Downtown's New Frontier
Frita Batidos, which opened December 7 in the former Café du Jour on Washington, gets closest to burger territory. Owner Eve Aronoff, of the high-toned Kerrytown restaurant Eve, spent a lot of her childhood in Miami and has long dreamed of bringing fritas and batidos ("Cuban-inspired burgers and shakes") to Ann Arbor. But Ray Kroc wouldn't recognize Aronoff's signature frita--it's a house-made chorizo patty topped with house-made shoestring potatoes on house-baked brioche. Though Aronoff makes no claim to Cuban authenticity, she allows this frita to get pretty close in terms of the basic ingredients (in terms of the artisanal execution, Cubans should have it so good). She also offers her own original takes on the frita in turkey, fish, beef, and black bean versions.
Frita Batidos takes a similar deconstructed, from-scratch approach to the Cuban pressed sandwich, made on a Cuban bread Aronoff's been developing ("None of us were bakers, but for the last eight months we've been staying up all night learning," she says), with thick-cut bacon, lemongrass roasted pork, and tasso ham. Her tropical-flavored batidos come in flavors like coconut and passion fruit.
And that's just lunch. For breakfast she'll be serving Cuban omelets, homemade churros, homemade guava jam, mango French toast, and coffee drinks of a provenance Alice Waters would probably like to get her hands on (starting with a coffee farm in Honduras where Aronoff's involvement was so up close and personal she's still nursing a fractured sacrum from a fall there; the coffee is then roasted to her specification at Zingerman's).