Taste Our Goods, Ann Arbor, MI

I’m now in the good company of Anthony Bourdain having finally tried Taste Our Goods (or “togs”, as my husband has lovingly dubbed it) in Kerrytown this weekend. Although, I think Mr. Bourdain had lunch there and I’ve tried their breakfast so far. This sweet little breakfast and lunch counter tucked into the back corner of Sparrow Market has a good thing going. What a creative menu and nice change from overpriced and overrated Ann Arbor diner breakfasts.
The woman who greeted us on Saturday was very friendly and helpful. She told us it would be about 10 minutes before our meals were ready and said they could bring it out to us or check back if we liked. We popped across the way to grab a table and get some coffee from Sweetwaters.
I tried out Taste or Goods’ Sweet Hash Dude, a great deal for only $7. Shredded sweet potato mixed with onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, dabbed with goat cheese and topped with eggs of my choice (I had them over medium); a fruit cup and a side of toast (Farmer’s for me) were also part of the deal. All I can say is “yum!”. Great flavors in the hash and the fruit, though mostly blueberries, was fresh and seasonal. I did have to request some jam to go with the toast, but this was a very tasty breakfast stop. I even liked the eggs which I don’t usually enjoy because it’s not my favorite food on its own.
I’m looking forward to a lunch visit soon!

Jolly Pumpkin, Ann Arbor, MI

First off, I apologize for the quality of the above photo. The interior of The Jolly Pumpkin is quite dark at lunchtime, even by pub standards, and my cell phone camera doesn’t have a flash. I don’t mind a tavern atmosphere, but at lunch I expect to have a little more lighting. But, that’s really the only flaw I found with my first visit to this upscale brew pub.
Although I eyed the Grilled Romaine Salad with Warm Potato Croutons on the menu for a bit I wanted something I could sink my teeth into a bit more. I ordered the Not Just a BLT with the Market Salad with Roasted Garlic dressing for the side. The sandwich lives up to its title by combining applewood smoked bacon, arugula, oven roasted tomatoes, house-made mozzarella and salsa verde on toasted farm bread.
The salad was simple with mixed greens and cucumbers, but the dressing was delicious. The pickled zucchini spear that came with my dish was a nice change from your traditional dill pickle. It had a balsamic vinegar sweet tang to it. I dipped the zucchini spear in the wonderful roasted garlic dressing for an extra flavor punch, but it stands on its own just as well. The bread for the sandwich was perfectly toasted with a light nutty flavor. The bacon wasn’t greasy and paired well with the slightly peppery arugula, mozzarella and oven dried tomatoes. The house made mozzarella had great texture and a mild flavor. I didn’t taste much of the salsa verde, so I’m not sure it added much to the sandwich. The only suggestion I have is to make the oven roasted tomatoes into a spread or tapenade in place of the salsa verde so their flavor permeates each bite of the sandwich. But, the combination of flavors were absolutely delicious overall.
Service was pleasant and attentive, but not rushed. I didn’t get a chance to try dessert this time, but with such tasty food on this visit, I’m sure I’ll have lots of chances in the future. I’ll make sure to bring a flash camera to my next meal here!

Cherry Chocolate Oat Bars

I adapted a Cooking Light recipe for Raspberry Oat Bars to use up what I had on hand, so they turned into Cherry Chocolate Oat Bars made with cherry preserves and bittersweet chocolate chips. Using preserves instead of jam I needed to add a bit more than what was called for in the original recipe, but the chunks of cherry were a nice addition. I also loved the contrast of the bittersweet chocolate with the sweetness of the brown sugar and tartness of the cherries. I think this one is a keeper:

Cherry Chocolate Oat Bars

Adapted from Cooking Light

Yield: 16 servings

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 15 oz cherry preserves

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Set aside. Combine sugar and butter in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add the flour mixture to butter mixture, and stir until well blended (mixture will be crumbly.) Remove 3/4 cup of dough; toss with chocolate chips. Set aside. Press the remaining dough into an 8-inch square baking pan, and spread evenly with preserves. Sprinkle with chocolate chip mixture. Bake at 375° 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Ironwood Grill, Plymouth, MI

We’ve been going to Plymouth more and more lately for a quick bite to eat. It’s really not that far from Ypsilanti and if you take the back roads, it’s also a nice scenic 20-25 minute drive. Last weekend we went to try out a new restaurant called Ironwood Grill.

The decor is a mix of sports bar and modern. It’s a bit dark inside, with multiple plasma televisions lining the walls. I found it a little odd that rather than use the ‘closed captioning’ option for the sports being shown, they actually had the volume turned up one one of the select games they were showing. It might not have been an issue, but they were also playing rock music in the background so it became a bit much.

The menu is a mix of mostly barbecue, pizza and burgers. I opted for a teriyaki chicken sandwich with their sweet potato fries and coleslaw (you get a choice between standard fries and sweet potato; and coleslaw and potato salad with each sandwich). I loved that they didn’t tack on an extra fee for the sweet potato fries as so many places do these days.

The sandwich was good. The chicken was a touch on the dry side, but I’ve had much worse. The sauce was sweet and tangy and the pineapple slice was fresh. The sweet potato fries were some of the best I’ve had. They were cut into wedges and were still filled with soft sweet potato goodness. Too bad they weren’t served with a horseradish sauce, they had ridges that would have held onto a sauce perfectly and ketchup just isn’t right with these. Still, they held their own when most are begging to be dipped. The coleslaw was so-so, nothing special. For dessert we shared the mixed berry mousse. It was nice and light after a filling meal. The berry flavor was really pronounced and delicious.
Service was fine overall. It took a while to get our drinks refilled, but our waitress was pleasant and otherwise efficient. I’ll have to give their barbecue a shot next time.