The Songbird Cafe, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Songbird Cafe, Ann Arbor, Michigan

I have fallen in love with a little cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan called, The Songbird Cafe. I find reason to stop in at least once a week or so. The staff is very pleasant and efficient and the coffee and food are simple, but delicious.

Their caramel latte is just the way I like it. They don’t skimp on the foam, which tastes like a coffee marshmallow to me! So many places these days only fill the latte with milk and leave off the froth, which is my favorite part when done right (and Songbird does it right!).

Caramel Latte at The Songbird Cafe - Ann Arbor, Michigan |

I know I’m enjoying a great latte when it tastes rich and luxurious even when I order it with skim milk, and that’s exactly what I’ve gotten every time I’ve ordered one at this sweet little cafe. Beezy’s, and now The Songbird Cafe, are my two favorite places in the Ypsi/Ann Arbor area to order an espresso drink.

I’ve also had some tasty food at Songbird, including:  oatmeal cookies, a divine apple hand pie, a simple, but delicious caprese sandwich and breakfast.

For breakfast I always order the green tea muffin with candied ginger and topped with walnuts, their cherry granola yogurt parfait,  a side of fresh fruit and a caramel latte, of course!

The muffin is lightly sweet and heavenly. I love that the walnuts are sprinkled on top so they don’t interfere with the soft texture of the muffin too much. The candied ginger wakes up the taste with a subtle and sweet zing. The granola parfait is made to order in a cute little mason jar. The yogurt is plain Greek yogurt so I usually grab just a touch of honey from the coffee bar to take the edge off. The fruit Songbird serves has always been well picked and absolutely fresh.

Songbird Cafe - Ann Arbor, Michigan |

I also enjoy seeing the love that went into the decor of this little place. I never went into this building when it was the beloved Flim Flam diner, but I imagine it’s quite a bit different inside now than it was then.

You walk in to be greeted by the friendly staff at the coffee counter and the chalkboard with specials of the day (their daily soups are fabulous as well!). The counter has lovely slats of wood and a granite top. The side walls have a touch of exposed brick for a rustic feel.

To the right is the dining area, the open entryway to the seating area is accented on side with a lovely leaded glass door. The tables are plenty with a mix of cushioned benches and simple wooden chairs. Library shelves line the back wall. Light pours in from the front window making for a very comfortable and cozy atmosphere to enjoy some simple, but lovely food.

Back to the Roots – Chelsea, Michigan

Back to the Roots – Chelsea, Michigan

I love that we found a new breakfast place recently, but Back to the Roots is a bit of a destination breakfast for us as it’s located in downtown Chelsea, about 30 minutes from Ypsilanti, where we live. Chelsea is a cute little town with some interesting shops so I don’t mind making the trip. We’ve been to this restaurant  four times since we first discovered it about 2-3  months ago.

Back to the Roots Caramel Latte

Back to the Roots is right off Main Street in the center of downtown. Don’t be fooled when you first walk in as you’ll see the store portion of their business, keep on walking toward the back and you’ll be greeted by a member of their friendly staff who will ask if you’ll be dining in their cafe.

They set themselves apart from other businesses in the area  by donating a portion of their proceeds to benefit social justice issues around the world and in the surrounding communities.

I’ve had both their French toast and the buttermilk pancakes. While the French toast is pretty tasty, it’s also very simple. The pancakes are my favorite because they’re topped with a lovely, not-too-sweet apple-raisin compote with spices that make the dish taste like a bite of autumn, my favorite season.

They also have a coffee bar in the front, so you can order a fresh latte or cappuccino with your hot breakfast. I can attest that they serve a mean caramel latte! I’m also addicted to their herb breakfast potatoes. They are full of flavor and cooked up with a great crispy outer crust, but soft potato inside. They’re big enough to share, but trust me when I say you may not want to!

Back to the Roots - Herb Potatoes

Josh highly recommends the biscuits and gravy, although on our last visit he had something more traditional, their eggs, meat and toast meal – The American – which he also said was good.

Service has been great every time we’ve stopped in, which is very important to me. If the food is good somewhere, but the service is consistently bad I still won’t come back. The staff here are very friendly and even chatty, in a good way. I feel very welcome every time we go in.

This is one of those places that I’ve wanted to hold on to as my own little secret spot, as we haven’t had to wait in any lines on the weekend yet! But, it’s also a place I’d like to get the word out about because they run a great place which everyone can enjoy in addition to promoting fair trade practices and social causes around the world. So, if you visit and enjoy it I encourage you to share it with your friends!

Lochart’s BBQ, Royal Oak, Michigan

Lochart’s BBQ, Royal Oak, Michigan

The Detroit-area barbecue scene has gotten more competitive recently. My favorite barbecue place, Slows Bar BQ, in downtown Detroit (near the old Tiger’s Stadium) has been given a run for its money by Lochart’s BBQ .

