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Oct 28, 2003 09:31 AM

Birthday dinner in Ann Arbor

  • t

Okay, I know that I'm one of the acknowledged experts on the Ann Arbor dining scene, so I'm not sure I'm gonna get much help here, but...

Thursday is my birthday and my husband and I are going out to dinner to celebrate. Believe it or not, there are actually restaurants in Ann Arbor that I haven't been to, and I've come up with a list of three of them as possibilities for my birthday dinner.

Pacific Rim by Kana (Pan-Asian)
West End Grill ("Inspired Contemporary American")
Bella Ciao (Italian)

Anybody have experience with any of these? Or just a strong opinion as to whether I should be eating Pan-Asian, Contemporary American, or Italian?

The restaurant review scene in Ann Arbor sucks big giant rocks, so there's not really any recent information online to investigate in making my decision.

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  1. All three sound good to me.

    Pacific Rim is very nice and serene. They offer several typical dishes from Korea, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam. I really like the Pad Thai, but the Bi Bim Bap is good as well. Although the food is "ethnic", it's a proper sit down place. Prices are higher than other Asian restaurants in town, but less than your other two choices.

    Bella Ciao. I haven't been in a while, but their food is very very good and the place is lovely. If you want romantic--go here. As I recall it's a la carte and you are encouraged to have a proper italian meal--starter, pasta, fish/chicken, and then meat. But you can do it any way you want. Sometimes they have seasonal specials. I have most enjoyed the pasta, veal, and beef dishes, if that helps. A friend of mine complains about the wine prices/sizes, but the incident in question happened several years ago.

    I have not been to West End Grill, but two of my foodie friends have and they loooooove it. It is expensive for Ann Arbor and can be difficult to get a reservation on the week end. I trust my friends' reccommendations, but I just haven't had the right occasion to go.

    So... I guess it may be more about what food and atmosphere you will be in the mood for. All three are good.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Devon

      Thanks for the reviews. Since they're all in reasonably close proximity and I'm guessing won't need reservations for a Thursday night, I'm thinking I'll just poke my head in at all three and choose based on whose menu looks good that night!

      1. re: Tammy Coxen

        Let me know what you end up doing--and whether it was good.

        Although--did you know that you can get your birthday meal free at Main Street Venture restaurants? That includes Gratzi, The CHop House, Palio and Real Seafood. You take your license (and it must be on your birthday) and your portion is free (not counting alcohol.) They take a percentage off your bill depending on how many people are with you--two people means they take off 50%, four means 25%. If you go alone, they only take off 50 %.

        Now, they may not be your top restaurants--but you can't beat the price. In my family, we usually hit one of them on the birthday proper--and then go somewhere else later in the week. :)

        1. re: Devon

          I do know about the Mainstreet Ventures birthday deal, and a good deal it is, but I'm just so bored with all their restaurants! All three of the restaurants I mentioned are listed on Arborweb as having a birthday discount, which is probably just a free dessert, but still better than nothing!

          Anyone been to Mediterrano lately? IIRC, I think they do the birthday deal too. And when they first opened they were quite good...

          1. re: Tammy Coxen

            I haven't had an unpleasant experience yet at Mediterrano. It's now my favorite Ann Arbor restaurant.

            1. re: summerfield

              Thanks - I'll have to pay them another visit - it's been a long time.

    2. Tammy, didn't you just tell me that it's been too long since you've been to Blimpy's?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ian

        LOL! You're right! But I'm going to be at an event in the Michigan student union in just a couple of weeks, so I'm saving my Blimpy run for then...

      2. Our (wife and I) last meal at Bella Ciao (Oct. 3) was disappointing, not the least of that disappointment being that Bella Ciao, up until this point, was one of our favorite restaurants in Ann Arbor. The maitre d' was overbearing, the sauce for my Chicken Marsala was tastless, my wife's shrimp something-or-other was uninspired. The server was good. Maybe it was just a bad night.

        1. We haven't tried it personally, but my daughter and her husband rave about the West End Grill. Let us know about your evening. Thanks! D.