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A Cut Above The Others

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Eating Out

A cut above the others

MAUDE’S 314 S. Fourth Ave.

In the heart of downtown, across from the new federal building and, appropriately enough, a block down from Ann Arbor’s entertainment district, is Maude’s Restaurant, named for an elegant lady who operated an elegant house of ill repute.

A more recent addition to the establishment, in contrast to the masterfully executed original portion, gives the impression that it was built to accommodate a waiting line during a busy lunch hour. The ceilings are unimaginative, the wainscoting ordinary and the lighting pale.

THE ORIGINAL section, however, is a showplace of expert carpentry and tasteful, antique furnishings, dreamed up by a designer who thought of every detail and carried out by careful, perfectionist craftsmen.

The food is simple, dominated by a selection of imaginative and eye-pleasing salads, good soups and several sandwiches and main courses. Though we’ve been told by other frequent patrons of Maude’s that daily specials also are available, in several visits we’ve never been informed of these by our waitresses.

The salads are all fresh, crisp and beautifully presented. The home made dressings are excellent. We do sometimes feel the lack of a modest sized salad to accompany a sandwich or main course. All of Maude’s salads are substantial enough to be a meal in themselves.

THE GAZPACHO is the best in the area - in taste, consistency and presentation.

Among the main courses are a steak sandwich (quite good), prawns (very good - and gigantic), spareribs (excellent ribs, ordinary barbecue sauce), steamed crab legs (good) and a combination oi prawns and ribs.

A number of smothered and otherwise imaginatively garnished hamburgers are good and hearty. Among the cold sandwiches, the lemon pepper-flavored stacked beef definitely is a cut above the run-of-the-mill shaved beef found on many lunch menus.

The only section of the menu we have consistently found in need of improvement is the a la carte section of vegetables and the guacamole.

SEVERAL TIMES the fried vegetables - artichokes and eggplant - have been salty and deep-fried in old grease with a batter that conceals the delicate taste of the vegetables-. Sauteing might solve the problem, but it requires more care and more than the qualifications of a fry cook.

Whether it can be accomplished in a busy restaurant is questionable.

The guacamole is a very ordinary Midwestern variety, lacking the zest one finds in a true Mexican restaurant or around southern California.

The drinks are excellent and the wine list adequate for the menu.

Dinner for two on the light side can be as little as $12 with a couple of glasses of house wine and as much as $30 with a bottle of wine.

The service is predictable for a busy restaurant with predominantly transient help. Some are better than others, some we have found aloof and impersonal, but adequate.

AN OBSERVATION: The host or hostess almost invariably keeps people waiting for a table and meticulously scribbles down their names, but whenever the table is ready and we have been seated, we have always seen many other empty tables. It gives the impression that either the management likes to seat people at intervals or that the place is not being used at full efficiency.

Generally, Maude’s is a delightful and colorful restaurant, where one can have a fast lunch, a snack, a couple of drinks or a substantial dinner at a reasonable price and is truly warm surroundings.