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Posted on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Ex- 'Top Chef' Eve Aronoff plans to open new Cuban-influenced restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor

By Janet Miller


Chef Eve Aronoff this spring plans to open Frita Batido, her second restaurant in Ann Arbor in addition to her Kerrytown location called "eve."

File photo |

Eve Aronoff, Ann Arbor’s version of a celebrity chef and owner of eve the restaurant, is planning to open a second restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor.

But it will be marked departure from eve, a French-influenced fine dining and special occasion restaurant in Kerrytown. Frita Batido will be much more informal and more affordable. 

“We will have a fun and whimsical menu inspired by Cuban and Latin American cooking. It will be a lively place,” Aronoff said. “It will be very, very casual. I’m a pretty casual person, so this will be right up my alley.”

But Aronoff will continue the practice she started at eve’s of locally sourcing food, offering a seasonal menu and being creative in the kitchen, she said. “Things are going smoothly at eve and I’m ready for another creative challenge.”

Aronoff said she is a week to 10 days away from signing a lease for her new 50-seat restaurant, which she hopes to open in the spring. 

She didn’t want to release the exact location until the lease is signed, but she said it was in downtown Ann Arbor in an area with foot traffic. 

“It’s a dream location that I’ve been looking at for years and years. The block it’s on has a lot of character and has nice neighbors” she said. She hopes to secure a liquor license.

Aronoff said she had the idea of opening Frita Batido long before she started eve more than six years ago. As a child, she would visit her grandmother in Miami and fell in love with the Cuban restaurants there.

Frita Batido’s menu will be centered on two things: Fritas, a kind of Cuban burger, usually made from chorizo, on an egg bun topped with shoestring potatoes. The fritas will be offered in different flavors, such as turkey, black bean and seafood. And batidos, fresh tropical fruit shakes made with crushed ice, a drop of evaporated milk and sometimes rum.

The menu at Frita Batido will range from $8 to $12, compared to $28 to $35 for dinner entrees at eve. 

“Cuban culture leans toward less expensive food: Their cuts of meat, beans, rice, lots of vegetables and fruit,” Aronoff said. There will be other menu items such as fried plantains, chili-lime gazpacho in the summer and black bean cream soup in the winter.

“It will be more Cuban/Latin American influenced than themed,” Aronoff said. “It will be my style.” 

The same with the décor: “It won’t be Cuban-themed. It will be my style. Casual. A tribute to the culture,” Aronoff said. 

Eve is the same kind of hybrid: A French restaurant with North African, West African, Cuban and Vietnamese influences, but reflecting Aronoff’s style.

Aronoff said she will serve as chef at Frita Batido but will also hire a second chef. She expects the new restaurant to employ between 12 and 15 people.

Aronoff was one of 17 chefs to compete in Bravo television’s reality show “Top Chef” last summer. She is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She has been in the restaurant business for 20 years, starting as a prep cook, and has worked in Ann Arbor, Boston and Paris. She’s prepared dinner at the invitation of the James Beard Foundation in New York City and represented Slow Food Huron Valley in Italy’s Terra Madre conference. She’s also written a cookbook, “eve Contemporary Cuisine - Méthode Traditionnelle.”

For more information on eve the restaurant, visit's restaurant guide.


ET Crowe

Fri, Jan 29, 2010 : 2:46 p.m.

I for one support any entrepreneur willing to put themselves Out There in the current environment. Eve is one my favorite restaurants in a town full of fantastic places to eat (and I've never left there with any sort of food poisoning to my knowledge). Anyone who thinks it's easy or that Eve herself is just doing this on some sort of a whim hasn't tried to run a business--or start one. Let's get out and support all of our Ann Arbor based businesses-from Borders to Zingerman's--Elmo's to Eve!--Vault of Midnight to The Michigan Theater! It's all good for local business and therefore, good for all of us.


Thu, Jan 28, 2010 : 8:27 p.m.

