Hayden’s Grill and Bar, Canton, MI

I wrote a review about a restaurant in Bay City, Michigan called Harvey’s Grill and Bar back in January of this year. The same small Michigan chain opened up an almost identical version, Hayden’s Grill and Bar, in Canton, Michigan in October.

The decor of this restaurant is also upscale, though it’s missing the outdoor fireplace and patio with an acoustic guitar player on Wednesday nights it’s Bay City cousin features. Very modern and sleek materials create a posh feel. The menu is almost identical to their up-north locations, featuring salads, sandwiches, pasta and fish entrees. They also have their delicious deep fried Oreo and deep fried Twinkie desserts.

Hayden’s has a policy for the wait staff to leave a business card with their name at the customer’s table. I’m not entirely sure what that’s about, maybe if you really enjoy the service you know who to request next time, or at least you can remember their name if you need to flag them down during your current visit (though that hasn’t been an issue so far). Our waitress, Tonya, was very attentive and pleasant.

We had filled out an online survey on our last visit that entitled us to a free appetizer. We settled on the traditional bone-in wings with barbecue sauce and a side of ranch dressing in place of blue cheese. The wings were nice and meaty and well sauced. The barbecue sauce was smoky and sweet with just the right amount of spicy kick for my taste buds. They were so good that for a minute I almost didn’t miss Wings Wings, a phenomenal wings place on Cross St. in Ypsilanti that went out of business last year, much to my dismay.

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for pretzel bun, so it was an easy choice for me to go with one of Hayden’s signature sandwiches, the Chicken Bruschetta. The sandwich consists of a grilled chicken breast, pesto, provolone cheese and a seasoned tomato mixture on a grilled pretzel bun. I also chose their coleslaw in place of the seasoned French fries. I really enjoyed the flavors of this sandwich. The pesto wasn’t overwhelming and worked nicely with the provolone and tomato flavors. The grilled bun had a nice signature pretzel taste and soft texture and the chicken breast was fairly moist. The coleslaw was a nice and creamy, but a little heavy on the dressing.

We were too full for dessert on this visit, but remembering how good the deep fried Oreo dessert was up in Bay City it’s a definite must on our next visit to Hayden’s!

Tim and Sally’s Awesome Eats, Canton, MI

Yes, you read the name of this restaurant correctly, it really is Tim and Sally’s Awesome Eats. When reading Yelp reviews over the last few months I’d seen it come up a few times and even read the reviews, partly, I’ll admit, because the name is a bit odd so it stood out. I thought about trying it because the reviews of this place were surprisingly positive, but until recently I couldn’t find a website for them. I prefer to check out a menu online when possible before venturing into most new restaurant experiences, especially if I’m not entirely sure it’s food is going to be up my alley. As a website and graphic designer, I cringed a bit when I did finally arrive at their website as it has a homemade feel, but I did my best to ignore the aesthetics and took a look a their lunch and dinner menu. I saw a number of options, all very reasonably priced, that sounded tasty so my husband and I decided to give it a shot last Friday night.

Depending on your sensibilities you may find the very brightly colored interior to be quaint and charming, or you may choose to ignore the surroundings and focus on the great customer service and food. It felt like a blend of a coffee shop and diner with a number of tables and a counter with cookies and baked goods featured under glass domes. The colors when we walked in reminded me of the Rainbow Bright doll I had as a child. I’m still trying to decide if this was good or bad, but it was easy to ignore when we were warmly greeted by the wait staff when we walked in and were immediately seated.

The menu isn’t fancy, I didn’t expect it to be, but it does give customers quite a bit of choices from burgers, to sandwiches, even some homey entrees. They have daily specials and smoke their own meat in house for the barbecue options. They have a barbecue ribs from their smoker as a Saturday special, that I’ll have to come in and try. I think one of the things that shocked me the most is that they even have a selection of bottled beer and wine.

