Nov 17, 2010

Logan: An American Restaurant. An Ann Arbor Culinary Must!

Logan is family owned and has just ranked as one of "America's Top Restaurants" in the 2011 national Zagat guide.  If what I'm about to tell you doesn't inspire a trip to Logan, this distinction must! 

Anyone who's known me for more than five minutes knows that I have mad love for my hometown, Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Minus the Winter, it is the perfect place, in my humble opinion.  Great music venues, bookstores, shopping, yoga, movie theatres and yes, great food, all wrapped up in a cozy, tree lined hamlet.

The last time I visited, a dear friend took me to Logan for my birthday lunch.  I am embarrassed to say that I had passed by Logan many times, having no idea what I was missing.  With institutions such as Zingerman's and The Earle, and the quite decent (although the service and acoustics leave much to be desired) Cafe Zola right across the street from Logan, my full belly didn't give it much thought.  That will NEVER happen again.

An intimate, quiet dining space that is at once elegant and comfortable greeted me.  The service was attentive, yet casual.  I already knew what I wanted because I'd perused the menu online before arriving (good foodie):  Roasted asparagus sandwich with sauteed mushrooms and gruyere cheese.  Sold.

My lunch companion ordered gnocchi for her entree, but first we started with fresh corn chowder and a shaved fennel salad.  The chowder was super light and tasted like amplified corn on the cob, with bright chopped chives on top, bursting with mellow onionness.  The fennel salad was a revelation.  I told my friend I was not a fennel fan, and she encouraged me, like a good mama, to try a bite.  I LIKE FENNEL!  Or, at least, I like this fennel.  Shaved so thin you can see through it, mixed with shards of earthy cheese and tossed in a lemony vinaigrette, I could have eaten the entire plate, but I was polite and shared.

Then, the sandwich arrived.  Back to Zingerman's for a moment.  No love lost for my cherished Zingerman's, but this sandwich owned any sandwich I've had there.  Maybe comparing pastrami to roasted asparagus enveloped in sherried mushrooms and bubbling gruyere is like apples and oranges, but I don't care.  One thing that sets apart the Logan experience is the attention to detail.  I am someone who appreciates when the chef takes the time and truly shows the love with each component of a dish.  In the instance of their perfect sandwich, the bread was perfectly toasted and lightly slathered with vinaigrette, the mushrooms sauteed to perfection in a sumptuous sauce, the asparagus was seasoned and roasted so that it was hot, a tiny bit crusty and tender, but not mushy, and the cheese was melted and plentiful without overwhelming the veggies or bread.

I loved this meal so much, I ordered it again, times two for my mom and I to inhale on her first day home after a successful knee replacement surgery.  She ate half her sandwich, all of her house made potato chips, and promptly fell into a blissful sleep while I finished my sandwich.  And hers.

The Making Of The Perfect Sandwich
 I promise you an exquisite dining experience.  Off you go.

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