Zingerman's Roadhouse

>> Monday, December 6, 2010

Friday, November 26th. We have the usual players tonight, celebrating Lulu's birthday which was on Thanksgiving...plus Thad brought Uncle J. We make the trek out to Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor. http://www.zingermansroadhouse.com/ I love the fact that Zingerman's has partnered with a local farm, Cornman Farm, for it's veggies, and some meats. It also serves Niman Ranch products, which I respect. I have to put a mention in for the above pic of the sign. There is a few paragraphs on their website about the neon glass sign comprised of rare antique neon tubes that is worth the read. The red part of the sign has real gold particles inside. This place smells like delicious BBQ the instant you step out of your vehicle. I also really liked the atmosphere here. I love the thousands of unique salt & pepper shakers lining some walls, as it reminded me of my Great-Grandmother's house. Our server tonight is Marcus...and I love his 'stache. I wonder if he was growing this for Movember? http://www.movember.com/ I didn't think of it until the next day, lol. Anyway, Marcus is the wikipedia of food history, especially the history of everything on the Zingerman's menu. I recommend you ask for his section, and get ready to be educated. He brings us complimentary pimento cheese spread and sweet potato fries with a spice aioli...both great. These are the BEST sweet potato fries I have EVER had. I could have ate two plates of them as my app & my entree. Other apps: calamari, mussels, and awesome Zingerman's bakery bread. Scarlet, who is a seafood expert, says she does not recommend the mussels, as they didn't have much flavor. The boys, however, said she was crazy and ate them all. We also order a cheese platter (another staple of ours)...here, you have a sheet to write down how many ounces of which cheeses you want on your custom cheese platter. There are MANY cheeses. The platter came with roasted grapes, which was a unique novelty for our table. Much like Traffic Jam, you can purchase cheese and baked goods to go. Interestingly, you can also purchase liquor and have the bartenders help choose the right bottles to have a well-stocked bar at home.
On that note, let me take a bit to talk about drinks! They have a fun, large cocktail menu. Marcus tells us about the page of "pre-prohibition" drinks, which has classics like the old-fashioned, the champagne cocktail, the Manhattan...and Lulu's favorite: the knickerbocker. She told me about 10 times how delicious the knickerbocker is: Brugel Dominican dark rum, Bol's orange curacao, muddled fresh rasperries and fresh squeezed lemon juice. It was very delicious. I have my favorite caipurinha...actually, I have two they are so yummy. Thad orders what is called "call me a cab", which is flight of cabernet...that is what Marcus is holding in his photo above. Entrees: Lulu had such a hard time selecting her meal, this place offers FIVE types of macaroni & cheese. She settles on the grits which are organic, wood-fired grilled, topped with Vermont cheddar, roasted red peppers, chiles, corn and a cider vinaigrette. This is unique, vegetarian and delicious. I order a small portion of two mac & cheese's...and Lulu shares with me: Three-pepper goat cheese mac & smoked chicken mac. Both are so good. The menu doesn't show it, but you can get a smaller side portion of any of the mac's, just ask. We also split the roasted veggies (locally grown) and olive oil mashed potatoes. The side of veggies is pretty large, and they were wonderful. I loved the little carrots that looked like they were just pulled from the ground prior to roasting.
I talk Thad into ordering the special salmon that Marcus describes, which I do not see on the current online menu. I think he regretted ordering it, I tasted it and it was just fine, but not anything spectacular. Master P had a puller pork BBQ platter, which he loved and ate every last bit. It came with a side of greens that Lulu and I stole from him...these greens rivaled my current favorites from Howe's Bayou in Ferndale. Actually, I'm going to say these were better. Uncle J has bbq ribs, and I believe he enjoyed them although I didn't record details. The Greek and Scarlet share two entrees: The Georges bay sea scallops and a spicy lamb dish called lamb posole. I didn't try the scallops, but heard no complaints about them. I did try the posole which was really good with a spicy ancho chile sauce. If your looking for the online menu, I recommend clicking the part that says "download our current dinner menu" as the specials and main entrees keep changing.
Desserts: Master P and Uncle J both consume HUGE rootbeer floats. The rest of us split the chocolate milk cake, a selection of gelato (paw-paw being one- which is a North American fruit similar to a custard apple). But the star dessert was the doughnut sundae: their housemade dutch donut topped with a bourbon caramel sauce and vanilla gelato. This was sinfully good, and it came with a candle and happy birthday message for Lulu. Total bill: $378 plus tip. I averaged all 7 of our ratings to arrive at a 3.7, I gave it a 4.5. The birthday girl, who picked this night's restaurant, gave it a 4. Because I cannot put 3.7 D's at the top of this blog, I'm rounding it up to a solid 4. I personally loved this place. After looking on their huge menu online, including the lunch menu, I so much want to try more! I wish there was a Zingerman's restaurant near Ferndale, but the Zingerman establishments are purely Ann Arbor. The next Friday after this day, we did not have our weekly ADD dinner. I was sad because Scarlet was in Jamaica and Thad has gone to Florida for all of December (and he's not even elderly!). Lulu and The Greek had a Christmas party to attend. So it was just Master P and I. We went to check out the new wine bar in Pleasant Ridge: Cork Wine Pub. I cannot wait to convince the crew to come check it out as it is officially my new favorite hang-out near my house. corkwinepub.com



