Both REB and I recently went to the new French bistro and bar on the north side of Ann Arbor called Mikette Bistro and Bar. It’s the third restaurant opened by owner-operator Adam Baru. He owns two other places both located next to each other in downtown Ann Arbor (on the same block as my office building actually!) called Mani Osteria (a wood fire pizza place) and Isalita (higher end Mexican street food). We have been to both Mani and Isalita, and I have to say, I think Mikette may get the higher vote from me!
This restaurant used to be the small cafe called Cafe Marie, which was known for its weekend brunch. I’m sad we never got to try it, but after more than 20 years, they closed their doors in 2015. Ann Arborites were curious as to what would go into that space, and were pleasantly surprised it would be this new French place!
Walking into Mikette, both REB and I felt like we were going to a brasserie or cafe like the ones we frequented in Paris. Given Adam apparently spent summers in France, it was pretty spot-on. The only big difference is that the places in Paris are tiny and tables are right next to each other since they try to pack as many people into it as possible. The “American” touch of having it be more of a place suited to fit Americans so you actually have room for your elbows, was nice. But the details! Ohhh the details!
The central area was lined with the giant red booth and then little bistro tables were set around around it. The bar was long and beautifully lit and actually crowded with folks seated there. They even had tall two-person booths along the window to the side. The ceiling is kept exposed for the most part, but there are giant French posters stuck up there so when you’re sitting you can look up and see a vintage fashion or entertainment French poster.
We could tell the menu had a southern France theme to it, since so many dishes features flavors of Procvence and there are even some Moroccan-influenced dishes. French food in general is actually a vegetarian’s worst nightmare. There isn’t a lot the French can offer people who don’t eat steak, chicken, or raw ham tartare (yes, we did see that while in Paris). We had a hard time during our honeymoon since we were getting sick of having eggs, goat cheese salads or bread for almost every meal – haha. However, we were surprised and happy with the options Mikette did have for us! REB figured out quickly that the left column of their small plates menu was all vegetarian-friendly and the right was all non-vegetarian. After perusing the menu for a few minutes, our server suggested we order several things since they would come out as they’re prepared. We decided to go with:
• Gougeres (goat cheese popovers)
• Pomme Frites (because obviously)
• Bread & Butter (because Zingermans)
• Omelette to split
I was so happy with our choices! The bread and butter we knew wouldn’t be a bread basket, but probably just a baguette with some salted creamed butter and it was just delicious! Honestly, I could have eaten more than they offered ;)
The popovers were a-ma-zing! The goat cheese and black pepper were bold flavors that didn’t clash! The dough was so soft and almost delicate that it felt like it melted when we’d bite into it.
I don’t think I need to go into detail about the French fries. They were cooked to perfection, crispy and the aioli that came with it was delicious. The star of the night for us was the ratatouille. It was served almost like a bruschetta! The Provencal flavors were so prominent, the tomatoes and vegetables roasted to perfection and were still juicy and when topped on the goat cheese crostini – I can’t tell you the magic that was happening. It was so, so good and I secretly wished we had ordered two I didn’t have to share with anyone.
Next up: the omelet. When it was originally served, one of the servers came by and said they noticed it looked to “herby” so they took it back in order for it to be prepared the proper way. I was actually shocked by this but so happy they did this for us! It was a pretty classic omelet, complete with French trifold, still soft and not overcooked and while we would have probably eaten the super heavy-on-the-herbs one, they get top marks for recognizing that and redoing it for us!
Our night ended with dessert: creme brulee for me and pot de chocolate for him as well as a kir royale to finish. I have to tell you: The French know how to do dessert and the folks at Mikette took that on pretty well. Both were so rich, decadent and I’m glad they were the serving size they were since it was so rich!
Overall, we had a wonderful dining experience: the staff was well informed, recommended some great things for us, offered tips when ordering and were friendly and attentive. The food was superb and the atmosphere wasn’t stuffy like some French places can be. We will absolutely be back here and we’ve been raving about it all weekend to friends in the hopes they too will go and enjoy!
So, well done Adam. Not only do have two successful restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor, but you’ve managed to create a pretty authentic French brasserie experience for residents too!
What about a restaurant impresses you the most?