I really think Ann Arbor needs to stop trying so hard to be different in the cuisine they offer and just start offering good food....the downtown has no restaurant that makes me want to bring out of town friends and family to visit.

cathy banish

Thu, Jan 28, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

I forgot to mention that Silvio's has vegan and gluten free pizza and pasta!

cathy banish

Thu, Jan 28, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

In regards to Ann Arbor not having a "authentic" Italian restaurant has anybody been to Silvio Organic Pizza? What could be more authentic then the Medoro familys Italian Bistro that is expanding to a 80 seat restaurant with beer and wine. Come check out the new digs this weekend. Silvio's is located at 715 N University. Silvio's wonderful pizza is not the only shining star.Come check out the pasta,salads,sandwiches and pastry. The new interior, euro-chic,is going to be one of Ann Arbors new hotspots!


Thu, Jan 28, 2010 : 2:25 a.m.

GoblueBeatOSU - yikes to the inspection report at eve. sad thing is after looking through many reports, it's not that unusual. there's no excuse for unsafe food storage and uncleanliness in an environment where folks are paying top-dollar for a meal (or any for that matter). hire a cleaner and take food storage safety seriously.


Wed, Jan 27, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

Best wishes for success! I wish Eve had moved into the MAV building in the Kerrytown neighborhood the first time. She really knows how to run a business and is a highly trained chef. Thats the only thing wrong with a lot of places. They don't have real chefs in the kitchen!


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 8:45 p.m.

I hope something does go into Soup (Cafe) de Jour. Best of luck Eve on your new venture!


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 7:37 p.m.

Come on people. At least give her credit for trying to actually open a business in A2 right now. Seriously. Not a big cuban fan but hey, not may people are even trying. Good luck Eve.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

as stated "The story is about Eve Aronoff opening another restaurant"..that being the case I have a question. What is Eve planning to do to improve her health inspection results (current report has four critical violations and a long list of non-critical violations) at her current restaurant and what are her plans to make sure the new place has better results? If you compare Eve's health inspection reports to that of...oh..lets do our famous burger place or hot dog place, we would all be better off eating burgers and hot dogs. The link below will give you details. Select inspections and search in Washtenaw County for any restaurant you would like to review.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 5:02 p.m.

@ShadowManager: why do you hate her so much? The Cafe Lorraine space is death to restaurants. They ought to give up and put an office in there so it doesn't kill any more of them.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 3:48 p.m.

I wounder if she can get me some Cuban cigars

laurie in ypsi

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

I am excited about this. I love anything Cuban inspired...authentic or not. I live in the Midwest for goodness sakes. I feel lucky to just have Cuban influenced cuisine even available. I wish Eve the best of luck and can't wait to try it out. I am a huge fan of Cafe Habana but given how busy that place always is, I am sure there is room for both in AA.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 3:20 p.m.

in4mation, as the article headline mentioned,"Cuban-influenced " as was Che, and I am familiar with his history.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

i was really sorry eve tanked so early on "top chef'...she is far better than the show indicated. as to local italian Paesano's on washtenaw ranges from spectacular to really good...especially when the charismatic, and james beard foundation recognized, executive chef isabella nicoletti is in the menus change seasonally...but its definitely not a southern italian "red sauce" cuisine, isabella being venetian.a real local treasure.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 2:33 p.m.

Wasn't that impressed by her cooking on the show--simple things even.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 1:40 p.m.

Wow..... some of the comments are so funny. Would make it seem like Ann Arbor is a horrible place to eat. That must be why people drive from all over the midwest to enjoy our downtown restaurants. I would love more new restaurants, and even more retail downtown. I am a bit greedy, I always want more. But, I am still appreciative of the great places that we have! As far as the "authenticity" arguments go. You need to go to Cuba to get authentic Cuban. North of Cuba, everyone pretty much has a different idea regarding what is "authentic" Cuban influenced cuisine. I like food that taste good and uses good ingredients. I love Cafe Habana, and I'm sure I'll love Eve's new venture. Can't wait to try it!


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 1:37 p.m.

