leave your inhibitions at the door
I work in the corporate world and, as anyone who works in the corporate world will tell you, I’m in more conference calls than you can shake a stick at. I also work from home and, as those in the corporate world who work from home can attest to, you need to get out of the house occasionally. I love Doobie (my cat), but her meowing/yammering doesn’t make for good conversation. And as much as I love to cook, I often don’t have the time or energy to make my own lunch. So I go out for lunch – often to Produce Station and Biercamp.
Just last week, a new place – simply called “Eat” – opened up a block away from Casa del Hedonist. This is the space that was formerly occupied by BTB (nee Big Ten Burritos). Being the burrito fiend I am, I would go to BTB a couple of times a week but they closed this outlet as the economy started to go south.
So what’s the next logical thing that happens when an eatery doesn’t do well and closes? Replace it with another! With somewhat eclectic cuisine! By a former architect-turned-restaurateur! The next place to occupy the spot for about a year or so was Marcano’s, a South American eatery. I could appreciate the food she made and could see talent there, but I think she took on too big a challenge. South American food in a town that can’t field a decent Italian place because of all the Korean/Indian joints is going to be a tough sell. There was also a lack of seating (3-4 stools and 2 outdoor tables) to contend with. But the biggest downfall for Marcano’s was inexperience in running a carryout place. I’d often have to wait 20 minutes for a small appetizer portion which is way too long for lunch. Even if I phoned an order in ahead of time they couldn’t meet the promised time. So the surprise with Marcano’s closing is that it didn’t happen sooner.
I was driving by the empty spot last week and saw the sign for Eat. I stopped in last Thursday to learn that it was their second day of operation there. I gather from their website that they’ve been around as a catering operation so the fact that they have a built-in customer base and, you know, experience and talent gives me hope for them. One thing that immediately stood out was that they managed to stuff a small round table in one of the corners to instantly double their occupancy.
Overall, the food was really good and came out in a timely manner. I phoned in a sandwich order the next day and it was ready as promised – something BTB often didn’t deliver on (although I think it was because BTB had too many stoners working the register). They have sandwiches, soups, salads and braised dinners that I guess you can describe as “farm to table”-style. Slightly comfort foodish with high quality ingredients. Not sure what “Green Bacon” is, but it was fantastic on their Green BLT. Prices aren’t cheap, but they aren’t Zingerman’s level, either. I think it’s best to describe them as very fair, which is about all I can ask for. Sandwiches ran $7-9.
The other thing I noticed that bodes well for them is that they’re a bunch of hipsters. And Ann Arbor loves their hipsters. So the best I way I could come up with to introduce their food was to use the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone for the pictures. With the lack of true colors and odd focus it made some of the sandwiches look like Doobie’s puke, so I substituted standard pics where necessary.
As always – Say you heard of them through this blog. You won’t get anything but, if enough of you say it, I might…