In my opinion, besides the Great Lakes and great people, Michigan should be known for three things: stellar universities, awesome U of Michigan blue and yellow pasta, and the Grizzly Peak Brewing Company of Ann Arbor. Let me tell you...there's a lot to roar about.
With cozy coppery lighting, pressed tin ceilings, exposed brick walls, rugged wooden tables, outdoorsy paintings reminiscent of the Adirondacks and toothsome meals large enough for two, it's no wonder Grizzly Peak was rated Michigan's best date place of 2006.
If you stop by for lunch with friends, be sure to order different items and share. That way, everyone can savor the flavors of this first-rate Northern pub. Prices are reasonable: $3-7 for appetizers, and the most expensive lunch item is about $11 for a shrimp or steak salad.
Be sure to try the following:
Cheddar & ale soup with thyme: Creamy and comforting, you can feel the endorphins rushing with every smooth spoonful. The complimentary warm, sweet golden loaf of bread is perfect for dunking.
Baked mac & cheese: Al dente elbow pasta saturated in a blend of three sharp, white cheeses and scattered with truffled herbed bread crumbs. It makes the boxed stuff shudder.
Beer-battered fish & chips with jalapeño coleslaw: Fish & chips always remind me of Frank McCourt's novel Angela's Ashes, where the narrator recalls the time he stole a drunk guy's fish & chips off the floor of a pub. He was so hungry that he licked the crumbs and salt off the paper. I thought my friend would have a similar experience at Grizzly Peak; the beer-battered walleye with crispy fries could have an entire novel chapter dedicated to it. With a slight crunch and a sudden juicy explosion from the moist, mild fish, our taste buds were able to appreciate the complexity of the golden ale batter. Perfect with malt vinegar and a sprinkle of salt.
Grilled Vegetable Dagwood sandwich: Toasted Italian crusty bread, fresh mozzarella, arugula, zucchini, tomato. Normally, I despise mayo, but the cool pesto dipping aioli was a perfect balance for the crunchy bites of bread and vegetables, and the fresh basil.
It wouldn't be fair to judge this place on a few menu items, but then again, if these dishes were that good, I can only imagine the rest-- from the pizzas to salads to ribs, burgers and even the beer!
Visit their Web site. If you stop at the restaurant, be sure to drop me a line. I want to know how you like the beer (shame on me for not sampling)!