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Posted on Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Top 5: Menus to try for Ann Arbor Restaurant Week

By Jessica Webster


Pan fried walleye with hand-pressed onion broth, shallot, brandade, and apple at Vellum.

Daniel Brenner I

Today marks the launch of Ann Arbor’s Restaurant Week, and with 56 participating restaurants offering fixed price menus through Friday night, the choices can seem overwhelming.

Never fear. After combing through the menus on, I’ve put together a list of five restaurants with interesting, creative menus. Each of these restaurants is one where I have dined recently and enjoyed the experience, so I am confident that they’ll deliver the goods this week.

1. Vellum, 209 S. Main
I was impressed last week when chef and owner Peter Roumanis served up a simple anchovy on brioche for Taste of Ann Arbor. To me, it shows his dedication to deep flavors and his refusal to talk down to his customer. His Restaurant Week menu reflects this point of view as well, with interesting combinations like a carrot-parsnip soup with gingerbread and a game terrine with sour cherry, apple and sweet pistachio.

2. Chela’s Restaurant & Taqueria, 669 S. Maple Road
Located at the intersection of S. Maple and E. Liberty, Chela’s is a little bit off the beaten path, but it’s worth the short drive for flavorful food at a reasonable price point. Main Street Area Association director Maura Thomson tells me that the owners are excited to be participating and have added special items to the menu just for Restaurant Week. I’m anxious to try the green chili with pork and potatoes and the jicima and spicy corn salad. Worth noting: both lunch and dinner options have two-for-one pricing at Chela’s.

3. Cafe Zola, 112 W. Washington St.
Cafe Zola is a late addition to the lineup, but its menu looks anything but hurried. The choices for appetizers include sauteed ground lamb with a roasted red pepper and yogurt sauce, and sauteed Spanish baby octopus with olive tapenade and lemon saffron aioli. This longtime local and visitor favorite should do well during this, its first foray into Restaurant Week.

4. Logan, 115 W. Washington Street
Logan regularly makes appearances in the Zagat guide’s roundups of the best restaurants in Metro Detroit, but I’m often surprised to discover how many of my friends haven’t ventured into this cheerfully colored restaurant. This year’s menu has some new choices, including seared salmon in a delicate coconut milk sauce. While you’re there, ask for a wine pairing from sommelier Kevin Hobart. The restaurant has a great by-the-glass list, and Kevin has a special knack for picking just the right one for each meal.

5. Pacific Rim, 114 W. Liberty Street
The sheer number of mouth-watering choices is what landed this fusion restaurant on my list. From the crab cake with cilantro-lime sauce to the dreamy coconut-green curry soup to the staff favorite Korean marinated ribeye, there’s much to love on this menu.

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week is sponsored by the Main Street Area Association and runs Sunday through Friday this week, with 56 area restaurants offering special multi-course lunch and/or dinner menus. Prices run $15 per person for lunch and $28 per person for dinner, with many locations offering two-for-one pricing. Reservations can be made directly with each restaurant. More information can be found at

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for, a part of the MLive Media Group. Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

I went to Vellum last night for RW and it was delicious! I think sometimes the problem with RW is food is prepared in masse and the best dishes aren't always on the menu. At times the waiters just want to rush you out the door in favor of tables that don't care about discounts. I thought this was not at all the case with Vellum. There was so much care and creativity with each dish and the waitstaff was awesome, pleasantly and carefully explaining each item. I had the half chicken with a mushroom sauce I'm told takes two hours to prepare and the dessert I had was an oddly satisfying combo of flavors, including caramel ice cream, raspberry or cherry sorbet, foie gras and candied bacon. Yum! I would definitely recommend.

jim c

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Isn't there a proofreader/editor actually employed by Ann There is hardly a day that goes by that by without someone pointing out a spelling/gramatical eror. (on purpose).

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Yes, we have copy editors on staff.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:49 a.m.

Prickly Pear 2 for 1....I'm eating there every day for the next week.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 4:20 a.m.



Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

I'm sitting at the bar at Zola right now and the lamb chops are incredible! The Spanish Octopus appetizer delicious!

Urban Sombrero

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 12:50 a.m.

I have heard nothing but good reviews about Chela's. My kids have gone with my ex-inlaws and loved it. And a patient of mine told me he thinks it's the best Mexican in this area, hand's down. I am definitely going to have to make it a point to eat there soon.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

"Pan fried walleye with hand-pressed onion broth, shallot, brandade, and apple at Vellum." I don't think I've ever read a more pretentious description on any menu. Sort of sums up the restaurant scene in AA.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 3:35 a.m.

Spot on. I had this dish shortly after Vellum opened. It tasted like nothing. "Subtle" my you-know-what. As far as the Taste of Ann Arbor offering: sounds like the "chef" served up some cured fish--that he didn't cook--on some bread--that he didn't cook. Yeah. I'm impressed.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

Actually Vellum is a refreshingly different restaurant in Ann Arbor. Perhaps a little more "state of the art" than others. Not pretentious, just descriptive.

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Great list! I still haven't tried Logan and I really want to check it out. It's cool how many restaurants are participating in RW now.

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

Update: Just made my Cafe Zola reservation for Friday night. I'll let you know how it goes!

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

Yeah, it's nice. I am considering trying Cafe Zola- it's their first time on the list I think.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Sorry, Jessica, but I just have to tell you -- it's SHEER number (as in utter, absolute, unmitigated), not "shear" (as in haircut) number. Minor quibble? Maybe, but if you're a reporter you have to care about how you use words, right?


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

@judy, yohan, and Tiny, will you guys stop picking on Jessica?!?!

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

How do you know I'm not pacing and biting my nails in anticipation? What if I run out of gas before I make it to the restaurant? What if they run out of guacamole?


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

It's a tough job, Judy, but someone has to do it. And in that light, I give you . . . "I'm anxious to try.." from the Chela's paragraph. Having seen these menus, I myself would be anxious to try them, but I believe the intrepid author meant to say she was "eager to try".


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 6:57 a.m.

Jessica, while you are in the mood for corrections please change the E. before Liberty to a W.

Jessica Webster

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

For what it's worth, my Thanksgiving column from 2010 had an even more ridiculous error. I referred to "friend wantons" when I meant "fried wontons."

Jessica Webster

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Ha, yes, you are absolutely correct and I very much care about how words are used. Mortified here, even too embarrassed to try a weak joke about sheep. I'll make that correction. Thanks for pointing it out.


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 3 p.m.

No need to be nasty...


Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Chela's is one of my favorites in this area. Every time I go in there they seem to be busier and busier. Show them some love this week!


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 5:20 a.m.

Totally different class of food. You go to Chela's for authentic taqueria fare at great prices. Prickly Pear is more for Tex-mex with a gourmet touch, although somewhat overpriced in my opinion.


Mon, Jun 10, 2013 : 4:24 a.m.

Whole black beans served in a little styrofoam cup and lukewarm food served on paper plates served here cannot come close to the class at the Prickly Pear.