Melange, Ann Arbor’s underground restaurant and lounge, is undergoing a major overhaul with updates to the interior and a new menu from celebrity chef Eve Aronoff.
The restaurant, which opened in 2006, is receiving a facelift this winter that includes new lighting and updates to the furniture and walls, manager Aaron Orr tells Eater. New floors were recently installed in the dining room. With abundant candles and a soundtrack of Motown classics are meant to create a more “convivial” ambiance, he says.
Aronoff, who owns Cuban street food spot Frita Batidos, was brought on by owners Scott Burk and Jay Mullick to consult on the menu earlier this fall. Aronoff describes the collaboration as “a very personal project in many ways. We really put our hearts and souls into it and we are very excited about the menu.”
Aronoff’s mission at Melange was to create a smaller, focused menu that highlights the personal stories of the owners as well as Aronoff. The avocado naan is an ode to Mullick’s Indian background. The naan is his mother’s recipe and is served with citrus, curry butter, and smoked salmon. Burk’s East Coast background comes through with items such as the cold water lobster tail and crab cakes. French baked rice — a favorite of Aronoff’s mother — makes its way onto the menu in a few different places.
Fans of Aronoff’s cooking will easily notice her influence, starting with its minimalist descriptions written on plain white small-format paper. Her pine nut-encrusted taleggio with braised brussels sprouts is straight from her repertoire.
Dishes such as the Simple Fish and Simple Steaks will be tweaked to suit the changing seasons. That commitment to seasonality and fresh ingredients has led to a transformation behind the scenes — there is no longer a freezer in the kitchen and every detail of the menu is checked for consistency and quality. Aronoff will continue to develop seasonal specials and “weigh in on service [and] design,” the chef says.
Beyond consulting at Melange, Aronoff is in the process of expanding her own restaurant group. She recently signed a lease for a second Frita Batidos in Detroit though the location is still under wraps. As for Eve — Aronoff’s highly regarded fine-dining restaurant, which closed due to flooding last year after a brief revival — the chef says, “We’re always looking out for the right home for Eve.”
• All Ann Arbor Coverage [ED]
• All Renovation Report Coverage [ED]