Restaurant Review: Cafe Zola

What and Where:

Cafe Zola | 112 W Washington Street | Ann Arbor, MI 48104 (734) 769-2020

Ratings (1=terrible, 5=mind-blowingly great)

  • Tastiness: 4
  • Service: 1-4 (see below)
  • Price (1=super cheap, 5=super expensive): 3.5
  • Value: 2.5
  • General vibe: 3.5
  • Comments (as of 5/14/06)

    • Cafe Zola represents for me all that is wrong and all that is right about Ann Arbor. On the down-side, it is the epitomy of pretentious, yuppified, faux-boho, exposed brick, self-important Ann Arbor establishments which is frequented by upper-middle-class (and sometimes flat-out rich) locals who profess identity with the disadvantaged and who ally themselves to some sort of safe version of liberalism. And it is precisely the kind of place routinely mocked by web sites like Ann Arbor is Overrated. On the up-side, I identify with most of these values (for better or worse), I certainly prefer Ann Arbor to many of the alternatives in the area, and I tend to like the food and company. So that’s Cafe Zola in the nutshell.
    • We’ve never been for lunch or dinner, mainly because for years and years, Cafe Zola only served breakfast. So I have no way of telling you much about that. Yet.
    • As far as I can tell, Cafe Zola only takes reservations for parties of five or more. If you go during the week, getting a table is no problem. I will ocassionally go myself on a Sunday or Saturday morning, and when I do that, I will sit at the bar/counter. This is not a problem either, though you might be jostled about by people waiting for a table. But be prepared to wait quite a while on the weekends, and if you go on Mother’s day (which we did today), be prepared to get pretty pissed off at the shitty service from the hostess stand. We were told it would be 15 to 20 minutes when we arrived; 45 minutes later, this same person was telling new arrivals 15 to 20 minutes. Then someone has the nerve to call our names from the list and ask us uf we wanted to sit at the counter which we could have done 45 minutes earlier, and then some old lady came up to the stand after calling in for the waiting list, something I was explicitly told you couldn’t do. It’s funny though; after I started yelling about this with my booming voice and got some stares from the well-heeled upper-middle-class faux boho yuppified pseudo liberal locals, we got a table toot sweet.
    • Our wait person today was quite good, but I have to say that the bad service does not always end at the front of the house at Cafe Zola. A few years ago, there was a time where we waited for 2 hours at the table to get our food, and there has been plenty of times in past visits where the service was pretty crappy.
    • So why go? The food is really good, I must say. They have these pretty good crepe dishes, but I think they’re a little over-priced for what you get. Generally, I get an omlette (and generally the farm house omlette), though I sometimes get the “Turkish Brunch” (“An array of kalamata olives, feta cheese, havarti cheese, cucumber, tomato, grape leaf dolmas, hard-boiled egg and farm butter, accompanied by pastries, fresh bread and coffee or tea”). Today I got the excellent and low-carb diet destroying french toast. They make it with rasin bread and they get it just the right level of crispness on the outside and gooeyness on the inside. Good stuff.
    • Oh, and I think I go again and again because, as much as I complain, these are my kind of people in my kind of town.
    • The best coffee in town, though it isn’t really a good place to go and do coffeeshop-like activities (read, work on the laptop, etc.).

    And ultimately, a fine Mother’s Day was had by one and all.

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    2 Responses to Restaurant Review: Cafe Zola

    1. Hey, I like the food and coffee there a lot too (but don’t tell anyone, I might lose my cred.)

    2. Bill Tozier says:

      It’s a great (and common) place for high-rolling biz and long-winded engineering planning meetings, too.

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