Aubree’s is a long time institution in Ypsilanti, my adopted hometown. The original establishment graces Depot Town, a wonderful little strip of restaurants and bars just a mile down the road from Eastern Michigan University. Eventually Aubree’s added other locations, two in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area and one in Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, near Northern Michigan University. This review will focus on their Ypsilanti Township/Whittaker Road location.
Built a few years ago, Aubree’s Pizzeria and Saloon fits nicely into the strip mall a mile from my house. Their pizza was rated top 25 in the Metro Detroit area, and while I would dispute that I would agree that they make a serviceable pie that they should be proud of.
This particular location has a couple flaws that are evident right away. The bar is ringed with 32” tv’s and while this may at first seem like a good thing it is just too busy. Your eyes are drawn to them and cannot look away. If they brought in a designer from Vegas or Atlantic City, they would tell them to tone it down, it is overwhelming. If this wasn’t bad enough, several booths contain small tv’s as well. From where I was sitting, I could see no less than seven tvs on a quick glance to the left. All of which were showing different content, from ESPN, to poker, to NTN and even cartoons. The smaller tv on the other side of the restaurant has keno playing on it, and I can tell you from experience that it is impossible for a six year old to look away. The art of conversation is lost at this place. You may as well go there prepared to watch tv while you eat, and save conversation for later. As far as ambiance is concerned, Aubree’s misses the mark.
The second flaw, although a minor one, is the choice of music. Every time I go there they are playing the same “best of the 80’s” satellite radio channel. Look, I grew up in the 80’s and know all the songs they play but I can tell you that while fun on occasion 80’s music is not what any restaurant should be playing exclusively. If you like listening to Def Leppard or REO Speedwagon while you eat, dive in, you have found your home. If anyone from Aubree’s reads this, please, expand the musical horizons.
Fortunately the food helps take your mind off the overstimulation and overdose of Bananarama.
Beginning with appetizers, I usually go for the hummus as it is quite delicious and my six year old son likes it as well. Served with pita bread, carrots, and celery, their hummus is a little heavy on the cumin, a little light on the garlic; a perfect interpretation if you ask me. Overall a great prep for the gastronomic olympics that are to follow.
Let’s begin with the pizza. This particular evening we ordered a thin crust (which I am partial to) and I also ordered a Chicken Caesar Wrap with their specialty salt-thyme fries and ‘bayou sauce” which I will get into later. First, the pie:
For starters, they got the crust just right. Perfect thickness (or thinness, as it were) for a thin crust, crunchy and delicious. No special flavoring, but that is ok if they are going to cook it to a perfect crunch. The tomato sauce lacks any real robust flavor, there is nothing wrong with it, but it lacks pizzaz. I would prefer a hint of oregano or basil, but it is pretty conservative fare. As for cheese and toppings, again, this is an operation that knows its pizza and is not going to make amateurish mistakes. Perfect amount of both and a pleasing flavor but again, nothing that screams best pizza in the area. Overall a workman-like effort, a well constructed pizza that while tasty fails to aspire to boldness.
The Chicken Caesar wrap, pictured below was another story. Their Caesar dressing was outstanding, not too garlicky with a nice tang. It comes in a whole wheat wrap which looks suspiciously like a whole wheat tortilla, but I’m not complaining. Too often a caesar wrap will come in a flatbread that overwhelms the whole sandwich.
Along side the wrap comes Aubree’s own salt-thyme fries. While the use of thyme and potato is a solid combo, I felt they used too much and needed to ease up a bit. On the side I ordered their bayou sauce. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was overall a disappointment. While it came strong with the heat, it lacked flavor. While I appreciate the effort and am glad that it is legit as far as the spicy quotient is concerned, I will say that in the future I will probably pass on paying the extra $2.99 for the bayou sauce.
The saving grace for this particular location is the friendly and attentive service. From management to the waitstaff, I have always found Aubree’s to be top notch. I suppose that if listening to 80’s music helps foster this, I’ll put my collar up, wear my ripped jeans and rock out to Asia.
Overall, Aubree’s stature as an Ypsi institution is well founded. Their Ypsi Township location, while bombarding the senses with busy tv’s and 80’s music, still holds its own with a pretty solid pizza and better than average sandwiches and burgers. La Fuente, which is located in the same strip mall, is a far better culinary experience but if you are not in the mood for Mexican, Aubree’s will certainly suffice.