Carson’s American Bistro in Ann Arbor, Michigan

It was a crisp late summer evening, and we were looking for a relaxing place to unwind after a fast-paced day. Carson’s American Bistro fit the bill. Their west-facing patio seating made it the perfect spot to enjoy Michigan’s brilliant sunsets and one of their signature cocktails, Carson’s mule. The fire pits kept off the chill during the crisp Michigan evening.

Location: Carson’s American Bistro is at 2000 Commonwealth Boulevard, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Menu:  As reflected in the restaurant’s name, the food was decidedly American.  Carson’s presented their menu on an electronic tablet. It was a fun-interactive way to explore the meal options. Each menu selection contained a list of dishes, and if you touched it, the menu opened an electronic window to reveal a colorful photo of the dish, a detailed description, and the price. The same window offered wine pairings. The technology made it an interesting way to decide what’s for dinner.

Thoughts:   The menu has something for everyone. The prime rib was a specialty, along with the choice Angus steaks. The American-style pot roast was a beautifully presented dish, served with a side of red-skin mashed potatoes, a rich gravy, all topped with crispy onion rings. Crisp-tender green beans with sautéed onions provided a slightly sweet flavor to accompany the meal.

If you prefer fish, enjoy Michigan’s Lake Superior whitefish or the Lake Erie perch. After all, you are in the Great Lakes State.

The vegetarian in our party enjoyed the vegetarian ratatouille with couscous. A basil chiffonade accented the creamy goat cheese in the dish, and a roasted red pepper sauce completed it.

They made the bread in-house from scratch. Toppings of sunflower seeds, parmesan cheese, caramelized onions and whipped butter, enhanced the bread’s flavor. “Would you like some more bread?” asked our server. “Yes, please,” I replied. Now was not the time to cut down on carbs.

My favorite dishes were the tater tots, spinach-artichoke dip, corn chowder, and chopped salad. The house-made tater tots were flash-fried and more reminiscent of a potato croquette than the frozen childhood-favorite tater tots. A siracha aioli and corn salsa accompanied these crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, morsels served on a long white rectangular plate.

The spinach-artichoke dip contained chunks of artichoke topped with melted mozzarella cheese. Tortilla chips were the dippers.


The corn chowder, made with a chicken broth base was thickened to a creamy consistency. In addition to the corn, there were carrots and potatoes. It had a crispy bacon and cheddar cheese garnish. Cayenne pepper added a bit of a kick, how much depends on the day.

The chopped salad consisted of romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and blue cheese. They tossed the chopped salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette. Salmon marked on the grill topped it all off.

As you entered, a large gas fireplace welcomed you, along with the friendly host. The modern western décor included stacked-stone and several Frederick Remington horseback-riding cowboy sculptures which added to the upscale western décor. The atmosphere and dress are business casual. In addition to the patio seating, there was seating at the bar, high-top tables, as well as standard height tables and booths.

The servers wore light blue and white pinstripe button-down shirts paired with black ties, most tucked neatly inside between the buttons. Black pants and an apron completed the uniform.

Reservations will help avoid disappointment during peak times.

Price Range: Dinner for two, including a shared appetizer, shared dessert, and soft drinks will cost about $85.00.  Appetizers range from $6.95 for the tater tots to $14.95 for shrimp and lobster bites or a shrimp cocktail. Entrees start at $11.95 for mac and cheese and continue through $29.95 for a ribeye. On average, desserts are $7.95.

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The house-made tater tots at Carson's American Bistro will make you want another order.

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Amy Piper

Amy Piper is a freelance food and travel writer. She writes about food and multi-generational travel on her blog Follow the Piper. You can follow her on Twitter @amythepiper.

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