Anne, Maria and Shana have all separately ended up at Logan within the past few months. Regular readers of this blog (hello you brave and few) have probably noticed that we tend not to be kind to Ann Arbor restaurants. I don’t think we’re cruel, but we are often, well, disappointed. Perhaps we’re practicing our guilt-inducing parenting skills. But the restaurants are like head-strong teenagers. They don’t seem to notice, or if they do, they don’t care.
We really do like to be nice, though. So it’s with great pleasure that I can report that all of us left Logan quite happy and determined to return.
My visit was to celebrate an anniversary. We had last been to Logan almost three years earlier when it first opened and were pleased and surprised that they remembered us (we’re also downtown on foot a whole lot, so we may just have been familiar faces). Due to a rare set of circumstances, John and I had also gone out the night before, and, giddy with our freedom, had eaten and drunk a little too much, so we were inclined toward eating light (just to keep in mind while reviewing our menu).
Our server was very sweet and attentive, but didn’t look entirely comfortable in his waiter skin. I’m reckoning he was just a bit new. To begin, he brought us a little lamb curry amuse-bouche that was just okay. Not all that special, but the meal really picked up from there. We shared a Gruyere custard about the size of a coaster that was marvelously light — almost soufflé-like — with a soffritto that had cooked so long that it seemed like fruit. This was followed by a mini fennel salad with a really dense balsamic reduction. The fennel added a nice bite of astringency before moving on to the entrees. For the main course, we passed back and forth the cloud-like lemon gnocchi and the monkfish Provencal. The monkfish was on a ratatouille base, and the chef had done this really nice thing of cutting the vegetables very fine so that the ratatouille was downright delicate (I always think of ratatouille as hearty and rustic). Just to mess with our light sophisticated eating, they sent out some home-baked biscuits in the middle of the meal. Wow, were they good. We had a nice bottle of Côtes du Rhône recommended by the somewhat intense but very knowledgeable sommelier. I liked the wine a lot, but since the sommelier seemed particularly good at pairings, I wished we had done glasses and asked him to mix things up a little. Sadly, no dessert. We were being good. But several were attractive.
Shana reports starting out with two really nice cocktails — she thinks a gin rickey and a lime-ginger martini. Her amuse bouche stood out more than the one from my visit. She declares it was “the most velvety and light vichyssoise I’ve ever had.” It didn’t hurt that it was also drizzled with truffle oil.
Shana and Michael shared the appetizer special that night, “short rib lollis.” She writes: “To enjoy them, you must put out of your mind that “lollis” is short for “lollipops.” Am I the only person who does not want to be put in mind of sickeningly sweet candy when I’m snacking on short ribs? I believe I am not.” Nonetheless, these succulent short ribs were presented nicely, with the meat twisted around the bone and the three of them standing upright in a sweet reduction sauce.
Shana ordered the mini size (4$) Logan salad — “Baby greens tossed with a 30-year-old sherry vinaigrette and sprinkled with crispy garlic chips” — which she was really impressed with. We both think mini size offering is brilliant, providing just a little transitional note between the appetizer and the main dish, without filling up. She has special praise for the crispy garlic chips, which are thin slivers of garlic lightly fried, maybe in walnut oil, and offer a nice update to the plain old dense crouton. They were lightly crunchy and pungent and contrasted well with the mild greens, and complemented the smoky/woody sherry vinaigrette.
For the entrée report, I’ll let Shana speak for herself:
I had the duck leg confit with fingerling potatoes, pickled black grapes and a rich Dijon sauce–all of which was beautifully done and the duck was divinely tender. I love love loved those pickled black grapes, delightfully sour little bursts of flavor. I’d just ask that Logan work a little harder on keeping the servers abreast of the “86 list” (what the kitchen is out of) throughout the night, for the duck leg confit was my third choice. The kitchen was out of choice #1 (Moroccan cornish hen) and then choice #2 (a five spice duck breast special), though the server had to check with the kitchen both times. Sigh.
That visit too ended without dessert. Luckily, Anne upheld the honor of G3 by having enough endurance for a creme brûlée. While she reports that it was “just crème brûlée” she was very happy about rum pairing suggested by the sommelier. The rest of her menu choices that night have more or less disappeared in the mists of time, but she remembers that they included the fennel salad and the skate wing and that she felt well and interestingly fed and wanted to go back.
I wish the dining room had a couple of nooks — all the tables feels a bit out in the open — but the space it pleasant and elegant. It’s also a bit sad that there’s no room for an espresso machine.
So three restaurant malcontents all found it a good Ann Arbor dining experience. And, honest, we’ve only noted two or three times that in New York City Logan would be a-good-but-not-great place and would only cost two-thirds as much.
115 West Washington
Ann Arbor, MI 48101