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Posted on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 8:24 a.m.

Eat comes into its own, offering creative and quality take-out fare

By Julie Halpert

You just walked in from work on a hectic weeknight and are staring at an empty refrigerator while your kids scream, "What's for dinner? I'm starving!" To their astonishment, you respond that you'll be serving coq au vin, a roasted vegetable salad, grilled polenta and brownies for dessert — and that it will be ready in 20 minutes.

This scenario is now reality, thanks to an innovative new carry-out option, eat, which opened in November, and began as one of Mark's Carts before graduating into its own space.

Owners Helen Harding and Blake Reetz have spruced up the building, adding a giant fork pointing to the word "eat" on the exterior and painting the interior walls a warm green. They've provided a small table along with some stools for eating at the counter, though this is primarily a carry-out space.


1906 Packard, Ann Arbor
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

  • Plastic: American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover.

  • Liquor: No.

  • Prices: Inexpensive to moderate. Sandwiches are $7-$8. Entrees are $16.

  • Value: Very good.

  • Noise level: Quiet.

  • Wheelchair access: Yes.

Eat specializes in healthful, locally grown food, and you feel better about yourself just reading the menu. Each day there are new specialties, consisting of hearty main-course comfort food, in the "supper" category, soups, sandwiches, salads and side dishes.

The number of vegetarian options varies, depending on the day's menu. On our first visit, there were several main-course choices, hearty entrees that could satisfy a vegetarian who craves something more substantial than just a salad or a side of vegetables. But on the second visit, there were no vegetarian meal entrees except for the grilled eggplant sandwich, so if you shun meat, it's best to check the menu in advance.

The vegetables — and the innovative way they were prepared — provided most of the highlights. This started with the roasted vegetable salad, where leafy greens along with parsnips, potatoes and chunks of delicious beets and goat cheese were tossed in a slightly sweet balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The house salad resembled a Caesar, with fresh shaved parmesan and homemade croutons.

I could have made a meal of the vegetables that accompanied the coq au vin, especially the fresh spinach. The vegetarian sandwich of the day, grilled eggplant, was wonderful. I especially liked the addition of the tomato jam, with a sweetness that resembled chutney and nicely complemented the eggplant.

The melding of grilled polenta with tomato ragout also made for a great dish. Tomatoes also were a standout in the dense, delicious tomato bisque soup that came with thick, crunchy homemade croutons.

Of all the meat dishes we ordered, the Korean barbecue beef was my favorite. Served on a fresh Avalon bun, the Asian seasonings brought life to the wonderful beef. I enjoyed the addition of kimchi, which added a crunchy element.

On my first visit, the server was giving away ginger cookies that had an appealing sugary sweetness along with a soft texture. As a chocoholic, though, I preferred the fudgy brownies which tasted just-baked. And I happily took the last chewy chocolate chip cookie on my second visit.

Though every dish we sampled was clearly made with the highest quality ingredients, there were some weaknesses. The bread that accompanied the entrees didn't taste fresh. The chicken in the coq au vin seemed fatty, and the sauce didn't include the mushrooms that were part of the menu description. The grilled chicken salad was a healthful but bland.

You pay for the high quality here. While sandwiches are in the $8 range, chips are extra, and main courses, also served a la carte, are $16.

The place was staffed with young people who brimmed with cheerful enthusiasm. My food was ready when I arrived on both visits.

Not everything on the menu is a hit, but I have confidence that the staff of this place want to get it right. With further tweaking on some of the items, eat, in offering such a variety of unusual, healthful items that surpass many traditional carry-out establishments , has the potential to resonate with the Ann Arbor clientele.

Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for



Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

"You pay for the high quality here." Fine with me. Plus, in this town, an $8 sandwich is not out of line. This review and the photos make me eager to get here; I certainly enjoyed them at Mark's Carts.

Mike D.

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Kudos to Chris Asadian. These are lovely photos. It's nice to see there are still photographers out there aware of the fact that a camera isn't an iPhone app.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5 a.m.

The photos of the food ARE beautiful. Very glad to know about a new place with take-out that looks so good.

Mike D.

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

We've gotten food at Eat a few times and it's always been great. It's notably better in flavor balance and quality than the vast majority of so-called upscale restaurants in town. And the staff is unfailingly friendly and accommodating. Sadly, much of the food is pretty rich and my pants are on the cusp of not fitting already, so I have been avoiding the temptation in the new year.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

It think it is great they have expanded their hours to 8 p.m. (consider updating the time in the article's sidebar) I have been to eat a few times since they have opened. They never disappoint. I am glad to see a new restaurant raising the bar of food being offered in Ann Arbor.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

Korean BBQ is good, but their BLT is outstanding. $8-ish is a very fair price to pay - 5x quality of sandwiches at DiBella's, Potbelly, Subway.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

Now open until 8, I believe.

Chrissie George

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

I haven't gotten a chance to stop by the new location, but I can give a wonderful review for EAT's catering. EAT catered our wedding, and it was spectacular. We've had friends and family raving about their food since August. Helen and Blake were not only great to work with that day, but so easy and comfortable during each planning stage. I honestly can't say enough for how fantastic they were!

rusty shackelford

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

This place looks great, but a health-inspection tip for Ms. Harding: once food has been cooked, you shouldn't be touching it without sterile gloves on.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

Wow rusty, how did any of us ever survive restaurant dining before the requirement of gloves in this state just 7 short years ago? And trust me, you're free to taste food that's prepared in a commercial kitchen. Any chef that doesn't isn't doing his/her job.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

And why would he be leaning over the bin of soup when he's sampling? The photos of their food handling really turned me off.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

You're also not supposed to eat in the kitchen.

Matt Sussman

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Anyone else think of the MST3K episode "Girl in Gold Boots" when they heard of a restaurant named Eat?

Jim Toy

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Thanks for this review! I look forward to checking out "Eat" - or checking "Eat" out. Also - I'm lazy - it would be helpful to list cross streets in reviews so I don't have to go to MapQuest or the business's website or another source for information, or risk getting into an accident when I'm looking for address numbers while I'm driving.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

I would love to try eat but my work schedule keeps me from getting there before 7pm. I wish they were open a little longer...

Skylar Woodman

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Yep, Eat is now open until 8, and in my experience even if you get there right at closing the folks will glady accommodate you, even dining in.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

I think they're now open until 8!

Tom Teague

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

I've enjoyed the four meals I've had at Eat (including the coq au vin which, the night I ordered it, featured a generous helping of mushrooms). It's a great addition to the neighborhood and to the local restaurant scene. Not only that, Patsy Cline was playing on their music system last time I was there which was a perfect match for the pork confit sandwich I ordered.