leave your inhibitions at the door
Ann Arbor isn’t your usual Midwestern town. Even though it only has about 115,000 people, thanks to the University of Michigan being here, it has a lot interesting qualities – highly educated, low unemployment, strong affinity for the arts. So it’s no surprise that the restaurant scene is equally intriguing. In my laziness to cook dinner, we’ve been to a LOT of the restaurants here. And in my even greater laziness when it comes to writing, only a fraction of those experiences made it to the blog.
This is the first of a three-part series that takes a look at the recent history of the A2 food scene, its current state, and what the future could hold. Even if you don’t live in A2, I’m sure there’s enough similarities to your neck of the woods.
I was going through my Dining Guide and realized I probably should update it. There were a few recent reviews that I hadn’t added to the page, a few for restaurants that are no longer around, and one that’s changed to the point where it’s a completely different restaurant. I’ve updated the guide for that first group, so bookmark that for when you’re looking for something to eat – not just here in A2, but in Chicago, Denver, New York, Mexico, and other places.
Now what to do with the reviews for places that are gone or changed…
My first impulse is to pull them from the site so I can recycle some of my old gags. But then I wonder if I should keep them around because… because… Um, I’m not sure there’s a good reason to keep the posts around.
Here’s a recap of the ones in question –
Vinology: At the time it was written, I was excited that they were using some molecular gastronomy techniques for some really interesting dishes. But as I noted in the post, they changed chefs very often. I went back a few months later and the food changed to something not so good. I took a look at their current menu online and there are some really high-concept items. It’s hard to figure out what to call it as there are global influences, classic cuisine, and farm-to-table. But it looks like it comes at a price – braised octopus for $44, a ribeye for $45, lake trout for $35, and a game hen for $30. I think I’m going to wait for a recommendation before I take that plunge. Or an invitation from the management.
Wafel Shoppe: Let’s see… Inconsistent service and paying $11 because it’s a “wafel” and not a “waffle”? This needed to be a walk-up window or a food truck. It was doomed. BUT – my review was one of a kind and featured this picture of Lindsay Lohan.
Admit it, you really want to read the review now.
Kuroshio: Like Wafel Shoppe, it was doomed because the ownership thought that people would shell out way more money than necessary. In this case, they thought people would pay $18 for a vegetable stir fry because it was a gorgeous, upscale space. But two other things doomed it. First, they didn’t get a liquor license for several months, and that was too hard to recover from. And second, they were Asian Fusion which was about a dozen years too late. I guess a third reason was that they weren’t really restaurateurs, but a young kid who convinced his parents to blow all their retirement money on an ill-conceived restaurant.
Vellum: This one hurt. I liked this place so much that I reviewed it TWICE. I loved how they made an effort to create high-concept dishes with innovative techniques. Unlike rustic, farm-to-table restaurants that gave us really expensive roasted chicken, Vellum tried to hit home runs with every dish. The problem was that they struck out just as often as they connected. There were wildly inconsistent – from visit to visit and even within one sitting. The highs were really high, but they couldn’t overcome the lows.
Most of the other restaurants that I’ve reviewed are pretty much the same, which is a problem I’ll delve into in part two.