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Posted on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

Quarter Bistro remains a reliable dining destination

By Julie Halpert

Whenever I drive by The Quarter Bistro & Tavern during evening hours, I notice that the parking lot has few available spots. "We have a huge following of regular guests," says Terry Martin, the restaurant's general manager. He says the secret of Quarter Bistro's long-term success is appealing to as many people as possible. The restaurant "is upscale, but has something for everybody," he said.

It's a massive space inside, complete with a warm, dimly lit main area that reminds me of a cozy family room. There are hardwood floors throughout and booths the color of chocolate, as well as a long bar off to the side, and private rooms. A large space to the right, the sun room (where the Sunday brunch is held) is cheerful, though floor-to-ceiling windows make it a bit chilly this time of year. I prefer the main dining room, especially since the intimate, high-backed booths offer more privacy and are spacious enough to fit a large dining party.

When I first visited Quarter Bistro when it opened in 2005, I was impressed, and I have continued to frequent it through the years, consistently pleased with the quality of the food. Though many of the dishes are decidedly upscale, what I most appreciate about Quarter Bistro is an atmosphere and menu that caters to all ages. That's because of the wide range of items on the menu, including two entrees — the chicken and shrimp jambalaya and rosemary chicken — that are listed as gluten free.

You can choose from first-rate food ranging from inexpensive sandwiches to pricey meat entrees. Many of the dishes have a creole accent in keeping with the overall New Orleans theme. And though the ambiance has a fancy feel, the dress is casual.


The Quarter Bistro &Tavern
300 S. Maple Road, Ann Arbor
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., bar is open until midnight; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover.
  • Liquor: Yes
  • Prices: Moderate to expensive. Sandwiches are in the $11-$14 range; Entrees are in the $18-$20 range.
  • Noise level: Moderate
  • Wheelchair access: Yes.
We started our dinner with creamy hummus and delicious warm bread. The most popular items are highlighted in gray on the menu. We ordered one of them: the tempura popcorn chicken, which had a crispy exterior, but was moist inside. It was served piping hot with two sauces, a ginger soy and sweet chili sauce. Each sauce provided a different—but equally effective—accent to the chicken. I appreciated the sprinkling of onion crisps on the dish, which tasted like miniature onion rings. The other appetizer we ordered, the bistro bruschetta, was visually appealing. The base was toasted and had a crouton consistency.

We also sampled the tender Ahi tuna tartar, which was quite good, brimming with a bouquet of flavor from capers, garlic, serrano pepper, lemon juice and rice vinegar. However, it was served on a layer of extremely spicy horseradish vinaigrette sauce. In order to mitigate the powerful taste, we had to slice off the tuna from the top. It would make sense to provide the sauce on the side, to apply it in more modest amounts. The tuna also came with a delicious mini wonton quiche.

The presentation of the food is artful and eye-catching. All dishes are served on sparking white china, with brightly colored drizzles along the side. The pastry chefs turn desserts into art, with syrups and caramels that form complex designs.

When I'm looking for just a light dish here, I always opt for the bistro salad, so simple, yet made with fresh ingredients that meld impeccably well: greens tossed with Gorgonzola cheese, grapes, cranberries, raisins, walnuts and pecans, drizzled with a light, champagne truffle vinaigrette. Many of the salads are available in a smaller size.

The five onion soup, prepared with Spanish and red Bermuda onions, leeks, shallots, green onions and a mixture of gruyere, Swiss, and provolone cheese, was a perfect dish on a cold winter's night, since it was so hearty. My daughter enjoyed her well-seasoned French fries and turkey grill, full of fresh turkey, though the sourdough bread tasted like bland white bread. I imagine that pieces of thick, crunchy homemade bread would be a better alternative.

If it's hearty entrees you're after, Quarter Bistro has many to choose from that are creative and outstanding. The richest was my son's pick: bacon wrap fillets. Bacon was wrapped around a juicy fillet, which, in combination with red wine and a demi-glace sauce, added an innovative smoky sweetness that complemented the meat perfectly. The mashed potatoes with the dish were rich and creamy.

Butternut ravioli, which my husband routinely orders here, is similarly rich. Big puffy pillows of ravioli are saturated with a sweet, heavy cream sauce. This dish is not for the calorie counters. I opted for less dense fare, shrimp and scallops portofino, another highlighted dish. The light cream and white wine demi-glace brings out the bold taste of the fresh shrimps and plump scallops. I was disappointed with the spinach side dish, which tasted bland and would have benefited from a sauce or more seasoning.

