Monday, January 30, 2012

Ann Arbor, MI - Cafe Zola; Which do you choose? The restaurant that has a 45 min wait, a crowd loitering amongst the tables on their outside patio or stop in a place that has no wait and you're the only souls?

You go with the wait! Your taste buds will thank you happily for waiting.  Cafe Zola is a must on the Ann Arbor culinary tour. There is a reason it's packed and you'll wait, because it's good, very good.

Lets start with the pretty latte they brought out. Flavors were good, but it's worth noting that the design they drew gave a very nice presentation.

The good stuff now! The salmon hash with horseradish creme sauce.  How often do you get to eat salmon hash.  The hash was prepared very well, rich with the salmon flavor, but not too fishy or overpowering.  Cutting into those fried eggs and allowing the yolk to soak up in the hash, creates a perfect mortar, tying the salmon, hash, and eggs all together. It now has a full body flavor.  Just when you think the dish is complete, comes the horseradish creme sauce with a little bite to the flavor complimenting the salmon. You want that spicy, horseradish kick to the hash to really make it sing.

We couldn't resist and had to try the chocolate and banana crepe as well.  Since this was an eating adventure post Big House Big Run 5/10k event, we were craving some more food and carbs.  Onto dessert! Many chocolate and banana crepes, served traditionally without ice cream, Zola's comes with it.  I would say the bananas were a little mushy and not caramelized enough, but still went well with the chocolate nutella, ice cream, and a thin sweet crepe.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ann Arbor, MI - Seva; Finding an almost vegetarian restaurant isn't an easy task.  One must travel to the streets of Ann Arbor to test your pallet for vegetarian fare. I recently saw that Seva has opened another location in Detroit now, so for us people in the D, we now have a new place for vegans and vegetarians.  From the write-up in the Metro Times, they have a pretty identical menu at that location as well.

As for the Ann Arbor spot, they have a wonderful outdoor seating area, taking advantage of a wonderful summer or fall evening. I tried an entree on their specials menu, corn ravioli in a pablano sauce.  The pasta was fresh and cooked very well, stuffed with a nice blend of mashed corn and spices, in a creamy but rather bland pablano sauce, and topped with pumpkin seeds giving it the necessary crunchy texture. Without the pumpkin seeds, it would have been a very one dimensional soft and creamy dish, therefore, it was a necessary addition. The pablano sauce lacked the flavor of a pablano pepper and not that it needed any "heat", it would have been nice, but not necessary, the sauce wasn't very complex in flavor and mostly tasted of heavy cream. I think it didn't balance the corn puree in the ravioli enough and if the puree would have had more power to its flavor, maybe the dish would have been elevated to the next level.

I was excited to see the variety of options for vegetarians and vegans.  The other dishes at the table were also pretty good, but not spectacular.  However, it deserves several tries in my opinion to find the dish that really sings there.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Bloomfield Hills, MI - Gallery Restaurant II; Moving to the neighborhood, I was in search for a new unique breakfast place. I was hoping for a place that had delicious, unique, and creative breakfast, but it fell short. It's a standard deli with all the usual typical items. 

They do have some items that I was surprised. My grandmother use to make salami and eggs all the time, so it was a staple in our household. I was excited to see it here, but it really wasn't the same. The cuts of the salami were small and a stronger flavor salami should have been used. Its flavor was masked too much by the eggs, therefore, only giving it texture.

It's not one of the typical chain restaurants, so its nice to support local businesses, but their food needs to be elevated just a bit. The decor, oh, it needs some help. The place definitely would not win any awards other than the "Haven't Redecorated in 20 Years" Award. It's that 20 year-old diner feel.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Warren, MI - Pho Viet; This area of Warren and Madison Heights is scattered with Vietnamese restaurants and you really have to stand out with amazing food or something unique. I tried their fresh spring roll and their Pho with crispy beef. While it was good, it didn't stand out as something unique or you can only get it at Pho Viet.

The fresh spring roll had all the necessary elements, rice wrap, noodles, cucumbers, shrimp, and some mint, but it really needed more mint leaves. It did lack that "pow" of mint flavor needed throughout the whole roll.

I ordered the Pho with the crispy beef.  I've never had crispy beef, whatever that is right.  I asked if it was deep fried, but the server said no, it's some gelatinous parts of the meat, so not crunchy at all. It's very soft and gelatinous and if texture throws you off, avoid this, but if not, try it out. It really doesn't have any flavor, but at least you know that all parts of the animal are being used.

The place is pretty large for a "mom and pops" Vietnamese place.  I went during a late lunch and was expecting it to be a little busier, but it was only me and one other table. They also have a dance floor with a stage for a band, so they must have some live entertainment at times.