The First Taste: Aventura
Sava Lelcaj is one of the big names in the Ann Arbor food world. Her first two forays into the restaurant biz, Sava’s and Babo, have been huge successes. So, when we heard that Lelcaj was opening a new Spanish tapas restaurant we got very excited. We counted down the days until it opened and eagerly went to get a first taste.
Aventura was buzzing at Friday at 9pm when we went just a week after opening. Surrounded by our GSIs and other older twentysomethings sipping sangria we felt just a little out of place. Regardless, the hip, lively atmosphere at Aventura is something that the Ann Arbor food scene needed more of.
Unfortunately, the food wasn’t so great. We started with a couple of pinxtos, which are two bite-sized snacks. The atun y pimientos was a small piece of bread with bonito tuna, piquillo pepper, lemon aioli, cornichons and tarragon. There was nothing special about this $3 snack. We also tried the apertivo de chorizo with two thick cut pieces of chorizo, cornichons, manchego cheese and roasted garlic served on a stick for $2. Though, the dish didn’t come together because manchego didn’t succeed in cutting the strong taste of the chorizo.
Next we tried the croqueta de pollo, a chicken croquette, and the croqueta de bacalao, a cod croquette, both for $4 for an order of 3 small croquettes. Again, we were underwhelmed by the dishes. There was a light sauce on the chicken croquette, but they were still dry and lacking any substantial flavor. The cod croquette tasted a lot like the fish sticks we all used to eat out of the box as kids.
We ordered the Espinacas Catalan for $8 as a vegetable with our meal. The spinach, raisins and pine nuts were doused in white wine with a lemon zest. The spinach was tasty and enjoyable, but again nothing special.
The highlight of the meal were the albondigas, lamb meatballs with manchego in an almond picada for $9. These juicy, flavorful bite-sized meatballs were delicious. They showed us that Aventura really has the potential to put out a lot of great food.
To be honest, it is still too early to give an accurate rating of Aventura after our first taste. Our suggestion: give Aventura a couple months to figure things out before you go, gather a big group of your friends and make a much larger dent in the menu than we did. If Lelcaj’s other pursuits are any indication, Aventura will soon find its stride and establish itself as one of Ann Arbor’s best restaurants.
Address: 216 E. Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI
Hours: Kitchen: Daily 5 pm – 12 am; Bar: Daily 3:30 pm – 2 am