Josh and I recently made a visit to this relative newcomer that opened last year in the hip, artsy town of Royal Oak, Michigan. It’s about a 45 minute trip from our home in Ypsilanti, but they did not disappoint. I would classify the interior of this restaurant as casual, modern industrial. With thick wood tables with natural splits to the exposed brick walls and stainless steel counters, open kitchen and large windows allowing light to pour inside.

The server was well versed on the menu and ready to help with any questions. He also brought out a nice complimentary jar of sweet and fiery pickle chips in a glass jar to start off our meals.

I ordered the Carolina Pulled Pork sandwich which came on a Kaiser roll with the signature Lochart’s signature  barbecue sauce which was smokey sweet with a hint of spicy and topped with coleslaw. The meat was very tender and juicy and I loved the creaminess of the coleslaw as a compliment to the pork. I had my choice of a side and went for their classic mac and cheese which was creamy and had a nice cheesy quality, but still fell a bit short of Slows fantastically gooey, rich version. Josh also loved his go-to choice of a beef brisket sandwich as well.

We had really wanted to try dessert but couldn’t get past the fact that we were filled to the brim with barbecue goodness on this particular day. Sweet endings will have to wait until our next visit. The trick will be to decide on one amongst a lot of great choices, including: Pecan Pie, Berry Cobbler and Chocolate Dr. Pepper Cake.


Brunch at Grange, Ann Arbor, MI

Brunch at Grange, Ann Arbor, MI

One of the best brunch experiences I’ve had was on a recent visit to Grange Kitchen and Bar in Ann Arbor. It’s a sweet little space with an intimate atmosphere with a mix of contemporary and traditional with exposed brick walls, simply framed photos along the wall and antique furniture. They also put a focus on locally sourced ingredients.

The day Josh and I visited I was in the mood for something on the savory side. I asked our waiter for his opinion when deciding between the duck and potato hash and the shrimp and grits. He strongly recommended the duck hash. He indicated that although some places are hit or miss when it comes to preparing this bird Grange does an excellent job.

When our meals arrived I was very happy I followed our waiter’s recommendation. The duck was rich and moist and well flavored with a blend of herbs and a nice textural contrast to the crisp potatoes and sauce-like yoke from the sunny-side up egg when it broke. My dish came with a side of grilled toast, but I’ve never been one to enjoy dipping my toast in an egg dish. I asked if their might be some jam or jelly for it and was pleasantly surprised when the waiter came back with the chef’s recommendation of a side fresh rhubarb compote. It was a lovely sweet and tart accompaniment to the bread.

My husband chose to go with one of their signature brunch choices, a freshly ground burger with bacon jam, roasted garlic mayonnaise and topped with a fried egg. He said it was incredible. I took his word for it as 10am was a bit early in the day for me to think about a burger, even if it did include an egg.

The brunch prices at Grange are in the $10-$15 range which, given the quality of food and service is very fair. We’ve already made the easy decision to return to Grange for brunch.

Rebecca’s in Northville, MI

Rebecca’s in Northville, MI

I’m 34 years old, so I grew up most of my childhood without the internet and I still wonder what we did without it. I’m happy that we have websites like Yelp to find information and great places we might otherwise overlook. Reviews on Yelp were how I stumbled onto a little restaurant in Northville, Michigan called Rebecca’s Family Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor. They don’t have  website of their own, though they do have a Facebook page. Without a review focused website I may never have tried this place.

We arrived on a beautiful Sunday morning just in time to beat the crowd to Rebecca’s. We grabbed a two-person table in the corner near the window as the place was beginning to fill up.

We were greeted promptly by friendly staff. I opted for the much raved about sweet potato pancakes with a side of turkey sausage links. Josh had the buttermilk pancakes and a side of hashbrowns. Despite the busy morning our food came out surprisingly fast and we were not disappointed at all by our breakfast!

The sweet potato pancakes were thick and soft. The spices they used made them almost taste like pumpkin pie! The turkey sausage was nice and flavorful, not greasy and lightly browned. Josh really enjoyed his pancakes and hashbrowns too.

The walls are decorated with sweet Americana merchandise. The diner feel makes for a cozy atmosphere. You can tell that there are a quite a few regulars here as well.

I sneaked a peak at their lunch menu which had some great sounding shakes and tempting sweet potato fries with a brown-sugar glaze – do you a see a theme here? I’ve got it on good authority that the shakes and sweet potato fries are excellent too!

I think we’ve found another breakfast spot to frequent. It’s a little bit further out for us, about 25 minutes, but I will attest that it certainly seems it was worth the trip! We’ll be back for lunch this summer.

What are some of your favorite Michigan breakfast spots?

