First off, let me say that this is *the* restaurant that I've been wanting someone to open in Ann Arbor for a long time. Interesting food, excellent ingredients, a nicely varied wine list, many wines by the glass available in full and half pours, tasting flights... I'm in love with a woman and her name is Eve. Well, love might be putting it a little strongly, but let's say that I was very pleased to make her acquaintance.
She's a bit of tease, though. First, she took a long, long time to open up. The sign was up, the tables were dressed, we could peer through the windows and wonder, but she was never open for business, and getting information was hard. So I'd been anticipating eating there for quite a while. When she did open, the word around town was good, but for one reason or another, we just never quite made it there. But with my baby's imminent arrival, I decided it was now or possibly never (Ann Arbor's been known to kill good restaurants before...), so even though the husband and I have been eating out far too much lately, I called and made a reservation. (Hey - a restaurant in Ann Arbor that takes reservations - we already know we're in for something different...)
Eve is located in Kerrytown, in the former home of the Kerrytown Bistro, which I never did manage to get to before it went away. Like the rest of the Kerrytown Shops, it's in an old warehouse, so the walls are brick with high ceilings. Combine that with too many tables too close together, and you have a recipe for a noisy dinner, especially on a busy Friday night when every table was taken. I think the ambience would be greatly improved with about 1/3 less tables, but, well, I guess the bottom line couldn't support it. The decor is minimalist but elegant.
With our 8:15 reservation and the full house, it took them a few minutes to get our table ready, so we perused the takeaway menus they had in the entryway, and were already getting excited about dinner. Eve proved her teasing nature again, however, as the menu that we were presented when we were seated was missing a few of the most appealing items.
We persued the menu and wine list while snacking on some excellent bread, served with 3 compound butters, all of which were excellent. (Garlic and herb, mango chutney, and smoked salmon, for those who want *all* the details). The wine list is nice - clearly chosen with an eye for some interesting, off the beaten track selections with an excellent range of prices (they had a whole section of bottles for under $25). According to our waiter, it's updated frequently, which I'd already guessed based on its looseleaf presentation. Given my "delicate state," I was thrilled to find that they had half pours, and ordered a nice Gewurztraminer, while Eric ended up getting a half pour of Merlot to follow his pre-dinner martini (for which they hand stuffed the blue cheese stuffed olives right before serving).
My main criticism is that their appetizer selection is weak. And even then, it depends on what you're looking at it for. If you want to go to Eve after work, and have a snack and a few different half pours of wine with friends, then it works perfectly. They had several apps sized for two or more - a variant on nachos, a fried seafood selection and - the most interesting to me - the Cutting Board - "An array of international cheeses, smoked and cured meats, olives, and sliced French and walnut breads served on a cutting board for two. Features Tracklements custom cured meats and Big 10s artisanal cheeses." I can *so* imagine kicking back with that and a glass of wine on their patio on a warm spring day - can't imagine anything much nicer, really.
But for two people, looking for a little something before dinner, the pickings were slim. Eric got the Moroccan Spiced Giant Scallops, served over a cool carrot-lime puree with creme fraiche. I got the only other singler person app on the menu, the Vietnamese Sausage - ground pork hand pressed with lemon grass, ginger and Vietnamese cinnamon, served on a pool of maple cream. Eric loves scallops, so he enjoyed his dish, although he wasn't very enamored of either the spicing or the accompaniments. I was pleasantly surprised by my sausage - I had mostly ordered it to be able to say more in my review, but I was really glad that I did. The texture was great, and the flavors harmonious and interesting. In addition to the maple cream, there was also a mound of lovely fruit salsa which set off the sausage most delightfully.
There was a long delay between our apps and entrees, but given that the portions had been pretty large and time to digest was welcome, I wasn't bothered by it. The entree list had a lot more to choose from, and like the appetizers, showed culinary influences from all over the world. Eric chose the Beef Tenderloin Napoleon - medallions of beef tenderloin layered with grilled asparagus, roasted bell peppers, exotic mushrooms, herbed goat cheese and walnut pesto - served on a pool of mushroom cream. Being a napoleon, it had a beautiful presentation and was also very tasty. I got the dish that had caught both of our eyes while waiting for our table - Grilled Spring Vegetables with Cypriot Cheese - grilled ramps, asparagus and exotic musrhooms, surrounding seared halloumi cheese over a spicy tomato garlic cream. If there's a cheese that rivals goat cheese as the chief object of my affection, it's halloumi, so I was sold on this from the moment I saw it. And it lived up to all of my expectations, In addition to the grilled ramps, asparagus and mushrooms, there were also some grilled red onion, grilled tomato, roasted pepper and a mound of walnut pesto. I wouldn't personally describe the tomato cream as "spicy," but it was certainly flavorful. The halloumi was nicely seared and still crisp. This is the kind of dish that I like - it's sort of a do-it-yourself mix and match kind of dish - a little bit of halloumi with a little bit of roasted pepper... now some asparagus and these funny looking mushrooms with just a dollop of pesto... lots of different flavor experiments all waiting in one place.
Dinner portions are large. Ours were only slightly large, but beware anyone who ordered the chicken - we saw several of these plates go by, and it was a half of a pretty big chicken, plus all the sides! Despite being awfully full, I felt compelled to order dessert for your sakes - wouldn't want to cheat my faithful readership (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it).
The dessert menu was interesting. There was a brie and guava quesadilla that I was quite intrigued by, but I'd already been thoroughly smitten by the lemon bread pudding topped with lemon curd and vanilla ice cream. Mmmm... lemony. Very, very lemony. Mmmm... They had a lovely assortment of ice creams that they drive to Toronto to buy from a place called Tropical Treats. Eric got the pistachio with cardamom and saffron, and my oh my, that was some *goood* ice cream. A lot of their flavors are sort of Indian inspired, so there was coconut milk, mango, the above mentioned pistachio and rose.
Very nice meal. I'm very happy to see a place like this open in Ann Arbor - it fills a definite gap in our dining scene. More information can be found at their website: http://www.evetherestaurant.com/index....