Question, die-hard Wolverines fans: Is there a local establishment where you can heartily cheer on the Maize & Blue – with either your family or your artsy/political/games-playing-loving crew – and enjoy innovative and tasty, yet reasonably priced food and a craft brew?
There is now.
Haymaker Public House, a remodeled version of what was briefly known as The Curtain Call (and before that, The Arena) at the corner of Washington and Fourth in downtown Ann Arbor, recently opened its doors. When new ownership opened The Curtain Call, owners perceived customer anxiety that the sports bar aspect of The Arena would be lost. Mark Adams, Operating Manager, explains that a decision was made to rededicate the space to alleviate those worries.
“We wanted to keep something that had the essence of a sports bar,” Adams says, “but not have it be something as obvious as The Dugout.”
Named by the committee
A naming committee of five people met and decided on one rule – all five had to ultimately like whatever name they chose. After what Adams describes as an arduous process, Haymaker Public House was born. “We liked Haymaker,” Adams says, “because it means a strong unexpected punch and it has that connection to sports, but it doesn’t suggest exclusively or only sports. ‘Public House’ is the long form of pub and we wanted to suggest that we’re not just a bar, just a place to grab a beer. We want to be a downtown gathering place where people go to meet friends, have the chance to drink from a variety of taps, and enjoy good food — not typical greasy bar food — by all means affordable, and, of course, catch a game.”
The menu features a slate of half-pound burgers, all of which can also be ordered as sliders (in any customer-specified combination) with fresh local beef from Knight’s Market. While the Ol’ Standby offers the unadorned comfort of American cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles, diners can opt for a number of more adventurous options including the Fat Californian with spicy fried avocado and chipotle mayo, the Poutine with cheese curds, tater tots and onion gravy, or the Beer Overlord featuring beer cheese, beer-buttered onions and garlic.
Other delectables include a quartet of locally sourced, all-natural craft sausages, including the tasty Vietnamese Chicken with pickled veggies, cilantro, jalapeno and mayo; and a Hawaiian Brat with bacon, pineapple, jalapeno and grilled onion. All sandwiches – such as the Brisket & Horseradish or the You Don’t Know Jack (with jackfruit, bbq sauce and red onions) – are served on paratha, a bread described as “a savory cross between a pita and a puffed pastry.” Salads include a Grilled Romaine Hearts where the lettuce is flash-grilled and a Summer Salad with mixed greens, cherries, apples, smoked bleu cheese and toasted pecans with an herb vinaigrette; and sides offer several iterations of fries: Shoestring, Brisket & Waffle, Pork Belly Tots, and Sweet Potato Waffle. It’s also possible to order a Diversifries platter featuring all of the above plus fried pickles, served with beer cheese and ketchup.
For those who refuse to be intimidated, there’s a “Giant, Enormous, Amazing” one-pound pretzel with beer cheese and ale mustard for $11.00.
Lunch service is now available Monday-Friday from 11am-2pm with $7 salads, sausages, burgers and sandwiches.
Beers, games and trivia
The bar offers 40 rotating taps, including Michigan stalwarts Dirty Blonde, Two-Hearted and Bell’s Oberon, and 40 other beers available by bottle. Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 4-7pm and from 10-pm to close and all day Sunday.
Because the ownership group is the same crew who started Sporcle, the internet and pub-trivia giant with over 2.3 billion quizzes played by the public, Haymaker features three trivia nights each week along with a stock of different board games for customer use. The atmosphere is warm and comfortable, with televisions easily viewable from any seat in the house, yet manages to avoid the sensory-overload, arcade-like electronica of many sports bars. Wall decor features a series of whimsical prints of a bearded man battling a grizzly bear in a number of strength contests, culminating in the two sitting down to share a beer.
Adams describes Haymaker as family-friendly and says if mom or dad bring in the kids, the little ones will be treated to a free ice cream cone.
Haymaker Public House
213 Washington Street, Ann Arbor
734-997-5399 | Haymakerpublichouse.com