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Blue Tractor BBQ - Ann Arbor

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houndgirl Nov 19, 2008 06:38 AM

Hit this new place on Washington (next to Cafe Habana) on Saturday. Original restaurant is up in Traverse City (and yeah, it's part of the Cafe Habana/Grizzly Peak, etc. group.) Showed up at around 7:00 p.m., and went to the bar with my pager. The place just smells good with that BBQ smoke wafting around! It shares the same downstairs lounge with Habana, by the way. Decor is nice...wooden planked walls, cool lighting fixtures. Loved the bar...it has a refrigerated rail that's frosted over so you can park your drink and keep it cool. They had five house-made beers on tap, including a porter, IPA and a "light" beer. Also fun stuff like Pabst in cans! Friendly barkeeps.

Everything on the menu sounded good, appetizers like the "Fried Basket of Goodness": fried dill pickles, green tomatoes and okra. That's what I wanted but BF was paying and ordered the housemade potato chips with a blue cheese fondue dipping sauce. Not bad, chips were hot and fresh and lightly seasoned, the fondue was just OK.

Main course...pulled pork with a light Carolina BBQ sauce, greens and cheese grits were tasty. The pork was very tender, lightly smoked. BF had mac and cheese with bacon and sage and enjoyed every little bit. Their sliders looked awesome and the guy next to me said he loved the ribs. Service was very fast and friendly. I'll definitely go back to try some of the other items on the menu...particularly the brisket.

Overall a good experience, nice and casual and everyone there seemed to be having a good time.

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    Summerfield RE: houndgirl Nov 20, 2008 09:15 AM

    Very interesting, houndgirl. I recently had a similar main course at Zingerman's Roadhouse which was excellent. Roadhouse also has an excellent macaroni and cheese. Roadhouse of course is pricey. So it will be nice if Blue Tractor turns out to be a viable lower-priced alternative to the Roadhouse, at least where menus overlap. Wife-enstein, you see, doesn't like the Roadhouse. It sounds like, from your write-up, that you'll go back to Blue Tractor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Summerfield
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      SuperSam30 RE: Summerfield Nov 20, 2008 10:39 AM

      I love the Roadhouse, but try not to go there often due to the high prices (almost $20 for mac n' cheese!). I was excited when I viewed the Blue Tractor's menu as it seemed like some similar items. Can't wait to try it!

      1. re: Summerfield
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        houndgirl RE: Summerfield Nov 20, 2008 11:54 AM

        I thought their prices very reasonable and portions good-sized. I am actually going back again tonight.

        Here's a local lad that's posted some pics/vids on Flickr
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnsni...

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        berkleybabe RE: houndgirl Nov 20, 2008 02:47 PM

        Thanks, houndgirl! Can't wait to try it...who can't love fried pickles and okra? Plus I love NC BBQ. Post again when you go and let us know what else you try.

        1. JanPrimus RE: houndgirl Nov 20, 2008 02:53 PM

          Have any of the people that have visited this establishment been to Lazybones or Slows and if so...How does the BBQ stand up?

          It sounds like the sides so far are on the better side of average so far.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JanPrimus
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            g_rote RE: JanPrimus Nov 20, 2008 06:10 PM

            we've been looking for a replacement for the dearly departed Leopold Brothers for our annual familiy Thanksgiving weekend get-together...how does this place stack up ambience-wise?

            1. re: g_rote
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              houndgirl RE: g_rote Nov 21, 2008 11:13 AM

              I haven't been to either Lazybones or Slows, but I've heard good things. I certainly need to try the other BBQ offerings at BTractor. I thought the pulled pork was pretty good, but I'm no expert. Ambience-wise, it's very cozy, kind of loud, though. Last night I just went for drinks and got the Fried Goodness app. Everything was mouthburning hot from the fryer and crispy with nice seasonings in the coating, but I did not care for the lime dipping sauce, it was too thin. I am looking forward to other CH-ers opinions.

