I celebrated another birthday yesterday. I won’t tell you which one… which means I’m definitely getting older. Over the weekend my husband, Josh took me to The Whitney, a gorgeous restored mansion-turned-restaurant, in Detroit and The Common Grill in Chelsea for two delicious dinners. To keep the ‘The… [Restaurant Name]” theme going, for my actually birthday dinner yesterday I thought it would be fun to try The Sardine Room in Plymouth, which I hadn’t been to yet.
They don’t normally take reservations for small parties early in the evenings, but when Josh called on Saturday they were kind enough to accommodate us with a 6:15 Monday reservation. It was lively when we walked in, but not completely full. It’s long and narrow with sleek high-top tables backlit by a contemporary lighted wall. We were lucky enough to be seated in a booth in the back that had a view of the kitchen.
The Sardine room focuses mainly on small plate style dishes with a few snack items and larger entrees and also some soups and salads on the menu. We went with the intention of sharing several dishes so we narrowed down our choices and decided on this selection: fried green tomatoes, a cheese board, pan seared sea scallops (for Josh), and fish tacos (for me). We also chose a larger fried chicken dinner to split that was on special. It came with a choice of two sides so we went with the mac and cheese with button mushrooms and grilled corn on the cob.
The cheese board came out first and included a cheddar with Cajun spices (my favorite), a double cream cheese and a humbolt fog goat cheese with a layer of ash, all accompanied by truffle honey a few baguettes slices and something called pear mostarda. The honey was fabulous drizzled on all the cheeses. I had never considered doing that before, but definitely will going forward! The pear mostrada was a sweet fruity condiment with a hint of mustard seed; also very good. I would have loved a few more slices of bread, but I was happy enough eating the remaining cheese straight from the board with my fork and a little honey on top.
Next came the fried green tomatoes dusted in cornmeal and topped with a smoked corn relish, chile remoulade, and scallions. They were tasty, but we vacationed in Charleston, SC a few weeks ago, so we were a bit spoiled by the amazing Southern version we had down there and this didn’t quite stack up for me.
Josh loved the pan seared scallops with pork belly confit, house bbq, hollandaise, pickled onion. I’ll have to take him at his word since I’m very allergic. It’s one of his favorite foods so he has high standards, which these apparently met.
My fish tacos were made with grilled red snapper with thyme scented cabbage, corn salsa, jalapeno slaw, tequila lime crème and served in soft corn tortillas. The tacos were tied with the cheese board as my favorite dish of the night. It was my first time eating snapper, which I thought was deliciously moist and tender. The slaw and lime crème gave a nice bright note of freshness.
Our last savory item of the night was the fried chicken dinner special. This was probably my least favorite part of the meal, although Josh really enjoyed it. I thought the skin was crisped nicely, but lacked seasoning. The mac and cheese was on the liquid side, almost like processed cheese, and I prefer a firmer style, although the breadcrumbs were good. The grilled corn on the cob was nicely seasoned, simple, but tasty.
Even with all that food I couldn’t pass up dessert on my birthday so I had the strawberry rhubarb shortcake. It took a little while to come out, but was worth the wait in my opinion. I loved that they used a pâte à choux style dough instead of the traditional biscuit or pound cake. It was light and airy with a nice buttery flavor that complimented the perfectly sweetened pieces of fruit.
They also have extensive cocktail, beer and wine lists. I was considering something called the hemingway – el dorado 3 year white rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, luxardo maraschino – but decided to keep it simple and stick with non-alcoholic iced tea instead.
Our server was great too. Very friendly, he made a point to ask if we had been there before and if we enjoyed our visit enough to return again, which we told him we definitely did.
So, last week it was waffles (or wafels) and this week it’s crepes, it looks like I’m on a breakfast treat roll. Although, you can eat lunch at dinner at the new crepe spot in Ann Arbor, as well. I’m actually planning to try dinner there later this week.
Josh and I celebrated our six-year wedding anniversary last weekend the best way we know how, eating our way through the day. We started off at another Ann Arbor newbie in the former Squares location, What crêpe? (I’m going to affectionately refer to this new spot as ‘circles’ for fun). Honestly, I was sad to see Squares go. I thought they had pretty tasty food at a reasonable price for downtown.
It was the first weekend What crêpe? was open so it was pretty quiet the morning we arrived. Only a couple of other tables were filled. My first impression was, ‘Wow, look what they’ve done with the place’. The new decor has truly transformed the previous Squares fast food space into a ritzy and posh place to eat. It seems the hip interior follows suit with their other locations based on the photos I’ve seen of the Royal Oak and Birmingham locations. Dark walls and chandeliers are a big part of the ambiance, although if you look closely you may notice they’ve recycled the previous establishment’s chairs (I suppose that’s the ‘green’ thing to do).
There were plenty of staff on hand just in case a crowd showed up, but hostess and waitress were efficient and friendly. They also made a point to cover the days specials. If you look at the menu on their website you’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s available, although the Ann Arbor menu has some differences which they don’t reflect yet on the online version.
I was drawn to the Honey Bear crepe, which was filled with peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs, folded into pretty triangles and garnished with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey. It was right up my alley and delicious. I loved the slight texture the graham cracker crumbs gave the filling. I would have liked a few more berries to cut the sweetness of the peanut butter and honey, but aside from that there were no complaints on my end. Josh had a breakfast-burrito-style crepe stuffed with eggs, sausage and a few other goodies. He really enjoyed his dish as well.
Despite the tasty meal, the prices are a touch high for breakfast to make it a regular stop (at least for the less substantial sweet crepes like I had – which are around $12-$14), they might even rival Zingerman’s in that respect. I think a breakfast splurge once in a while is well worth it, but I have a hunch I’d feel more satisfied and feel a better sense of value getting a savory crepe at lunch or dinner for a similar price. They also have a selection of wine and cocktails on the menu if you like that sort of thing. They encouraged us to get a mimosa at 8:30am, but that’s a bit early for me to indulge. I guess my age is showing.