>> Saturday, December 4, 2010

 Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for my friends, I love you guys! We went to Crave in Dearborn on Friday, November 19th. Scarlet and I had been there recently and couldn't wait to bring everyone here. www.cravelounge.com/main.html First let me list the delicious cocktails we enjoyed at the bar: the Pure (Hanger 1 Lime, sake, soda, sprite & elderflower), the Koi (citrus vodka, elderflower, grape juice, mint & cucumber) and the strawberry shortcake (vanilla vodka, apple juice, strawberry syrup & fresh strawberries)...yum. I usually love anything with elderflower liqueur in the mix. I recommend that if you can find St. Germaine Elderflower buy it! It's delicious! We also have to give credit to our new favorite bartender, Jordan. Scarlet and I had the pleasure of hanging at his bar before, and he always takes good care of us. With dinner we have a bottle or so of the Argyle pinot noir. We have a new guest star tonight, Mr. J, who is joining us from Cali and is serving our country! We reserved a large table, but not this large. This pic is an optical illusion as the table was next to a mirrored wall. It was right up front where the live guitarist was SO loud we couldn't hear each other, but the sound seemed to improve as the night went on.

Appetizers: This is my favorite thing on the menu and you must try this. The tuna tartare. This blows them all away. We order multiples of this because we eat it up like ravenous wolves. Please, please, please order this if you visit Crave. We also get the beef negimake, which is filet wrapped around asparagus spears, another favorite of ours...Inyo also does a decent version, but here you get a more generous portion. We also order the Gyu bleu salad, but I don't remember seeing this or tasting it, but I wrote their comments that the dressing was "confusing"...not sure what I meant by that. However, Master P and Thad loved the salad. Thad has miso soup, and I don't think he ate much of it. He wrote in my notebook that it smells like feet, but maybe he didn't know what to expect of miso. Lulu orders tempura battered veggies, which are divine...as is pretty much anything dipped in tempura and deep fried. Our server, Thea, also recommends the tofu spring rolls, and I'm so glad she did. I especially love their spicy sauce. The boys also have something called shrimp cevechi, which they absolutely loved, according to my notes.
For entrees, we order an assortment of sushi. For the vegetarian side of the table, grilled veggie tempura roll. For Master P and I, crunchy tuna roll and california tempura roll. I was hoping the crunchy tuna would be reminiscent of my beloved fireman's special at Dylan's. But alas, nothing will ever compare. I highly recommend sushi at Dylan's raw bar: http://www.dylansrawbar.com/. This is the place that converted me to a sushi fan.
Anyhoo, there were a couple more various sushi rolls going around the table. Crave has a large sushi menu, which you can view online. The sushi was good. Scarlet had the sea bass. It was decent, but we agreed that it didn't compare to the sea bass at Inyo. Inyo's sea bass was buttery and melted in your mouth...so delicate. This was a tad more fishy tasting, but it was still good. We also had a side of wasabi mashed potatoes that we much enjoyed. The most interesting entree of the night goes to Thad, as always. Pictured below is the Japanese Red Snapper:

We name him Louie. Poor Louie. He actually tasted really good and meaty.
Here is the aftermath:
For dessert: Chocolate Mexican ice cream (good!), key lime cheesecake (ok, predictable), wildberry sorbet (such lively berry flavor - zaps your tongue), and the dark cocoa berries. The cocoa berries is really an assorted fruit plate with a chocolate dipping sauce that Scarlet and Lulu steal away with and are forced to share with the rest of us under protest.  I also want to give a mention to the creme brulee, which we didn't order this night but I have tried previously...it comes as 3 tiny chocolate brulee...a white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate.  It is just right.
Total bill: $427 plus tip.

Next: Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor

Addendum:  We discuss the rating system and the fact that Coach Insignia received a 5....Lulu, not for the first time, states that nobody can get a perfect score because nobody is perfect.  She declares there must always be room for improvement.  Therefore, I'm officially changing our loosely structured rating system.  A 4 still means great food, great service and great atmosphere...but probably not all three together or at least some misgivings.  A 5 is excellent food, service and atmosphere across the board.  NOW a 6 means absolute perfection, of which nobody will ever achieve, just for dear Lulu.