Station 885, Plymouth, MI

I was last at Station 885 in Plymouth for my college graduation dinner over 10 years ago. Recently on the Detroit Groupon website, they had a deal to get a $35 gift certificate for $15 for this restaurant that I couldn’t pass up.

We went for lunch this past weekend. They were short a hostess so we had to flag down a waitress to get seated, but the rest of the visit went fine. The waitress we had was very enthusiastic about the menu and had several suggestions for what to order. When the server is that candid and sincere, you know you’ve come to the right place.

We started with an appetizer of crab stuffed mushrooms. They were amazing! I will have to come back for this alone on a regular basis. Trust me, the picture does not do the dish justice. The mushrooms are come with a slice of fresh lemon on the side to squeeze over top. The crab is fresh and the cheese is gooey and flavorful. I believe six mushrooms came in an order for $6.99, not bad.

I ordered the shrimp scampi pasta which included a choice of salad or soup and fresh bread. I went with the garden salad and a side of balsamic vinaigrette. The salad was a simple blend of mixed field greens and grape tomatoes. The balsamic dressing was well balanced. The fresh garlic cheese bread that accompanied the meal was addictive! I wasn’t expecting much, but kept going back for more and had to push the rest onto my husband for risk of overdoing it. Great garlic flavor with herbs and cheese. It came with a side of butter that was unnecessary because the bread was already rich with it.

After great food leading up to the entree I was really excited to see what the main dish had to offer. Unfortunately, my choice fell a bit short compared to the rest of the meal. The linguine itself was quite good, I even asked if they made it in house because it tasted so fresh; it’s not made in-house. However, it was sticking together and would have been more appealing if that wasn’t the case. The shrimp were a bit overcooked, but as garlicky as a good scampi should be. The scallions on top were a nice visual presentation and added a bit more flavor interest.

My husband was also a bit underwhelmed by his dish — prime rib over Texas toast with a side of horseradish and fries. Although, he was very appreciative of the server’s suggestion to add sauteed mushrooms when he opted out of the caramelized onions. The meat was lacking on flavor and the mushrooms could have been cooked a bit more. The fries were fine, but standard.

It certainly won’t take me ten years to go back after this mostly positive experience. Prices are very reasonable and the staff is full of zeal. Plus, I’ll have to put in for a double order of those crab stuffed mushrooms! If Station 885 can bring the quality and flavor of their main dishes up to those preceding meal they’ll be in excellent shape.

Vanilla Creme Brulee Cake at Decadent Delight, Ann Arbor, MI

I returned to Decadent Delight in Ann Arbor this past weekend with their creme brulee fruit tart on my mind. I’ve reviewed the tart before and it’s fantastic. After walking in the door I had to add to my order when I found they were selling slices of vanilla cake with creme brulee filling and a vanilla buttercream frosting. I’ve heard a number of people make the comment that vanilla is such a plain and boring flavor. I highly disagree. Vanilla can be very interesting and complex and comes from the exotic orchid plant (what’s boring about that?).

Wow! The cake was really good… the vanilla cake tasted like a rich pound cake, the brulee filling was rich and delicious and the buttercream was decadent (no pun intended). My heart felt like a ring of butter was surrounding it after the last bite, but worth the taste experience.

Aubree’s Pizza & Tavern, Ypsilanti, MI

I don’t make it out to Aubree’s Pizza and Tavern on Whittaker Rd. in Ypsilanti very often, partly because even though their pizza is good, it’s a bit pricey. However, after I received my annual “free large specialty pizza” coupon for my birthday the other week it was an easy decision to go.
I ordered a house salad to start because their breadsticks in the past have come out hollow inside. I asked for a side of their creamy cucumber dill dressing. The dressing was incredibly thick, almost dip-like, but was a nice change from the standard dressing choices. I might suggest a little more buttermilk to thin it out a bit. The salad itself was a fresh mix of field greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and shredded cheddar and went well with the flavors in the dressing.
We ordered a deep dish BBQ Chicken pizza, minus the red onions. As always, it was really good. They use a sweet local barbecue sauce, Frog Island, in place of tomato sauce and top it with grilled chicken, lots of bacon and a four-cheese blend. The chicken somehow stays moist and there’s plenty of crisp bacon to satisfy any meat-lover. I’d order it more often, but it would probably clog my arteries if I ate it regularly. Plus, at $16.99 for a large it puts a bit of a strain on my wallet when it’s not “free”.
The Whittaker Rd. location has a more sophisticated and upscale feel than the one in Depot Town which is more of a college kid destination. The staff is efficient and pleasant. On a past visit we had problem resolved by the general manager in a very professional and friendly manner.

If you haven’t already, you should stop in for a change of pace from the Depot Town location. Also, make sure to sign up for their email list to get a free pizza during the week of your birthday (dine-in only).

