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Posted on Mon, Jan 25, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week reviews from around the Internet

By Edward Vielmetti

Last week was Restaurant Week in downtown Ann Arbor. By all accounts the event was positive for local restaurants who participated, and it generated a few reviews from people who visited places for the first time.

Here's a review roundup of sorts, with accounts of visits to Blue Nile and Gratzi. I'll share my secret lunch specials that are good year-round, and we end with a bit of sour grapes from A2Politico and restaurant weeks elsewhere around the country.

Unadvertised specials

The two for $12 lunch special is an every day occurrence for a number of restaurants that have regular prices like that. Indeed, there's an entire category on Arborwiki - Lunch under 5 dollars - where frugal diners share tips on eating out on the cheap.

I enjoyed a two for $12 lunch at the Fleetwood Diner, where I got my usual (the #5, "green eggs and ham") and my youthful companion had a hamburger. The cost of the meal included strong diner coffee and a nice tip.

Another good two-fer deal can be had at Sottini's Sub Shop, where a 16 inch hot #1 sub goes for about $8. Divide it in two with your lunch companion and you each eat for $4.

I spoke to the Fleetwood's proprietor and explained to him about Restaurant Week; he entertained the notion that they should do it next year, since they could do a 3 for $25 dinner and still come out ahead.

Blue Nile

The 食べ物 eXploZion Weblog (食べ物 is “food” in Japanese) is mostly an Asian recipe Weblog, written by University of Michigan student TabzChewy (Tabia Chui). She went to eat at the Ethopian restaurant Blue Nile.

I also enjoyed the vegetable sides, one of which was gomen, “chopped collard greens cooked with onions, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and spices” and the other, which was defen yemisir alecha, “Lentils harmoniously blended with onions, spices, and herbs.” I’m the type that could go without lentils, but I tried it and thought it was rather enjoyable. The collard greens side was wonderful though. Because the ZilZil Wat is intense in flavor, the slight bitterness from the collard greens also offset the spices a bit to give the person eating a bit of a “break”.

The review included a report on value:

Overall, Blue Nile was a fairly positive dining experience. The only thing I might be miffed about was the cost of about $2 for a small cup of tea…will avoid that in the future, but the dishes themselves were relatively satisfying and the nice service also provided a nice atmosphere for casual diners.


Founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1999, SHEI Magazine is a global fashion, arts, design and pop-culture magazine produced by University of Michigan students in collaboration with members of the Ann Arbor community. Its food review was for the downtown Italian restaurant Gratzi for lunch.

The second course was a choice between three entrées. I ordered the pasta dish, which was disk-shaped pasta with broccolini and Italian sausage. The best thing about the pasta was that it was not covered in a heavy sauce but it still had really good flavor. The Italian sausage, while a little spicy, was not overwhelming to the tongue.

Bottom line: a great meal and a good portion to boot.


A2Politico is a local political blog that occasionally strays into other social commentary, especially if it presents an opportunity to dump out bile and venom on the local scene. Their take on the whole Restaurant Week - The Politics of Food: Ann Arbor Restaurant Week Hype? Caveat Emptor, Epicurians - skewers the entire thing:

So, am I just a cheapskate, or is $25 bucks for dinner per person way too rich for your blood, as well? If we take the tots (crazy, I know) that’s $100 for dinner for four during Restaurant Week. I wrote in an earlier post about eating at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California last summer and how Alice Waters’ restaurant made me painfully aware of exactly how over-priced and badly cooked meals in our local restaurants can actually be. Chez Panisse completely destroyed my ability to rationalize paying $17-$30 for an entreé at any local restaurant in our town.

Despite this, they think that the lunch deal is really a deal, if they only had a friend to share with it:

You’ll find A2P and the one friend I have left since starting this blog having lunch at the Old Town, Seva and Conor O’Neill’s next week! Join us, why don’t you?

Restaurant week elsewhere

The New York City restaurant week runs Jan. 25 through Feb. 7. Enjoy $24.07 lunch and $35 dinner at over 260 restaurants.

The first Kansas City Restaurant Week is offering $15 for lunch and $30 for dinner, with 10% of the price of each multi-course meal purchased going to local food bank Harvesters to help fight hunger in the Kansas City community.

DineLA's Los Angeles Restaurant Week is two weeks long - LA is a bigger city - and prices vary by restaurant from the $16 "deluxe dining" lunch to the $44 "fine dining" dinner.

Edward Vielmetti eats lunch for Reach him at 734-330-2465.


Ingrid Ault

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

Just an observation about the $2 cup of small tea at The Blue Nile. At a recent visit I, too, had the tea and my cup was filed over and over. Plus, I loved the vegetarian dishes.

Anna Mae Trievel

Mon, Jan 25, 2010 : 11:56 a.m.

I reviewed my experiences at Melting Pot & Webers Inn as Adult Night Out options on my Preschoolers Site - I also mentioned Conor O'Neil's for restaurant week in my blog post: