over $20.

            I'm frustrated by the lack of published reviews of Ann Arbor restaurants. Does anyone know of a good source for keeping track of A^2 restaurant comings and goings?

            1. re: Tammy Coxen

              Review of Earle Uptown from Detroit Free Press can be found at the link below.

              Link: http://ae.freep.com/entertainment/ui/...

            2. re: Donna - MI

              yes, it is in the Bell Tower hotel spot. Escoffier closed this spring, maybe winter.

              As for A2 reviews, there's not a whole lot out there beyond the weekly review in the Ann Arbor News and monthly reviews in the Observer. But you can glean more info about closings and openings if you read the market changes in both of those papers and in the freebie Current.

              A couple of years ago, I found a newsletter at Jefferson Market that was kind of a review 'zine. Can't remember the name, but it was kind of fun.

            3. re: Devon

              Cafe Zola is terrible. I ordered the same dish there twice to hope that the previous time it was just bad by accident but the ravioli was so dry anf the dish so flavorless. VERY dissapointing place

            4. I'm sorry but I strongly disagree with Tammy reg Cafe Zola, the food is overpriced and of poor quality. you cant serve a cognac lobster raviole and have it be dry and flavor less. on both occasions- once i ordered it and another time my husband did. its always been the most "appealing" sounding item on the menu and most dissapointing. the veal my husband got was way overcooked too. my shrimp there was overcooked as well.

              if you like scallops i recommend chop house's leek ragout and truffle infused seared scallops. they are to die for. their steaks are as good as smith and wollensky's or a ruth cris, only more tender. our steaks took 1h last time though on my birthday and the manager took care of the bill completely, they mixed our steak orders up too but it was still delicious. they were very nice about it all though.

              i do hear eves is good but i cant recommend it yet as i havent been there yet. but i can tell you that the dessert at le dolche vita is pricey but worth it. my creme brulee was lovely and the banana foster wonderful too. they get very busy so make sure you get a table when you sit down at the chop house. i wont recommend gratzi. i wont recommend prickley pear either. get some brownies while at zingermans.... i complain and praise food on my blog at janetandseanenglish.blogspot.com

              1 Reply
              1. re: janetenglish1

                Well, this thread is now over four years old...a lot can happen in four years. Ownership changes, menu overhauls, management issues, cheaper ingredients, you name it. It's not always the case, but it can be. Four years ago, Cafe Zola may have been far better than it is now.

                You need to take that into account.

              2. oh and stay away from the "wine hotspot" (pretty terrible on all occasions) Vinology. I had what tasted like box wine there last time. its really a hit or mis place. Oh and melange was pretty descent, more descent than real seafood -which is just hotel food. But hey if you go to philly let me know and i can recommend many many places to eat

                1. ate at Eve's on my birthday. great food. there were a couple of misses, dont order fruit juice or avocado soup. the rest of the meal was absolutely incredible. will definitely revisit. very good service although the flashlight is necessary to read the menu since lighting is so so very 'dark' seating is also a hit and miss. we made reservations and were seated across from the bar. mood killer in my opinion. there were better seats but they said they were full when we asked to be moved. considering it was a special occasion felt they should have accommodated us. but... will remember to specify next time.

                  1. Logan has been consistently good the few times I've been there. The Oaxacan short ribs and beef roulade were quite delicious. I found their menu to be fairly innovative for a Michigan restaurant. Everyday cook, a newer establishment, is also another option. Their lunch menu changes daily and they're really off to a promising start.

                    Logan Restaurant
                    http://www.logan-restaurant.com/

                    Everyday Cook
                    http://everydaylunch.blogspot.com/

                    Good luck!

                    http://holybasil.wordpress.com

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cafemonamie

                      I agree with you on Logan, so far it's been the only upscale restaurant in Ann Arbor that I've been to where I've found that the quality of the food matches the price. They also take reservations.

                      1. re: andshewas

                        A group of women I blog with in Ann Arbor recently reviewed Logan, mostly favorably: http://gastronomical3.wordpress.com/2...

                        Cafe Zola has come a long way since it started its dinner service several years ago. Service has gotten much more professional, and their cocktail offerings are some of the best in town. Believe it or not, their spaghetti and meatballs are to die for--though I realize ordering spaghetti and meatballs might not be the most elegant dish for a night out!

                    2. Enjoyed a very good experience at a relatively new place, Melange, on Main Street. Pretty good wine list and great food. Kinda dark and clubby. I would be interested in others' opinions. I'm pretty sure that they take reservations.
                      Bob

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: SonyBob

                        Wow, as Ann Arbor born and bred, do I disagree with these posts. I have found Eve to be tremendously overrated: the food is not well paced, and I've had to send things back two out of three times for little errors like salad dressing on the side and changing a grain from garlic mashed to rice or couscous, for example. These might be server issues more than kitchen issues, but I've crossed Eve off my list because there is so much competition.

                        I've had good luck at Vineology but I don't go there to eat, I go for wine. The servers are very helpful and the selection is good. If you find a wine that you like, they'll knock 30% off the menu price, which pretty much brings it down to retail.

                        Haven't tried Melange yet. I am a big fan of Zingerman's Roadhouse, especially at off hours (they tend to get bogged down at peak times like Sunday nights.) No one anywhere in town can make fried chicken like theirs!

                        I would never send anyone to Zola as a restaurant: it's a place for breakfast and when you have time to linger, because the servers are poorly trained and can forget your coffee drinks until you've reminded them twice what you've ordered.

                        As for Everyday Cook, Chef Chewy does a fine job. Remember that it's essentially a lunch counter: you look at the menu, go up and place your order, and then it comes to your table. No frills but good food.

                        Lastly, my favorite sushi/Japanese is Yotsuba, not downtown but on the east side. It's always packed and it's on a par with any Japanese place in the area, although it is not as well known.

                        1. re: brendastarlet

                          I don't like Vinology for wine OR food. I can't stand the icons they use on their menu. I second what you said about Zola - breakfast only. I really like Eve.I'd try Logan or Melange - haven't been to either, but would like to check them out. None are close to campus, though! Good luck!

                      2. This thread is really old, and you probably came out here 5 years ago now, but I just got on chowhound, so I thought I'd respond.

                        Vinology: Hit or miss. I thought the duck was excellent, but my butter poached crayfish was so-so. I had pretty good wine, but nothing mind blowing.

                        Cafe Zola: I had a good experience, actually, but I ordered some kind of antipasti dish, so it was pretty hard to mess up.

                        Melange: I had a good experience here as well, but it was pretty empty on a Saturday night, so maybe I just got lucky.

                        Zingerman's Roadhouse: Good, but highly overrated and overpriced. It's always disappointing for me, because it is so hyped. I assume you've already been to original Zingerman's; it is roughly just as overrated.

                        If you are not looking for fine dining, I highly recommend Red Hot Lovers, Le Dog, Sava's, and Earle of Sandwich.

                        Red Hot Lovers does hotdogs and fries proud. Nothing fancy, just done well.

                        Sava's: Creative sandwich combinations done well.

                        Earle of Sandwich: Variations on roast beef done extremely well.

                        Le Dog: Great soups. Try the lobster bisque.