You try spending 48 hours in Ann Arbor and not being entranced by the food. Go on, dare you. Double dare.
Didn’t think so.
Ann Arbor has a culinary scene nonpareil and especially noteworthy given that it is, technically, a Podunkville. “Jeepers,” as they say on State Street, “you sure got that wrong!”
Face it: Ann Arbor has more going on in terms of food than many a city ten times its size. Why is that? Well you might ask. The F’s help to explain it: Farms, Faculty, Foreigners. However, the real issue is that people here care about food and keep it simple. For Pete’s sake, KEEP IT SIMPLE!
We started off on Friday with lunch at Mani Osteria: Just opened this year, this restaurant compares favorably to any number of first-rate osteria in the Bel Paesa. OK, so the service is a bit snooty, but I reckon that soon the staff will gain confidence. The thin, oven baked pizzas and pastas are delicious. How good was everything? So good that we returned a day later for dinner. What happened? Even better. The restaurant has the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy and NYC. A balanced approach to salt, focus, and intensity.
Later on Friday night: Drinks in The Cellar: Dark, pleasant, and very convivial. From there we walked over to The Raven: A gastropub type enterprise with terrific salads, burgers, and single barrel bourbons priced to go. The burger was perfectly cooked. The salads were crisp.
Pre-game Saturday: The Jolly Pumpkin. I think I had an uncle with that name on my mother’s side, but memory fails me. A great booth, great service, great sandwiches, great eggs. Beer brewed on the premises. Start the day with a pint, I say!
After the game–Go, Denard! Go, Fitzgerald!–snacks and soups at Bakery Japonaise where jazz played and water flowed in a moving bamboo sculpture. Folks, you might as well have been in Japan. It was authentic and really…delicious.
We already know about Saturday night, don’t we?
Well, after a return to Mani Osteria, we went to Adrien’s: Forty bazillion beers on tap. Bleary eyed, middle aged white men, looking as if they were camping, eyed the young college girls, clearly delusional about their chances, but settling for a late night wank. The beers? Ah, the beers. I had two terrific Belgians.
The final A.M. it was a visit to Zingerman’s, ‘natch. The products here–cheeses, breads, pasta, meat–are priced by a deranged ex-hedge fund manager, but the sandwiches are reasonable and a corned beef and pastrami sandwich on rye? Perfect.
Stepping off the plane, returning home? Thank goodness for the guanciale in the fridge and the pasta in the cupboard.
What happens in Ann Arbor, unfortunately stays in Ann Arbor, but at least I had the presence of mind to return with two loaves of Zingerman’s breads–day old, 30% off. I feel like making a t shirt: I GOT A BARGAIN AT ZINGERMAN’S!