Noshing With A James Beard Nominee: Restaurant Review of Zingerman’s Roadhouse

Obsessed is the word I would use to describe my feelings for the James Beard Foundation. I love great food and live for fun, exciting dining experiences.

Last week I told you about Zingerman’s Deli. Following that visit, we went to Zingerman’s Roadhouse, a restaurant whose chef, Alex Young, is a five time nominee and the 2011 recipient of the James Beard Award, Best Chef Great Lakes!

 



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Zingerman’s chose its restaurant theme and carried it from name to design. From the outside, the restaurant looks like a roadhouse. If you’re on the go, or don’t have the time to eat inside, a small trailer sits next to the entry. You can pick up to-go orders and take them home.

 



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Inside, there’s a lot of space, a large bar, and a gigantic salt and pepper shaker collection lining the perimeter. You can peek into the kitchen and hear chefs laughing and joking.

The decor is yuppy country.

 



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Zingerman’s has a large and extensive menu. It’s reprinted and reconfigured several times a day. I took notes on mine, then folded it up and put it in my purse. I wanted to have more time to check out what the restaurant had to offer, and consider my next dinner there! The menu came with a newspaper that listed restaurant events at the restaurant and its farm.

 



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Framed shadow boxes cover the walls of one dining room. These shadow boxes share highlights and background about the farms and suppliers. I enjoyed reviewing my menu against the detailed descriptions of the suppliers, their offerings and philosophies.

The farm to table philosophy is a key element in the dining experience here. The chef, Alex Young, has a farm, Cornman Farm in Dexter. In addition to providing produce for the restaurant, dinners are held at the farm showcasing tomatoes at the tomato dinner or whatever’s in season and ready for harvest.

The restaurant takes great pride and great care in selecting vendors for its recipes. A map near the restroom pinpoints preferred vendors and their contributions to the menu.

 



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Our waiter was knowledgable and passionate. He made great recommendations and was willing to change or adjust if there were issues with our order.



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I ate all the bread in the bread basket (with butter). The famous Zingerman’s bakery did not disappoint.

Then, because I had dammed myself, I just went ahead and ordered the Pimento Macaroni and Cheese.

My mom ordered the Chicken Fried Steak platter.

Because the menu changes three times a day, it’s a bit difficult to make a recommendation to you. You’ll have to work with your server and try to select something that works for you at that moment in the menu offering.

I’m sure that whatever you order will be delicious. We both enjoyed our dinners.



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Many people complain about the prices. Indeed, they were steep, but I found them to be in line with what you would pay for locally sourced, organic, artesian food. There’s a reason people refer to Whole Foods as Whole Paycheck.

 



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This restaurant is part of the larger Zingerman’s franchise. It’s popular and crowded.



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The restaurant’s obsessive attention to detail and zeal for foodie sustainability make it a favorite among Ann Arborites and visitors. Booking your table on Open Table and earning rewards for eating out is a good idea. Ann Arbor is one of those towns where you will wait for a table without a reservation. If you decide to dine at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, be sure to make a reservation.



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So Nice, I Did It Twice!

P.S. When DH and the boy came to visit last night, guess where we ate? They both had BBQ (kids pulled pork sandwich and a half rack of ribs, respectively) and I ordered a BBQ chicken sandwich. Mom went for the Salisbury steak. Once again we had an outstanding waiter–a guy who brought us samples of everything–beer, etc., and was friendly and knowledgable. Everyone enjoyed their meal and agreed it was worth a return visit.



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