18 West Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
A week or so ago, August 23, 2011, we were in Ypsilanti Michigan, a college town with lots of pizza joints and Coney Islands which, by the way, all seem to be Greek owned, similar to the Italian owned NY Diners on Long Island. The ride there was a quick 35-minute jaunt and as usual, we arrived famished because we skipped breakfast and lunch, “Running on Empty” again. We did plan to eat on the way to Ypsilanti but that never happened.
Ypsilanti has other type of restaurants so I suggested dinner at Haabs (Or was that breakfast), what kind of restaurant is Haabs asks my hubby? “Not sure, maybe a steak house or not, but they have food so it’s all good” was the reply.
Hmmm…would we find them open this early in the day? The local Chamber of Commerce, actually the President of the local Chamber once told us that a “good restaurant” is one with limited hours, opening only in the late evening. From my previous dining experience at Haabs (a Christmas Dinner with the Motorcycle riding group, Women on Wheels a year or two ago) I had considered this a good restaurant. However, it was only a few minutes after 4:00pm and by Chamber definition, it was iffy.
Surprise! Haabs is open. We were happy, but that unanswered question remained; is Haabs really a good restaurant? You have to consider the doors open before 5pm in fact they serve lunch starting at 11am.
Haabs is in old establishment, situated on the corner of South Huron Street and US 12, downtown Ypsilanti. The front entrance faces US12 right on the steepest part of US12:, the part where you might think, if your ride is a 850 pound Street Glide,”I hope the light doesn’t turn red, because I would hate to slide backwards trying to go forward when the light turns green” (FWIW I mastered the brake-clutch stop on a hill routine, courtesy of riding in Colorado Springs a few years ago.) Anyway, right past the Haabs entrance, you can turn right on South Huron, it’s a one-way street, and there you will find metered parking. To the left you’ll see a big-metered parking lot. Bring some quarters.
Haabs’ entrance is small but friendly. The walls are decorated with flyers and pamphlets announcing local events and sales at the local shops. The entrance walls, as the entire inside, are wooden so it’s easy to push in a thumbtack and hang up anything you want. To their credit I couldn’t find a glass framed editorial from the local food critic nor any other online review printed out claiming this establish as the best restaurant in Southeast Michigan. We have all seen those reviews, look at the foyer of most Chinese eateries.
Once inside take notice of the full stocked bar. Looks like a place for some serious drinking. Directly to the right of the door is a hostess stand complete with the hostess and her seating chart. She must have been waiting for us, because that time of day the restaurant was empty. I thought it was strange that the hostess referred to the seating chart to find a table for us. She sat us near a party of eight, the only other customers in Haabs.
The restaurant is big made up of three or four big adjoining rooms. Our table, actually a wood booth, was located in the middle room right next to the front window. The menu is printed on the place mats. (If you didn’t look down you might go hungry.) The decor is simple, a little weird, there’s a mixture of themes, including multi-colored Christmas lights draped over a credenza in the rear room.
We both ordered Arnold Palmers that were served in Coca-Cola glasses. The drinks were made with fresh ice tea and tart lemonade. The drinks were excellent. The server never brought us another one, refilling our glasses with plain ice tea. It was good too.
We ordered, at my husband’s suggestion, the house specialty: roasted prime rib with fresh horseradish, and a Caesar Salad. While we waited, we were served a small hot loaf of sour dough poppy seed bread. Our salads were placed on table in small metal cold bowls. The same dinnerware you find at buffets at truck stops. The salad came out after the bread. It was small, with dressing on side. The salad was fresh and cold, in fact so cold one of my tomatoes was frozen. Tomatoes in a Caesar salad?
Our steak arrived; it was by far the best prime rib either of us ever had. And the horseradish was fresh, the kind that will clear up any sinus problems. The food was sooo good; we ordered the homemade apple strudel with French ice cream. Wonderful. Cost before tip $52.10.
The portions were of normal size, nothing too big where you feel stuffed if you decided to eat everything and not too small, where you’re left unsatisfied.
In general, the atmosphere is relaxing and unhurried. Considering what we were wearing and where we were seated I definitely recommend this restaurant Good food, good atmosphere and if you don’t order the prime rib, reasonable prices. And Biker friendly, just ask the Women on Wheels.