Thursday night was a great evening. I managed to eat at a new restaurant, explore some serious cocktail crafting at a former dive bar, and attend a fabulous wine tasting with one of my favorite winemakers. However, in the interest of making these posts interesting and easily digestible, I think I’m going to break them into three separate posts.
I have been a bit obsessed with the idea of eating at Frita Batidos since I first read that Eve Aronoff was opening a casual restaurant. The Cuban-inspired menu sounded delicious (seriously, how can anyone NOT love chorizo?) Plus, I had been watching and reading a lot of Dexter, so I kind of had Miami on the brain.
Frita Batidos is named for two popular Cuban items, the Frita and the Batidos. A Frita is basically a burger, usually made from chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage), topped with shoestring fries and served on an egg bun. Batidos are milkshakes, made with fruit, sweetened milk, crushed ice, and honey.
Frita’s is a blinding white center of light located on Washington Street, next to Logan and two doors down from the Earle (both wonderful upscale spots). The stark white exterior and brightly lit white interior sort of radiate out onto the street – as one acquaintance put it, “Can you actually go in there without sunglasses?” (Yes, you can – it’s not so bad once you actually get in the door). We were there fairly early – just after 6:00 – and the restaurant was not yet busy. The extremely friendly girl behind the counter helped us navigate the menu and answered a myriad of questions.
I had to order the restaurant’s namesake items, the Frita and the Batidos. I stuck with the traditional Frita, made of chorizo and topped with shoestring fries on an egg bun. I skipped cheese, but did add a sunnyside-up egg to top it all off. Although conch fritters were calling my name, I decided instead to order the double-friend plantains as a side dish. For my Batidos, I picked sour orange.
I want to add here that I have been looking forward to this meal for weeks, so there was a LOT of expectation unfairly built up on my part. I needn’t have worried.
My Frita had a real kick to it, from both the chorizo and the chili mayo, but it wasn’t all spice and no flavor. The spiciness was nicely tempered by the mild-flavored potatoes and the egg. Adding an egg to a burger is something I discovered in Connecticut at the former Up River Cafe, and it is one of the most delicious things in the world. An egg on a spicy sausage patty is even better. There was just enough of the may to add a textural and flavor contrast but not enough to make things goopy.
I am not normally a huge plantain fan, but they just seemed like to right thing to order. I normally find the flavor a bit cloying. These fried plantains, however, were slathered in cilantro-garlic butter, which provided a great savory contrast to the natural sweetness of the fruit. (I had read a review that said the plantains were too greasy – I wonder if this was due to the butter? It didn’t bother me, but would probably be easy to overdo.)
My Batidos had the consistency of a smoothie rather than a milkshake – perhaps from the sweetened milk? It was very thick and smooth, not chunky at all. The sour orange was tangy, and kept it from being super-sweet. If you do prefer sweeter flavors, I noticed that chocolate, vanilla, and caramel were also available on the menu.
My dining companion – Jessica – ordered the Inspired Cuban sandwich. Eve is pretty quick to point out in interviews that her food is Cuban-inspired, not Cuban traditional, and Miami Cuban at that. The sandwich definitely wasn’t the traditional Cuban sandwich – ham was swapped out for thick-cut bacon, and the cheese was Gruyere – but the elements were all there and it was served on homemade Cuban bread, which the server told me they not only make there but sell as well. (Cuban bread looks like French bread, but it’s made with lard and it is VERY hard to find in Michigan). Jessica’s sandwich looked amazing.
We didn’t try any coffee or desserts – we were on our way to the wine tasting and more importantly, we were stuffed – but I definitely plan to go back and do so. I loved Frita Batidos and can’t wait to go back and try more – and buy some of that bread! If you’re looking for a casual, fairly inexpensive dining spot downtown that has a high-quality, creative menu, Frita’s is the place I would go.
More from the Thursday night adventure to come!