Tag Archives: restaurant review

Mikette Bistro and Bar

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. FullSizeRenderFrench 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)
• Ratataouille
• 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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

Aparna in Wonderland

This past weekend I was able to indulge in a treat fit for a queen! …Of hearts, that is. REB and I went to Mad Hatter Bistro/Bar/Tea Room in Birmingham, MI (about 60 miles northeast of Ann Arbor in metro Detroit). 

Before we go any further, I need to preface that anyone who knows me well knows how much I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and generally, all things Alice in Wonderland. It’s one of my favorite books/stories of all time and I love both the original story by Lewis Carroll, but also the Disney version. My sister and best friends even threw me a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for my bridal shower before I got married! My office has several copies of the book that I’ve been collecting versions over the years. If I ever see a copy with new illustrations, or cover art, or in a different language, I get it. It’s probably silly or nonsense, but…”if I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense!”

So anyway, when I had heard last year (or maybe it was even the year before) there was a tea room, bar and restaurant opening near Detroit that would be Alice in Wonderland-themed, I have been dying to go. I finally decided to make it happen over the weekend. REB was gracious enough to accompany me – major points to him!

The ambiance of this place was very whimsical. It was not a formal tea place, like what REB and I experienced when we went for high tea in Copenhagen last year. That place was a typical place for high tea, where they brewed their own tea blends, had fine china and only open for a few hours a day strictly for tea.

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This place was definitely more like a hipster bar and had a whimsical charm. Dimly lit upstairs, the walls had an array of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia complete with playing cards, clocks, checkered paint details, tea pots, etc.

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I was actually a little concerned that we would be having tea in such a darkly lit place. But then we were taken downstairs where it was a complete 180! They had a cute little tea room downstairs where the walls were covered with fake grass/turf, little water fountains were displayed, the ceiling had silk roses (in red and white!) hanging from it, mismatched tea cups and saucers sat on each table and each table donned a different style and shape of arm chair.

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One thing people need to know about this place is that you have to make a reservation for a tea party. I think if you were to go in for brunch, drinks or dinner you wouldn’t need one, but they do state on their web site that for a tea party, you have to make a reservation. Their weekends fill up pretty quickly, I guess! I also took a look at their tea menu since it’s a fixed price but you receive the following: Three-tiered stand filled with finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream (or marscapone here), jam/curd, and small local pastries and fruit, and of course, bottomless tea! The finger sandwiches included a salmon one, so when I called to make the reservation I had mentioned we were vegetarian which they took note and said we would just get their vegetarian option.

REB and I first tried different teas and then shared the second pot. The first one I had was a Paris blend of vanilla and caramel and he went simple with English breakfast black tea. The second time around, we got a pot of their Mad House Blend which had strong hints of cardamom — it was delicious!

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Next up: the food! Like I stated earlier with the tea party you receive a three-tiered stand with the bottom layer having cucumber and mint finger sandwiches, canapes of artichoke and spinach; and red pepper and hummus. The second tier had four scones – two chocolate chip, two lemon poppy seed and they came with lemon curd and marscapone cheese (no clotted cream on this side of the pond :( ). The final tier had mini desserts of lemon cheesecake, a chocolate chip cake cookie, fudge brownie and nutella and cream parfaits.

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Overall the food was pretty good. My biggest disappointment was that I noticed other tables that had the meat/salmon option for the finger sandwiches had those plus the things we had. I had hoped and kind of wished that because we said we were vegetarians, they would have just given us more of the cucumber and mint sandwiches, but they didn’t. Kind of a bummer and rip off, but what we did have we liked.

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Lemon poppyseed scone with marscapone and lemon curd

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As stated before, the tea party was a fixed price, which is a touch on the spendy side. It costs $24/person and tip is not included. You’re definitely paying for the ambiance, experience and location (Birmingham is a pretty affluent city).

I thought back to what we spent in CPH and if we had done a similar tea menu there like we did here, it was roughly 225KR which is $32.50, so I guess it’s at least cheaper than Europe! Of course, we didn’t do that in CPH so it was cheaper, but still. Good to know!

I don’t know that we will go here again, at least not for a tea party. Their main menu and brunch menu sound really delicious and have fun names for all the items, though! So that might be worth a try. Having said that, price aside, I could see this being a cute place to have a party for a little girl or something, though it would likely cost quite a bit.

I am glad we went. It was cute, fun and I appreciate the detail they put into making it feel like you were in the hedge garden and having tea with the Mad Hatter and March Hare. And like the Mad Hatter always says….

What about you? Have you ever “splurged” on something silly like a dining experience?