Cafe Ollie, Ypsilanti, MI

Cafe Ollie, Ypsilanti, MI

I was sad to see Cafe Luwak in Depot Town leave, but I was thrilled to see another eatery take its place quickly. Like Cafe Luwak, Cafe Ollie serves a number of sandwiches, comfort foods, baked goods and coffee drinks. Cafe Ollie has split their menu into thrids to appeal to carnivores, vegetarians and vegans.

I’ve ordered take-out twice in the last couple of weeks. The first time I stopped in I found the counter staff helpful and ready to chat. I also found it to be a bit darker in the revamped deli area. On that visit I tried something from the carnivore’s menu – the T-Hill – a turkey sandwich with thick smoked meat, cucumber slices, Monterrey Jack, and ranch dressing on sourdough bread. The turkey tasted like it was carved right off a Thanksgiving bird and the cucumbers gave the sandwich a nice crunch. Overall, I thought it was tasty, but lacking something I can’t quite put my finger on, maybe some tomato or lettuce for color?

My husband was kind enough to pick up The Crazy Caprese vegetarian sandwich for me the other night. He made the same comment to me that the lighting seemed a bit dim when he stopped in. My version had fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a balsamic drizzle on a fresh ciabatta roll. On the menu, the bread is said to be flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, I was a little disappointed that on that day it was just simple white ciabatta for me, but the roll was fresh and still flavorful. I thought the rest of the ingredients were good quality and delicious too.

All sandwiches are served with potato chips and the ones at Cafe Ollie are addictive. I’m not a big potato chip fan, but these aren’t greasy or too salty and they were cut to a perfect thickness. I’ll have to ask if they’re made in-house next time I go.

Given that Ypsilanti has a limited selection of independently owned restaurants that offer a refreshing menu, Cafe Ollie seems to be a nice addition to Depot Town.

Kruse and Muer on Wilshire, Troy, MI

Kruse and Muer on Wilshire, Troy, MI

From the moment we stepped into the Kruse and Muer on Wilshire restaurant in Troy the staff made us feel at home. They had a couple of parties celebrating special events when we came in for lunch. The thoughtful manager at the host stand offered us an option between a booth, which would be next to one of the parties, or a table a little bit further away that would at least be a little quieter. My husband and I appreciated the choice and opted for the less noisy table over the comfort of a booth.

On this afternoon, they must have been a touch short handed on waitstaff as another manager greeted us at the table to let us know he’d be taking care of us that day. He asked us to bear with him as it had been a while since he’d been a server. You never would have known the difference as he was friendly and on top of everything throughout our whole meal. It says a lot about a place when you see the management helping out to the extent that they did when we visited. You could really tell that the staff in general really enjoyed their jobs at Kruse and Muer and they shined.

I was surprised to find out how good the prices were here. I had expected a Chuck Muer restaurant in Troy to be on the expensive side, but most lunch items were very reasonable, with a number of them under $10. I also loved the selection of pastas, sandwiches and lunch entrees. It was a tough decision, but I chose the combination option of the half Baltimore Crabmelt and a bowl of Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque (I think it was only $8.95). Our meals also came with a loaf of freshly baked bread covered in poppy seeds.

Baltimore Crabmelt at Kruse and Muer\

I initially felt guilty about my choice to go with the crabmelt having assumed that the combination of crab and shrimp would be deep fried like a crab cake. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was mistaken, the seafood cake was baked, not fried, and was very light and delicious. It was tasty with a tomato slice and melted cheddar on top and a piece of the poppy seed bread for its base. A nice mix of refreshing fruit covered in honey yogurt sauce was a nice light side. The tomato bisque was a full bowl which had rich tomato and herb flavors and a smooth texture. The little puff pastry crouton was a fun little touch.

I was happy my meal was filling, but lighter than expected so I could still make enough room for dessert. After such a good meal and great service, I couldn’t leave without seeing what sweet endings they had to offer!

Chocolate Mousse at Kruse and Muer

We had originally asked what the “flavor of the day” creme brulee was, since that’s one of my favorite desserts. We were very grateful for the honesty of our server that day. He said the the flavors are usually fantastic, but that day it was Oreo, which sounds great, but he said that when they do the brulee-ing it burns the Oreos and makes for a somewhat unpleasant charcoal taste. So, we opted for our second choice, the chocolate mousse.

Being an oddball and not crazy about plain chocolate, I usually need a second flavor paired with it like raspberry or caramel, but chocolate mousse is an exception. Kruse and Muer’s version had more of a pudding texture, thicker and not as airy as some mousse I’ve had, but delicious none-the-less.

The only thing that makes me sad about Kruse and Muer is that they have six variations of restaurants in southeast Michigan, but they’re all at least an hour away from where I live. I may have to head out to Somerset Collection more than once every 5 years just for the excuse to come to this restaurant!