I must thank my follower The Foodie Fairy for alerting me to the Blue Tractor Cook Shop with her blog. She had been to the one in Traverse City and seemed quite fond so of course I needed to try the new version here in Ann Arbor. It has similar food but not the exact same menu.
This is a definite Southern style place. From Carolina BBQ to fried green tomatoes, it screams down home deliciousness from south of the Mason-Dixon. I came here following a 16 hour fasting test that had my blood sugar plummeting, excuse enough to eat heartily I figured. I sure did come to the right place. Health food does not seem to be the agenda here, it is just not the southern way. There is plenty of meat, starches and fried food, all homemade and full of temptation.
We started with some Smoked Chicken and Corn Chowder. Filled with big chunks of chicken and tasting of pure sweet corn, it was not too thick but rather had a creamy broth. It was Michigan heaven in a bowl. I could have eaten another bowl it was that good.
I decided on the Carolina Beef Brisket, served over buttermilk mashed potatoes that were decidedly from scratch with lovely lumps but no skins. The beef was braised in a vinegar based Carolina sauce but they offered a basket with two other sauces, a rich tomato based and a zesty Texas variety. I found that by mixing the Texas with the tomato that it created a very satisfying sauce. This was accompanied by the veggie of the day, fresh shredded brussel sprouts, so good I cannot begin to describe. Truly a taste sensation, I ate both mine and my husband's I must confess.
My husband had the Meatloaf, wrapped in bacon and served on a cedar plank and covered with homemade spicy ketchup. It was also served over buttermilk mashers with brussel sprouts on the side. He scraped off the overwhelming ketchup and avoided the sprouts but really enjoyed the rest. Sampling a bite of the meatloaf, I have to say it was tasty indeed. For the money I think it should have been a bit bigger chunk or perhaps another thin style piece at the least. It was not quite enough for my husband, he was peckish so he ordered a side of the excellent mac and cheese but found it to be a bit spicy to his taste so he satisfied himself instead with pilfering pieces of my brisket and eating most of my mashed potatoes.
My mother had the Braised Short Rib, thoroughly coated in the red tomato BBQ sauce. It is served over utterly delicious cheesy grits with greens on the side. The greens were zipped up nicely with the pickapepper sauce from the table. The short rib was nice but I found the BBQ sauce to be a bit much on it. My mother quite enjoyed it though, her favorite part was the cheesy grits which were sinfully rich.
Accompanying these things we decided to get a basket of the beer battered onion rings, also served with the homemade ketchup which is quite salsa like in both consistency and zip factor. It went much better with the rings than with the meatloaf. The rings were to die for, just hearty and fresh. Perfect.
We saw a lot of sandwiches and they look quite healthy in portion, tasty looking too. I think I may give one a whirl next time, I have my eye on the Low Country BLT. Also on my agenda is trying the southern fried appetizer combo which features fried pickles, fried okra and yes indeed fried green tomatoes all with buttermilk lime dressing to dip. My dietician would keel over dead at the thought but hey you have to indulge a bit right?
The prices here are a bit high, the portions a bit on the skimpy side for it in my opinion but the food is amazingly fresh and homemade with variety not often seen in these parts. If I were to make one suggestion it would be to include a bread basket or biscuits with the dinner plates, it would go a long way to increasing the value and filling up men such as my husband.
If you are looking for a bit of southern home, complete with excellent sweet tea, this may well be the place for you.