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Posted on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Grade your Ann Arbor Restaurant Week dining experience

By Kyle Mattson

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A couple dines at The Real Seafood Company located at 341 South Main Street in November. Courtney Sacco I

Twice a year, Ann Arbor eateries release specialized menus to entice eager diners to experience their culinary offering during restaurant week.

The 2013 winter edition features both longtime favorites as well as recent newcomers to the Ann Arbor dining scene. We'll be heading out to check out some of the highlights from the week, but wondering, what are you ordering, drinking, and trying out for the first time? With everything from BBQ to sushi there is no shortage of cuisine variety to choose from, so tell us your experience with the following information in the comments below:

  • Where you dined
  • The day you visited
  • What you ordered
  • Your overall grade (A-B-C-D-E)
  • An explanation of the grade

Do you have a photo to go along with your grade? Share it with us by using this form:



Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

We had a great meal and wonderful time eating at JOLLY PUMPKIN on Friday of RW. Out of several places visited that week, JP gave us more bang/value for our $28 dinner price. (Chop House wasn't anything outstanding!) We had a party of 4, enjoyed all of the entree's very much, interesting flavors and attention to detail on our beautiful plates was evident. We were too content to try the dessert we had our eyes on. We had an incredible wait person, Maureen. She could not have been any more pleasant, professional and accommodating. Two in our party had not had the pleasure of eating at JP prior to RW and she was very thoughtful at guiding them to the right beer, etc. The place was geared up for a busy Friday night with staffing and never did we feel rushed or less than very welcome. Congrats to Jolly Pumpkin for yet another memorable meal. See you soon!


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

Had lunch at Frita Batidos Monday with my neighbors. They got the 2-for-15 pulled pork sandwich. It looked delicious even though it appeared small for the price. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in the RW offerings as I was "single" and was told I could not not get the sandwich or other option for $7.50. Not wanting to pay the $10 for the regular pulled pork, I got the menu fish sandwich ($8), which was very good. Has anyone else experience the "single penalty"at RW week? Any places to suggest where I can get the 2-for-1 offerings without the single penalty would be nice. If not, RW website needs to warn participants to go in pairs, not parties of 3, 5, 7, etc. Overall grade C: neighbors enjoyed the pulled pork, but my experience was a bust.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

Too many nice resturants away from downtown, parking is close and free.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

Here is my overall feeling about RW. 1. It brings out the amateur crowd. They expect chain like mediocrity and want to pay fast food prices 2. The people who come ONLY come when there is a deal. They search high and low for Restaurant .com coupons or BOGO's, but then complain about poor service 3. In all businesses you can have two of the three things available. Great service, great quality, or great price. You can not have all three and stay in business for long. I generally choose great service and quality. If I can not afford to eat out and wait for a time I can, and I refuse to deal with the people RW usually brings in


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

This is in reply to m-wolverine. Since when is cooking the food not considered a service? A "good" restauranteur is instinctive about hiring good staff, front to back. A good restauranteur serves quality food and they usually pay for that quality in their hiring. It takes a specific skill to be a quality server. "Anyone" could probably do it but not anyone can do it well. There are many variables for having a successful restaurant but a good restauranteur knows what it takes and it's reflected by excellent service and quality food so therefore you do get what you pay for.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

How does service in any way influence quality or price? Service isn't cooking the food, so it doesn't change quality, and in the food industry there's no truth in service that you get what you pay for. I've had some of the worst service at fancy places and great service from the lowest paid servers. Or vice versa. There's no connection at all. So I guess I'd take a place that can do great quality for a great price, because anyone can train or hire good service. But I'm sure it sounded good when you read it somewhere.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:58 a.m.

My husband and I enjoyed the last RW at Raven's Club. We're both A2 newbies and this is a great excuse to try a new place. This evening (Monday) we had dinner at Cafe Felix: five "courses" for $28 a person. We each ordered a speciality cocktail to start: I got Pimm's Cup and he got Dark & Stormy: both were yummy! First came out a baguette with a combination of olive oil & balsamic vinegar for dipping. Next we had the option of chicken soup or tomato bisque: he got the bisque and I wish I had too because the chicken was just broth with one long noodle. Next came our choice of appetizer: I got the escargot. It was in a little phyllo dough purse with a creamy garlic sauce, quite tasty. Next came our choice of salad: I got the house which was mostly bitter greens - my favorite. For the entree I selected the Ahi Tuna - it was cooked & seasoned very nicely with hearty potatoes on the side. I chose the bread pudding for dessert - it was good but could have used more sweetness and/or booze in the sauce. Overall I enjoyed the French atmosphere and would give Cafe Felix an A-.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Thanks for the thorough review K M! Do you have any plans to try any other restaurants this week?


