Continuing the great eating weekend, Jess and I headed to Taste of Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon. I had attended Taste of Ann Arbor three or four times previously, but always as a worker (I would help out at The Earle – my employer at the time) rather than a spectator. Even though I thought I had experienced Taste of Ann Arbor, it quickly became apparent that I was all wrong.
The set-up was exactly how I remembered it – two blocks of white tents stretching down Main Street. There were a number of downtown and off-the-beaten-path restaurants represented. I thought there seemed to be more restaurants than I remembered there being in previous years – because there were. According to AnnArbor.com, the Taste had a record 39 participating restaurants this year.
Unlike New London’s Food Strolls, where one pays a flat ticket price and has the option of tasting one dish at all participating venues, Taste of Ann Arbor has no admission fee, but sells food tickets for $0.50 each. Each venue then decides how many tickets to charge for each food item – most have three or four offerings. The average ticket price is 4-8 tickets per item, depending on the size, ingredients, etc.
When working Taste, we’d always been given enough tickets to go get something to eat mid-shift. While this was nice, we weren’t really experiencing the point of the event, which is to try a variety of foods, preferably at places that you hadn’t been before. This year, having paid for my tickets, I was very conscious of that objective. Luckily Jess was on the same page.
New restaurants have sprung up all over since I left town almost three years ago. Among the newcomers are Black Pearl (seafood); Melange (a bistro/wine bar); Vinology (wine bar); Blue Tractor (brewery); Jolly Pumpkin (brewery) and the Cupcake Station (guess what they serve). With about $15 worth of tickets, I was able to sample a delicious beef roll from Melange, mini red velvet cupcakes from Cupcake Station, smoked ribs from Blue Tractor, and top it all off with a giant chocolate covered strawberry from Main Street’s dessert staple, La Dolce Vita.
Everything I tried was delicious, but the ribs were a stand out – though perhaps that was because of the delicious smell wafting down the street, drawing throngs of people to the Blue Tractor’s line. I’d also like to note that I could have eaten about 15 of those cupcakes.
I am very excited to try all these new restaurants in the coming months, as well as getting back to my old downtown Ann Arbor favorites such as the Earle (can’t help it, I’ll always love it) and Angelo’s (always crowded, but worth the wait for French toast or eggs Benedict). Hopefully you are looking forward to a lot of food-related blog posts – because they will be coming.