Current cooks : Eve Aronoff

. October 23, 2012.

How serendipitous that I ran into Eve Aronoff at Morgan & York’s, buying Spanish olive oil for her funky Frita Batidos restaurant. “I have a deadline,” I told her. “And I was going to call you tonight to write about eve in exile.”

Eve the person graciously sat down with me to talk about eve the restaurant, which closed down its Kerrytown space in January, 2011, making lots of people sad. Eve included.

Eve explained, “My original intention was to run both restaurants — eve and Frita Batidos. But on a coffee field trip to the Honduras in 2010, I had a bad fall and hurt my back and pelvis. It was a complicated injury. The doctors told me I risked permanent disability.”
Nonetheless, Eve was willing to try keeping both places open. She asked her landlords at Kerrytown for a short lease renewal, but they wanted a longer period. Unable to come to terms, she closed eve and focused on Frita Batidos. Frita opened in fall, 2010 and has quickly become a hotspot for casual dining, with its emphasis on Cuban-inspired modern cuisine.

But Eve still misses her beautiful eponymous restaurant, that made the culinary world take notice. She garnered accolades from Alice Waters, Mario Batali, the James Beard Foundation, and even Bravo’s “Top Chef” competition. Now that her back has improved and stabilized, this former Brandeis University Russian literature student dares to dream of reopening eve in a new space.

Until then, she and her fans must remain content with eve retrospective dinners at the Frita space. The first one was February 26, and the next occurred exactly six months later, on August 26, quickly becoming a near-sellout. These dinners reflect eve’s commitment to a seasonal menu; so although they include an all-eve menu, they don’t feature the same food.

The one I attended in February included a mind boggling 10 courses – not to mention three side dishes on every table and three wines. Starting with “inspired nachos” on wontons with crème fraîche, the meal proceeded through Moroccan scallops, curried mussels, macadamia encrusted salmon, Thai BBQ chicken, and beef tenderloin. The finale was a pot de crème with brown sugar cream and rum-soaked grilled pineapple. Eve managed this dinner with just three former eve staffers. No one else — including servers — had experience with this menu. Yet patrons were thrilled. As Matt, a fellow diner told me, “I have not had a meal like that in a long time. Every dish was nailed.”

For August’s meal, Eve served a “Peak Growing Season tasting menu.” This included a “duet of Summer Soups” and an entrée she explained is “very personal to me — Moroccan chicken in phyllo with candied limes and spicy summer greens. It was my final exam dish at Cordon Bleu” (the famous French cooking school). The August menu also included beef tenderloin Chimichurri, Michigan corn pudding, squash blossoms stuffed with chorizo, and “Lincoln Log goat cheese with salsa verde,” closing with “summertime sundaes.”

Until Eve reopens for good, we must content ourselves with these Brigadoon-like “retrospective dinners.” If you missed the first two, watch for the next one in the winter. Sign onto Frita’s Facebook page for advance announcements, and don’t delay a second in getting your tickets for these rare and nostalgic commemorative events.

“eve in exile”
c/o Frita Batidos
117 W. Washington
Ann Arbor MI 48104
(734) 761-2882
fritabatidos.com
Facebook: Frita Batidos

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