PPNA Happenings

Happenings, history and news of the Prospect Park Neighborhood and Ypsilanti

Archive for the ‘dining/store reviews’ Category

The Tap Room

Posted by ppna on March 4, 2009

I’m very happy to say that the Tap Room expansion is terrific. The regular Tap Room is still there with the same regulars and the same look and you hardly notice the expansion until to walk into it. With not one but two new spaces the Tap Room has gone from being a great bar to a great spot for everything.

The center section, which was Fast Eddies is now the game room and includes 2 pool tables, pin ball machines, and shuffleboard along with a few tables and stools to sit and chat.

The Annex portion is a very well done space with booths and table for good relaxing eats (and as I understand it is Smoke Free) and most importantly they have a stage. Live Music is back at the Tap Room. Monday is Open Mike, Tuesday The Witch Doctors Play, Thursday They have Electric Open Mike, Friday they have Jon Latini and friends, and Saturday they have different live acts. Check out the calender here.

If you haven’t been in a while I’d like to remind you that the Tap Room has very good food too.

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Cady’s closes to open in 2 months

Posted by ppna on January 26, 2009

If you read this site you know I have always promoted Cady’s.    I never went there for dinner primarily because of the pricing even though Jerry, the Chef who took over Cady’s last year, correctly stated that their hamburger, wings, and other ‘bar food’ prices were on par with the other Depot Town restaurants.

The Bar area at Cady’s has always been the best kept secret in town.  Recently I’ve been able to convince my friends to start going to Cady’s over other local places.   All I know so far is what I read in the brief Ann Arbor news article.  There is a sign on the door but I haven’t gone to read it yet.   Apparently Cady’s will re-open in a couple of months into a BBQ themed restaurant called Wild Willy’s.    I’m not sure why they are closing for 2 months since the restaurant  already has a trapper theme which seems to fit with BBQ (much more than with the ‘fine dining’ they had been trying to).

For Bill and Sandee — Here are the things I really liked about Cady’s and hope you keep.

NO SMOKING —  We need a non-smoking bar in Ypsilanti,  I really don’t mind smoke in a bar but I have a lot of friends that won’t go to smokey places and I hate smelling like an ashtray when I get home.

GOOD DRAFT BEER — Cady’s recent influx of folks and one of the primary reasons my friends made the switch was Franziskaner,  I’d like to see even more taps too especially promoting some of the new and old Frog Island Brews.

STAFF — Use the same practices in hiring staff and creating a customer centered atmosphere.   The staff at Cady’s, especially the bar tenders, have always been really good.   At Cady’s it seemed, as a customer, that the slacker employees were run out by the good employees.   Please keep the Cady’s core employees and bring them back as a group.

MONTHLY DINNERS — I love the monthly dinners and have yet to find someone that doesn’t enjoy them.  I think Jerry figured out the perfect pattern.  Around $20 with good food and drinks.

Some things to think about

Ypsilanti is lacking a full service comfortable bar for the non-college crowd please try to expand on the Cady’s bar area instead of changing it.

There are enough bars with a million TVs

Price Price Price —  You know Depot Town don’t price yourself out of the community

Ask the Community what they want to see and involve them as much as possible.  Don’t do things like closing the doors unannounced its a bit crappy.

Refund my $50.00 — I bought a $50.00 gift cert for my folks so they could have an enjoyable dinner (Yes $50.00 was the cost for dinner and drinks for 2 at Cady’s).   My guess is that my folks won’t go to Wild Willys so now what do I do.

I guess that is all I have for you at this moment.

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Dave French’s U-Brew

Posted by ppna on December 30, 2008

If you haven’t noticed the U-Brew store on Washtenaw Avenue has a big ‘FOR RENT’ sign in the window and the store is all but packed up.   Today I stopped in to see Dave and asked him what was going on.   The bad news is that the store is closing but for a good reason.    Dave told me he plans on going into full scale production of  ‘Frog Island’ beer and he needed a place with a loading dock as well as time to promote the beer.   Dave found a place in Scio Twp. that fit his needs so he’ll be moving away from Ypsilanti and will no longer serve as a U-brew store.    If you need beer making supplies I believe Mike still sells them at the old farm bureau on Forest avenue and Dave is closing out some of the items at his store (good time to pick up a car boy or Mead.    For folks, like me, who enjoy stopping in and talking with dave and picking up the occasional supply the closing of the store is a sad piece of news but I am very delighted that sometime in the early summer of 2009 I’ll be able to stop by a local party store and pick up a 22 of some fantastic Frog Island Beer.

Thanks Dave —  I can’t wait to drink the new brews on a regular basis (If you haven’t had any of the new varieties of Frog Island Beers they are fantastic)

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Lunch At Biggies

Posted by ppna on May 8, 2008

While at the Crossroads Festival I noticed the location of ‘Biggie’s Fine Foods’ at 16 North Washington across from Club Devine. They weren’t open on Sunday but I kept them in mind and today I walked to Biggie’s to give them a try.