MoonWinks Cafe, Ann Arbor, MI

There’s a great little coffee shop/cafe on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor (technically the town of Dixboro) called MoonWinks Cafe. The decor is quaint and homey and the counter staff is friendly. Driving into the area of Dixboro, where the shop is located, is relaxing. It has a small town feel, even though you’re still in the Ann Arbor area. There’s a “general store” across the street that sells furniture and home goods.

The cafe serves Zingerman’s coffee and espresso drinks at a fraction of the cost of getting from the original source, which I love (and it’s much closer, too!). I always get my vice, a caramel latte, and they serve the best foam of any local coffee shop I’ve tried. In my opinion, the foam is the best part of the latte (if it’s done right), but many places leave it off altogether. The foam at MoonWinks is a rich and thick treat in addition to the coffee underneath. I also love that they serve it in a mug for those of us dining in, not a common practice anymore.

I’ve also stopped in for breakfast a few times and always loved their oatmeal with dried cherries because it tasted like slow-cooked oats. Unfortunately, they’ve taken that off the menu. I really hope they bring it back. My husband and I shared a fresh cinnamon roll last time and it was yummy. Unfortunately, it was so good we ate it before I had a chance to snap a photo! My husband always orders their breakfast burrito. Although he prefers the one at Beezy’s in Ypsilanti, he said this one is good, too.

Nico & Vali, Plymouth, MI – Dinner

After having a both great lunch and breakfast experiences at Nico and Vali’s in Plymouth, I was excited to try dinner. The service was great as usual. For dinner we had a nice young man who was very familiar with the menu, enthusiastic and very attentive.
After looking over the specials I decided on the Chicken Marsala with roasted potatoes and sauteed zucchini for $8.95. I also added a half Caesar salad ($3.50). Apparently, the specials do not include a choice of soup or salad, but the traditional family plates do. The Caesar salad was nicely coated in dressing without going overboard. The romaine leaves were crisp and fresh and topped with croutons. I sampled a bit of my husband’s soup, la stracciatella, which had a chicken stock base with a touch of egg, small beads of pasta, chicken and vegetables. The slight egginess of the broth came through as a nice flavor. The soup could have used a touch more salt, but would make a great comfort food. I was rather disappointed with the Chicken Marsala. It arrived drenched in a rich, heavy cream based sauce. The sauce preparation I’m familiar with in this dish is much lighter and with ore emphasis on the wine with just a touch of cream. The very thin chicken cutlets were on the dry side as well. The roasted potatoes and zucchini were tasty, but needed more seasoning. My husband liked his gnocchi with meat sauce, but also felt it was under-seasoned.
I had originally planned on choosing from the “Family Traditions” section of the menu, but was enticed by the special; maybe that’s where I went wrong. Given the excellent lunch and breakfast food we had before this visit, we definitely plan on going back and assume that this was just an off night for the kitchen.I’ll have to try one of the everyday dishes next time.

Logan Restaurant, Ann Arbor, MI

I’ve been wanting to try Logan in Ann Arbor for a number of years and I finally got my chance a couple of weeks ago on a Friday. I love high end restaurants that offer lunch during the week, so those of us on a budget can still afford great taste. Logan offers lunch only Monday thru Friday, but the do have a few affordable choices on the dinner menu as well, though most dinner entrees average around $25-$30. Most sandwiches on the lunch menu are under $10 and lunch portion entrees run between $10-$14, not bad.
On this visit I tried their Pulled BBQ Chicken sandwich — oven roasted chicken mixed with a sweet BBQ sauce, topped with coleslaw and served on a crusty baguette. I love good barbecue, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from a non-barbecue, more sophisticated restaurant. It was terribly messy, but really good; I would have loved some wet-naps. The sauce was sweet and there was plenty of it. I’m not always a fan of coleslaw on my sandwich, I usually like it best on the side, but this was a treat. It was a creamy and a delicious addition to the the other textures in the meal. The bread was fantastic; they must bake it in house or get it fresh each day from a bakery. The texture and flavors of the bread’s crust were what kept me coming back for more, even when I was getting full. The house made potato chips served along side were quite tasty too, and I’m not much of a potato chip fan, so I really do mean it.
I had thought about dessert, but because service was a bit slow and inattentive this time, we decided to pass. The waiter was friendly when he was available, but we had to wait about 10 minutes after we sat down to get our drink order taken. Our drinks were never refilled during the visit, though he did finally ask me about a refill when I was paying the bill; which was also the only time we were asked how are meal was.
All in all, I ‘d give it another shot in the future. I’m not sure if lunch there is more leisurely and that’s why service was a little lacking, or if our age played a factor since the average patron was in their mid-to-late 40s and we fell under that by 10 years. Either way, every customer deserves great service in my opinion, especially at a restaurant that pride’s itself on being higher end. I’m looking forward to more great food, and hopefully improved service on a future visit.