And so it ends here. Four great years at UM for my daughter and four great years for her parents. We had some fine meals along the way and here is my final report after five days in Ann Arbor for graduation.
1. Blue Tractor. My kid loves the place as any college kid would. The beer selection, particularly the flights were solid and inexpensive. The food was meh. Bar food. BT nachos were acceptable my brisket sandwich was not. No smoke ring or smoke flavor. Tailgater was a pork festival, decent. Baby backs were too covered in sauce for me to tell if there was evidence of smoke. We skipped dessert and just kept drinking.
2. Chop House. An excellent meal. We went straight from her major graduation at the State Street Theatre up the block. There were nine of us and they gave us the downstairs wine cellar room and it was private and attractive. We had most of the menu. Standouts were the venison chops, lobster gnocchi and strip steaks. No surprises, just excellent steak house fare. Despite the crazy priced wine list my wine expert brother in law found a $38 bottle of cab that was delicious, each bottle of it that we had.....
3. The Grange. A mixed bag. We have been here twice before but this time with the pressure of graduation weekend they underperformed. Things started well with solid cocktails and beers. Things were looking up with apps as we had the charcuterie, duck fat fries, fried livers and tacos. The mains were a disaster. Both orders of the fish were so badly undercooked they were sent right back and one came back still so undercooked it was sent back and replaced, by choice, with nothing. A special was wiped off the board at 6 pm, on a Saturday night of graduation weekend, it was the one special a few of us wanted. The rest of the mains were all underwhelming and unmemorable. Another local fish, some chops and forgettable sides.
4. Black Pearl. We had never been here before, enjoyable and a great place to drink. Again, great cocktails and tasty small plates. The "famous fish taco" was indeed delicious, especially when we swapped out the farmed fish for swordfish. Guacamole, rib tips, bahn mi, scallops and seared tuna were all very good. The sweet potato beignets were the unanimous winner from a solid dessert menu.... and after dinner drinks.
5. Gandy Dance Sunday Buffet. a good choice and new to us. To many dishs to remember but everyone was pleased. Nothing amazing just well prepared, good variety and a nice place to relax on a Sunday morning with family. It's a Sunday buffet so keep expectations in check.
6. Zola Bistro (Washtenaw ave) I don't think I have visited in four years and not eaten at one of the two Zola Bistro. I love the crab cake benedict and the family gets whatever the pancake special and other egg dishs. Omelets, ranchero, frittatas. all done well. We usually order from the breakfast choices not lunch items. Fresh squeezed oj, good coffee and the pastry basket to start.
I will miss Aventura, Frita Batida, Mani and of course Zingerman's. The Reuben on that house made, thick cut rye.
Thanks for all the Ann Arbor Chowhound advise.