When deciding on a day trip to Ann Arbor, I believe the respectable thing to do is to eat at Zingerman’s Deli. I mean, why not? It’s delicious, has a store chock full of goodies, and is the place to go in Southeast Michigan. However, this post is not about Zingerman’s. It is about what happens when you venture out of your pastrami and pickle comfort zone and into the streets of Ann Arbor.
We discovered Grange Kitchen & Bar as we walked down a side street, off of the main drag. Our stomachs quickly deciding for us that any food is better than no food, we opened the door that led us down an long, narrow hallway. We were quickly seated at a booth by our friendly host and began to take a look around. The decor was unassuming, just a few large prints of vegetables on cream colored walls. The only other decoration was a wall-sized chalkboard that listed out the days specials, as well as where the vegetables had come from. Because it was brunch, their special for the day was a chocolate chip fritter, for a mere $2.
The menu included some of the usual offerings, but the pairings were less than normal. The fried egg sandwich came with chile mayo, the seasonal vegetable hash with wax beans, and the buttermilk pancakes were lemon. Each thing sounded a little better than the next. Starting with coffee and the charcuterie board, we settled in for some lavish tastings.
Our appetizer arrived quickly, and plated beautifully on a white plate with small glass jars holding duck pate and pickled vegetables. Beets, carrots, and green beans mingled together in their vinegar soft shells and tasted of a bountiful harvest. Michael commented that the pickled pig’s heart was delightful, a word not many would use to describe such an organ. Satisfied with our first tastes, and our velvety coffee, we awaited our entrees.
My mozzarella, basil, and red pepper omelette came out a bright yellow, a sure sign that the eggs came from well kept chickens. Biting into the brunch, it was almost like it was screaming, “SUMMER! This is what summer tastes like!”, because, really, it did. The peppers and basil were fresh, and the mozzarella blended perfectly, not runny at all. The potatoes were also another strong point. Not cooked too much, and with a strong flavor, they complimented my fresh omelette nicely.
Michael was in heaven with his order of the duck confit poutine over two fried eggs. The French fries, crispy, danced with the duck confit, not giving the breakfast too much of a duck flavor. “That was just about the best poutine I have eaten,” were some of the only words I could get out of him in between bites.
Ready for more, we noticed ice cream was on the blackboard. Flavors like popcorn, mint, and lemon balm enticed us to try a few flavors, which all arrived in small glass jars. Each one a creamy blend of the ice cream and its mix in, we were floored. The chocolate Dragon’s Milk, made with the New Holland brew by the same name. Not overpoweringly alcoholic (or chocolate for that matter) I could see it pairing well with a hot summer day. The sage, the more savory of all flavors, left us dreaming of what we could do with all the sage on our front porch. Fresh and distinct, it was a wonderful way to use extra harvest. But finally, the lavender and lemon one was to die for. I could have easily bought an entire gallon of it and chowed down on my journey home. So light and fresh, but never overly sweet, it was like the flavors were meant to be together. After talking to our lovely waiter, he informed us that the ice cream was made in house by their pastry chef-and that she sells pints at Ann Arbor’s Farmers Market every Wednesday. If you want to check her out, which I suggest you do, click here for her Facebook link.
I have to say, I couldn’t be happier with our decision to venture from the norm. An excellent meal, friendly service, and a dessert that will keep us coming back more than we should, sure made our day. To top it all off, we were able to support Michigan farmers while filling our bellies!