Logan: An American Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Chef Thad Gillies, co-owner of Logan: An American Restaurant, describes the restaurant’s food style as New American Cuisine.  America is a melting pot, and Logan’s menu reflects this. The chef’s French cooking techniques echo Europe, ingredients like tamarind represent Asian, and Oaxacan mole signifies Latin American. They all melt together forming New American Cuisine.

Location: Logan located at 115 West Washington Street in the downtown area of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Menu: I was surprised at how extensive the menu is, given the attention to detail required by the dishes, and even more surprised that it was all prepared in a way that exceeded expectations. You’ll find a complete variety of proteins, including wild game. Entrees with pre-selected sides are one option, while another is a build-your-own plate, where you select a protein and two sides. Finally, the chef offers daily a blind tasting menu; however, the server will pull back the curtain a bit to reveal hints at the menu before you decide.

The menu offers two sizes for most entrees, petite, and a full-size with associated prices reflecting the size.

Thoughts: The theme of my meal was cheese. Starting with the cheese trio appetizer, it was a nice change to typical appetizers. Served on a rectangular plate, the trio was enough to share with one other diner, but I wanted it all for myself. The trio featured Halloumi, a Gruyere fritter, and a goat cheese mousse — a sauce paired with each cheese created a unique bite. The Halloumi came drizzled with a lemon cream aioli. The Gruyere fritter was my favorite, with a tomato tamarind sauce, which was slightly sweet against the exterior crunch of the fritter. I was left wanting more. Finally, the tangy goat cheese mousse, topped with a Parmesan Cheese Frico, had a balanced counterpoint in the sweet onion marmalade. You can eat it as served or request toast points or biscuits to accompany the goat cheese mousse.

The soup of the day was a beer cheese soup. It featured Two Hearted IPA from Bell’s Brewery and Gruyere cheese. It was a broth consistency rather than the thicker dip texture you find in some beer cheese soups. A roasted mirepoix and cream were blended with the beer and cheese and most likely strained to provide a silky-smooth taste with a hint of smokiness in the background.

The Vegetable Blues salad was different in a beautiful way. It was refreshing that there wasn’t any lettuce in this salad. They tossed strips of carrots, fennel, celeriac, onion, and red pepper into a homemade Point Reyes blue cheese dressing. Again, the blue cheese continued the theme in this dish.

The Parmesan herb biscuits made from whole wheat dough, were another cheese layer, accompanied by a perfect quenelle of butter.

The entrée was French green beans, leeks, and herbed glazed asparagus cut and laid as the foundation to the braised boneless beef short rib. The short ribs were fork tender with a rich depth of flavor. I ordered a side of the classic French potato au gratin, where the cheese played a supporting role.

The cheese theme ended with dessert, and that was fine. Again, a familiar sweet, crème brûlée had a unique twist. The fennel pollen crème brûlée had a brunt sugar crust that made a cracking sound as your spoon broke the crust. That gave way to a cream with fennel pollen mixed in that resulted in a slight licorice flavor. The crème brûlée came with berries macerated in a white wine simple syrup.

Abstract art canvases lined the textured orange walls accented with a bright lime green back bar. The space was open concept with tables close together, covered in white tablecloths, and classically folded white-linen napkins. Sleek flatware and glasses lent a contemporary feel. The high ceiling painted black to hide the exposed piping ensured that the restaurant didn’t have an industrial feel.

Although no music played in the background, it was a noisy environment with lots of conversations on a packed-full Saturday night. Be sure to make reservations.

Price Range: Starters range from $4 per person for the lamb dumplings to $14 for the herbed-smoked whitefish spread. The soup of the day is $5 for a cup. Salads run from $7 for the Logan salad to $9 for the vegetable blue salad. Hand-crafted pasta ranges from $10 for the petit portion of goat cheese ravioli to $28 for the full-size plate of wild boar Bolognese. Desserts are $9 — dinner for two runs about $150, including taxes and gratuity.

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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