Feeling Thank-Full at Carson’s American Bistro

. November 1, 2016.

Carson’s American Bistro

2000 Commonwealth Blvd.
Ann Arbor | MI | 48105
Phone: (734) 622-0533
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm | Fri 11am-11pm
Sat 4pm-11pm | Sun 10am-9pm

This month our thoughts turn to turkey and the traditional Thanksgiving feast. For contemporary American cuisine, though, there is Carson’s American Bistro.

Carson’s, on the north side of town, is known for its prime rib and seafood, so our server explained as my family settled in the dining room. The restaurant serves only the freshest top-catch fish from Foley’s of Boston, meaning fish that is last caught and first off the boat.

In 2015, the restaurant’s interior was renovated. An impressive double-sided fireplace separates bar from dining room. The bar area boasts a copper bar top while the dining room has new lights, fabrics and chairs. The interior feels clean, modern, and warm. I wanted to curl up by the fireplace, but that would have been weird.


Eclectic American Cuisine

Carson’s offers numerous American favorites: starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, seafood, beef, pork and chicken dishes. The kitchen is a scratch kitchen. Everything is made in-house with local ingredients as available.

My family debated between shrimp and lobster bites or calamari for an appetizer before agreeing on tater tots with Sriracha aioli and corn salsa ($6.95). They were the best tater tots I’ve had. The crust was crispy, the inside light and fluffy with a hint of cheese. The aioli added a hot, spicy kick.

“That was worth seven bucks!” my husband declared.

When it came to the main event, I ordered the Sautéed Lake Superior Whitefish with shiitake mushrooms, dried cherries, garlic-mashed potatoes and roasted seasonal vegetables ($22.95). My husband selected the Bell’s Two Hearted and Apricot Braised Pot Roast with garlic-mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and onion rings ($19.95). My son, 13, picked the fish and chips ($15.95).

“Is it blue box?” my daughter asked of the mac and cheese on the kids’ menu. “I’m not getting it if it’s blue box.”

I reminded her that Carson’s had a scratch kitchen and the mac and cheese would be real. She ordered it ($4.95) with a side of mashed potatoes. Other choices included chicken fingers, grilled cheese, grilled chicken sandwich, or hamburger. Kids’ meals come with a drink, choice of fries or vegetable, and ice cream.


Feeling thank-full

After nibbling on warm bread dusted with cheese and bacon, plus crunchy coleslaw rife with blue cheese, we were ready for our entrees. Alas, my husband was served fish instead of pot roast. The restaurant took care of us, rushing his correct order and making his meal complementary. That was a pleasant surprise.

Our food was delicious. I tasted every flavor of the fish, mushrooms and cherries. My vegetables—green beans, carrots and onions—were crisp and plentiful.

My husband’s pot roast was elegant, the savory meat with a sweet apricot glaze melted in his mouth between bites of onion ring.

My son appreciated his fish and chips, eating half before feeling full. Likewise my daughter could finish half of her creamy mac and cheese. I tasted butter and cheese when I snuck a bite. Yum.

Although our server raved about the chocolate chip cookie sundae ($6.95), our taste buds were satisfied and our bellies full.

For those of you who will sit down to a Thanksgiving “feast” at your child’s school this month, remember Carson’s delivers far more appetizing American cuisine.

The Short Course

Kid-friendly: Yes
To avoid wait: Try weeknights or before 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays
Noise level: Moderate
Bathroom amenities: Changing table in men’s and women’s
High chairs? Yes
Got milk? Yes, plus lemonade, juice and soda.
Kids’ menu? Yes
Anything healthy for kids? Pick vegetables as the kid’s meal side.
Food allergy concerns? As a scratch kitchen, the staff knows their ingredients, and can accommodate most allergies. Let your server and/or management know.