Cati and I went on a double date to Eve a few weeks back. Some of you may have seen Chef Eve Aronoff on Bravo’s Top Chef Las Vegas this season. Eve didn’t do so hot (she was eliminated on the 2nd episode). Which is really too bad, because I think she is really quite talented. We have had some incredible food at her eponymous restaurant in the Kerrytown neighborhood of Ann Arbor.
On our last visit, dinner was uneven. There were some excellent dishes mixed in with some mediocre ones. We are good friends with the couple with whom we dined, so plates and loaded forks were passed around the table all night. I gave Eve (the restaurant) a more thorough review a few months back, so to avoid redundancy, I’ll keep this one brief.
We started with a California Zinfandel. It was musty so we asked for a decanter to help it air-out. We realized that the decanter wasn’t helping and the bottle was corked. We sent the bottle back for a fresh one and our server was happy to oblige. So remember readers, if your wine tastes like a wet basement, don’t be shy, send it back– these things happen. Another bottle of the same wine was brought out and it was excellent.
We started with a pair of appetizers for the table– in addition to the fresh-baked bread and three flavored butters. We ordered the “Aromatic Lamb.” It’s described in the menu as a “sweet, savory and spicy ground lamb with pine nuts and golden raisins rolled in brik pastry and dressed with a salad of fresh spinach and mint.”
The dish looked like a boring ol’ mound-o-spinach when it was brought to the table, but…
it was fantastic. The pastry gave the lamb an airy character that seemed to make it easier to experience the savory flavors. It wasn’t weak or over-powering at all, but you knew you were eating lamb. The mint and spinach were also a nice touch, and the raisins and pine nuts added sweet and buttery tones that went very well with the lamb. It was an elegant way to balance the often-heavy lamb flavors. I was swooning a little over this one.
[Shoot! No pic taken.] Take my word for it, it was great.
We also went with Cati’s and my fave– curried mussels.
[Again, I was probably gabbing away and didn’t take a pic. I’m sure it was something captivating.] Below is a pic of the mussels from our last visit there; they looked the same.
It is accurately described on the menu as “simmered in a rich curry sauce with chunks of bread for sopping.” It is so good; I would change nothing about this dish.
For the entrees, I ordered the “Spicy love birds'”– which sounds like it’s a poor translation and belongs on a Chinese restaurant menu, right? Anyway, it was superb. It’s described in the menu as, “a pair of quail, marinated with chilis, fresh limes, and amontillado sherry – with French baked rice and spicy greens.”
The tangy lime and chili marinade were unique and well-balanced and the quail was perfectly cooked. The rice was apparently subsitutted with quinoa– that’s cool.
Cati had the ricotta gnocchi. She was not pleased by this one.
It was super rich and tasted like 50/50-cream/butter was poured on top of some innocent, unsuspecting (and otherwise tasty) gnocchi. Described on the menu as “fried in butter, dressed with Autumn mushroom cream and draped with lardo*.” I guess we should have known, (right?) but there was absolutely no effort made to balance all that fat and cream; the dish was lopsided and way, WAY, too heavy. I guess we figured it would be a bit more balanced– we were wrong.
Our friends ordered the “Simple Fish” and Alaskan halibut.
The simple fish was pretty much perfect. Okay, so it may not be the most elegant presentation; but if you love seafood, this is a thing of beauty. It was lightly seasoned and perfectly cooked– which is all a good fish really needs. The fish was served with “sorrel potato croquetas and vegetables of the season,” but I didn’t try either and I focused on getting as much of the fish as possible. :)
The Alaskan Halibut wasn’t as good as it was the first time we had it (The presentation doesn’t even look as good as it used to, does it? [click and scroll down halfway to compare]).
The pesto-infused risotto seemed to overpower the other flavors a bit. Our friend was not that impressed. Too bad; when done right, it can be so good.
The food that night was hit or miss. Ah well, we managed to have a great night all the same. If there are any Eve regulars who are reading this blog, is there a best night of the week to go? Eve was in the kitchen that night, we saw her come out and say hi to some of the diners. Judging from the lousy photos I took, I wasn’t having my best night either; thanks for reading.
Well, on an unrelated note, Cati and Nina left me alone here in Ann Arbor for two whole weeks (they were visiting family)– as you can imagine, there is dirty laundry everywhere– I KID. Seriously though, I miss ’em; they come back tomorrow.
* thin slices of bacon fat.