Frugal Friday at Ayse's Cafe - enjoy a treat for the senses without breaking the bank
Mary Bilyeu | Contributor
Ayse [EYE-shuh], the owner and cook, is Turkish, and she makes luscious food that is distinctly different than anything you've eaten before. Yes, there is familiarity if you've eaten Middle Eastern or Greek food; but the spice blends and ingredients are unique to Turkey.
The cuisine has been greatly influenced by the country's situation between both Europe and Asia, surrounded by such diverse neighbors as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria; it is also bordered by the Aegean, Black and Mediterranean Seas.
There are also boreks, vegetarian or meat "pies" made with phyllo dough, which cost $3.95. And small sausage-shaped lentil rolls can be enjoyed for only $1. A multitude of desserts is available, from brownies to yogurt cake to pumpkin and carrot-walnut treats (prices vary), in addition a variety of puddings for just $3.25. You can enjoy a simple, creamy rice pudding or the Turkish favorite — Noah's pudding — which features grains and dried fruits.
Marcie, unfortunately, suffers from a number of food-related allergies, intolerances, and other miseries; she is a fabulous cook and a consummate food enthusiast, and yet, eating has become difficult for her. Much to the restaurant's credit, Ayse and her staff truly took personal care of Marcie and made sure to help her sort out what items she could enjoy.
The cafe offers many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes which accommodate customers with special diets. Our waitresses went back and forth repeatedly to find answers about ingredients and to ask questions of Marcie to narrow down some options so that she could eat a fabulous meal.
It was great fun to sit and talk about food — from the novelty of black rice to Southern matzah balls made with Creole spices and pecans — with two women who are integral to Ann Arbor's food community. Marcie is the charming hostess who offers walking and tasting tours of the city with Savor Ann Arbor; and Stacy is the extraordinary cook and visionary behind What's Cooking, which lets customers order healthy, freshly prepared meals for delivery. To enjoy a luscious dinner with such fabulous company was a great treat!
Ayse's Cafe is bright and cheerful, offering tremendous hospitality and amazing food. You can indulge in many exceptional items there without breaking your budget.
1703 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Lunch: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., Monday through Friday
Dinner: 5 - 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Mary Bilyeu writes about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions: email@example.com.
You should also visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related. The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.
The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.
Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.
One of Ann Arbor's best holes in the wall... I adore this place!
Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 2:34 a.m.
I have enjoyed everything I've ever eaten at Ayse's, from soups to salads to entrees to desserts. Fabulous food!
Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.
I don't live anywhere near this cafe and, as a consequence, have not been to Ayse's in some time. But I have been thinking about returning since my meals there in the past always were very good to excellent and, as you noted in your article, the staff was always friendly and accommodating. Dating back to 12/2010, Ayse's has had a total of 5 Health Dept. violations, none of them critical. That's 5 noncritical violations in 3 inspections. While not perfect (although pretty close), that is the sort of attention to food safety detail and respect for the customer I admire. I will be eating there very soon.
Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.
Even if you don't live close by, the trip to Ayse's is SO worth it! Fabulous food, warm and welcoming service, excellent inspections ... did I say fabulous food??? It is so, so good!