Ann Arbor Progressive Dinner Take 4

Last Friday, Dave and I continued our Valentine’s Day tradition with a progressive dinner (see 1, 2, and 3). We like to go a week before or after Valentine’s Day to avoid the crowds.

Our first stop was the new Spanish tapas place, Aventura, which is owned by the same woman that owns Sava’s and Babo Market. We arrived around 4:45pm and seating in the dining room doesn’t start until 5:00pm, so we took a seat at the bar. I ordered a Muerte Rica, which was made with barrel-aged Scarlet Ibis, Liquor 43 , Averna, I don’t know what any of that is, but I do know that it was a rum-based drink. It was also garnished with an orange twist wrapped around a toasted marshmallow. I really liked my drink, it was flavorful and smooth and the garnish was fun and delicious. Dave ordered a Olor Oso Conmigo, which was made with sherry barrel infused rye whiskey, Punt e Mes, housemade fig syrup. It was garnished with a sage leaf. Dave liked his drink, it was very smooth, but he preferred my cocktail.

tortilla espanola

Once we were seated, we ordered three tapas to share. Tapas are small plates that are meant to be shared and they’re brought to the table as they are prepared rather than all at once. We started with the tortilla espanola, a potato-onion omelette served with mojo de perejil and brava sauce. The tortilla was excellent! It was tender and flavorful and the two sauces that came with it were delicious.


Next up were empanadas. We used to love the empanadas at Small Plates way back in the day, but they no longer serve them. We’re always on the look-out for empanadas that taste as good as those from our memories and these really hit it out of the park. The empanadas were filled with beef short ribs, garnacha caramelized onions, and almonds and were served with a romesco sauce. The empanadas were delicious, but the romesco sauce was fabulous, I would eat that on just about anything.

Pattas Bravas

We ordered Pattas con queso chile for our last item, but there was a mix-up in the kitchen and we were served the Patatas Bravas in addition to the Pattas con queso chile that we ordered. The Pattas con queso chile are thrice-fried potatoes topped with spanish chorizo chili, manchego bechamel, kale, crispy ham serrano. The Patatas Bravas are also thrice fried potatoes, but they were topped with a sunny-side up egg, honey aiòli, and that fabulously delicious brava sauce. Bot of use preferred the accidental order of potatoes with the egg and brava sauce. The Pattas con queso chile were just okay and there was something about the flavor that I did not like.

Our experience at Aventura was excellent and we look forward to visiting again.


After a stop at Babo Market and Vault of Midnight to browse, we headed over to Habana, which is located in the basement underneath Lena on Main Street. We had planned on ordering food as well, but with the additional food at Aventura we didn’t have room so we just had cocktails. I ordered the signature mojito and Dave had the sweet hot mojito. My mojito was the classic cockatail of fresh mint, lime juice, simple syrup, and light rum, while Dave’s included serrano peppers and orange honey syrup. We bot really enjoyed our drinks and Dave’s definitely delivered a kick from the peppers.

We were still not ready for dessert so we stopped at Bab’s Underground Lounge for another drink and to play some pool. Dave ordered a salted caramel martini and I had the chocolate coconut martini. Dave’s was just okay, it wasn’t very flavorful, tasting more of cream than the promised salted caramel. I’ve ordered the chocolate coconut martini before, though it was called a coconut supreme at the time, and I enjoyed it. Pool was a lot of fun too, it’s only $6/hour if you play before 9pm.

La Dolce Vita

Finally ready for dessert, we headed to a favorite, La Dolce Vita where we’ve ended our previous two Ann Arbor progressive dinners at, we’ll have to be a little more creative next year! We ordered cocktails here as well, but they don’t have descriptions up on the website so I don’t know all of the ingredients or in the case of my drink, even the name of it! Dave ordered a classic Manhattan, which again was just ok! Dave’s made better Manhattans at home. He still enjoyed it though! I ordered a drink that was similar to a Sidecar as it had lemon juice and orange liqueur in it, but instead of Cognac it had a fig-infused brandy and lacked the sugared rim. I really enjoyed it.

apple crisp

For dessert, I ordered the apple crisp with warm Granny Smith apple and a raspberry coulis. It was served with cinnamon gelato and Woodford Reserve bourbon caramel sauce and a crispy apple chip on top. I thought it was very good, though it got a bit too sweet near the end. I also thought the raspberry coulis was unneeded and kind of stole the caramel sauce’s thunder. I loved the gelato, it had great flavor and texture. Dave ordered the , a layered brownie cake with white chocolate mousse, dark chocolate mousse and finished with chocolate ganache, paired with housemade blackberry sorbet. Dave really enjoyed it except for the brownie layer, it was so dense that it was difficult to cut and eat.

Chocolate Decadence

Overall, we had a fabulous evening. We took a cab to and from Ann Arbor so we didn’t have to worry about a designated driver and it worked out perfectly.


  1. says

    I’ve been there twice – once for drinks and once for drinks. One of those times we had a couple apps and they were great. Totally forgot about this place when I set-up the 4/16 meet up. Definitely in the future!

  2. says

    I’ve been there twice – once for drinks and once for drinks. One of those times we had a couple apps and they were great. Totally forgot about this place when I set-up the 4/16 meet up. Definitely in the future!

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