Sava's Aventura Opens
Don't forget to look on the back of the menu for the two star items, the paellas and cochinillo (suckling pig). Even these are meant to be served like tapas, in small portions to a large group.
Lelcaj's advice is: "Bring friends, order a ton of small plates, and let us take the lead. We spent so much time training our staff." She says her current favorite three-plate combination is coca Mahon (flatbread with a semi-soft cheese), lamb meatballs, and spinach with raisins and pine nuts. A passing waiter adds that his favorite is the patatas bravas: "thrice-fried potatoes, with a sunny-side-up egg, and honey aioli."
As for the help, townies of a certain era may recognize David Russell, the elegant Brit who in the early 1980s steered the Old Town from a scruffy dive to an eclectic pub for the conversationally gifted. The restaurant sounded interesting enough to coax him out of retirement from the U-M library system.
On the other hand, Aventura's chef, Juliann Botham, is only twenty-three. "I'm a great believer in giving young people opportunities. I was twenty-three when I started out on State Street," says Lelcaj. Now she's passed the ripe old age of thirty and is finally married to her longtime sweetheart, lawyer William Farah, and living out in the country with their six-month-old Dutch shepherd Stella.