Food journey through Ann Arbor's Restaurant Week

By Melina Fuentes - Associate Producer

Photo by: Melina Fuentes

ANN ARBOR - I’ve lived in Washtenaw County for a fair amount of years and I have never joined in on the semi-annual tradition of Ann Arbor’s Restaurant Week, so this year I thought “let’s give it a shot.” I decided that I would go about my journey by visiting one establishment every day and I also asked some of my friends to accompany me on this food venture. I may not have a well-refined palate, but I do enjoy a good meal.

Photo by: Melina Fuentes

 

I began by visiting the website to look up which restaurants were participating and planned out my week. On Monday, my first stop was Siris Restaurant & Cigar Bar for lunch. I chose this location because they offered a smoked brisket chili that sounded amazing but mostly because I’ve walked by several times, but had not gone in. Maybe I hadn’t frequented the location because I don’t smoke cigars or enjoy the lingering smell of cigar smoke or that fact that I didn’t realize it was a cigar bar until it was too late. But no matter, I made the choice and I had to stick with it.

When placing my order for the chili the server informed me that it was unavailable. My friend and I were a bit shocked since we were the second group of customers in the restaurant. How could this be?! To say the least, we made the most of it and ordered our meal. The overall experience was nice, the food was ok and the atmosphere definitely a cigar bar.

Photo by: Melina Fuentes

Tuesday, I had a different companion and let her choose the location. We met up at for lunch at Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery for some deliciousness. I’ve been to The Blue Tractor BBQ several times before, usually sticking to the pulled-pork sandwiches, brisket, the items you would get at any barbecue place. However, I wanted to expand my palate I ordered the smoked chicken soba bowl.

What is this, you ask? Well, a picture says a thousand words so I would direct you to the photo, but here’s a quick description: soba noodles smothered in a honey jalapeño vinaigrette mixed with smoked chicken thighs, Korean radish, mushrooms, and smoked soy sauce. The meal, by far, was my most exotic meal of the week.

Wednesday was my day of rest, for both my stomach and my pocketbook. I was so stuffed from the two prior days I needed to eat one bowl of soup and call it a day. However, I got back on track Thursday evening.

Photo by: Melina Fuentes

Before the whole Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, I had made plans to go to Nerd Nite, which I highly recommend to everyone who enjoys getting their nerd on, and in choosing where to go I had to take many variables into consideration.

First, what time does my friend get off work and how much time do we have to eat. Second, we needed a location that was close to LIVE Nightclub (Nerd Nite venue). Third, this location needed to appease the food palate of two who believe chicken parmesan is a fancy meal. Our choice was made and we ended up at The Pretzel Bell. My meal at the Bell was my favorite one of the week. Simple and delicious. A flat iron steak, broccolini, and some farro risotto.

Photo by: Melina Fuentes

On the last day of my journey, I ventured out solo and unlike all the other places this one was packed (thank goodness they had a bar I could sit at). Zola Bistro, oh Zola Bistro, I must visit you more often. I had a lovely, attentive bartender by the name of Andrea who took care of my every need and she was killing it.

I was in no rush and completely enjoying the atmosphere, people watching and sipping on my coffee. Andrea made sure my cup was full of coffee all the while filling the orders of the other wait staff and patrons at the bar. Here is where I decided to treat myself by ordering some strawberry banana waffles.

For the most part, I don’t get sweet items, I’m more of a salty gal than a sweet tooth chickadee and it was scrumptious. At Zola Bistro I had a ton of food for the price I was paying. The waffles were so filling that I had to take the rest home and I did my due diligence of eating all my veggies before diving into the sweet treat (the meal came with a salad).

Overall, my experience was fantastic. I cannot wait until the summer when restaurant week comes back, but until then I need to work out and sign up for a couple of the races to lose all the weight I gained from last week.

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