Don't pass up the desserts here. We ordered both the toffee mousse cake and the tuxedo mousse, which were both great but tasted almost identical to each other. The only noticeable difference was that the tuxedo mousse contained white as well as dark chocolate. The white chocolate raspberry cheesecake was truly outstanding, with a thin chocolate cookie crust, a creamy filling and a nice touch of coconut on top.

We had an extremely pleasant server who was prepared to provide guidance and recommendations. Our food was delivered in a respectable amount of time, but not so quickly that we felt rushed.

Sometimes restaurants that start out with a bang fizzle over time, resting on their laurels. That is not the case with Quarter Bistro. It remains, hands down, one of my favorite dining destinations in Ann Arbor.

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Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for



Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

I'm surprised Terry Martin is in charge of a restaurant again after his stint at Melange


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

I cant eat 19 dollars worth of food at breakfast.Wow.And I dont like Art on a plate establishments so I will leave this place to you people that like it


Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

I love the Quarter Bistro. My husband and I eat at this restaurant regularly and we love their food, service, menu variety and atmosphere. We often bring friends and out-of-town guests with us because we know they will also appreciate the great food and atmosphere as much as we do. The Quarter Bistro never disappoints us.

Lynn Liston

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Quartre Bistro is one of my favorite restaurants. I have never had a bad meal or poor service. I even like meeting up with colleagues and friends in the bar, and I am not usually a bar person, but this one has a friendly ambiance and great music. Besides, you can get really good catfish beignets with remoulade sauce to go with your drinks. Their brunch is one of the best around. Plus- free, plentiful parking!


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Though some may have a bad experience now and then ANYWHERE, overall, this is a great restaurant and the special themed brunch menus intrigue me as well. I also appreciate the things they do for the community. They welcome area organizations for fundraiser nights (i.e. Feb. 21st for Washtenaw Literacy, or the rabbit sanctuary in the past) and create specific menus for the vegan/veg-friendly meetup folks. I just wish it wasn't so expensive so I could go more often!

Blue Marker

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 3:14 a.m.

Try the Chicken Parmesan, it's delicious!

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

Shock! Conspiracy theories quickly spreading regarding advertising spend & preferential coverage...


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Can anyone vouch for or against their brunch?

Lynn Liston

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

Brunch is outstanding, one of the very best in the area. A bit pricey at $19 but worth it as the food is prepared and presented as carefully and with same attention to detail as the main menu.

Boo Radley

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

Their brunch is very good, if a bit pricey at $19.00/person. But it does have a lot of variety and different and more upscale types of dishes than typically offered at a buffet around here. Each week is a different theme or country for the brunch, so check what is coming up in case a particular theme is not to your liking.

Susan Montgomery

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

Food has always been good when I've gone, enjoyable dinners. There's a misspelling in both the photos and the main text: "Tartar" should be "tartare."


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

Am I the first person that gets to say "Bring back Mountain Jacks"?


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

I agree with Radlib2. Every day I see the Quarter Bistro advertising on this website, and now they get the best review I have ever read on this page? Let me tell you what I think about The Quarter Bistro. They have a menu that is stuck in the 80's with a mid level product. Everyone has their own opinion, and I don't know what your motives are. I just find it a bit suspect. There are things that I love about the establishment that have nothing to do with food. It is a Westside regular spot to drink.

Kellie Woodhouse

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6 p.m.

I have never been to Quarter, but it's clear I really need to try them out. I hear their brunch buffet is tasty.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:01 p.m.

Still a restaurant I need to try, also!


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

They are a marginal restaurant that advertises heavily on Infer what you will.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Fair enough. Who am I to impute one's motives or question one's taste.

Bob Needham

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

She wrote what she believes.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

Then how could this restaurant get on of the best reviews I've ever seen? Either their is a connection, or the reviewer really, truly believes that the Quarter Bistro is one of the very best restaurants around.

Bob Needham

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Just for the record, there is absolutely no connection between our advertising and our restaurant reviews.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

I like their food here, but the service in my experience has been consistently bad. Poor attitude waitstaff and long wait times for food are usually what I have dealt with.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

I go there often, it has remained consistent since its opening


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

I like me some quarter bistro, they also have a pretty good happy hour. Now cue the comments about a restaurant getting free advertising on