Bastones - Royal Oak, Michigan
Alright, European-fusion or American-New I don't know, but what I do know is that Bastones has good pomme frites. That really should be all that you need to know to stop in. Their food is good. I have sampled a variety of their sandwiches and appetizers. But to be honest, I really just like their fries and potato soup. Is that weird? I basically will stop in to get those two items and drink.
Royal Oak locals love this place, but a great majority of Royal Oak locals never leave Royal Oak. So (I'm going to generalize), but they love places like Oak City Grille, Black Finn, and Tequila Blue. I won't even ever bother reviewing those places because I don't frequent there. Have I been there? Of course, I checked them out. Can't make an assessment until you go. But do I like them? Ehhhh... I just can't go places where the men spend more time on their wardrobe and hair than I do and the women have fried themselves at the tanning bed and wore their best stilettos just to meet up with a man that's prettier than them wearing an Ed Hardy shirt and fist pounding the air. Ha! I just like more low-key places where you can actually hear the people you are with. At some of the places the food is quite good, but I can get cheaper versions of the food at my local Chilis/Applebees.
Ok, back to Bastones. It's not my favorite place, but if a friend wants to meet after work for a drink here I won't refuse. However, I wouldn't go back on my own free will.
I was excited when this place opened. I thought, "good! Bastones is finally utilizing their space and are opening an awesome microbrew place!" So, I scheduled a time after work one day to go check it out on their happy hour down time. I honestly was first caught by their clean website and nicely done logo (graphics nerd alert), but disliked that they still have their cafehabana.com domain. Come on guys, go buy the domain and then redirect. Ok. non-food rant over.
They have a wide variety of belgian beers to choose from, which I can't have since they aren't gluten-free, but beer lovers will enjoy new beers that aren't at the other local watering holes. From the descriptions of their food one would think this is a goto place every week. Mussels, burgers, mac and cheeses, waffle sandwiches!@#@(! With descriptions like, "Pork belly, house made tasso ham, bacon pancetta, spiced bbq sauce..." who has time to think about going anywhere else. This obviously is the right choice to go to...
THEN you go there. You order. You taste and you feel a little sadness in your heart. The wonderful descriptions that made your mouth water suddenly left you with deep deep food regrets. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say maybe they were off that day (They only had two customers - me being one of them). Maybe they were still fixing the kinks and they weren't quite ready for customers. I mean Rock City Eatery was kind of like that. But I knew that Rock City Eatery was going to be great if they fixed their sh*t. But I'm not so sure about Beer Monk. I think that they will always be an OK place. The ahi tuna burger was overcooked (super dry) and the flavors didn't quite mesh well together. The hummus and kimchi didn't really work. Maybe try something pickled and keep the siracha mayo? Then there were the sliders. You can pick any three from the main burgers and have a mini version of them (Char-grilled elk, maytag bleu cheese and pancetta with French fried onions, hand-pattied Belgian Blue beef, barbecued pork belly, cheddar, apple slaw and Hand-pattied Belgian Blue beef with housemade bacon, edam). The best one of the burgers was the regular belgian blue beef with bacon. All the other burgers were overcooked and again their flavors didn't mesh well. I think the items were made to go together, but something went wrong in the execution. The pork should be tender and moist. It doesn't really need the cheddar hiding the BBQ and the apple slaw. That is, if it's good. The grilled elk was really dry so I can't make an accurate assessment of what it would taste like because I stopped eating it. The fries were fine. They come from bastones and they are made on the regular. It's really hard to mess up fries unless they are drenched in grease, ridiculously over salted and cold. So that went well.
I haven't been back to BMA. Maybe I will someday, but it's not looking good in the near future.
Beer Monk's Website
Well, I've been to ABC many many many times. I will go many more times. I like going because the group of people that usually is there is super cool. The wait staff is awesome, but I have to admit that some of them are my friends. So, I'm a little biased. That may mean I get better service ...or crappier service than most, I'm not sure. lol
Honestly, I'm not a fan of their beer. That's just my opinion. Most people like it though. If you are unsure of what beer to get you can always get a sampler, which is really nice. I think I like the Blonde? (not sure if that's the name) the best.
The food is ok in my opinion. I'll eat it. It's not terrible. It's not super great. ABC is not my first choice for food. Unless you go during off peak times it's generally pretty busy. It's nice if you are going to drink with friends or play shuffle board. You can meet some cool people there as well. I tend to go to ABC for the overall environment and it's just a laid back place to hang out with friends.
I would say the serving might be slow during the evening because it's usually busy. They are or have been always friendly. You may get someone new and the service may not be incredibly speedy, but for the most part it's people who have been there for a long time. You will usually see the same faces if you go often. I personally like that because you actually get to know them.
The crowd ranges from Twenty somethings to 50 somethings+. It's a nice mix of people usually. Definitely one of the most popular places in A2 to go to. If you haven't checked it out I would suggest doing so. People tend to go once and keep going back. Chances are you will see some of the people that have posted on here. lol
[Review written years ago on Yelp]
Jolly Pumpkin is just a good place. I haven't had any bad food here. Truth be told, now that I live farther away I haven't been to the Ann Arbor location in awhile. They have delicious truffle fries and big, bready, hot sandwiches. They have meats and cheeses, wine and beer galore!
If you want some shareable items get some pizzas. They are more fancy shmancy than regular pizzas, like the Potato pizza (shaved heirloom fingerling potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, mozzarella, white lotus farm goat cheese, leeks, scallions and fresh rosemary), Fire and smoke pizza (smoked free range chicken, charred sweet peppers, scallions, chipotle tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella and fresh basil.) and the Truffle pizza (creamed shiitake mushrooms, goat cheese, parmesan and house-made mozzarella cheeses, truffle oil and arugula dressed with red wine vinaigrette). They are pretty cheap too, about 10 bucks or so.
I am not a huge beer drinker now that I'm out of college. In fact, unless it's amazing I don't even drink beer anymore. However, I do remember that I did enjoy La Roja here. Jolly Pumpkin is a brewery after all so while you're there drink some. A lot of them.
Jolly Pumpkin's Website
Cork - Pleasant Ridge, Michigan
I had a lot of great times at Cork- mostly during happy hour and solid appetizers, and always including some delicious red wine. This place has changed ownership a few times, and I’ve lost track of how they’re doing lately though I’d like to visit again soon. Here were some highlights:
Silvan spreads: A variety of vegetable and cheese spreads, crackers and baked bread, this was soooo much better than it sounds because of the unique and everchanging flavors.
Potatoes: They were magical, crispy, salty, and everything a potato needs to be (but better than I’d tasted before). And the Aioli was the crowning glory. However, I had them again and they had changed the recipe. My only hope is that they changed them back! The perfect potato!
Meat/ cheese platters: A little chutney, tapenade, pepper and smoke- the variety of meats and cheeses was always a win especially with a perfect glass of something.
Entrees: I had a few, and they were expensive. Delicious, but not good enough for the price tab. I decided to stick with the appetizers.
OK, so- here’s the wrap up- I used to LOVE this place, then I had a couple of lackluster visits. But I still have hope that they can be as they used to be, and it’s in my plans to return sooner rather than later to see if that’s the case.
Cork Wine Pub's Website
Giving you a taste of what I taste. From gourmet to everyday. No pretentious bull - just good food.