"I'm very excited," said Aronoff as she polished off last-minute details Tuesday night. "I've been thinking about this for a long time."
Ten years to be exact. Since opening eve in 2003, she feels freer to do more things now. After opening eve it was pretty time consuming, so much that she didn't feel like she had much energy to do anything else after working 100-hour weeks. But the idea of a Cuban
restaurant was always in the back of her mind. Now that she feels more settled at the Kerrytown hot spot, she says she's ready to do something else. She also said there's a great staff in place at eve so she's confident she's leaving the restaurant in capable hands.
So why a Cuban-inspired restaurant? Aronoff says her grandmother lived in Miami, where Cuban influences can be seen everywhere and Aronoff spent a lot of time soaking up the food
It may seem like a departure from the French-based cooking philsophy and techniques at eve. But Aronoff emphasizes that it will still be her cooking style and that Frita Batido is actually more in line with her personality.
"I'm a super casual person," Aronoff said, adding that Frita Batido's menu will reflect more bold, contrasting flavors and ingredients that she loves such as mangoes and avocados.
Also, a lot of the philosophies in place at eve--following the seasons and using local
ingredients--will also be followed at Frita Batido, she said.
Her love of street food also inspired the feel of the restaurant, which Aronoff says will be an informal, laid-back vibe. She also emphasized that it's not meant to be a traditional Cuban restaurant but rather a casual, affordable place inspired by the food and culture. For example, she said, at eve they do a Cuban Reuben, a play on the sandwich. There's a pork loin marinated with lemongrass and shallots, topped with chipotle mayo, gruyere, cornichons and a fried egg.
They're doing "really fun versions" of traditional dishes, she said, by being more free spirited and paying attention to flavors and ingredients.
But for a clue on what's the real star of the menu look no further than the restaurant's name. Frita, Aronoff explained, means
burger (clarification: as Ecma points out in the comments below, the word frita "is used in Cuba to name their special hamburger") and batido means milkshake. With plans to be open for lunch, dinner and late night that sounds like the right kind of eats.
She wouldn't give details on exactly where Frita Batido will be since she is in the final stages of negotations for the space but she will be close enough that she will be splitting her time between eve and Frita Batido. And it will definitely be in Ann Arbor, not Chicago as she was thinking of before.
Frita Batido should open within six months, she said.
Tickets are $55 per person, with tax and gratuity additional. Party starts at 7 p.m. and will feature a standing buffet with drinks, tunes spun by DJ Raj Mahal and an art show by graffiti artist Antonio "Shades" Agee.