Over the weekend, we took a trip to Michigan and found that Ann Arbor is quite a food town. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but the town is full of great food experiences. It started with a great pub that had one of the best selections of not just beers from microbreweries, but they had artisanal beers and ales on tap, like Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Noire and sourdough crust pizzas with a variety of non-traditional toppings. It was a nice intro to the town.
Saturday brought us to Cafe Zola for brunch, just off Main Street on Washington. The two is very walkable, though free parking is just about impossible to find right downtown. We did find that their metering can be paid with a credit card or by phone, which is nice if you didn’t have enough time on the meter so you can add more from where you are instead of running back to the car. Cafe Zola wasn’t too busy when we got there, and had a nice cafe feel.
The brunch menu had a great variety, from crepes to sandwiches, with omelets and specialties like in-house smoked salmon that was really well done. The bacon was locally grown and cured. I had crab benedict, which came with an egg on one English muffin and a crab cake on another, and the crab cake was really top-notch. The chai tea was served with the tea in a French press and the milk served separately, allowing the mix to be decided by the customer, and it was excellent.
From Cafe Zola, we walked around town a bit, and ended up at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, which runs year-round on Saturdays, and most of the year on Wednesdays, too. This is one of the largest farmers markets I’ve seen, with lots of vendor space and some really incredible vendors, from roasted chestnuts to beautiful handmade breads to Zingerman’s Creamery cheeses. We got a variety of breads, and even some great apples from a couple of several orchards that still had great apples and fresh cider.
Kerrytown Shops are a great group of different, mostly small shops near Zingerman’s (more on Zingerman’s in another entry). We went into Hollander’s, a really nice, upscale paper shop, and walked around from there out to a small food court and eventually upstairs to Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars, where that’s all they sell… a bunch of infused balsamic vinegars and olive oils, as well as some other oils and vinegars. We got this incredibly good espresso-infused 12 year old balsamic vinegar as well as a bottle of 18-year-old balsamic vinegar.
Then down to the Spice Merchants, with a great mix of spices, dried mushrooms, hot sauces, salts and rubs.
The shops were fun, ending with a very cool market, Sparrow Meats and Produce.
The day was perfect, with temps in the low 60s and bright sun. We drove around a bit after walking around town for quite a while. We enjoyed Zingerman’s Deli, and, later, the Roadhouse for dinner. I’ll report on that next time!
So as much as I enjoy the rivalry between Ohio State and that school up north, I really thought Ann Arbor was fantastic!