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            shanamaidel RE: houndgirl Nov 24, 2008 07:43 PM

            I was at the Blue Tractor the first day opened and was really impressed by how well everything was running, right out of the gate. We shared a bunch of things, including the Basket of Fried Goodness (fried okra, green tomatoes, pickles, mmmm), the pulled pork, the mac and cheese, a waffle with a mushroom cream sauce, and the sliders. Everything was done really well. I second the notion here on the board that this place will be a better-priced alternative to the Roadhouse for similar fare. I'm looking forward to going back to try more items on the menu; the desserts looked really great (a bread pudding with bourbon sauce particularly), and I'd like to try more of the beers. I only had the cream ale.

            As for ambiance, I had a bit of an issue with awkward lighting at our table; two seats were very dark and two were very bright. Odd. Other than that, it's a pretty laid-back place, but the service is very attentive.

            I wrote it up on my blog, and there are a few comments from folks as well: http://gastronomical3.wordpress.com/2... .

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              SuperSam30 RE: houndgirl Nov 28, 2008 09:40 AM

              We went to Blue Tractor a couple of nights ago. We started with the homemade potato chips with blue chees fondue. The chips were excellent, but the blue cheese dip was too mild (and not enough of it. I had the chicken & corn chowder and it was excellent (although it was a tiny cup for $3). For my meal I had the pulled pork sandwich, which was excellent and huge. Nice tangy sauce, tender meat and creamy coleslaw on a soft roll. It was served with fries, which were good. My husband had a burger and gave it a thumbs up. Our son had the chicken tenders and fries.
              We rolled out of there since we were so full......but we definately would like to try the bourbon milk shake, which sounds yummy.

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                charlesbois RE: houndgirl Jan 12, 2009 06:56 AM

                Went to the Blue Tractor for lunch on a Sunday, the last week in December. We were seated immediately, the server was attentive and quick.

                I had the pulled pork dinner, but substituted fries for cheddar grits. The parental unit had the brisket reuben.

                My dinner also came with collard greens. I thought the greens were a trifle underdone and a bit tough. The fries were nice and hot. The pulled pork had excellent flavor, smoky with sweet yet tangy sauce. I could have used a side of the sauce, and the amount they put on the pork was not enough to give all the meat a good coating. the portions were plentiful.

                The brisket on my dad's sandwich was also very tasty. My only complaint (other than the greens) was that salt had to be added to everything to get the taste up to par. it was like everything was cooked without seasoning. But once the salt was added, it all tasted great.

                the dessert was the ice cream cookie bar. It was 2 wedges of chocolate chip sheet cookies sandwiched with vanilla ice cream and accented with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The cookies were very good and tender. I could have used more ice cream though.

                All in all this was a nice addition to the downtown scene. i definitely want to try it for dinner, especially to get the fried goodness app and the bourbon milkshake.

                1 Reply
                1. re: charlesbois
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                  jerseyshore RE: charlesbois Jan 13, 2009 07:22 AM

                  tried the fried goodness last night.Truly awful. For one, to successfully fry pickles, they have to be cut as chips not spears, as is done here. Secondly, if you advertise fried green tomatoes, they should be green not red. It really does matter as far as texture and flavor are concerned. Plus it frankly makes your kitchen look stupid. Third, fried okra was at best ok, and the buttermilk lime dressing might be a good salad dressing but not a dipping sauce as served here. Raves for the smoked chicken corn chowder. Outstanding. Dinner had brisket. Have had better, but for A2 not a bad offering and priced at 12.99 not a bad deal.
                  Have been at the Traverse City location twice as well and same thing there. Hit and miss with the dishes.

                2. chefster RE: houndgirl Jan 13, 2009 08:05 AM

                  Ummm, I thought they were pricey. Almost ripoffy. The IPA was weak, has a long way to go to compete with Arbor Brewings' or Michigan Brewings' IPAs. Thank god they had a clean bathroom though...I swear Arbor Brewings management has poor eyesite and no sense of smell.. they are grooooosssss, bathroom there is a enough to have the place shut down.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chefster
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                    akmon RE: chefster Jan 13, 2009 12:00 PM

                    Blue Tractor offers decent food, but the beer is surprisingly poor. Hopefully things will get worked out over the coming months. However, on the upside, the food is priced well and the decor is rather nice.

                    Someone mentioned Slow's in a previous comment. Slow's in Detroit is absolutely amazing. Highly recommended.

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