I’m not sure there’s an eatery in Ann Arbor that “gets it” like The Ravens Club does. They nail it, and they keep getting better. Great atmosphere, high quality innovative drinks, a tight menu that is simple yet diverse, familiar but subtly elevated, perfectly executed and ideal for sharing – in tonight’s case sharing table-to-table as Sophie and I interacted with our neighbors. Mom and sissy were busy and we were looking for a good time out on the town and The Ravens Club delivered – we had a blast!
This is our second go-round with Chef Frank’s new menu so we opted for some dishes we had not tried. Obligatory fries for Sophie start the courses, followed by the pimento grilled cheese sandwich – a perfect dish for two, and you can even quarter it to serve the whole table. Crisply toasted bread and a delicious, spicy, oozing filling that had just the right heat level to counter the sweet creamy molten cheese.
I’m a big fan of chicken liver mousse and I have not had it at Ravens Club though I have been there many times. I will not go again without ordering it – intricate flavors combined with a full gamut of textures makes this relatively standard starter an elegant and well-conceived dish.
Sophie then had the salad greens softly dressed with a honey vinaigrette and citrus. She bailed on her fork and just ate it with her fingers! Gave me a chuckle!
Next came the smoked salmon tostada. I was skeptical. If the textures don’t work on this type of tostada it’s a mushy disaster, but this one hit the mark in every facet of execution. Perfect crunch, perfect flavors from the smoke to the sweet, beautifully presented. I think this was my favorite dish of the night. The tostada itself held up beautifully providing a needed canvas on which to paint the stars of the palate – smoked salmon, beet salsa, and crème fraiche. Try this one!!!
I wanted another protein and I after ordering the lamb ragu I changed my mind and went with the duck confit. Considering how much food we ate this was the perfect choice. The lamb dish is substantial and we needed to save room for other dishes. Sophie barely left me any, and both the duck and the fried brussels, with their inherent earthiness, were delicately enhanced by the raisin-stout mustard served as a condiment. This is a clever and satisfying dish.
The chef’s choice of the day ruined any glisten of hope for having desert when the gnocchi with blue cheese, toasted pine nuts and chive was laid, steaming, in the middle of the table. Typical of Frank’s dishes, this one could have suffered from being a bit one-note, but the simple addition of toasted pine nuts and chive make a good dish into a notable one. Decisions like this are not serendipity. Frank knows what the hell he’s doing and it shows on the plate.
When I write a restaurant review I try to be objective and I can often find something objectionable, but from the service to the décor, from the ambience to the food, I find The Ravens Club bolstering my spirits and never letting me down. Our server even helped my beautiful stepdaughter Sophie, who suffers from autism, get in and out of the ladies room – treating her with a dignity that is not often afforded her. I love this place!