I ordered the Wrapped Sally sandwich, which is a spinach wrap with slices of barbecued chicken (these are not house-smoked), cheddar cheese, tortilla strips, tomatoes, lettuce and ranch dressing. I was pleasantly surprised. Though the meat is not one of their in-house smoked barbecued meats, it was moist and the barbecue sauce pleasantly smokey, rather than sickly sweet. The tortilla strips added a great crunch and texture while the other ingredients were fresh and good quality. You really get the sense that the owner’s care about giving their customers good quality food and service.

My husband ordered their Smokey Tim, their house smoked brisket with barbecue sauce on a bun. I stole a bite, it was very good. The time they take to smoke their meats in house makes a big difference. I’m excited to come back on a Saturday night to try the ribs special. It’s not amazing barbecue, but it good barbecue and surprising that you can get this quality in a little diner type place like Tim and Sally’s.

We were enjoying ourselves and our food so we decided to try dessert. I was thrilled to see that they had something called Sally’s Secret on the menu, a daily changing selection of mousse. I’ve been craving mousse lately and notice it’s hard to find in may restaurants these days. I was brokenhearted when the waitress told me that they had stopped making it for now, because it hadn’t been selling well. She said that she would have to tell Sally that she’s had a number of requests, of course, now that its’ off the menu and she should bring it back. The waitress said it is “so good, too”.

My disappointment was short lived because we decided to split a dessert that consisted of deep fried banana cheesecake squares topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and hot fudge. It was fantastic! I felt like a kid and really enjoyed it. The banana in the cheesecake gave it a more interesting flavor than plain cheesecake and gave it an extra spark it wouldn’t have had otherwise.

When we stepped up to the counter to pay our bill, I believe we were greeted by the great Sally herself. She asked how we enjoyed our meal. I told her that everything was great, but despite the delicious dessert we had this evening that we’d love to see the flavored mouse dessert brought back. Sally asked if we had eaten it before. When I told her that this was our first time in, she warmly welcomed us to her restaurant. We told her we’d definitely be back in.

Prices are really reasonable, even if the eats are not quite “awesome”, the food is solidly good and the welcoming mom and pop service certainly is awesome! So, if you check out Tim and Sally’s Awesome Eats ignore the aesthetics of the website and the decor and listen to the reviews. This is a place you’ll return to again and again and be pleasantly surprised.

Black Friday Food Finds

Here’s my idea of a good Friday after Thanksgiving: sleep in, avoid the malls and stores at all costs, eat.

Cafe Marie
My husband and I went to our favorite breakfast spot in Ann Arbor, Cafe Marie. I almost always get the make-your-own skillet with mushrooms, dried cherries and hollandaise sauce with the cinnamon-raisin toast. It comes with roasted potatoes mixed in and fabulous braised eggs on top. If you’re in the mood for something different, they always have a great selection of both traditional and non-traditional breakfast items. I also had their seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte which is pretty tasty, too.

Forget Angelo’s and forget Northside, both are overhyped. The service and food are always great at Cafe Marie’s and the food is more interesting than greasy eggs and overcooked sausage. If you haven’t been yet, stop by; you wont’ be disappointed.

Day Dream Cafe
For lunch we tried a newer cafe/sandwich shop in Canton, Day Dream Cafe, near the new Target on Michigan Ave. I had spotted it the other day when I went shopping and looked for a menu or website online and was disappointed when I didn’t find one. They have a page on FB, but no menu was posted their either. They had lots of fantastic reviews on Yelp so we decided it was worth checking out.

I tried the Traverse City Turkey sandwich that comes with a dried cherry jam. The jam was delicious, but I have to admit though my sandwich wasn’t bad I was a bit jealous after trying a bite of my husband’s barbecue pulled pork sandwich. It tasted really fresh and had the perfect blend of spices and sweetness. The barbecue sandwich came with coleslaw on top, my sandwich came with a choice of side and I chose the coleslaw as well. It’ was freshly made and lightly creamy, very delicious!

The sandwich menu is pretty extensive and is a mix of traditional choices and a few more adventurous ones and a lot of London Broil choices. In addition to sandwiches they have a variety of baked goods and even pierogies! They’re starting to expand their breakfast choices on the weekends to include different varieties of pancakes and French toast. The services was quick and friendly and the atmosphere is laid back. We’ll have to give their breakfast a try next!