ann arbor restaurants

Food Tasting @ Olive Garden

Josh and I were lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive food tasting @ Olive Garden in Ann Arbor, MI last week. Olive Garden’s culinary geniuses were looking for feedback on their latest and most significant menu evolution in OG history. Olive Garden’s new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of casual dining guests, while providing more customizable options. See how they ranked!

Atmosphere: 4 out of bites

Price: 3.5 out 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 4.5 out of 5 bites

Service: 4 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites

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We started off with a drink…

Italian Margarita: Sauza Gold Tequila, triple sec and imported Italian amaretto. Light, refreshing, and dangerous because you cannot taste the alcohol. The sweetness from the amaretto balances the sourness from the margarita. Highly recommended!

Italian Margherita

Out of a 10 course food tasting, Josh and I decided to share our favorites.

Crispy Risotto Bites: A bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served with marinara sauce. Perfectly crispy and not greasy. The marinara was flavorful and the perfect sidekick. Great for sharing!

Risotto Bites

Artichoke Fritta: Artichoke hearts lightly battered and fried, topped with Italian cheeses, Served with citrus aioli dipping sauce. Even though the artichoke hearts were fried, this appetizer was very light. The artichoke has a slightly lemony and sour element that brightened up the texture. The citrus aioli sauce was what made this dish: delectable!

Articoke Fritta

Salmon Bruschetta: Grilled filet topped with fresh tomatoes and basil pesto. Served on a seafood risotto with sauteed shrimp. Although we’re not huge seafood fans (Josh even less than I), this salmon was amazing. Cooked and seasoned perfectly and extremely fresh! The creamy and silky risotto was the perfect pairing.

Salmon bruschetta with shrimp risotto

Citrus Chicken Sorrento: (Lighter Italian Fare, under 575 calories). Tender, grilled chicken breasts in a citrus honey glaze, inspired by the city of Sorrento, famous for it’s lemon groves. Served with lightly seasoned broccoli, artichokes and roasted vegetables. The sweet citrus and lemon flavor was light, yet satisfying. The chicken was tender, juicy, and succulent.

Citrus Chicken Sorrento

Braised Beef and Tortelloni: Tender slices of slow-braised beef, portobello mushrooms, and asiago-filled tortelloni tossed in a basil-marsala sauce. OMG! Hands down, the best thing we’ve ever eaten! The beef was so tender and absorbed so much of that slightly sweet basil-marsala sauce. The tortelloni was perfectly cooked, and filled with buttery asiago cheese that just melted in your mouth. Although this dish was slightly heavy, it was comforting, exquisite and so worth it!

Braised Beef Tortelloni

Apple Tuscan Bread Pudding: (Seasonal dessert)-Warm, rustic Italian bread pudding baked with York Imperial applies, then topped with caramel and a rich vanilla cream. Now, I would normally gravitate towards a chocolate dessert or cheesecake for an after dinner delight, but this bread pudding is good! A nice crusty top with a moist, soft center. This is the perfect dessert to warm you up right before you venture out into the Michigan cold. The vanilla cream is the perfect finishing touch and really compliments the bread pudding well.

Tuscan Apple Bread Pudding

Some of the other menu features include Spicy Three Meat Sauce part of Cucina Mia (customize your pasta), Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper, Mediterranean Flatbread, Spicy Calabrian Wings, and Pappardella Pescatore seafood entree.

The OG staff and organizers of the food tasting were really great and took the time to explain each dish and interact with the food tasters. Service was good as always and the staff was very accommodating. A big thank you goes out to the the staff at Olive Garden and Costa Communications Group! We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, if you want good Italian that never disappoints, go to Olive Garden. This new menu is the best we’ve had at OG so stop wasting your time with mediocre. Get to Olive Garden now and experience decadence.

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

Red Hawk

Today on the Bite Tonight: Red Hawk

Located on State St in Downtown Ann Arbor is old bookstore turned bar & grill, Red Hawk.  Josh and I decided to meet our friends Lauren and Steve for dinner. Red Hawk has been serving locally sourced, scratch cooking since 1992. With weekly specials, happy hour, and a menu consisting of pub favorites, wine, booze, and local brews, Red Hawk is a popular local spot. See how they ranked.

Atmosphere: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Price: 3 out of 5 bites

Quality/Taste: 3 out of 5 bites

Service: 3 out of 5 bites

Wow Factor: 2 out of 5 bites

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Lamb Burger:With roasted pepper-olive tapenade, grilled onions, feta cheese. The combo of the salty feta, sweet onions, and the bite of the roasted red pepper-olive tapenade (traditionally pureed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil) was delicious. The lamb burger was cooked medium and was full of flavor and juice.

lamb burger

Burton Town Cheese Steak on grilled cibatta: grilled shaved house-roasted sirloin, peppers, onions, mozzarella.
****A portion of the sale is donated to the university musical society, which is awesome! *** The steak was seasoned well, but the peppers could’ve been a little more crunchy. There was a lot of cheese which made it delicious, but also made it messy.

philly cheese steak

Hand Dipped Beer Battered Onion Rings: Super crunchy, salty, and delicious! The beer batter really makes for a great onion ring.

beer battered onion rings

Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich: Served with lettuce, tomato, mayo, grilled on sourdough. The meatloaf was moist and had spices and seasonings that gave it tons of flavor. Very delicious, yet light!

turkey meatloaf sandwich

Smoked Salmon Burger: Served on a grilled bakery bun with tarragon-caper mayonnaise, crisp lettuce. Side of steak fries. The burger itself was dry due to not enough mayo. Our server was busy with other tables and Steve wasn’t able to get another side of mayo and just ate it anyways.

salmon burger

For Ann Arbor, Red Hawk was decently priced and had good food. The service was OK, we didn’t have enough silverware so it was a pain having to wait until our server came back around to check on us. I really liked that the menu had a nice variety and there was gluten free and vegetarian options.

Red Hawk on Urbanspoon