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

My wife and I went to Grizzly Peak on Tuesday for lunch. We order two of the entrees from the RW menu. I was surprised that none of the regular luncheon items were included as RW choices. I would give the food C+ but the service was a D. Waitstaff was really not interested in providing good service, which is too bad. I think when you have students as waitstaff, in general, and not professionals, the attitude issue will emerge. Overall, my wife and I like GP, but prefer the regular luncheon menu. I agree with other posters who said that not all restaurants take RW seriously, and in my view, instead substitute "cheaper" items, since the price is fixed, rather than take the opportunity to provide excellent menu offerings which will help bring in new customers.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:05 a.m.

I was about ready to say what Babs is saying, but I Guess JRW just likes to make stuff up.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 1:53 a.m.

Um, last Tuesday...was not even RW. It started yesterday and today is only Monday, so....?


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

An observation -- every restaurant that participates in the Detroit Restaurant Week has a vegetarian option. This is great as my husband and friends are not vegetarians, and I can go to any of the restaurants. Many of the restaurants (other than the "usual suspects") in Ann Arbor do not offer Restaurant Week vegetarian choices. I'd love it if Ann Arbor would adopt the Detroit model -- that way we could explore new places that aren't typically veggie-friendly. I might even consent to going to the Chop House during this week!


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

Dined at LENA on Sunday for lunch. Started with Bloody Marys and Plantain Tostones. Both were excellent. Got Cuban Sandwich and Chicken Adobo Sandwich as the 2 for $15 offering. Grade of A. Everything was superlative. Great food, great service, nice ambience. Definitely will go back! ------------------------- Dined at Grizzly Peak on Monday for lunch. Ordered Brewery Meatloaf Sandwich and Roasted Turkey Melt as 2 for $15 offering. Also had an Irish Stout to drink. Overall grade of B. Food was really good and beer was really good, but the waiter was cold and indifferent. Seemed like he wanted to be elsewhere. Attitude of the waiter kept it from being a great experience. During Restaurant Week you should be putting forth your best effort and making a GREAT impression. This is NOT a time to "phone it in". It's a golden opportunity. DON'T WASTE IT! Where you dined The day you visited What you ordered Your overall grade (A-B-C-D-E) An explanation of the grade


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Sorry - I copied the instructions as a guide and then forgot to remove them before I submitted it.

Rabid Wolverine

Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

My wife and I had dinner at Isalita last night. They have a dinner for $28 per person. It doesn't really matter what I ordered to be honest. The food was good, but it did not make up for $28 per person. Though for reference my wife had the Carne nachos and fish tacos. I had Coctel de Camarones and carnitas tacos. We both had the Tres Leches cake for desert. I find it hard to believe that Isalita will have the same success as Mani's. I just do not believe there is a niche for expensive Mexican food with so many inexpensive delicious alternative Mexican restaurants. This is the first and last time I will eat there. Too expensive.

lindsay erin

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

I have to agree with Rabid Wolverine. Dined at Isalita for RW on Sunday evening. The service was great; the flavors were decent. My date and I split the sopes and shrimp appetizers, and the chicken enchilada and tingas tacos as our entrees. The portions were absolutely tiny for the fixed $28 price. I'd consider giving this place another shot outside of RW, but I think they need to figure a few things out first.


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

We went to lunch yesterday and it was a rough start. We first went to Carlyle Grill but found after sitting down that they were not offering lunch despite no mention of that in the details on the RW page. Many other restaurants DID mention that - no idea why CG dropped the ball. We decided to go elsewhere. We called Heidelberg to make sure they were offering RW lunch. They said yes - I said we were on the way. Got there - door was locked - called and was told they didn't open until 3pm - 35 minutes later. I asked why they didn't mention that when I had called 10 minutes earlier and they seemed defensive, indifferent and made copious excuses. Went to LENA where we had a GREAT meal. Really good food, great service and a VERY satisfying experience. It will be a long time - if ever - before we go back to places that don't seem to care about their customers. Had lunch at Grizzly Peak on Monday and again had a very nice experience. Food was really good. Some restaurants don't seem to be taking RW very seriously and are doing nothing but damaging their brand and wasting a golden opportunity attract new customers.

St. Stephen

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 4:41 a.m.