Biggie’s has a good mix of food. They have a complete line of Soul-Food along with ‘fast food’ staples like Hamburgers, Chili Dogs, and a variety of hot sandwiches. Today I was there to try their $1.00 hamburgers. The hamburgers were a lot like McDonalds burgers but it was much nicer eating a burger cooked in a friendly local environment.  Biggie’s has full sized burgers that I’d like to try too including the 1/2 pound Biggie Burger which I’m sure are different than McDonalds.  I certainly recommend picking up a burger or two before heading to one of the Downtown establishments for a cocktail.

I haven’t tried anything from the Soul-Food portion of the menu but I can’t wait to. When I visited there was a large group of folks eating buffet style and from the number of people that asked for to-go boxes I have the impression that the food was good.

My official review of Biggies for a quick pre/post bar meal is:  4.5 Watertowers

  • Food Good and fairly priced
  • Staff Incredibly Friendly
  • Atmosphere is what I like to see – Not too much money spent but clean

Hours are M-Th 11am – 9:30pm   Fri/Sat  11am – 10:30pm   Closed Sunday except Soulful Sunday

Call ahead for carry out orders 734-484-3434

I will review Biggies on their soulfood menu next time I go.

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    Aubree’s Saloon in Depot Town 3.2 water towers and dropping

    Posted by ppna on April 16, 2008

    Aubree’s Saloon in Depot Town has remained consistent since it changed from the Alibi in the 80s and I’ve been a semi-regular since the early 90s. The Pizza is exceptional, the subs, sandwiches and wings are very good and the rest of the food is generally good.

    Aubrees Depot Town has enough TVs to keep track of your favorite sporting events but it isn’t an overwhelming ‘sports’ bar it’s a good place to hang out with friends if they can handle smoke. As with any bar in Depot Town the service is always suspect and the turnover seems to be quite high. The wait staff are always pleasant and seem to be encouraged to sit with customers which is nice if you are the one they are sitting with and really crappy if you need something and they are involved chit-chatting.

    My rating of 3.2 water towers (out of 5, 3 is a good grade) for Aubrees is a 4 for food quality — compared against average bar food menu, 2 for service, 3.5 for atmosphere, 2 because of smoke but that is part of life so I’m not holding it against them too much.

    The Reason Aubrees is dropping fast is management and customer service. I will give you a few examples of where they failed my expectations.

    • On Monday I saw this advertisement
      Trivia Tournaments every Tuesday @ Aubrees
      Four Rounds featuring Gift Cards for each round winner and overall points winner wins “Cold Hard Cash” Special Bonus for players who participate in all four rounds. First Round Starts @ 7:30pm. Space is limited so arrive early.
      One Friend showed up at 6:50pm on Tuesday and they told him the event was canceled because of lack of people. I was in a meeting at Cafe Luwak and was across the street at Aubrees at 6:55pm with 3 other neighbors only to find out the event was canceled. There was no apology for bringing us out under false pretenses or any regret shown. It is in very poor taste to cancel an event because of lack of attendance — The show must go on.
    • Last Friday I had a similar experience at Sticks. Tree Fort is advertised as the $4.25 beer of the month and they had run out but instead of substituting another we ended up paying $5.75 for a beer. The crappy thing about it for me was that I was at the Corner Brewery. I was able to be talked out of the Corner at happy hour because I knew I could get the same beer at same/better price at Aubrees. When we asked the waitress about the pints of Michigan Beer for $2.50 she told us there was no such special which we later found out there was. Our waitress was seldom seen so it was hard for us to communicate our concerns with her so we just gave in.
    • A couple of months ago was yet another situation where we were told at 6:30pm that NTN happy hour deal (free drink when you win at trivia) was running from 3-6 and it being 6:30pm my winning didn’t count. The very next day I arrived at 3 to play trivia and was told my winning didn’t count because NTN trivia happy hour runs from 4-7pm. In every case there was no apology or concern for the patron it was a ‘that’s the way it is mentality.’

    These customer service problems are only associated with Aubrees Depot Town. Aubree’s Tavern on Whittaker Road has Bob Roberts in charge and that place is run very smoothly. With the same menu Aubree’s Tavern scores at least 4 water towers and is only lacking because the atmosphere is a little to generic.

    I certainly recommend Aubrees which is why I continue to go just don’t believe their advertising. With that being said here is their list of things that may or may not be happening on a weekly basis.

    The Price is Right!
    Every Monday 8pm @ Aubree’s we will be playing America’s favorite Game show! Win Gift Certificates and Prizes with great drink specials

    80’s Night
    Every Wednesday join us for your favorite decade music game with live DJ and prizes along with great drink specials

    Rockband Tournament!
    Stick’s is hosting the hottest new video game competition where you can be the star of the show. Get your band together because your first gig is Thursday at 9pm

    March Madness
    Join us for All the Games with BIG SCREENS, BIG BEERS & BRACKETS for the entire Tournament.

    Trivia Tournaments every Tuesday @ Aubrees
    Four Rounds featuring Gift Cards for each round winner and overall points winner wins “Cold Hard Cash” Special Bonus for players who participate in all four rounds. First Round Starts @ 7:30pm. Space is limited so arrive early.

