When we first learned about Restaurant Week, we decided to pick one of the most expensive spots on our list to fully take advantage of the fixed price deal. We chose The Earle, voted time and again one of Ann Arbor's nicest and most romantic spots. So of course we invited our girlfriend, Maren Laurence. Maren is a freshman at UM studying Harp Performance and we are hoping she will be moving into Zion House next year... She was pumped to get out of the dorms and enjoy a real meal, and we were so excited to spend some quality time with her.
Atmosphere: 8. When I first heard about The Earle, I pictured a pristine dining experience with white linens and snobby waiters, but our experience was anything but. The Earle felt cozy, intimate, and romantic, but it was still a totally fun and charming place to have dinner for the three of us girls. Seated around us, there was a large group celebrating a birthday as well as many couples out for a romantic date night. For such a classy establishment, we were surprised when we were directed to go down a set of stairs and open this industrial looking door... for all we knew we were entering a grimy old basement.
Service: 9. Our servers were incredibly friendly- by far the nicest waiters we've had so far- and were happy to offer up their own recommendations and answer Elisabeth's endless questions about the various dishes. Our food came out surprisingly fast as well, we hardly had to wait.
Food: 9. By the time we got to the restaurant Elisabeth had made it very clear, numerous times, how very hungry she was. We were really happy to shut her up with a bread basket (Elisabeth is always disappointed when there is not a bread basket). We each had three courses; I started out with a delicious bean soup that could have been a meal on its own, and Elisabeth and Maren opted for a beautiful salad. For the main course I ordered duck, "Boneless duck breasts sautéed medium rare…pan sauced with cider, apples, honey and rum plumped raisins…served with a turnip and potato purée." I don't think I've ever eaten duck, and this proved to be the perfect introduction. Maren chose the Whitefish dish, "Fresh fillet of whitefish coated with ground hazelnuts and breadcrumbs…sautéed and served with a chive beurre blanc…on a bed of sautéed spinach…served with potatoes." And Elisabeth ordered the Mezzogiorno, "Linguine tossed with crumbled garlic sausage, capocolla ham, sliced hot peppers and Romano cheese." Maren and I were dying over our dishes, but Elisabeth, while agreeing her pasta was very tasty, wished she had chosen something else a little more exciting.
The highlight (as it usually is for us) was the dessert. Unfortunately we ate them too fast to take any photos. We ordered a white chocolate cheesecake, a flourless chocolate torte (which I learned is just a fancy word for cake), and white chocolate ice cream with some kind of fancy chocolate sauce. It was divine.
Overall: 9. The Earle is a great excuse to get dressed up and eat some fine food. Although its still early in our list, we agree this is an Ann Arbor must. Save your pennies and don't miss out on The Earle.
P.S. We were all about Restaurant Week and wish it was Restaurant Week every week... if that were the case, we might never go to the grocery store again. If you missed out this time, don't miss it in June!
If you go: Make a reservation at least a day or two in advance!http://www.theearle.com/
121 West Washington
Ann Arbor, Michigan