Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bivouac Eats: Frita Batidos (Ann Arbor, MI)

    Ann Arbor is a foodie town across all strata. Biannual restaurant weeks showcase everything from gourmet food carts to Zagat-rated bistros, and even our local deli is internationally famous. "Bivouac Eats" is a new series where every week, we'll explore a new Ann Arbor restaurant and run its delicious food through the paces. Our highly-trained, college-metabolism-fueled intern has graciously volunteered for this position with the promise that he tear up a few "man cards" along the way to photograph his food. This should be interesting.


   First up, Frita Batido's. Situated past Main Street at 117 West Washington Street, Frita Batido's is the brainchild of Eve Aronoff, a Le Cordon Bleu, Paris-trained chef who after 25 years working in the restaurant industry, paid grand homage to the Latin American food that had inspired her own cooking by opening a restaurant of her own. "Frita Batido" is not a person. Instead, the restaurant's name is derived from the two Cubano culinary staples with which Eve fell in love over her career: the Frita (a greasy, french-fry covered chorizo patty on a buttery soft bun) and the Batido (a milkshake made with fresh fruit and vanilla ice cream). The purest Frita Batido's experience involves one of each: a piping hot, savory Frita piled high with toppings, and a refreshing, sweet Batido blended fresh when you order it.

Frita Batido's interior (picture courtesy of fritabatidos.com)

      Frita Batido's is unlike any other "fast casual" restaurant in town: a long line snakes around the interior of a brightly-lit, stark white industrial room filled with picnic tables and the glorious cacophony of food prep. After you place your order, you grab whatever seat is first available - yes, that means *gasp* sitting next to strangers. At Frita Batido's, striking up a random conversation over a game of dominos (provided on every table) is encouraged. Waitresses shuttle trays piled high with food over the din of a packed dining room. Listen carefully for your name and don't wait too long to shoot your hand up, or you risk missing one of life's greatest pleasures: a Frita fresh off the grill, still sizzling from the heat.

Bagged tropical juice and delicious fried patties? I'm listening.

    I went on a warm Thursday evening, just between sunset and the dinner rush. For my first ever Frita, I went wild on the toppings: I chose a chicken frita with tropical coleslaw, avocado, bacon, and a sunny-side up egg. Saving room for dessert, I chose to eschew the recommended Batido (sorry, Eva!) and instead opted for a freshly-shaken bag of housemade ginger lime juice that caught my eye as I scanned the menu. The young family at my table and I chatted over a constantly-interrupted game of dominos as food was wheeled out. Suddenly, my name rings out loud and clear over the crowd.

    A sandwich wrapped in parchment paper is placed in front of me. My bag of juice now sits in the shade of sizzling, dripping greatness.

    This is my moment.

   Now, on to the good stuff: as evidenced in the photo, the bun:filling ratio meant a fork was needed. That's what I like to call "not a problem".

    Bite 1: complete egg bun structural collapse. Bite 2: more of the sandwich is on my hand than in my mouth. Bite 3: colors are brighter, world peace has been attained, and my third grade pet hamster is back from the "farm up state". Frita Batido's is THAT good. The ginger lime juice was spicy but not piquant, and was a brilliant sidekick for what remained of the former Frita. I dreaded having to edit this blog post because I'd honestly lose your interest before I adequately described just how amazing this meal was.

   In summary, go to Frita Batido's. Order a lot and have some napkins on hand. Try whatever sounds interesting on the menu because believe me, it's all good. Savor every bite, even as your sandwich successively implodes. Then when it's all over, go again.


Still not full yet? Check out other editions of Bivouac Eats as we visit Mani OsteriaAventura, and The Jolly Pumpkin!

Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

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