I have heard Ann Arbor being described as “Six square miles surrounded by reality.” From the little I have experienced that claim seems pretty spot on. It’s a beautiful, eccentric, and educated city. It’s also hard as hell to drive in and nobody cared to tell me this before I went. If it is your first time going please, bring a GPS or at the very least brush up on your cartography skills because you will definitely need them. It’s like a bowl of spaghetti down there.
Besides a road system that would make Boston blush, another facet of Ann Arbor is the fantastic dining options. Because U of M garners students from across the globe, authentic markets, shops, and restaurants follow in order to cure the homesickness. This is good news for international students and GREAT news for those looking for authentic Korean Bibimbap or Indian Tandoori Chicken. You will also find a lot of nicer, eclectic restaurants that satiate the appetites of a growing population of foodies that flock to Ann Arbor.
From Zingerman’s to Ashley’s and Cherry Republic to Casey’s, there’s a wide range of places to be found in A2.
Emily and I made our way down on a Monday morning for a tour of her Alma Mater (I never thought I’d be dating a Maize and Blue-r), a couple of bites to eat, and maybe a pint or three. We toured the grounds and I couldn’t believe how much the University’s campus looked like a scene from Hogwarts. Straight up. It was beautiful. From the bell tower to Michigan Stadium, I was completely blown away by the architecture and the history of it all. To those of you lucky ones who call Ann Arbor home, I am envious.
For dinner we ate at Sava’s. Emily said this was one of her go-to’s for eating and studying. In the summer they open up a small seating area for outdoor dining and Emily assures me that, if disciplined, one can study for hours on end without risk of interruption or being whisked away by a wayward daydream. The inside is plain but clean with full bar, floor to ceiling windows, and walls that double as canvases for impressionist artwork. It is a place for intimate gatherings amongst close friends.
Our waitress stood out as a down-to-earth, knowledgeable, and amiable hostess. Forgive me for not remembering her name but I recall it sounding like something out of a 70′s love-in. Something celestial sounding. Who knows. What’s important is she sold us an extra $20 or so worth of food based on suggestions and positive vibes. That’s the kind of waitstaff you want working for you if you’re in the biz.
Emily and I work in a tag-team fashion when dining out. We order differently so as not to fall victim to the law of diminishing returns. She ordered fish tacos and I the Bang Bang Shrimp. I could have ordered two more of each. They were that good.
I ordered the BLT which was good but, it’s a BLT so it’s hard to mess up. But the fries. Oh! The sweet potato fries! I usually avoid sweet potatoes. I know they are on an upswing and the culinary world has gone gaga for them but honestly they don’t do it for me. But these sweet potato fries were something else. They were flaky and seasoned and…can I have seconds, please?
As for dessert, or as I call it “Passover”, we ended up with two, thanks to the brilliant salesmanship of Starlight McMoondust. Sava’s employs an in-house pastry chef who, based on our experience, does a fantastic job and he can start work for us next week. For me it was the dense and choco-gasmic Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie that done did me in. For Emily it was a very lady-like ring of meringue drizzled with strawberry-mint coulis. These were two very different angles and the chef should be proud of the work here. I would order dessert every time I go out if I could get sweets that were this good.
The whole experience gave me a very positive feeling. I walked out of Sava’s wanting to explore more of Ann Arbor. I wanted to find little, out of the way stores and tea houses and read about the history of the city’s architecture. That’s what a good meal should do for you. It should lift your spirits up so that you want to experience life head on.
So, get up! Get out! Find your happy place! It’s up to you where that place is but make sure you leave feeling better than before you went in. And always save a little room for dessert…
216 S. State Street, Ann Arbor