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special occasion outside ann arbor

red rose Feb 10, 2008 11:34 AM

My son is graduating from the University of Michigan in April. All the restaurants in Ann Arbor are booked for that day. Any recommendations in towns outside of AA for this special occasion? We'd rather not have to drive into Detroit but a suburb might be OK.

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  1. c
    charlesbois RE: red rose Feb 10, 2008 11:35 AM

    Try Common Grill in Chelsea (15-20 minutes away) or Mac's Acadian Seafood in Saline (15 minutes away).

    Probably most of the obvious restaurants are booked, but there are some other options in Ann Arbor that might not be. Try Amadeus for Eastern European food and charm; Cafe Habana for upscale Cuban food; or Paesanos for upscale Italian.

    I'm curious at which Ann Arbor restaurants you've tried to make reservations...the usual suspects would be Gandy Dancer, Gratzi, Bella Ciao, West End Grill, Real Seafood, Eve, Chop House, the Earle and the Earle Uptown, but there may be others like Logan or Zanzibar that might be under your radar.

    4 Replies
    1. re: charlesbois
      Jim M RE: charlesbois Feb 10, 2008 12:00 PM

      Might get into North Point in Dexter, too . . . steaks, fish, oysters.


      Fifteen minutes to Central Campus. Good luck!

      1. re: Jim M
        red rose RE: Jim M Feb 11, 2008 05:09 AM

        Dexter's also looks perfect! Thanks very much. I'm so glad I posted here. These are all good choices for us.

      2. re: charlesbois
        red rose RE: charlesbois Feb 11, 2008 05:07 AM

        thank you! I actually haven't called any of the restaurants in Ann Arbor. I was assuming they are all booked since the hotels are booked a year in advance for this event. I will try the Gandy Dancer today although the Chelsea Grill and Mac's both look perfect for us. Thanks again!

        1. re: red rose
          dct RE: red rose Feb 13, 2008 01:13 PM

          I'll just point out that there is both a Common Grill and a Chelsea Grill in Chelsea. The Common Grill is by far the better place--and the one that people are willing to drive for. It's a good choice for a group, but it is very noisy. While I've occasionally disappointed by the Common Grill, the Chelsea Grill is mediocre at best.

          Keep in mind in your planning that it may take you longer to get out of campus that day than it will to get from Ann Arbor to Chelsea or Dexter, etc

      3. l
        linden RE: red rose Feb 10, 2008 01:33 PM

        You could also try restaurants in Novi, about 20 minutes away too - Steve and Rocky's or NoVi if you like a steakhouse.

        2 Replies
        1. re: linden
          boagman RE: linden Feb 10, 2008 11:19 PM

          Oh dear heaven above, if you're going to recommend someplace in Novi, *please* don't recommend Steve & Rocky's...they're very inconsistent, and usually on the bad side of inconsistent.

          Instead, go to Diamond Jim Brady's Bistro, which is literally walking distance from S&R's...and about 5 times better, too. Never had a bad meal at DJB.


          1. re: boagman
            SonyBob RE: boagman Feb 11, 2008 02:12 PM

            I absolutely agree with boagman plus Tom and Mary are the most gracious hosts you could ask for. Also, Karen really knows her wine.

        2. r
          rweater RE: red rose Feb 14, 2008 06:05 AM

          My family had dinner once at The Lord Fox in Dixboro, a little enclave just steps outside AA. I remember the food was delicious although the service was a little slow. Anyone been there recently? It's in an old house and is very charming.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rweater
            charlesbois RE: rweater Feb 14, 2008 06:22 AM

            The Lord Fox has what I would call a mixed reputation. A few swear by it, more swear at it. Seriously though, I've heard some very scary tales about the state of their kitchen, some from electricians doing repair work there.

            I had the beef wellington there and it was just a shade under mediocre, with questionable fois gras. The service was dismal. Unless there has been a change in management, I wouldn't trust it for an important occasion like graduation dinner.

            1. re: charlesbois
              rweater RE: charlesbois Feb 14, 2008 08:21 AM

              Fair enough. When I went there it was a very long time ago, so while I enjoyed what I was served I'm not privy to it's current reputation.

              1. re: rweater
                red rose RE: rweater Feb 15, 2008 07:58 PM

                thanks to everyone!

          2. meatn3 RE: red rose Feb 15, 2008 08:36 PM

            Five Lakes Grill in Milford is quite nice & downtown Milford is an attractive area to stroll.
            I ate there this past Fall & the food was delicious, nice wine selection, wonderful service & a welcoming atmosphere. It was a truly enjoyable evening - perfect for a celebration!
            And if your party has interest in charcuterie, you are in for a treat.

            1. e
              eileenj115 RE: red rose Feb 16, 2008 04:07 PM

              FIVE at 5 mile & Sheldon in Plymouth is very classy and good food. Its at St. Johns Golf course. Easy location to get to from AA. Enjoy!

              1. e
                eileenj115 RE: red rose Feb 16, 2008 04:16 PM

                Sorry I forgot to include the website for Five. Her it is.

                1. f
                  foodieheaven RE: red rose Feb 16, 2008 05:42 PM

                  Another suggestion in downtown Ann Arbor is Cafe Zola. We did graduation dinner across the street at Logans. Both are excellent.

                  1. t
                    tendinners RE: red rose Feb 16, 2008 07:19 PM

                    I would bypass any Ann Arbor option for that night and try Terry B's in Dexter (http://www.terrybs.com/home.htm). It's close, the food is excellent, the atmosphere charming, and the prices a bit lower than similar caliber places in town. We had guests last year on graduation weekend and everywhere we went in town was overcrowded, noisy, and less than up to standard for service. Getting some distance might be your best bet! Congratulations to your graduate!!!

                    My latest take on Terry B's: http://tendinners.blogspot.com/search...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tendinners
                      momskitchen RE: tendinners Mar 20, 2008 02:48 PM

                      Terry B's is better than Northpoint in Dexter, and I really like Bistro Renaissance in Dexter as well. Both Terry B's and Renaissance Bistro have decks where you can sit outside.

                      I have never, ever, had a bad meal at the Common Grill in Chelsea. I don't consider the Common Grill noisy; it's lively to me. But to each his own!


                      1. re: momskitchen
                        Jim M RE: momskitchen Mar 20, 2008 05:06 PM

                        Boy, Dexter's getting to be quite the dining destination--who'd a thunk it?

                        I go back and forth on Common Grill, but I'll give them this--they can handle a huge room full of people without breaking a sweat. The place has been well thought out from the beginning. May be a good choice on a busy day if you can get a reservation.

                    2. i
                      indivara RE: red rose Mar 20, 2008 01:46 PM

                      I highly recommend Bella Ciao in Ann Arbor and to give them a call just to make sure they aren't booked. Cafe Zola is also wonderful and has a lovely intimate atmosphere. Shalimar is also an option if you are looking for something a bit different than the usual European places. If I remember correctly from last year and my own graduation, most Ann Arbor restaurants start taking reservations in late Feb/early March for graduation dinners.

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