So I feel cranky saying that I wished that the service had been a little less solicitous, a bit more casual. It sometimes felt strained and awkward, as if the staff members weren't fully comfortable in the roles each had been asked to play. I felt the same about the food, whose substance sometimes seemed lost within the details. (I'm not sure, for example, that the result justifies the restaurant churning its own butter.) I suspect, though, that what I'm noticing is a restaurant, owner, and staff settling into their identity, their niche within the Ann Arbor restaurant arena. The enormous effort being made is clear, and, given time, Vellum should become the exquisite entity it's striving to be.
Even in development, Vellum offers one of the most interesting and enjoyable dining experiences in town. From a winter menu that's clearly seasonal and evolving, we delighted in much of what we ate. Dinner began each time with an amuse-bouche--in our case, a strangely textured apple "napoleon." Loved by some, loathed by others, it established early that the food would often defy expectation.