My trip home for Christmas and the New Year was an interesting one. It was the first time I’ve been back where I actually got to try some new places as well as the old. Here’s a round up of all the places I didn’t get to write about a couple weeks ago in Part 1…
California Pizza Kitchen – Jamaican Jerk Pizza
It’s probably quite easy to make fun of CPK. It’s a chain that charges almost $4 for a pop, after all. But it remains a decent stand-by when out Christmas shopping. It also happens that it was the first restaurant I ever worked in. There, at a sprightly 16-years-old, I learned how pizza didn’t have to mean ‘pepperoni and cheese’. My favourite pizza to this day at CPK is the zesty Jamaican Jerk. It’s spicy, onion-y heaven.
Mind, Body and Spirits: Sage-crusted Pork Loin
This was my first visit to this independent Rochester restaurant. It’s a bit hippy-ish (they grow all their own produce in a covered greenhouse out back), but I liked it. The pork was coated in a sage and ciabatta crust and served with butternut squash risotto, swiss chard, cranberries and a brown butter vinaigrette. It had a presentation that reeked of the 80s (read: PARSLEY OVERLOAD), but I can’t fault the taste. Very few things in this world go together like pork, butter and dried fruit.
Frita Batidos – Chorizo Frita and Twice Fried Plantains
Frita Batidos is the second restaurant from Eve Aranoff, who is really quite famous in Ann Arbor restaurant circles. She was also on Season 6 of Top Chef. Her flagship restaurant (modestly titled, eve, naturally) is one of my favourites. This new one is a departure. Inspired by Cuban street food, it promises fresh, authentic nosh. My chorizo frita was delicious; chips *ON* the patty, sweet chili mayo. Yum! The plantains were a big miss though. Apparently ‘twice-fried’ just means cooked and then doused in oil.
Pacific Rim – Japanese-Style Sablefish
Oh, Sablefish, how I love thee. I could really write an essay on this dish. Instead, I will tell you that the silky rich texture of one of the best fishes on the planet is only enhanced 10-fold by the delicious soy-tamarind glaze and glass noodles. If you ever find yourself in Ann Arbor, make a special trip for this dish.
The Fleetwood Diner – Breakfast Special
Ok, it’s not exactly fine dining at the Fleetwood, but it’s good proper American breakfast, grease and all, and I love it. It was my last meal before hopping back on a plane to London, and for that (plus the streaky bacon), it was the perfect way to go out.
Till next year, Michigan – you were swell!