Feb 14, 2014

Ann Arbor's newest restaurant - Aventura, is already a hit with locals and visitors alike.

Self-described as a Spanish inspired restaurant and bar, Aventura is not only a beautiful restaurant for the eyes, but also a delicious treat for your taste buds.

We spoke with Aventura's head Chef Jules to get the scoop on what dishes you'll want to enjoy when you visit.

1. What should someone dining at Aventura expect?
Someone dining at Aventura should expect a very lively and energetic evening.  We offer small plates to encourage sharing and tasting of multiple items on the menu resulting in a unique dining experience.  However, we also offer a few larger sized portions such as Cochinillo (slow roasted suckling pig) that comes with three side tapas selections and paellas.  Our paellas are all made from scratch and made to order so they take a bit longer but are well worth the wait.  Food is brought out to the table at a staggered pace, in typical tapas dining fashion rather than all at once or in a series of appetizer-salad-entree that most diners are used to.

2. What is your favorite dish at Aventura?
My personal favorite dish on the menu is the sautéed Brussels sprouts or Coles de Bruselas y Manzanas.  They're sauteed in olive oil with granny smith apples and a bit of honey and pistachioes and then dolloped with a bit of creme fraiche.  It's such a simple dish in it's ingredients, but so complex in its flavors that I can't help but give my heart to it.

3. What is your favorite drink at Aventura?
My favorite drink at Aventura is the Alma Fracasada.  I'm a whiskey gal and it's got buffalo rye, averna, carpano antica, laxardo maraschino, and this beautiful smoked cedar aftertaste that Lerone (our bar manager) makes by setting a cedar plank on fire and cupping the glass over it.  Lots of flare and flavor with this drink.  It's not on the regular menu but we've got a "secret" off drink menu available for the those in the know.

4. What are some of your favorite things to do in the Ann Arbor area when you aren’t working?
When I'm not working, you can usually find me either outside reading (weather permitting) or hanging out with friends/family around Ann Arbor.  I'll also try to get some intimate time in with my crew.  I'm also addicted to coffee so I frequently hop around from coffee parlor to coffee parlor with a book or food magazine.  Solitude can be quite refreshing at times.

5. What are some adjectives you would use to describe Aventura?
To describe Aventura, my top three adjectives would have to be captivating, lively, and of course Spanish.

6. Can you describe the cooking philosophy or theme you focus on when coming up with new dishes at Aventura?
When coming up with new dishes at Aventura, I try to reach back to tradition and sort of modernize it.  Especially since this style of food is so new to the area, I find it important to stay rooted in Spanish tradition to give the community a sense of what Spanish food truly is.  However, at the same time, for any restaurant it's important to keep your customers intrigued with the food before them.  I'm also really interested in always trying new cooking techniques or  flavor combinations, so it's fun for me to try and see what new flavors you can put together to surprise people.

7. Do you use local ingredients?
With an environmental background in education, using local ingredients is really important to me.  In this season, it's been a bit tough getting local produce but we do source most of our produce from Eastern Market.  Our meat purveyors are also located right in downtown Detroit and our suckling pigs come from DeVries in Coopersville, MI.  I really look forward to showcasing Ann Arbor grown produce in the coming months on our menu and weekend specials.

*Photo credit to Sarah Fennel Photography!

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