Lunch at the Lunch Room

mac 'n "cheese"

While I had enjoyed dessert at The Lunch Room previously, this was my first meal there and I really enjoyed it! The Lunch Room is a vegan restaurant with two locations in Ann Arbor. We visited their original location in Kerrytown.

Southwest Bowl

I ordered the Southwestern Salad, which was a layered bowl of shredded cabbage, Cuban black beans, cumin-lime rice, corn, avocado & fresh pico de gallo salsa. It was served with tortilla chips and chipotle ranch dressing on the side. It was delicious and a generous portion, I took a bit home for lunch the next day. I would definitely order again.

Dave ordered the Mac & Cheese. The “cheese” is made with butternut squash and red bell peppers. It’s topped with almonds, lemon zest, and sesame seeds. While delicious, it definitely was not cheesy tasting. Dave also too leftovers home for lunch the next day.

I had an Arnold Palmer to drink which was a unique take on it combining iced tea and limeade, rather than the traditional lemonade. Dave had a root beer.

HopCat Ann Arbor

Pretzel Nuggz

HopCat has several locations, their Ann Arbor location in the old Borders building downtown opened on Valentine’s Day. Since it’s opened we’ve gone 4 or 5 times. We really like it! HopCat has a hundred beers on tap, 30 of which a local to Michigan, and more beers (and ciders!) available by the bottle. The selection changes often so don’t get too attach to anything and look at it as an opportunity to try new things!

HopCat has a huge space and in the evenings it’s very crowded, but they’ll take your cell phone number and text you when your table is ready. We usually head over to the Dawn Treader to shop used books until we get the text and it usually doesn’t take nearly as long as they estimate. I really like the look and atmosphere, it’s warm and has some fun vintage touches and they play great music (oldies!).

Sloppy Crack Fries

On our first visit, Dave tried a chocolate raspberry stout, which he loved and I actually liked (I’m not much of a beer drinker)! I had a peach cider, it was nice, but I didn’t love it. For food, we split the Pretzel Nuggz which are the BEST soft pretzels I have ever had. They are crispy on the outside and delightfully soft and light on the inside. They are served with their cheese sauce (fabulous!) and honey mustard (HOT!!!). We also had to try their famous “crack fries” so we ordered them sloppy, topped with sloppy Joe sauce and cheese sauce. So, so good! Definitely need a knife and fork with these fries!

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On a recent visit, we decided to try some of their sandwiches. I ordered the Angry Bird, a fried chicken breast tossed in fire sauce on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, onion & blue cheese dressing. It was really tasty. The chicken was moist and flavorful. It was served with crack fries. Dave ordered an olive burger which was topped with green olives, melted Swiss, blue cheese crumbles & Thousand Island dressing. His also came with crack fries. I want to try their veggies burger, the Muffin Top, next time we visit.

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On another visit, we got the Pretzel Nuggz again and tried the bruschetta, which was also very good. We went back for brunch on Sunday, but that’s another post.

NeoPapalis Pizza

NeoPapalis Pizza

At NeoPapalis Pizza in downtown Ann Arbor, you start by picking one of 5 bases: margherita, red marinara, classica, bianca, and pesto. We both chose the margherita base, but I wish I had been more adventurous and tried the bianca base (next time!). Then you add toppings. I chose kalamata olives and caramelized onions. I have totally forgotten what Dave ordered for toppings, maybe green and red peppers?

The pizzas were larger than I expected, we probably would have shared as we both took home half of ours. The crust was on the thinner side and had a nice chew, which unfortunately went super chewy as leftovers even though we heated it in the oven instead of the microwave.

The dining area is a bit small and was very crowded (I guess that’s a good sign!). One thing that bothered me was the man putting the toppings on all the pizzas wasn’t wearing gloves, though everyone else working was wearing gloves. In hindsight I probably should have asked, but I didn’t get sick, the super hot oven must have killed all those germs!

Maple Syrup Festival

pancake breakfast

It’s spring time and that means maple sugaring season! (I totally started this post back in March!) This year we went to a pancake breakfast at the Chelsea Alehouse, which was a fundraiser for The Big 400. The Big 400 is a project spearheaded by the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce seeking to establish an economic development strategy that linked the Waterloo Recreation Area to the business community. The area encompasses a 20 mile by 20 mile area, hence the term “Big 400”.

Breakfast was not all you can eat, but we did get three pancakes, maple syrup, bacon, orange juice, and Biggby coffee. It was all delicious even if we wanted a bit more. After breakfast we headed over to the Eddy Discovery Center for their Old-time Maple Sugar Festival. First we sat in on a speaker event where she described the general process of tapping trees and showed us some equipment that the Native Americans and pioneers used to collect and boil the sap.

After the talk, we went outside and saw a demo of the sap being boiled down to make syrup. It takes a lot of sap to make a gallon of syrup, like 40:1! We headed on a nature walker where three trees were tapped using three different methods: traditional metal buckets, a plastic bag that looked a lot like the tree was getting an IV, and the cheap method, just a milk jug. The walk was really nice and it was fun to see the different tapping methods.

Finally, we ended back in the Discovery Center to watch a film about local maple syrup producers and their process of collecting and making maple syrup. I found it really interesting! The entire program at the Discovery Center was free so that’s a bonus. I would highly recommend that you check out this event next year. It was a fun way to spend the morning.

tapped trees tapped trees tapped trees

Miracle Fruit Tasting Party

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I’ve wanted to throw a Miracle Fruit party for years after a couple of my favorite bloggers posted their experiences. We bought tablets on Amazon.

Synsepalum dulcificum, also known as the miracle fruit, is a plant with a berry that when eaten, causes sour foods to taste sweet. When the fruit is eaten, the glycoprotein molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. At neutral pH, miraculin binds and blocks the receptors, but at low pH (resulting from ingestion of sour foods) miraculin binds protons and becomes able to activate the sweet receptors, resulting in the perception of sweet taste. This effect lasts until the protein is washed away by saliva (up to about 60 minutes, but it was more like 20-30 minutes).

We tasted a lot of foods, including: lemons and limes, tomatoes, dried cranberries, grapefruit, kiwi, pineapple, granny smith apples, strawberries, pomegranate, grapes, blackberries, mustard, ketchup, salt & vinegar chips, pickles, sour cream, Tabasco, balsamic vinegar, BBQ sauce, Guinness, tequila, goat and cream cheese. My favorites were the lemons and limes and the cream cheese. The lemons and limes tasted like Pixie Sticks and the cream cheese was kind of like cheesecake. The big disappointment was the Guinness beer which was supposed to taste like a chocolate milkshake, but it just tasted like a slightly less bitter stout beer.

The effects of the tablets wore off faster than I thought, but they are relatively inexpensive so you could always take another one halfway through your tasting. The important thing is to make sure you let the tablet completely dissolve and coat your tongue. It was a lot of fun and something different to do!