All in all, this was a good start to our celebration of love and food. We made our way back through Ann Arbor by stopping at Mighty Good Coffee for hot chocolate and lattes (the Brown Sugar Sea Salt is a must!), Eastern Accents for some pastries (sadly, closing this weekend), Songbird Cafe for lunch and the Gandy Dancer for dinner.
I have a fabulous co-worker who used to live in Belgium and when she came to town once brought waffles coated in Belgian chocolate as gifts. They were sugary, crunchy and the chocolate was unbeatable (this coming from non-chocoholic). I’ve been in search of something similar locally ever since. I’ve been a fan of this place called Taste of Belgium at the North Market in Columbus, OH where they make both delicious crepes and waffles, but I wanted something here in Michigan.
The Wafel Shop is another in a series of new restaurants to open in downtown Ann Arbor in the last several months. Josh and I stopped in to The Wafel Shop for a light breakfast this past weekend, the first weekend they were open. Their standard waffles come with butter and powdered sugar, additional toppings are extra. I went with the Liege style waffle because it sounded very similar to what I had been looking for, sugary and crisp with the same dense texture. I added Biscoff spread and fresh raspberries. Josh chose the Brussles Wafel and added peanut butter and banana. To drink I had a caramel latte and Josh had a hot chocolate.
The food and drinks came up quickly, everything seemed well organized and they had the right amount of staff while we were there for the early morning rush. My latte was decent, not as good as some coffee shops in the area, but definitely serviceable. Josh really enjoyed the hot chocolate, and he’s pickier about that type of drink than most.
I loved my waffle. It was thick, crispy on the edges and I could taste the sugar pearls that were inside that give it a real distinction from the typical American waffle. The Biscoff spread was sweet and had that sugar cookie goodness. I was glad I added raspberries because their acidity and tartness were perfect for cutting through the sweetness of the spread so it wasn’t too much. Next time I would leave the butter off, it didn’t add much with the other toppings already adding a richness. I tried a bite of Josh’s waffle and it was tasty too, although not as much flavor in the waffle itself it did have a nice light airy texture. It was good Elvis style with the banana and PB combo.
I would definitely go back, but I think I’d prefer it for a snack or dessert to breakfast. I like more food in the morning and while I commend them for not trying to overreach and do too much, their menu is simple – waffles and drinks. The toppings aren’t enough to fill me up. I think they should continue to keep it simple though. They certainly seem to have mastered these Belgian style waffles and I don’t want to see that change. Dessert is just fine with me!
They also had chocolate covered waffles in a case, why I didn’t get one on the way out is beyond me, especially because it may have been very close to the original Belgian treat my co-worker gave me! Next time for sure.
I had a yammerin’ to bake a fruit dessert this weekend (yeah, that’s right, a yammerin’). Most women think first of chocolate for dessert, I am one of the rare few that would pick fruit-based desserts over chocolate almost any day of the week.
I ruffled through Pinterest, one of my newer online addictions, for some enticing photos of various fruit galettes. A galette is a simpler, more rustic version of a pie that doesn’t include the fuss of a pie plate or nicely crimped crust so it’s perfect for a day when you’d like to put together an easy dessert.
I came across this recipe for a Honey Pear Galette which sounded right up my alley. I liked that it had a slight twist of adding a cinnamon vanilla pastry cream to the base of the crust. Other fruit galettes I’ve made before where simply fruit, sugar and the crust, this added a more elevated appeal that didn’t add too much effort.
I opted for using store-bought refrigerated pie dough (baking blasphemy, I know!), because again, my original intent was to make this an easy dessert. I’ve also had good success with the Pilsbury pre-made pie crusts in the past. I chose some lovely red Anjou pears for this treat, which I hadn’t tried before. They were perfectly sweet, but still firm. I followed the original recipe note to sprinkle some flour over the top of the fruit after it was layered on the pastry cream, but before baking. I think next time I would toss the pear slices with the flour and salt before layering the slices for a prettier presentation. As you may see in the photo, even after baking, not all of the flour absorbed into the pears.
The smell that permeated the kitchen while this baked was intoxicating. The crust was colored a lovely golden brown after baking from the egg wash brushed on just before it went in the oven. The pears were the perfect tenderness and had a touch of added sweetness from the drizzle of honey added while the galette was still warm. The pasty cream added a lusciousness beyond the basic fruit version, just as I had hoped. What a tasty winter treat!
What are some of your favorite fruit desserts?
Honey Pear Galette with Pastry Cream
adapted from kokocooks
Print Friendly Version
- 1 c whole milk
- 2 Tbs cornstarch
- 4 Tbs sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Pilsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust – one round layer
- 3 ripe red Anjoy pears or another variety, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs all purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tbs honey
For the pastry cream: Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix together cornstarch, sugar, salt, and egg in a small bowl. When milk starts to boil, remove from heat. Slowly pour 1/3 c of the hot milk into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the hot mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk, whisk to combine. Place saucepan over medium heat until the mixture thickens, whisking constantly (about 2 minutes.) Pour pastry cream into a small bowl and chill for 20 minutes.
For the galette: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Roll pastry pie crust into a 12-inch circle on parchement paper. Transfer crust on the parchment to a baking sheet. Spread pastry cream in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Toss pear slices with the flour and salt in a small bowl. Arrange the pear slices on top of the pastry cream. Fold edges of the crust over the pears. Brush the crust with a small amount of the egg wash. Bake until the crust is golden, about 35 minutes. While the galette is still warm drizzle exposed pears with honey transfer to a wire rack to cool.