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Cafe Via in Birmingham, MI?

jskang47 May 12, 2009 10:58 AM

Has anyone tried Cafe Via in Birmingham? I'm looking for a place in the Birmingham/Royal Oak/ Ferndale area for a birthday dinner. I'm a little hesitant to go there (even on a weeknight) because there's a no reservations policy.

  1. g
    grouper May 12, 2009 01:03 PM

    Wow, I haven't even heard of this place! Where is it?

    1. r
      RedTop May 12, 2009 03:55 PM

      It's on urbanspoon with 10 "I like it" clicks = 120% liked it. No reviews tho. The Freep did review it. You can check the paper archives.

      1. l
        Ludlows23 May 12, 2009 04:16 PM

        I have heard that it has been packed and that lunch is a better bet for not having to wait. But I haven't heard anything about the food - other than the reviews in Freep, etc. I'd love a review if you actually get there!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ludlows23
          jskang47 May 15, 2009 03:55 PM

          UPDATE: Went to Cafe Via (Maple and Woodward) for a birthday dinner. Overall impressions:

          Caprese: Mah. The tomatoes had been refrigerated, so the flavor was lost and they had gone a bit mushy. Not a great deal for the $10, and I'm not sure where the "grilling" part came in.

          Crab cakes: Pretty good. Crisp exterior, nicely fried, soft & crabby inside, with a tasty remoulade and corn salsa that had a slight kick, amid the creaminess.

          Meat: They mean it when they say "medium rare" in a way that most establishments don't. Our (hubby's and mine) meat entrees (beef tenderloin au poivre and lamb chops) were almost purple, but with a great sear that made up for any slight hesitations about the color of the meat. These people aren't afraid to deliver a juicy, well-cooked (read: RARE) piece of meat that retains its texture and clear flavor.

          Dessert: The strawberry shortcake with poprocks was about 3 steps removed from a poptart. . . .Now that I'm past the wine-haze, the rectangular shortbread they used--covered in whipped cream, and sprinkled with poprocks--makes me think they were going for "poptart." I'm not anti-poptart (overly processed bundles of jammy pastry goodness!), but this seemed like a gimmick for gimmick's sake. If you want to do a poptart, commit! (Bake the damn thing! Don't cheat me out of icing!) Messing with a shortcake, though, with overly-macerated berries and soggy pastry... just not cool.

          Ambiance: Birmingham "fabulous"with a nice patio.

          Overall: Worth a trip, but not a long wait (6:30 on a Tuesday 45 minute wait for an inside table, and they don't take reservations. Grrr. Argh.).

          1. re: jskang47
            coney with everything May 16, 2009 04:51 AM

            Maybe the caprese and strawberry dishes would be better served when the produce is in season?

            I kind of like the shortbread + strawberries idea instead of shortcake. Gotta wait a month for the local berries, though. And I'm skipping the poprocks!

            1. re: coney with everything
              jskang47 May 16, 2009 02:07 PM

              Good point. Still getting used to the seasonal produce in this area.

        2. x
          xman887 Aug 31, 2009 11:55 AM

          had lunch at via on friday. ate inside because it was raining pretty hard. small, quaint dining room with tasteful decor. very professional wait staff. had a great cup of potato leek soup. also had a flatbread brie & arugula sandwich with crispy fries that i enjoyed.

          1 Reply
          1. re: xman887
            grouper Aug 31, 2009 02:53 PM

            That sounds great! What a tasty meal for the crappy day we had on Friday! I think I might have to put this on the lunch rotation.

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