NC -You've made some good points about restaurants taking RW seriously -- they should, if they decide to participate. However, over the years I've spoken with numerous restaurateurs who hate RW (both of 'em). I'm not sure they prefer to participate so much as feel they HAVE TO participate. Surely you know you're not getting the best of what many of these establishments can offer, simply because of the restrictions of the promotion. Since you "eat out in A2 all the time" you would know this. Plus, servers feel they're losing money during every RW because many customers tip based on the final bill w/o factoring the discount and don't come back without discounts. Of course you "always tip 15-20%" so if your server recognizes you from your many forays into the A2 dining scene, I'd be surprised if you're getting more than 15-20% of their effort and attention, as you are a discernible cheapskate. About the CG experience, there certainly is a RW lunch menu so wondering if you pointed this out to your server or spoke with a manager? Then you decide to go in search of German fare! Metzger's is just around the corner but you roll to Heidelberg in search of Sauerbraten and beer-in-a-boot. Whoops. This doesn't work out either, so you blame a miscommunication on one person when it clearly takes two. LENA: heard good things and you seem to be in agreement. But wondering if you owe a favor to a particular restaurateur? Your reviews lost credibility when you stated the food and (particularly) the beer at Grizzly was "really good." Ridiculous! Those guys have never been in the brewpub business for the beer and the Bear Paw porter would be better used to clean toilets than enhance any meal. Food at most of their restaurants can be decent (if cliche and overpriced) but GP and NP beers in particular are pure garbage and always have been. Getting Ron Jeffries on board was the smartest money JC's daddy ever spent for him! May as well goto Jolly Pumpkin and hav

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

Thanks for the reply Terry. I agree with you that if a restaurant is participating it should be an all out effort as if it falls short and the diner has a bad experience it not only paints that restaurant in a bad light but the entire r-week event as a whole.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:33 a.m.

Kyle - if I owned a restaurant in A2 I would take RW very seriously and use it as a marketing vehicle. I can certainly see restaurants opting out - or not participating - for a variety of reasons. If they aren't going to be 100% invested in the program they should avoid it totally rather than going into it with a half-hearted effort. Who doesn't need more customers and an increase in business?!? Is it really THAT much effort to participate in a program that drives people to your front door? If I owned a restaurant I would put out an appealing menu at a price point or value that provides an incentive to visit. I would instruct my staff to be on their best behavior and welcome the guests with warmth and enthusiasm so as to help make them want to return. I would provide food that stands out from the crowd, prepared with as much quality and care as I could possibly muster. In short - I would care enough to make the effort - and I would act like I care about attracting new customers. If someone has a restaurant and can't - or won't - work their butts off to build it up then why even be in business??? A2 has WAY too many choices to be offering a mediocre product.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 5:14 a.m.

SW - I live in A2 and I eat out in A2 all the time - not that it's any of your business. I always tip 15-20% - again not that it's any of your business. And what exactly does than even have to do with the post? Do you even think?!?

Stevens Mason

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 2:47 a.m.

From the way your post reads, sounds like you only eat out in Ann Arbor during RW... do you even tip??

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

Interesting closing thoughts there Terry regarding the different approaches to RW by the various restaurants. If you owned a restaurant downtown how would you approach the week? Would you even consider opting out like some have?


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

Went to the Taco Bell on West Stadium last night. The 7 layer burrito was sublime, and the Volcano taco certainly left an eruption in my stomach!

Dog Guy

Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

I trust you now are enjoying Squirrel Appreciation Day 2013 as well as last night's dinner. Clever of you to set up on the diag, where you don't have many vehicles to dodgedodedodgedodge. Do bicycles ever catch you unawares?

Susie Q

Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

I had lunch today at Metzger's with my husband. They have a great two for $15.00 special. He enjoyed sauerbraten and potato salad and I ordered the pretzel encrusted whitefish with spatzen. Both were excellent. We both ordered the bread pudding w/ vanilla sauce for dessert. Lunch was served with the customary dark bread. While the portions were not huge, it was certainly more than enough for us. I give it an A........but we always LOVE Metzger's.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

Pretzel encrusted whitefish...that sounds like my kind of combination. I'll have to try cooking that up at home (fish is my personal specialty). What sides was it served with?


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

went to R.U.B. last night. Did the math on the regular menu prices and found that the restaurant week "menu" had no savings over just picking off the regular menu.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Hi Rizzle, E would be the same as an F (E is the more commonly used letter in most Michigan schools to denote the lowest level of the grading scale).


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

based on the deceptive and confusing pricing, D. based on the actual food/value perhaps a B. What is an E?


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

Went to Melange last night and it was great! I had a great meal--there was something vegan for every course--and great service! The mushroom polenta was outstanding! When i told them we were vegetarian, they made us each a bean taco rather than the duck nachos they were giving out as a sort of "amuse bouche." That sort of thing never happens to be sure! The price seemed fair even though we got the cheaper offerings(according to the menu price): epcially when you consider the pretzel bread with mustard sauce we were given--man that was good! I give them an A.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

So glad you posted this! This is the one restaurant I have reservations to this week.

Sandy Herold

Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

We dined at Connor O'Neils and had a great experience. We chose their 2 for $28 dinner and I had the Fisherman's Pie and my husband had Fish and Chips which were both excellent. We especially liked the appetizer and dessert samplers.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

This sounds like a great deal. I want to check it out. I've also never eaten the food at Conors!