Last edition from Ecovore: Mansion Views: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Ann Arbor is close to yet worlds apart from Detroit. In this college town, real-food disciples worship at the altar of local sustainable seasonal. Cheap eats are scarce, but by measures of nourishment and flavor, you get your money’s worth.
My discoveries focus on low-on-the-food-chain fare, with a number of taste combinations I’ll be trying at home.
Silvio’s Organic Pizza. This family-run enterprise uses hyper-local ingredients such as basil from Silvio Medoro’s hydroponic garden. To top a whole wheat crust (gluten-free also available), I chose soy cheese, chewy mushrooms and rapini. Lightly sauced, it was great when consumed fresh and warm. The vegan+gluten-free chocolate mousse: sublime. Some nights, live bands play; others, dancers tango. Anytime, positive people fill the place, including staff like John Everett (“It would be so cool if everyone were a vegetarian”) and Angelic Vasquez (“whatever you get here you know is healthy and good”).
Seva. The cheery setting makes for a great place to hang out whether you’re dressed up or in jeans. I didn’t share the locals’ passion for the yam fries, though they make good mops for the gingery dipping sauce. But the salad of minced roasted peanuts, kale, carrots, yellow and red peppers and peanut-cider vinaigrette was a deeply satisfying experience. I’ll return for one of the highly praised vegan and gluten-free entrees – and the ginger dairyfree-cream tart. Looking for laughs? Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase is in the same building.
Frita Batidos. Chef Eve Aronoff’s new eatery reflects her passion for superbly seasoned, winsomely presented Cuban street food-inspired fare combining super-fresh ingredients. Oh, the tomatoes! Vegan choices include the delectable ginger-lime juice claimed to have healing powers, coconut ginger rice with cilantro lime salsa, and tropical fruit-nut salad with greens dressed with smoky guava vinaigrette and festooned with pepitas, macadamias and shaved coconut, served on a banana leaf. Side with zippy black bean with chipotle and slender plantain curls. The long white family-style tables add to the fun.
Jazzy Veggie. Small portions but big bright flavors at this downtown vegan eatery. Spring for the chewy-crispy vegan take on crab-cakes with a lemon-cilantro tartar analog. The couscous orange salad combines garbanzo beans, raisins, sliced almonds and aromatic ginger-lime. The saffron artichoke soup is amazing. I also heard raves for the quinoa-sweet potato burger, portobello-dressed bread fresh from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and veggie pizza. Good job, Ananth Pullela.
The Lunch Room. After a well-received first season, Phillis Engelbert and Joel Panozzo will resume serving all-vegan comfort food in April at the Mark’s Carts courtyard by Downtown Home & Garden. BBQ tofu, Pad Thai, rice paper-wrapped summer rolls, tangy slaw, and for dessert, carrot-flecked orange chewies.
Ann Arbor covers the ethnic front with fine eateries that include:
Ayse’s Turkish Café. A few miles north of town, Ayse Uras seasons her tasty creations with joy. Among sensations: a rich tomato and swiss chard soup, white bean salad with parsley and bell peppers, lightly sauteed yellow and red peppers, an earthy lentil-cabbage-squash stew on rice accented with dill. While other diners praised the wine, I sucked down traditional sour cherry juice. In the interest of thorough reporting, I ordered “Noah’s Ark,” one of the vegan desserts. Wheatberry and walnut bits in a creamy rose water spiked sea. Very inspired – and densely divine. So is Ayse’s baked pear, a glossy dome redolent of cloves.
Earthen Jar. Adored by locals, this mostly vegan Indian buffet features fine dal, eggplant and tofu and spinach dishes – accompanied by Bob Marley tunes.
Tios. This family-run tequila bar serves tasty portabella mushroom tacos and edamame tacos.
Jerusalem Garden. The stuffed grape leaves toms currants, tabbouleh quinoa and hummus come highly recommended.
Cafe Verde and People’s Food Coop. Salad bar and hot bar, soups, juices, Roos roast and other local brews just steps from Kerrytown Market.
But wait, there’s more. Ecovore will post on the Ann Arbor tea and dessert scene and maker-shakers in the coming weeks. Keep watch.
Ecovore bikes: Rent a ride from Campus Student Bike Shop: http://campusstudentbikeshop.com/services.nxg in business since 1961.
Ecovore sleeps: The Holiday Inn, south of town on Boardwalk Drive is a really clean, quiet, friendly haven and an easy bike ride from downtown.