The Hidden Gem Reviews

By Heather Brouwer

Knight’s Steakhouse, conveniently located on Dexter-Ann Arbor Road, has a wonderful ambiance. The lights are slightly dimmer than many restaurants, and the tables are small enough that in the slightly noisy atmosphere you can still hear the person sitting next to you, which gives off a more intimate feel.

There were options of booths and tables. The tables had extremely comfortable rolling chairs that are nice when you want to look someone in the face but don’t want to go through the trouble of making a ruckus by moving an ordinary chair.

Knight’s does, however, have a slightly older clientele base of middle-aged people. But it had a large variety of food options that are enjoyable to everyone as well.

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Hidden Gems

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Here’s a fair warning:  if your parents aren’t paying for the meal, you might want to look the other way: it’s pricey. Black Rock is a mix between an upper class and a middle class restaurant.

When going in, the restaurant gives off a welcoming vibe, so welcoming that you feel apart of the Black Rock family. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be part of a family that seems to always have a hour-long wait time and won’t take reservations. Luckily, Black Rock allows call ahead seating, which isn’t that different from a reservation.

After waiting for around 20 minutes, I was escorted to the back of the restaurant. Most of the restaurant was filled with either people waiting or servers constantly running back and forth, so it made it difficult to navigate the restaurant comfortably.

When I got to the table it was presented nicely with a large table with plenty of space to move around. Considering the size of my meal, the space was not only welcomed but needed.

The restaurant’s signature calls for a volcanic rock to be heated up to around 700 degrees to cook food with, meaning they give you a hot rock and have you cook the meal yourself. Cooking food on a volcanic rock is a strange way to prepare a meal, but it’s a fun experience that allows you to cook your food the way you want.

I ordered a 25-ounce steak to split. Now before you freak out about how much the steak probably cost, it was only $39.99; at most places you couldn’t get a 10-ounce steak for less than $20. It was fun process making the steak, and the servers were very helpful: they gave a walkthrough on cooking and how to not get burnt. To add on, the steak was phenomenal.

Despite being pricey, Black Rock is a great experience that provides fun along with a tasty meal.

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Eating at The Broken Egg was an interesting experience. Located in the front of downtown Ann Arbor, it’s in a convenient location, right next to a parking structure.

The restaurant itself is in a building that is shared with other businesses; being only a small section, it felt cramped. The hostess was polite and escorted us to a table as soon as we entered.

The restaurant looked like the inside of a old home, but it gave off a good vibe and made it feel more comfortable to be there. It took about 10 minutes before a waitress came, and when she finally did, she was rude and impatient as if we were a waste of time. She took our orders and left to go to her other tables, and didn’t come back to check on us until food was done.

It was a Sunday morning. A basic breakfast of sausage, eggs, hash browns and toast was the choice. When asking the waitress to switch out toast for a pancake, the waitress rudely said it would cost me $7.50 to add one pancake because they “don’t do substitutions.”

Overall, the food was good. The sausage and hash browns were delicious, eggs were okay, and the toast was good.

The best part of the whole experience was the hot chocolate. The hot chocolate at The Broken Egg was the best I have ever had in my entire life. It was rich and creamy, and it even came in a special mug.

The hot chocolate made the bad waitress experience worth it tenfold. I wanted to get another hot chocolate, but I stopped myself before I ordered 20 more.

Despite the waitress, the experience was not a bad one, the food was good, and the meal was cheap. It’s a good place to go on a Sunday morning, even if it is just for the hot chocolate.

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Hidden Gem Reviews: Rod’s Place & The Session Room

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By Joe Ramey

Whether you’re looking screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-11-40-50-amfor a snack or a sit down meal that doesn’t bust your budget, Rod’s Diner in Ann Arbor is the place for you. Highly recommended by students and Ann Arbor natives, Rod’s diner is a place to hang with friends and have a variety of different foods.

For our visit, we tried what is widely known as “Bipimbob” or the most notable entrée on the menu. This dish was a plethora of oriental goodness, with its rice base being accompanied by a variety of assorted vegetables topped of with your choice of meat and a sunny side-up egg. This particular dish was a standout amongst others because of its value and the overall enjoyability. Also, it was a very fun thing to eat because of the egg.

The dish was amazing, but wouldn’t have been complete without the pairing of a cup of fro yo labeled a “collider.” This frozen yogurt is nothing special compared to what other yogurt places provide, it’s just the manner the frozen yogurt is presented to you that makes this so special.

The inaugural reception of a yogurt cup from Rod himself is the initiator of the whole process. The rest is on you. The cup has multiple toppings on it, including different fruits, candies and cereals.

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-11-41-33-amNowadays, the going rate for frozen yogurt is flatout outrageous, but the prices at Rod’s are pretty similar to what you’d see anywhere else; $6 dollars for a plastic cup of fro yo and you’re set. This is what put this diner on the map.

 

All together, the slight flare of asian cuisine plus the overall atmosphere is what makes this eating experience a fun one. You can never go to Rod’s only once.

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By Ben Daugherty

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-11-41-12-amWhen we walked into The Session Room, its log cabin-esque interior made us feel at home. Although the parking lot was packed full of cars, we were promptly seated and greeted by our server, Ashley. She offered us a drink menu even though we are clearly not of age, which isn’t unusual since the restauranthas more of a pub-like feel. This is a place that you could go to with your family or to visit when you’re returning from college, but this is not a likely place to go get dinner with friends.

To start, we orderedtheir guacamole. It was incredibly bland. If you’re looking to enjoy a mouth-watering bowl of guac, you should definitely avoid The Session Room. The guac was so unappetizing that it remained untouched; our server returned to offer a box which we subsequently turned down.

We ordered the Mississippi – a pulled pork sandwich – with the hope that it would make up for the unfortunately awful appetizer. We were disappointed to find that french fries did not come with the entre and had to settle for mediocre chips instead. The sandwich was delicious until we reached the middle to take a bite full of fatscreen-shot-2016-10-11-at-11-41-49-am. The fat filled mess of a sandwich paired with it’s lack of fries left me with a bad taste in my mouth and $11 missing from my wallet.

Next, we ordered the Kale Salad, which, to our dismay, contained few ingredients other than chopped kale, making it impossible to achieve a perfectly balanced bite. The food you will find is most easily compared to bar food: it’s not terrible, but you won’t ever crave it. If you’re under the age of 21, The Session Room will likely leave you wondering why you just spent $30 on a dinner full of
disappointment.

2016 Apples Almanac

DHS, you’ve tasted and you’ve voted.  Here are apples to pick up the next time you venture to the Cider Mill

By Heather Brouwer and Lisa Zuiderveen

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Honey Crisp (8.0)

The rating is very accurate for this apple. Known for its crisp, juicy, and sweet flavor it’s no wonder Honey Crisp is so popular among the masses. Honey Crisp are good for any recipe, sweet or savory. From cheese recipes to caramel desserts, Honey Crisp adds a sweet zing to all of the recipes they are involved with. The aftertaste is a mix between sweet and tart.  Every bite fills your mouth with its juicy sweet combination.

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Pink Lady (7.0)

The name Pink Lady is not very accurate for the apple itself. Pink Ladies are a very diverse. Some of them have yellow, red, and a light green skin all mixed together. But even with the confusion of the “pink,”  they are well known for their unique taste. All the diverse colors probably are what makes Pink Ladies have all the great combinations of your favorite apples. If you didn’t know already, many apples are man made. The Pink Lady is a combination of the Golden Delicious and Lady Williams. It surpassed one of its parent apples in ratings (see Golden Delicious below). John Cripps did a good job of making this apple crisp, but it has some sweetness to it with a sharp taste by enhancing it from the parents. If you didn’t recognize the Pink Lady, you may know it by it’s other names: Cripps Pink, Lady in Red, and Rosy Glow.

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Macintosh (4.0)

Macintosh apples are small, red, and look deceptively sweet, despite the fact they are horrible snacks.  They only stay crisp for a few days after they are picked, and then they go soft and mushy. Macintosh apples also have very little juice which exponentially adds to their unappealing texture.  Plus, they are more bland than oatmeal without brown sugar.  There is also that awkward aftertaste that makes you wonder why you ate the apple in the first place.  Yet, by taking this apple and cooking it with cinnamon, you magically transform it into something amazing (Think Cinderella before she goes off to the ball).

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Fuji (6.3)

Fujis are typical middle-class apples.  On the apple taste spectrum, Fuji apples are right about in the middle. They aren’t as sweet as a Honeycrisp or as sour as a Granny Smith. They still have some of both components with the sweeter taste being more predominant.  Fujis have a pleasant crispy texture, but they also tend to have a thick skin which can hinder an apple connoisseur’s experience. The aftertaste is sweet, but not unbearable like that of a Paula Red or a MacIntosh. Fujis also have a fairly average appearance: a regular-sized, red and yellow apple. And, just like almost every other apple out there, cooking them in cinnamon makes them so much better.

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Paula Red (3.0)

Paula Red shouldn’t even be considered an apple. If anything, it tastes predominantly like a pear. It’s parentage comes from Macintosh, so the hard exterior and interior make sense. There needs to be a name change to make sure no one confuses this with a real apple. Something like apear or pearplle, so everyone knows that what they are about to bite into shouldn’t be considered 100 percent apple.

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Granny Smith (5.3)

If you can eat a lemon, then Granny Smith apples are for you.  For most people, Granny Smiths are just too sour. Despite their sour taste, Granny Smith apples are nice and crisp.  Also, their bright green skin is unique for most apples and appealing to the eye. These apples tend to leave behind a slightly tart aftertaste. Aside from eye-watering sourness of Granny Smith apples, these are great for baking into pies at grandma’s house or cooking into apple sauce for a lovely fall snack. Granny Smith apples are also great for caramel apples because the sweetness of the caramel offsets the gut-wrenching bitterness of the apple.

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Red Delicious (4.0)

There are two types of red delicious: the ones you buy in bulk and the ones you hand pick. Like anything else, red delicious is better hand picked. The ones served in the school cafeteria are disgusting and most likely purchased in bulk. Red Delicious are soft and sweet, which for some is appetizing. For others, the softness is mushy and gag worthy. If they are bruised anywhere, it possibly might be the most disgusting thing you will ever bite into.

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Golden Delicious (4.8)

Golden Delicious apples are basically pears.  They taste like pears, they feel like pears, and,sometimes, they can even look like pears.  So, if pears are your thing, pick up a bushel of these next time you swing by the grocery store. When they are fresh, Golden Delicious apples are fairly crisp and don’t leave much of an aftertaste for you to grumble about the rest of the day. However, for many, Golden Delicious apples, and pears, can be exceedingly sweet, and are easily bruised.  Since most Golden Delicious apples in Michigan come from Washington State, you should always be prepared if they’re already bruised when you find them for sale in the cafeteria.

*Ratings of Apples are based off a 64 person taste test

Hidden Gems: Pieology & KouZina

By Jedidiah Howell and Caden Koenig

Subway, when it first started, became a pioneer for food service when we recognized its impact on ordering food. Subway set the bar for sandwiches, and now we see new people pushing that bar higher. In search of restaurants with a similar serving style, we headed to downtown Ann Arbor. This brought us to Pieology and KouZina.

Pieology

Only hearing about this new pizza place made us curious to how it would work with having a subway style order. Worries arose such as how long will it take? How much food will there actually be? Is it expensive?

Immediately walking into the restaurant some worries left as we scoped out pizzas from different tables on the way to the line. On the wall one menu stands with the best combinations of their pizzas, but they also let you create your own.

Photographer - Jed Howell
Photographer – Jed Howell

Along with the easy ordering process the atmosphere was nice. It was very modern and relaxed resembling a Chipotle-type vibe.

A big aid to the comfortable atmosphere was the customer service. The employees were easy going and well trained. After ordering and paying for our meal the waiting began. The music in the background and the comfortable booths made our five minute wait feel much shorter.

The fresh ingredients gave each bite its own flavorful experience. The only downfall to this pizza was that the eight pieces only lasted us about two minutes. To be fair there were three of us; however, for some it may be small for two people. This could change how the prices resonate.

At the $12 price point, one pizza would make a perfect lunch date or quick snack, but for a full dinner you may consider looking elsewhere.

The pizzas were very tasty, but if you are purchasing multiple pizzas the price starts to add up quickly. The overall restaurant was fantastic and we expect to be back soon. It seems Pieology has mastered the subway-serving style of one of the most beloved foods: pizza.

KouZina

As a fairly new restaurant in the Ann Arbor area, KouZina is relatively unknown, but we expect that to change. The first thing we noticed when we walked into KouZina was the modern, industrial style that occupies the space.

Another profound feature when entering the restaurant was the noise of the blaring music. The music was our only complaint concerning atmosphere. Once we got over the annoyance of the loud techno beats the experience was quite pleasant.

Photographer - Jed Howell
Photographer – Jed Howell

The ordering process began with the choice between a gyro, bowl or salad. We opted for the bowl mainly for sharing purposes. We were then helped down a line with a variety of toppings that we could add to our entrée.

In the end, we had a decent amount of food for under $10. The ordering experience was comparable to that of Chipotle or Subway. Personally, we thought the food was great; however, this was our first experience with greek food. We did find that we had an abundance of rice when comparing toppings.

The service was great as they were very quick allowing us to get in and out of the restaurant in less than twenty minutes. They were also quite friendly and helpful.

Our overall experience was positive, and we would definitely recommend for a lunch or quick dinner out.

Summer Album Reviews: Lil Yachty & Frank Ocean

Lil Yachty fails to impress, while Frank Ocean’s new
album leaves plenty to discuss after a four-year wait

By: Andy Dolen

Summer Songs 2 – Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty, aka Lil Boat, has been buzzing as of late, and it’s mainly due to his collaborations with many big-name rappers such as Chance The Rapper and new hit artist D.R.A.M. When rappers have a glimpse of fame, it’s seen as an opportunity to jump on it, just as Lil Yachty has done with his new mixtape “Summer Songs 2”.

The rapper’s unique tone and verses have had people excited to finally hear an album of his own; however, it was not as hot as expected. Just like Frank Ocean’s new album, Yachty only released his album exclusively to Apple Music.

“For Hot 97” and “All In” are some of the few songs in this album where you can actually listen to the whole song without it being repetitive This is most likely because these are the two songs with the most features from other artists.

Lil Boat’s best songs seem to have a limited amount of lyrics. Listening to Yachty’s kaleidoscopic verses for an entire song become annoying, but when he comes in the middle of a song with a good verse it definitely lights up the track. I’m predicting Lil Yachty remains as mostly a feature rapper with some other big name artists, but may not become his own star for a while. Rating: 2 out of 5.

Blond – Frank Ocean

The visionary artist’s highly anticipated new album was finally released this summer after years of begging and some disappointment by his fans. Four years after Ocean released his best selling album “Channel Orange”, he has decided to show another side of himself and his versatile singing voice.

After listening to Frank Ocean’s new album “Blond”, it was easy to see that Frank was striving for more of a quieter, meditative sound, and it didn’t fail to impress. “Blond” not only shows a sense of the old Frank Ocean, which the world has been waiting to hear for four years, but also shows his true artistic talent, range of vocals, and rhythms in a storytelling-type album.

After years of staying on the down low Frank still decided to keep his music exclusive and initially will only release it to Apple Music subscribers, but this most likely won’t last for long. After this much anticipation, I predict that “Blond” will be in the top three rated albums of summer 2016. Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Hidden Gem Reviews: Breakfast

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast? Three Squallers set out to find the hidden breakfast spots in the Dexter/Ann Arbor area. Here’s what they found.
By Lucas Bell, Kyle Doyle & Christopher Gaskin

Nicks

A delightful haven of breakfast delicacies that is hidden off Ann Arbor-Saline road was our first breakfast place to indulge. However, indulgence did not come immediately.

Saturday mornings are the best time to get breakfast, but try to get there early. After 30 minutes of waiting, we were seated. The atmosphere of Nick’s calls to mind a more modern diner, with it’s combination of incredibly comfortable booths and tables, paired with a rusty tan tile.

image1The ambiance feels diner, the business occurs like a formal restaurant.

A huge arrangement of hits from across the decades (From “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye to “3AM” by Matchbox 20) played over the radio at a good volume; Not overbearing, but loud enough to hear. The waitress that took our order was obviously stressed with a full section, but she remained calm. However, she was forgetful, as it took her until midway through the meal for one of our coffees to come. Another  waitress spilled some coffee on the table and just walked away without a word.

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Music Review: Melanie Martinez’s “Cry Baby”

By Abbey Dinsdale
Special for The Squall

“I like the idea of pop music . . . but it’s not being used the right way”

Melanie Martinez, originally a contestant on The Voice, debuted with her first studio album Cry Baby on August 14, 2015. She topped the indie music charts, as well as made it to number six on Billboard, with the album. Prior to the release of  Cry Baby, Martinez had released several singles, most of which were featured on the album.

Categorized as as darkwave, indie pop, electro pop, and emo pop, Cry Baby succeeded in bringing a darker mix of reality and fantasy to the American music scene. As stated by Martinez,  she just “wanted to talk about stuff that was honest.”

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Music Review: Rachael Yamagata’s “Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart”

By Kate Montero
Special for The Squall

Rachael Yamagata released her first album Happenstance in 2004, on RCA Victor. It took her a total of two years to finally release a two disc masterpiece, Elephants… Teeth Sinking into Heart, because of a conflict with the label.

She released Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart in 2008 with Warner Bros. Record. Previously stated, the album is separated into two discs, each contrasting the other significantly.

The first disc, Elephants, has a dark, haunting and intimate tone. Starting off the disc is the actual song, “Elephants.” This song is powerful and sung with such raw and real emotion. The fragile strength in her voice paired with beautifully broken lyrics about love and lust make this song an absolute favorite. The album itself is told like a story.

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Music Review: Rihanna’s “Anti”

By Lisa Zuiderveen
Special for The Squall

Rihanna released her eighth studio album Anti on January 28, 2016. The album starts off well with “Consideration (feat. SZA).” The song has a very good beat and is entertaining. SZA also helps to create some diversity in the song other than just Rihanna singing. Overall, this was my favorite song on the album and the one with the best sound.  

Many have heard her song “Work,” track No. 5, and can’t seem to get it out of their heads because of the repetition. If you’ve listened to the song you’ve also heard, or not heard, her mumbling words that no one really understands, Rihanna thinks otherwise and confronted the issue by saying  that “You get what I’m saying, but it’s not all the way perfect. Because that’s how we speak in the Caribbean.”

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