Breakfast at Nico and Vali’s Italian Eatery, Plymouth, MI

After having such a great sandwich at Nico and Vali’s the other week, I had to go back for breakfast. I ordered a caramel latte ($3), their strawberry and marscapone crepe ($4.95) and a side of hash browns($1.50). Each place that serves espresso seems to have a different level of sweetness when it comes to flavored drinks. The caramel latte at Nico and Vali’s was a little weak in the sugar department for me, but it was still a quality coffee drink. The crepe was nicely presented dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with chocolate sauce and served with a cup of seasonal fresh fruit. The creamy marscapone filling had a nice sweetness with a hint of lemon. The fruit cup was a mix of strawberries, grapes, honeydew and cantaloupe; each piece of fruit was extremely fresh. The hash browns were simple crispy squares of potato. They were not at all greasy or overcooked. I was a little disappointed that only one crepe came with my order after seeing the size of my husband’s personal frittata ($6.25) which also included toast and hash browns in the price, but the prices are still fairly reasonable for a more unique breakfast selection.
The server we had for breakfast was a had less personality than the friendly and knowledgeable waiter we had on the our previous visit for lunch, but service was still efficient.
Remembering their exceptional ciabatta bread I had on a great sandwich a few weeks ago I picked up a loaf ($3.50) on the way out. I made a simple garlic bread with it for dinner the next night and the texture and flavor of the bread was just as good as I had remembered.
We’ll have to make a trip back soon to try out their dinner menu!

Great Plains Buger Company,
Ann Arbor, MI

It’s nice to have choices in Ann Arbor when you want a quality, non-greasy burger and fries. Great Plains Burger Company on Plymouth Road knows how to keep it simple and get it right. I also love that they’re part of the restaurant trend to support local companies and farmers.
We stopped in this past weekend and I went for their somewhat-new-to-the-menu turkey burger with BBQ sauce, sauteed mushrooms and tomato. I also split their regular basket of fries and a strawberry shake with my husband. I had the beef burger the first time I came to Great Plains and it’s very good, but when I’m looking for something a little healthier I can’t say I’ve had better turkey burger meat at a restaurant than here. It’s nicely seasoned and very moist. The only small downside for me… and please don’t kill me Ann Arborites… is the Zingerman’s bun. I’m a fan of Zingerman’s, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think the texture of this particular bun works for a burger. The outside crust is a bit chewy and isn’t soft enough for me. It seems like a nice grilled Kaiser roll would do the trick.
I’m happy to say that the fries at Great Plains have really improved since the first time I stopped in. On my initial visit the fries weren’t quite cooked all the way through, but I knew they had strong potential once the “first month kinks” were worked out. On the last two visits the fries have been stellar! Hand-cut and fried when you order they are consistently salted with just the right amount. I strongly argue that they are now better than Bagger Dave’s fries (coming from me that’s saying a lot!).
The homemade shakes at Great Plains are also fabulous. I’ve had the vanilla and strawberry versions, both are highly addictive! They’re thick and creamy. You can really taste the quality of the local Guernsey ice cream they use.
Make a trip to the north side of Ann Arbor next time you’re in the mood for a burger!

Nico and Vali’s Italian Eatery, Plymouth, MI

A little taste of Italy is only as far as Plymouth, MI if you head to Nico and Vali Italian Eatery! We stopped in for lunch this past weekend on my brother’s recommendation. The first time I drove by this Italian deli/eatery I saw its sophisticated high end exterior and misinterpreted it as an upscale restaurant I would go to on a special occasion. If it weren’t for my brother’s suggestion I would have thought it too rich for my blood, but am thrilled to find out I was mistaken!
You are initially greeted by the beautiful deli counter and market area. There are a variety of delicious looking Italian deli salads, including artichoke and pasta salads and some tempting traditional desserts. The menu board includes Italian entree staples like lasagna, gnocchi and eggplant parmigiana. Nico and Vali’s also has an extensive selection of espresso drinks.
When we stopped in for lunch on Saturday we were greeted warmly at the counter and seated promptly. The young men serving customers that day were very friendly and knowledgeable about the food.
I decided on the grilled zucchini panini with portabello mushrooms and provolone cheese on fresh ciabatta bread. The grilled vegetables were perfectly seasoned, the cheese gooey and delicious and bread was fabulous! The house-made ciabatta, recommended by the server, had a wonderfully crispy exterior, chewy interior and great flavor. The sandwich came with the deli’s signature chips that my husband claimed to be more addictive with every bite. I sampled a bite of his meatball panini with marinara sauce on Italian bread. You could really taste the herbs in the tomato sauce and the meatballs were nice and tender. The Italian bread was good, but I would still vote for the ciabatta myself.
The only small negative I have to note was the lack of fresh brewed iced tea. I’m only surprised because they brew fresh hot tea and even chai. I have to give a nod to the waiter though for letting me know when I ordered that the iced tea was from the tap. I always appreciate when people can appreciate the difference.
The owner stopped by our table to ask how lunch was when we finished. It’s always nice to see people taking pride in their business. Being able to put a face on a small business is one of the enjoyable experiences about eating at a place like Nico and Vali.
I’ll be back in soon to share on their breakfast and dinner entrees. Prices are very reasonable and the food and service are terrific.

Harvey’s, Bay City, MI

Harvey’s Grill and Bar in Bay City was a nice surprise. The atmosphere is warm and surprisingly trendy for a Michigan tourist town. Gorgeous contemporary fireplaces are focal points in the main dining areas and they had a live guitarist/singer performing on the enclosed patio the night we were there; both nice touches on a blustery winter evening.
The service was efficient, but otherwise not very noteworthy. The menu focuses on comfort food including eight types of burgers, Smothered Chicken and Ultimate Mac ‘N’ Cheese entrees and deep fried Oreo and deep Fried Twinkie desserts. Harvey’s also takes advantage of locally available fish with their Parmesan Encrusted Walleye.
The tomato bisque left a lot to be desired. It was very oily and lacked the smooth creamy flavor of a traditional bisque. The chicken salad panini was interesting and full of flavor and had a gourmet twist. Grilled sourdough bread was stuffed with provolone cheese and chicken salad that included dried cherries and candied walnuts for a nice crunch. There were a few leaves of spring lettuce mix that wilted into the mix as well. I loved the flavors, but struggled to get used to my traditionally cold chicken salad as a hot sandwich.
Havey’s makes an effort to be a little more glamorous than the rest of Bay City, and in some ways succeeds. The atmosphere is a nice change from the series of chain restaurants nearby and the entrees make an attempt to be a little more interesting. Though not everything is something to write home about it’s an affordable and pleasant restaurant experience if you’re passing through town.