Chef Alex Young heads up The Standard Bistro & Larder, an elegant, Parisian-style bistro with a menu of well executed French classics, including an unctuous, deeply flavoured Boeuf Bourguinon and a lovely Duck a l’orange with kumquats. A sophisticated wine list and gorgeous backlit bar complete the experience.
La Dolce Vita
Mani Osteria is a multi-level downtown hotspot buzzing with activity fueled by specialty cocktails, hearty Italian hospitality and first-class, wood-fired pizzas. The Tartufo, topped with Fontina, black truffles and a runny egg, is the stuff of dreams.
The roast chicken at Mikette, a popular neighbourhood eatery with a relaxed vibe and a Mediterranean-inspired menu, is superb. A whole bird with burnished skin comes to the table surrounded by charred lemon halves and potatoes roasted to crispy, chewy perfection and drizzled with a lemon aioli. Beet and fennel salad with grapefruit and Michigan cherries, dusted with sumac, is another standout.
A beautiful, mood-lit space, live jazz and classy cocktails are what you’ll find at Blue Llama, just one example of Ann Arbor’s hip bar scene. A small eats menu features American classics with a modern twist – think panko-crusted deviled eggs with whipped goat cheese mousse.
Served with Love
Authentic Turkish dishes are served up family-style by Ayse’s Turkish Cafe where Ayse herself welcomes patrons to this little strip mall cafe as if they were guests in her own home. The daily menu reflects the bounty of the season, which meant – for me – cold yogurt soup; fork-tender lamb with white beans; artichoke bottoms stuffed with lima beans; stewed eggplant; and an intriguing salad of olives and walnuts.
Casablanca may be an unprepossessing joint housed in a former Taco Bell, but the Moroccan cooking here will knock your socks off. Earthy vegetable tajines, feather-light couscous, creamy hummus, spicy grilled meat. The crowning glory is an elaborate b’stilla — layered filo pie traditionally made with pigeon but in the hands of owner Abdul Mani, equally impressive made with chicken.
At Taste Kitchen Chef Danny Van puts a global spin on ingredient-driven cuisine, creating a fresh menu every day. This is sophisticated cooking – think roasted golden beets cubed and served poke-style atop avocado and crispy wonton strips; morels and oyster mushrooms over a risotto heady with saffron; roasted cauliflower magically paired with a silky purée of taro.
Turkish eggs, mushroom crepes, shakshouka, great coffee and brandied cherry blintzes – all you could wish for at breakfast (or lunch or dinner) can be found at Café Zola.
Avocado toast may be a fad but that’s okay with me. And none is prettier than Wilma’s, on chewy sourdough with pink pickled onions and a sunny egg. This bright brunch spot also offers açai bowls, smoothies, salads and other healthy eats.
Tea lovers won’t want to miss TeaHaus, an elegant European-style cafe where tea sommelier Lisa McDonald delves deep into the art and science of loose-leaf brewing.
Inventive craft cocktails and modern sharing plates that change with the seasons are the ticket at Ollie Food + Spirits in Ann Arbor’s bohemian satellite city Ypsilanti. Hanger steak with chermoula and a beet and potato salad were both brilliant, as were homemade pickles and spreads on the charcuterie board.
Zingerman’s Deli is where the Ann Arbor food movement started and still where you’ll find some of the best eats in town. Everything is made from scratch, including bagels and cream cheese. The Reuben Sandwich is legendary.
At Miss Kim Korean cuisine gets a modern makeover, without losing authenticity or cultural roots. Flavours are punchy and bold, the vibe is cool and the service is spot on.