One thing I really enjoy doing on vacation is having a progressive dinner. We usually do cocktails and appetizers at one restaurant, then the main course at another, and dessert at another and sometimes a fourth restaurant for after dinner drinks! My husband and I have had progressive dinners on Mackinaw Island, in Philadelphia, and in New York City. During our “staycation” a couple of weeks ago we decided to do a progressive dinner in Ann Arbor.
We started our Ann Arbor progressive dinner at the Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery with cocktails and appetizers. I ordered a Black Jack Martini and Dave tried the Haymaker. The Black Jack Martini is made up of Jack Daniels, apple schnapps, and cranberry juice and had great apple flavor with a nice Jack Daniel aftertaste. The Haymaker is Maker’s Mark bourbon, dry vermouth, triple sec and lime juice. I snuck a taste and it was quite good too.
For appetizers we tried both the pulled pork quesadilla and the fried pickle chips. The quesadilla had great flavor and the meat was very moist and tender. The fried pickle chips were served with a buttermilk-lime dip, which I had expected to be thick and creamy, but it was actually very thin. Despite it’s unexpected texture, it had wonderful flavor and was a fabulous addition to the pickle chips. The tanginess of the buttermilk and the zip of the lime really helped to cut through any heaviness that the batter provided.
All and all, we both really enjoyed The Blue Tractor and will return sometime for a full meal. FYI-The Blue Tractor also has a location in Traverse City.
We moved on to Silvio’s Organic Pizza for our main course after a nice walk around campus and through the Diag. This was our second time eating at Silvio’s and it was a bit of a disappointment especially compared to the excellent pizza we enjoyed previously. We were doing our progressive dinner on a Tuesday night, so the low traffic and turnover made for an old tasting slice of pizza. I would still recommend Silvio’s and try them again, but I would either get a slice during peak business hours or I would order an entire pie so it would be freshly made just for us. Obviously, since we were only halfway through our four course meal, we stuck with a slice rather than an entire pizza.
The dessert course was so incredibly delicious! We walked down Liberty past Main Street and settled at a lovely table outside at Grange Kitchen and Bar. All of the items on Grange’s menu use the freshest ingredients with most of them produced locally. After two courses, Dave and I decided to split a dessert, but after one bite, I wish I had ordered my own chocolate root bear cake. Now, I like chocolate, but I’m no where near being a chocoholic and I’m telling you this was the BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever had. It was so incredibly moist (I’m guessing because of the root beer, though it did not lend much flavor). It was accompanied by a small (and let me say…very small) scoop of some of the best tasting vanilla ice cream ever.
When I first took a look at the menu on Grange’s website, I was very excited about the GKB Manhattan: bacon-infused Bulleit Bourbon, maple syrup, orange bitters, brandied cherries. Sadly I was disappointed, apparently bacon can’t make everything taste good! It was just overwhelmingly bacon-y. The brandied cherries were my favorite part. Dave ordered a Sazerac: Russells reserve rye, abisinthe, Pychauds bitters, simple syrup, which smelled really good but totally clashed with the flavors from the GKB Manhattan. On it’s own, the Sazerac was probably really good, but because we kept sipping from both drinks it kind of ruined it for us.
We ended the evening with cocktails and few rounds of pool at Bab’s Underground Lounge. Bab’s is located in the basement of an office building on Ashley and Liberty, right across the street from Downtown Home & Garden. If you didn’t know it was there, you probably wouldn’t find it, but it’s been there for 10 years! And what a great find! Bab’s is bar only, so if you get hungry there’s a vending machine with munchies otherwise come with food in your stomach. I enjoyed a lemon drop martini and a coconut supreme, which tasted like a liquid Mounds bar. YUM! And Dave had a great Bloody Mary made with pepper vodka and a Honey Dew martini made with Midori and lemonade. Also very tasty. And since it was Tuesday night, pool was free, bonus!
All in all it was a wonderful evening full of good food and drink and lovely company. Have you ever done a progressive dinner? What city? Any restaurants or bars you would recommend. Do share!