01 June 2012

Ann Arbor: Arbor Brewing Co. Pub & Eatery

If you're going out in Ann Arbor on a Saturday night and you have dietary restrictions, this is the place to be.  Not only does the restaurant have a comfortable-yet-nice pub ambience with a logo that'll remind you of Hobbiton, but vegans and those who keep GF can also eat super well here.  So can the people I bullied into ordering vegan in order to help out with the blog.

Haha, just kidding.  I bullied Matt and Becca into hanging out with me.  They were already too scared of me to order something un-vegan.

Yep.  True story.  I'm scary.*

Arbor Brewing Co. Pub & Eatery
114 East Washington St
Ann Arbor, MI  48104
(734) 213-1393

The moment we started ordering, I opened my big mouth so I could go first and get the whole "Hi-I'm-vegan-and-I'm-here-to-make-your-life-as-a-server-super-difficult" conversation out of the way.  Lo and behold, the server's response was not to do a simple run-down of a couple dishes the kitchen could adapt for me, but rather to fetch an entire special diet menu.  It takes care of all the major food allergies, along with vegetarianism and veganism, and touts clear labels for everything.

I ordered a Falafel Wrap for elevenish bucks (which later turned out to be free for reasons that will become clear in a paragraph or two).  The menu mentions a yogurt sauce and feta, so the server, who already knew I'm vegan, told me she'd get the kitchen to hold the dairy.

Fifteen minutes later, our food came.  I took a big excited bite of my wrap...

And chewed...

And swallowed.

Something in there was crumbly and salty in an almost cheesy way.  It almost could have been... feta.

I asked our server when she stopped back in the next minute, and she was horrified on my behalf.  She'd obviously taken care of her end of the bargain and notified the kitchen that they needed to leave that feta off.  Within a few more minutes I had a fresh plate with a real dairy-free Falafel Wrap in front of me.  The server told me she'd removed it from our bill.  Sweet!  Customer service gone right.  Hopefully that feta-filled wrap went toward a good cause and not the garbage bin.

Anyway, the thing was pretty good.  The tomato hummus inside was a little spicy, which was nice, and the ingredients all tasted fresh, but I found it generally lacking in flavor.  I slathered the extra hummus on to improve the taste, which made things better, but not spectacular.  Still, I definitely enjoyed it.

Becca got Veggie Jambalaya for $11.  This dish was also good yet underwhelming.  The veggies were certainly fresh, but Becca and I agreed that they probably hadn't been spiced up enough.  I tasted a good Cajun flavor, I just wanted more of it.  It didn't suck.

Matt's order made up for the mediocre food.  He got the Beer-Battered Tempeh Sandwich for $10.  It came with some pretty good coleslaw and some PERFECT sweet potato fries (which were two-and-a-half extra bucks).  They were spiced with cumin and other herbs, fried to crispiness, and universally addictive.

But the sandwich.  PEOPLE.  The sandwich changed my life.  The tempeh had been, as the title of the dish suggests, beer-battered, then deep fried.  Seriously.  Vegan deep fried food.  When's the last time that happened?  Uh, never.  ('Cept when Becca makes doughnuts.)  So when I took a bite of this sucker, I was transported back to 8 years ago, or whenever the last time I had fried State Fair cheese curds was.  Except this was better.  Is your mouth watering?  Mine is.  The wheaty bun had been toasted with love - it was almost as tasty as the tempeh.

Matt pried the sandwich out of my hands before I ate too much of his dinner.  Nah, just kidding, he never let me hold it in the first place - he held it for me.  He'd tell you this is because he's afraid of contamination, but he's smarter than he may let on.  He really just didn't want me to steal the thing.

Smooth move, husband.  Next time you order a deep fried vegan sandwich I'll be there.  Watching.  Always watching.

Oh, hey Matty - thanks for taking out the garbage yesterday.

* Have you seen my teeth?

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