Wow..... some of the comments are so funny. Would make it seem like Ann Arbor is a horrible place to eat. That must be why people drive from all over the midwest to enjoy our downtown restaurants. I would love more new restaurants, and even more retail downtown. I am a bit greedy, I always want more. But, I am still appreciative of the great places that we have! As far as the "authenticity" arguments go. You need to go to Cuba to get authentic Cuban. North of Cuba, everyone pretty much has a different idea regarding what is "authentic" Cuban influenced cuisine. I like food that taste good and uses good ingredients. I love Cafe Habana, and I'm sure I'll love Eve's new venture. Can't wait to try it!


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 1:29 p.m.

That's near the current restaurant and from what she did say about it, I don't think the new location is in her same neighborhood.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

It would greta if they'd revitalize the old Cafe Lorraine's/Metro spot that's in the basement in kerrytown. sucha nice spot that never gets the love.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

Any speculation on where this will be? Cafe de Jour just went out of business I think. Maybe there? Not sure if that's big enough. Any thoughts?


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

Authentic Cuban food would be great as long as it came with a Cuban style cost structure.....oh well VIVA Che!!


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

Wow- this sounds great. I love Cafe Habana but this sounds like a much smaller and limited(focused) menu. So many of you are such "experts' or you have lived in big cities and are consequently so sophisticated- not. Show some Ann Arbor love. We are so lucky to live in a City with so many great places to eat both ethnic and mainstream. Cafe Habana rocks and I am sure Frita will too.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 11:17 a.m.

Edward, I ate at Angelina's Italian Bistro in Detroit the other night, and thought it was quite tasty. The Earle also often has some Italian dishes on the menu, though it certainly isn't an "Italian restaurant".

Edward Green

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 11:01 a.m.

Hopefully she can put Cafe Habana out of business, which is the worst excuse for Cuban cuisine I've ever experienced. She is a good cook, but is sometimes hit-or-miss by trying to mix disparate ingredients. To Andy Jacobs, I think Chia Shiang as decent chinese. I wouldn't say it's hard to find good Middle Eastern in the area (Haifa Falafel not bad) or in Dearborn, but I do agree..WHERE is a good italian restaurant in the A2 or even Detroit/Ferndale/Gross Pointe area?


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 10:49 a.m.

Doesn't seem like a grammatically correct name. Why not Fritas y Batidos Can't wait to try them! Will you have the steak sandwiches also?

News Watcher

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

Maybe we'll finally see some Peruvian food around here? Anticucho, ceviche, chicha, mazamora? Or does Latin American default to Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Argentinian?

Adam Jaskiewicz

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 10:19 a.m.

It isn't "Cuban", it's "Cuban-influenced", which is a big difference. Real, "authentic" food from a climate so different from our own is hard to do. The idea is to utilize techniques and seasoning of Cuban cuisine with local, seasonal ingredients. Don't be surprised if it isn't "real Cuban food". It doesn't have to be; it just has to taste good.

Leah DiRamio

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

Yay Eve!!! Mainly for these 2 reasons: Your food is super tasty and Cafe Havana's definitely isn't. Muchas Gracias!

detroit buckets

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

Hopefully she includes a simple Media Noche, my all time favorite sandwich, and a traditional Ropa Vieja on the menu. Being half Cuban and raised in Miami, It's difficult to enjoy the flavors I grew up on here in the midwest. Places like Cafe Habana, while enjoyable, do a poor job of reflecting the tastes of Cuban cuisine. And I'd second the previous poster who asked for a real Cuban coffee!

Gina Valo

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

I do agree that Ann Arbor is in desperate need of authentic Italian cuisine, but it's always good to see new business downtown. Crossing my fingers for vegan fritas.

K Thompson

Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 7:48 a.m.

Great idea. Can't wait to taste the food. But contrary to earlier comment, there is an existing Cuban restaurant, Habana.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 7:41 a.m.

I hope this new place offers coffee prepared in the true Cuban manner, like one can find in Cuban places in Miami.


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 7:26 a.m.

How original, a Cuban restaurant in Ann Arbor.. oh wait. How bout a true Italian, Chinese, Cantonese, Szechuan, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Pan Tropical,... etc? The popularized mediocrity we accept as "authentic" cuisine in Ann Arbor goes on and on.