    Tuesday Motorcycle Gathering
    Tuesday is Motorcycle night at Aubrees. No, these are hells angels they are Triumph, KTM, BMW, Ducati types and there are some fantastic bikes to look at parked on the street in front. They seem like a very friendly bunch so if you have a bike you should stop by and join them.

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    Bread For Sale

    Posted by ppna on April 7, 2008

    I took this off the Cafe Luwak blog.

    Bread for Sale at Cafe Luwak!

    Saturday, March 29. 2008

    I often get asked from customers if they can buy a loaf of bread, and I will usually sell a loaf when asked, but we have never really had a good process for it. I don’t really expect to sell too much of the Italian or the wheat because they are pretty basic breads, but I am sure there are a number of people who would like to buy the Challah or the Rye for home. I personally think the Challah makes really good French toast. If you would like some of our great bread to take home, just come in and ask for a loaf.

    Challah (2lb) $5.50
    Corn Rye (2lb) $5.25
    Italian (2lb) $5.25
    Wheat (1lb) $2.95

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    Lunch in Ypsilanti #4 — Nathan’s Family Soul Food

    Posted by ppna on March 30, 2008

    You’d expect in a town like Ypsilanti the Soul-Food would be great and it is.

    Nathan’s is located next to Value World at 1396 E. Michigan Ave. at Harris, I believe the site was formerly the $99.00 casket store. Don’t let the appearance fool you although the store looks like it might be abandoned the kitchen produces great food. There are a couple of tables in the front to sit at but they are used more for ToGo order pick-ups. It’s not a place to take a date its a place to take food away from and eat.

    Today I bought the Sunday Special — BBQ Ribs, Cornbread Dressing, Greens, Yams and Cornbread for $11.50 — On my first sitting I only finished about 1/3rd of my order. The rib sauce is a bit plain but Nathan’s doesn’t rely on the sauce they take pride in the smoking and a nice consistent smoky flavor is what you get. The Greens, as always, were fantastic and spicy and then there were the Yams. The Yams came in a small portion but they tasted like sweet apple pie filling and were a perfect desert. The Cornbread dressing was the consistency of mashed potatoes and was topped with gravy and very good. The only thing I didn’t like was the cornbread itself it was dry and not very flavorful. I would guess the dry cornbread is due to a lack of business more than a bad recipe. They can’t keep making new cornbread so previous bakings sit a little too long.

    Nathans has a complete line-up of Soul Food including Pork-Chop $5.95 , Catfish $5.25, Whitting $4.25, and BBQ $6.25 Sandwiches — If I remember correctly the BBQ sandwich isn’t pulled pork it is actually ribs on a bun which is impossible to eat but very good. They also have complete dinners including Pig Feet and as expected thier wings and wing-dings are said to be fabulous. What I find best of all are their sides. I haven’t had the opportunity to experience them all but if you go you must get a side of Mac & Cheese and Black Eyed Peas.

    Nathan’s Hours are

    Mon,Tues, Wed Noon -8pm

    Thurs, Fri, Sat Noon-9pm

    Sunday 1-6pm

    Please do me a favor and visit Nathans so they can stay in business and I can continue to enjoy their food. Nathan’s will also cater so think about them for your next big event.

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    Lunch in Ypsilanti #3 — Cafe Luwak

    Posted by ppna on March 30, 2008

    I give Cafe Luwak a 5-Water Tower rating (out of 5).

    Located in Depot Town Cafe Luwak is a combination sandwich shop, ice-cream parlor, and coffee shop which means its a great place for anybody and everybody. I visited Saturday afternoon and was happy to see a good variety of people enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. There were several people using their laptops to take advantage of the free wireless signal, there were family playing games, and there were people enjoying the coffee, ice-cream, and/or sandwiches.

    The sandwiches are made fresh to order and several of the choices are grilled. I would have liked to see a handful of Better Maid Potato chips with my sandwich along with the pickle spear but I guess you can’t have it all. All of the sandwiches I’ve tried have been very good and the selection is plentiful. They have a soup and sandwich option and given that they make all soups from scratch I’m sure the soups are very good.

    The Ice-Cream is provided by Strohs and is better than average. They have all of the toppings to provide a great combination of sundaes and if you like Shakes and Floats they have more than their share of flavors to be added so go and be creative.

    I’m not a coffee drinker by they seem to have all of the fancy coffee creations. They also sell coffee by the pound from local roasters and a couple of times a year they bring in Luwak Coffee (poop coffee) for tasting. To me the Luwak coffee tasted like coffee.

    My one complaint is that the Connect Four game was broken which made playing a complete game impossible. I’ve brought this to the attention of Forrest and I hope he corrects the problem.

    Remember there is FREE DELIVERY TO THE CORNER BREWERY which is quick and easy.

    It’s not just me that loves Cafe Luwak —

    Voted “Best Sandwich Shop” in Southeast Michigan
    in the WDIV’s “4 the Best” Competition!

    Our sandwiches were voted #1 by EMU
    in the Eastern Echo’s “Best Of” publication!

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