Friday, July 1, 2011

Frugal Floozie Friday -- Jerusalem Garden

Well, today is Frugal Floozie Friday, and we're going out for dinner this time - for Middle Eastern food at Jerusalem Garden.

My BFF Wendy and her daughter, Alison - home for the summer after an exciting term interning at the State Department - joined me for an adventure one recent evening. We had such a fabulous time that this will be a two-part escapade completed next week ... same Bat time, same Bat channel!

We wanted to attend the first night of Top of the Park, described in a press release as:

"One of Ann Arbor’s favorite community celebrations .... (It) offers admission-free concerts, movies under the stars, open-air performances, street arts, family attractions, and a wide variety of cultural activities for the whole community to enjoy."

So we started with dinner before meandering over to the concert a few blocks away, right in the heart of the University of Michigan campus.

Jerusalem Garden is unfortunately located right in the midst of the enormous and seemingly endless project to construct an underground parking structure. There is a sign saying that the two restaurants on that block are still open; but with parking non-existent and the street blocked off, it's not a particularly enticing location. (You can even find a Facebook page supporting the restaurants: Keep Earthen Jar and Jerusalem Garden Open ... go "like" it.)

So we were on a mission to show our love.

We sat on the shaded patio on a perfect summery evening, a small oasis from the dust and consternation of the construction site, and were happy to see three other tables filled in addition to watching numerous customers walk in and then leave with take-out orders.

We were surprised at how many options were available within the very strict $5 per person budget for Frugal Floozie Friday: an assortment of salads and soups, spinach and meat pies, and eight different sandwiches featuring falafel or hummus or lentils and rice. And, of course, desserts were within our price range, as well.

I decided upon the Small Falafel Plate (pictured at the top of the post), which would have been $3.25 with one sampler side dish; but since I could choose a second side dish and bring my total up to only $4.75, that's what I did. I chose tabouli (on the right) and my favorite, fattoush (on the left). Wendy and Alison decided to split the Jerusalem Burger for $5.75: "Ground beef & lamb mixed with onions, parsley and spices baked in grape leaves, wrapped with hummus."

As you can see from the pictures, we absolutely got a huge bang for our proverbial buck -- we were served an incredibly generous amount of food! And it was exceptionally good food, too; Wendy loved the burger, and kept remarking how excellent it was and how enormous just her half of it was.

My falafel patties were perfectly cooked -- crunchy exteriors encasing a crumbly and flavorful filling. The salads were crisp and fresh with subtle flavors, rather than having been overdressed or too acidic (as they are at some places). Our waitress very graciously offered me a second piece of pita bread, which I happily accepted. And the three of us enthusiastically polished off our entire dinner, thoroughly enjoying our feast.

Whereas last week's featured establishment, Schakolad, was more about finding a sinfully seductive treat within the Frugal Floozie Friday price limit, going to Jerusalem Garden was about finding great value for the expenditure. An entire dinner for $5 or less??? What a fabulous deal!

Jerusalem Garden
307 S. Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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Frugal Floozie Friday: Food and Fun for Five Dollars or Less ... Really!!!

Jerusalem Garden on Urbanspoon


Angela said...

That is the other great thing about vegetarian food--if you go to the right places, you get a lot of great food for just a little cash! One of our favorite places here serves great, fresh salads, falafel, and hummus and we can both eat for cheap.

Candace said...

oooh, I wish I could have been there. I have been craving middle eastern food lately and what a deal!! Great job! Have a wonderful weekend!

Unknown said...

I adore falafel.. and get it whenever I can when I am out!! I should make it at home actually, but Chris is not a fan. Anyway.. another great frugal find and another reason why I wished I lived closer to you :)

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Middle eastern food is some of my favorite food ever! The flavors are just so perfect to me :) $5 for dinner?????? That's amazing! With great food and prices like that it makes me want to move back to MI :)

Miriam said...

Ooo, ooo, I wanna go there too!!! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

Middle Eastern food is my absolute FAVE! My mouth is watering right now lol

Karen Harris said...

We have Garbanzo here in the Denver area and it is pretty inexpensive and deeelish! I love the kid's falarma pita with chicken and falafel stuffed with more stuff than the pita can hold for $4.00. I guess I should join your club. Great post Mary. By the way, have you spent that WS card yet? I'm curious as to what you found.

Anonymous said...

Jerusalem Garden has been a favorite of mine for years! And when I saw your great-looking photo of the falafel sandwich I had such a strong craving. Thanks for supporting them while the big hole in the ground disrupts business.

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