Cafe Marie remains popular breakfast, lunch destination
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Jeanne Loveland, the owner of Cafe Marie, recalls a couple that frequented her restaurant. The man was participating in a clinical trial for cancer at the University of Michigan Hospital and would come by after each of his treatments. He recalls the wife telling her, "Your place is the bright spot in our day."
That touched her, since Loveland strives to create an environment among her staff that makes Cafe Marie the positive spot in all of her customers' days. The restaurant has been around since 1993; in 2006 Loveland oversaw a significant remodel, adding a spacious front patio to accommodate 12 diners and adding 12 more seats in the interior. She's also now using vegetables from a Cafe Marie garden which, despite this year's hot weather, had an especially high yield.
Cafe Marie is the type of place where families with young children like to gather. Furnishings are clean, simple and welcoming, with plenty of large tables. There are floor-to-ceiling windows that let in plenty of light. Exposed brick lends a warm feel.
On the first of two recent visits, on a mild, sunny fall Saturday, we opted for one of the tables on the charming patio, positioned far away from the busy street, surrounded by green lawns. Cafe Marie is only open until 3 p.m., and it's strictly breakfast and lunch fare, but considering dinner isn't a part of the menu, the variety is extensive. There are numerous categories of egg dishes, from omelets to "benedicts" and frittatas, as well as three different types of oatmeal under a "lite" category and several varieties of pancakes. Lunch fare includes wraps, salads, sandwiches and burgers.
1759 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor
- Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. every day.
- Plastic: Visa, Mastercard , American Express.
- Liquor: None
- Prices: Moderate. Many dishes are in the $7-$8 range.
- Noise level: Medium
- Wheelchair access: Yes
I appreciated that there are several varieties of oatmeal, and I thoroughly enjoyed the healthful apple pecan version. I'm often looking for a light breakfast option, and this was ideal: thick and hearty, with fresh warm apple slices and plenty of pecans.
Cafe Marie also has a nice variety of veggie burgers. My husband tried the red pepper garden burger, and it was delicious, full of perfectly cooked red peppers and served on a fresh bun.
Other tasty dishes included the thick, creamy tomato bisque soup and a solid tuna sandwich (albeit with a liberal sprinkling of onions, too much for my taste). I also enjoyed the pancake I ordered, which was full of sweet bananas and thick pecan pieces.
My chicken and cherry tossed salad was full of fresh, mixed greens, and I thought the slightly sweet wildberry poppy seed dressing nicely complemented the pecans, cherries and chicken, though much of the chicken was dry, and some pieces were burnt.
We did encounter some disappointments. When my daughter performed her usual dissection of the smoked turkey and provolone sandwich she ordered, she found a spoiled piece of lettuce underneath, which she quickly discarded. The turkey was processed and overly salty. Sandwiches here could really benefit from some thick, crusty homemade bread. Though the frittata we ordered was supposed to be prepared with spinach, it was sparse. Overly salty, the dish was also overcooked.
My salmon scramble was far better, for a big egg lover with a huge appetite. Served in a deep souffle dish, it was moist and full of fresh-tasting salmon. The scrambled eggs my husband ordered on our second visit were also moist, but they were cold and unappetizing by the time they reached our table.
The potatoes served with our breakfast dishes were not homemade — they were the frozen variety, just tiny square morsels, bland and poorly seasoned. Mine were lukewarm by the time they arrived at our table. A great batch of homemade hash browns would add so much to the egg dishes.
Servers seem a bit harried here, and the customer experience suffered as a result. Though our servers were particularly pleasant on both visits, the first time around the food took quite a long time to appear. Soup, which should have come out first, was delivered with the main course. The second time, I needed to request water three times before the server brought it.
Cafe Marie still draws a crowd on the weekends. On both visits, it nearly reached its 105-person capacity. It's still a perfectly fine place to gather for breakfast and lunch food.