Last April, I wrote a blog post about Ravens Club’s Improved Menu, after enjoying my favorite meal to date at the restaurant since its opening four years ago on Main Street in Ann Arbor.
More recently, last week in fact, I was the lucky recipient of an invitation to come dine at Ravens Club with a group of eight other local writers, bloggers, and foodies. Of course I was delighted to attend, and let me tell you what a fabulous evening it was!
I’ve been a fairly frequent patron of Ravens Club over the last few years. The dark sexy vibe always draws me back in for more. Honestly, if I had to choose my favorite restaurant atmosphere in Ann Arbor, I’d choose Ravens Club for sure. It’s just a place I want to hang out.
However, the food has not always called my name. I’ve written my fair share of mixed reviews over the past four years, having been a patron since shortly after they originally opened.
More recently, Ravens Club has really come into their own. They’ve embraced the things they excel at and discarded aspects of their identity that just weren’t a fit. As a result, the food has greatly improved, the cocktails continue to shine, and the overall experience of dining at Ravens Club is the best it has ever been. Let me tell you about it.
Being the eager beaver I am, naturally I was the first one in our group to arrive to the dinner event.
Shortly thereafter I was joined by several other fantastic bloggers, including Key To My Cellar, Awesome Mitten, The Detroit Foodie, Clover Eats!, The Food and Wine Hedonist, and several others at the other end of the table.
Without question, Ravens Club has excelled at their cocktail game since day one, and they are well-known for their innovative menu. The consistently fantastic selection of craft cocktails has also been another aspect that has recurrently drawn me back to Ravens Club time and again.
Beverage director Zack Zavisa clearly knows his stuff. I had the opportunity to sip on a couple cocktails during last week’s visit. First up, a drink of my choice: The Ill-Fashioned. Shaking up the traditional Old Fashioned, Ravens Club mixes rye, amaro, sweet potato syrup, and Aztec chocolate bitters into this pretty little craft cocktail. This would be delightful for dessert, perhaps a bit sweet to start a meal with.
Next was the bartender’s suggestion, the Vieux Carre, another rye-based cocktail which was just fine with me, as rye whiskey is probably my favorite spirit of the moment. In addition to the rye, cognac, Benedictine, aromatic wine, and bitters are crafted into this striking red libation. I absolutely loved this velvety smooth cocktail and will be back for more.
While sipping our first cocktail, Ravens Club managing parter Jeff Paquin (stationed in the upper right corner, above!) gave us all a very warm welcome and brief history of the evolution of the establishment over the past four years. After transitioning through multiple chefs over the past few years, Jeff feels they finally have the perfect fit for their establishment with the very talented executive chef Frank Fejeran.
Always striving to improve, Jeff addressed how they have responded to constructive criticism over the past few years, and are continually grateful for the feedback (good and bad!) that they’ve received from the community.
For instance, Ravens Club is perhaps most well-known for their cocktails, but they’ve recently partnered with fine wine representative Ben Eberlein in order to assemble a more focused wine menu. Initially the restaurant offered a lengthy wine list, which resulted in spoilage, waste, and perhaps a lack of complements to the food menu. Now, the menu has been strategically pared down to fewer than a dozen wines, each of which have been carefully selected by Ben to complement certain dishes on the dinner menu. Additionally, the wine by the glass is actually served from a tap in order to reduce waste and serve the freshest glass possible to their patrons (no more spoiled open bottles).
Chef Frank also spoke to the table about his food philosophy. He shared that the team at TRC strives to serve food that they would want to eat in an environment in which they would want to relax and spend time. (Tip: check out this cool video featuring Chef Frank!)
When creating their menu, the team also strives to achieve a balance of approachable offerings that appeal to most, while also tucking a few nuggets of adventure into the menu for the foodies.
I think these deviled eggs that we were served are the epitome of these philosophies. Who doesn’t love a deviled egg!? (I stand corrected. Apparently FWH does NOT love a deviled egg. But everyone else does, right!?) But no really, the deviled eggs are something that I know I could have in mind coming in that will be on the menu, that are approachable, and that I can pair with something new and more innovative on the menu.
I defend thee, oh deviled eggs.
Plus, as someone who does a lot of cooking at home, when I go out to eat I enjoy ordering things I can’t have at home (or won’t make because I am lazy), and the eggs are pretty good example. I just don’t have the patience to make deviled eggs. (My dad is a PRO at making deviled eggs, by the way. I don’t know how he does it!)
The pork rillettes appetizer was nice, especially when topped with the pickled onions. I would have liked to have known a bit more about the process behind creating this appetizer, as I don’t know a lot about pork rillettes.
Chef Frank feels that the current menu is the best they’ve ever had and provided two primary recommendations: Fried Chicken and Mushrooms-on-Toast, from their current menu.
I’ve already tried the fried chicken (love it; mac and cheese is good but not spectacular) with house made hot sauce (my favorite), so I had to go for the Mushrooms-on-Toast.
We could order any dish (or two!) from the menu that tickled our fancy, and the mushrooms sounded like my jam. And they were! Oh my goodness.
The Mushrooms-on-Toast was definitely my favorite dish I’ve ever had at Ravens Club. The rich meaty mushrooms were very satisfying as a main course, and I loved the hearty bites of toast that had soaked up all of the earthy mushroom juices. The sourdough bread is locally sourced from White Lotus Farms, with whom Ravens Cub works to source several of their menu ingredients.
The egg on top added an extra richness. Delicious! I practically licked my bowl clean.
The menu is updated approximately every six weeks, so you best make it in soon if you want in on the Mushrooms-on-Toast.
You didn’t think I was going to leave you hanging with that last picture without some #yolkporn, did you? Of course not. You’re welcome.
Dessert consisted of a duo:
- Matzoh Toffee Crunch – Just fine; the pistachios are pretty
- PB&J – Smoky peanut butter, date jam, goat cheese, cran-walnut bread
We need to talk about the PB&J right now. Wicked good! I highly suggest you get yourself to Ravens Club and just order a bunch of PB&Js right now! They’re actually featured on the “snacks” menu, but they make an equally good (er, amazing) dessert! TRUST me on this one. They are served warm and melt in your mouth.
If you’ve not been to Ravens Club recently, I’d suggest that they deserve a revisit (or first visit if you’ve never been!).
I’m very thankful to the kind and welcoming folks at the Ravens Club for the wonderful opportunity to enjoy a delicious dinner, to learn more about the restaurant and the very talented folks behind it, and to connect with other local food bloggers – my species!