Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bivouac Eats: Aventura (Ann Arbor, MI)


    If you've spent any time at all in the Ann Arbor area, you probably know about SavCo. Founded by restaurateur and household Ann Arbor name Sava Lelcaj, SavCo Hospitality is the result of year's worth of culinary sweat and toil on the part of its owner, who opened up her namesake restaurant Sava's in 2007, when she was just 23 years old.

    SavCo's not-so-secret ambition is to take over your life (well, at least the eating parts) with the freshest, healthiest ingredients possible, whether they're being served to you at one of the brand's two restaurants or being selected by you at babo market, SavCo's grocer on E. Washington St. In November 2013, Sava's latest project, a modern tapas restaurant named Aventura, opened its doors. With perhaps the greatest tapas menu this side of the Atlantic, SavCo is one step closer to world dominiation. 

    Aventura is both bleedingly modern and full of old-school charm. The interior is decked out in tiles that bring to mind images of the Spanish coast, but otherwise adorned with sharp, clean lines and burnished metal. The window bar area where I was seated was a single sheet of white granite, with sleekly-designed chairs and minimal decoration on the table itself. Every space in the restaurant is at both heritage and new: the wine cellar, for example, is constructed of red brick with copious wooden detailing. Yet, at its center, a one-piece stark white bar top with skeletonized high top seating. Between the patio, special event rooms, and multiple bars, there are so many different spaces throughout Aventura that its nearly impossible to eat in the same environment twice.

    That brings me to the most important point of fact: the eating. Aventura is tapas-style, meaning a large quantity of shareable dishes best experienced with a group. Because there were so many dishes, I'll avoid my usual poetic waxing and let the pictures do most of the talking. 

Coles De Bruselas Y Uvas: 
shaved brussels sprouts, manchego, marcona almonds, pickled grapes, sherry vinaigrette

I had to start with a salad. Think of it like a "calm before the storm" that is sure to consist of many delicious cured meats and fried potatoes. The pickled grapes turn a normally-refreshing appetizer into potentially the perfect summer cool down. Now, it's time for meat. God bless Spanish food.

Patatas Bravas: thrice fried potatoes, sunny-side up egg, honey aiòli, brava sauce

Quote: "the most popular menu item since we opened". Essentially, tapas french fries. Drizzled in creamy bravas sauce and topped with a fresh egg. Divide your party by 2 and order that many - they go too fast otherwise.

Albóndigaslamb meatballs, manchego, almond picada

For the first "meat" course of the night, I had to go with something special. In my opinion, lamb is perhaps the best meat available: not too gamy, not too light, and just as good ground as it is whole. Lamb metaballs, submerged in cheese and almond picada, have only validated that opinion. Easily my favorite dish of the night. 

Hamburguesa De Cordero:
lamb burgers, garnacha caramelized onions, lemon aiòli, arugula, olives, boquerones, manchego, layered on a brioche bun
Tapas sliders. More of the superb ground lamb from the Albóndigas, more of the sublime vegetables and cheeses from the ensalade. I knew exactly what I was going to get when I ordered. Consider my expectations exceeded. 

Pulpo a La Gallegaconfit octopus, potatoes, paprika

If you've never tried octopus before, this is the dish to try. Octopus done well has a slightly crispy exterior, with a warm yet spongy interior flesh. This is octopus done very well.  

Ensalada Asturia:cider stewed chorizo, gigande beans, roasted red peppers, celery, scallion, spinach, almond romesco
No one does roasted peppers quite like a Spanish restaurant. Throw it on a bed of spinach, pair in some inspired additions (beans and almond romesco? Try it to believe it), and baby, you've got a salad goin'.

Dátiles Con Chorizo:
bacon wrapped dates, chorizo, almond romesco. 
Savory, sweet, and divine. The texture is an odd combination of bacon crunch and date chewy, and this dish of seeming contradictions just works so well in tandem. The romesco perfectly complements the flavor profile of the dates.  

    Whoa. If none of the above had you scrambling to phone in a reservation, nothing will. After my incredible dinner at their newest restaurant, a world run by SavCo doesn't sound too bad at all. 

~Alex R. -Men's Fashion
Aventura is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and open Saturdays and Sundays for brunch. 

Still craving more? Check out some other editions of Bivouac Eats as we visit Frita BatidosMani Osteriaand The Jolly Pumpkin!

Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.


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