So, on a recent trip to Ann Arbor I had the occasion to eat. Yep, me. I ate. Several times. I am only going to comment on two places here. Two. As in suared. Hah!
The first is VItosha which is, strictly speaking not a dining establishment but a B(ed) and B(reakfast). And so I can comment on the breakfast angle only here? Is that right? Hmmm. Anyway, the place is right on the cusp of odd and wonderful and I think finally went wonderful for me. There is a lovely dog named George (huge) and another with an unknown name (small) and a red headed inn keeper who once lived in Hyde Park, in Chicago, which always gets me. The room we had was wonderful and we actually wished we could stay longer. While directionally challenged in a serious way (no, the library we were looking for was NOT a 15 minute walk), the inn keeper was hostess to a lovely breakfast which involved (in my case) espresso (in a pot!) with cardamon and banana pancakes which were quite lovely especially when absolutely drenched in cassis syrup. I loved the coffee. I loved the way it was served, the way it tasted, and the delightfully somewhat over the top decorating. It made the food and coffee even better.
But the second place is more seriously deserving of the notion that it involves food because. . . yep a restaurant. We dined. We had dinner. Yep. Cafe Habana.We found it on the web and then found it somewhere in deepest Ann Arbor, nearish to the University of Michicagan main (is that south?) campus. We ate well and generally speaking enjoyed ourselves. What did we have? We shared a hearts of palm salad, which was dandy and involved papaya, pepitas and a lime vinagrette. And then? Well, I had a beef dish called ropa viejas which was sort of pulled beef in a tomato sauce. It was absolutely swell beyond belief. It turns out not to be something they made up -- hjust something I did not know about. If you are like me in this regard (especially if you like pulled pork, which I do, and so this really made me happy as a new version for me of pulled meat), click here or here. And the rice that came with it actually was yellow and TASTED OF SAFFRON! I was happy. They came with tostones, which I do love. We did, though, make a tostone related error. We ordered more. We did not need them. My dining companion (and excuse for being in Ann Arbor) had a mysterious dish which was like wet nachos with chicken, white beans and an ancho chili sauce. It was the most comforting food I can conceive of. In fact, I liked it so much I compared it to the best breakfast I have ever ever had. It was called Chilequiles con pollo. It was accompanied with lime crema and avocado. And it was tasty and dangerous and. . . . I suspect not as bad for you as the fact that it seemed bad for you made it seem? (Is that a sentence?) And OMG, there are endless recipes when you google. Here, for example. Who knew? Probably you, but not me!
DRINKS: I had a classic mojito. And It was really good. They actually had enough mint in it and muddled it well. Thus, it tasted like a mojito should -- and not like the nonsense you get too often then you order one. The beer, which was chosen by the second diner, came from "next door" -- a place called the Blue Tractor that we walked by -- a brew pub and. . . yep, pretty good beer.
SERVICE: The service was friendly, timely, and not pushy. My only tweak would (to spare you below) be that she should have told us not to order extra tostones. We wasted them. We had too many just with my meal and I love the darn things.
SETTING: On a sort of main drag in Ann Arbor filled (even though it was summer) with that too-many-students huge university vibe. Having said that, the parking was not that bad.
ON THE WALLS: Havana-ish posters and a huge (well, actually two huge) vases of flowers.
So, yes, I liked it . . . a lot. I need to figure out how to make that dish. Both dishes. Yep.The prices were reasonable, the food actually interesting (and I do not use that word lightly) and the drinks did not overwhelm the food. Yep, I liked it. NO dessert. Ended up at . . . Benn and Jerry's somewhat later where I had. . . yep, ice cream, But Cafe Habana is the deal -- and here's what urban spoon has to say: