241 N. Maple Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Hours: Mon-Sat 7am-8pm; Sun 7am-4pm
It was a gift from above. My eight-year-old son was at hockey practice at Vet’s. At the same time, my four-year-old daughter was at a play date. I had — gasp! — a whole hour to myself. Whatever would I do?
As I waited in the hockey rink, I tried reading a book. Not being a native Michigander, though, I just couldn’t read with mittens on. So I struck out to explore Ann Arbor’s Westside. This is when I stumbled upon Village Kitchen, an inviting diner in Maple Village. Mums and hay bales decorated the entrance near a funny little sign that read, “You come, you eat, you like, you come back!”
So my family of four came one Sunday afternoon to eat. We learned the VK, as locals call it, is owned by Helen Panos and has been in business for over 30 years. She must be doing something right.
There are booths galore inside Village Kitchen. Its pale yellow walls are decorated with University of Michigan and Americana knick-knacks. Two large murals dominate the back walls: one of downtown Ann Arbor and the other of West Park. If you look closely, you can find the owner painted in each mural. Music from the 50s and 60s plays over the speakers.
A bevy of options
Like most diners, Village Kitchen offers a variety of items. Breakfast is served all day, including pancakes, Belgian waffles and omelettes. Lunch and dinner choices range from salads and sandwiches to burgers, Coney dogs and traditional meals like liver and onions.
I chose an oversized salad, the Chicken Julie, with mixed greens, grilled chicken, provolone cheese, mushrooms and steamed broccoli, served with pita bread. The chicken was tender
and juicy, its heat melting the smooth provolone. The lettuce was fresh and copious. The soft steamed broccoli, which I believe was previously frozen, complimented the chewy mushrooms. I understood why this salad is deemed a local favorite.
My son joined me for lunch, ordering a cheeseburger and fries from the regular menu. Our server was wise, offering to leave off the lettuce, tomato and onion for him. As he gobbled his meal, he looked around and commented, “This is a really good place. Yea, it’s yummy.”
A breakfast with bite
The remaining members of the family ordered breakfast. My daughter chose French toast with sausage off the kids’ menu. Other kids’ menu selections include eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese, spaghetti or chicken strips, all with one side for $4.99 (drinks extra).
“How’s your sausage?” we asked her. “Awesome!” she replied, giving a thumbs up. I snuck some of her French toast and found it light, fluffy and delicious. Since she could not eat all four slices, I simply had to pitch in to help.
My husband tried an Italian Village Scramble with three eggs, spicy Italian sausage, red peppers, mozzarella and a side of marinara sauce. The large serving came with hash browns and toast. “The Italian sausage is really good,” he commented. “It’s spicy.”
As we were full, we passed on the gigantic carrot cake we spied in the dessert case as well as the homemade rice pudding, which sounded good. Our pockets were full, too, as the total for our lunch/breakfast was very reasonable.
We came, we ate, we liked. Now I know where to grab a tasty bite to eat during the next hockey practice.
Katy M. Clark lives with her family in Saline.
THE SHORT COURSE
To avoid wait They are busiest on weekends for breakfast and lunch
Noise level Moderate
Bathroom amenities There is a changing table in the Ladies’
High chairs Yes
Got milk Yes
Kids’ menu Yes
Anything healthy for kids Try the Kids’ spaghetti or one egg meal. Or, choose items like applesauce and cottage cheese from the Sides menu
Food allergy concerns Talk with your server, who can offer suggestions and information specific to your concerns.