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January 06, 2005 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-06

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12B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 6, 2005

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A 'RUSH' OF FLAVOR
TAPAS RESTAURANT AND BAR SPICE UP MAIN STREET

By Lauren Smith
For the Daily
Among Ann Arbor's infamous
melange of restaurants, nestled
between the blue siding of Conor
O'Neill's and the characteristic green
- of a local Starbucks, 314 S. Main St.
adds a taste of Chicago flair. New to
the dining scene, Mike Hanna's new
restaurant, Rush Street, combines
the subtle taste of urban chic with
Mediterranean tapas-style dining.
After enjoying these bite-sized
dishes, guests can experience the
unique transformation from restau-
rant to the scene of the adjacent bar,
800 North. At Rush Street, custom-
ers find the distinctive flavor of fine
wine and tapas style; after 10:30
p.m., next door, 800 North provides
classic martinis, live music and a
spirited night scene.
"People always ask me: 'Who is
your biggest competitor?' I can only
say, 'There is none,' " said Jordan
Buescher, Rush Street manager.
While both warm and inviting,
Rush Street profits from its up-to-
the-moment flash that the restau-
rant scene in Ann Arbor previously
hadn't seen.
Hanna, who also owns D'Amato's,
another Ann Arbor restaurant, and
its sister martini bar Goodnite Gra-
cie, decided that Ann Arbor needed
a bit of Chicago on its streets. His
son and daughter both spent time liv-
ing in the city, and he and wife Betsy
fell in love with Rush Street, Chica-
go's infamous bar scene. According
to Buescher, Hanna wanted to add a
dash of Chicago's "urban" feeling.

The black and white photographs
of the Chicago River combined with
the large black letters of the poem
"Passers-By" by fabled Chicago
writer Carl Sandburg lining the walls
give the restaurant the feeling of a
metropolitan modern art museum.
The wide, expansive restaurant
bar, with glowing racks of liquor and
wine bottles on the wall, along with
the open kitchen peeking out from
the back of the restaurant, reminds
the guest that behind the sleek atmo-
sphere is some good food and drink.
The food stays mostly true to its
Mediteterranean origin, as chef Pat-
rick Shaw claims. Their Sardinian
feta and olive salad features tiny
pieces of cucumber, tomato and red
onion drizzled with red onion and
lined with kalamata olives.
Tapas combines the Italian,
Greek, Israeli, Spanish, French and
Middle Eastern flair in smaller por-
tions. Meant for sharing, the appe-
tizers range from skewered chicken
at $3 a portion to seared scallops
and smoked salmon at $5 each. The
tiny portions encorage menu experi-
mentation; order three or four, have
a bite of each and pass them around
the table.
Rush Street's dishes become their
own art form, with a flair for the
extraordinary.
"I feel like an artist. It's an art
form, there's just more instant grati-
fication," said Shaw.
When it comes to desserts, Rush
Street offers dishes that border on
the extravagant. While chefs Rick
Roberts and Patrick Shaw main-
tain classics such as tiramisu, they

ALEXANDER DZIADOSZ/Daily

Rush Street, a new tapas bar on Main Street, serves its thirsty customers.

add a personal twist to items such
as chocolate mousse, serving it in a
martini glass with chocolate shav-
ings, and even serving an imported
Italian favorite, gelato. Also, the trio
of creme brulees changes periodi-
cally, inviting tastes of three differ-
ent types of flavored creme brulee.
Dinner at Rush Street follows the
same mix of old and new. It offers
both classic dishes such as the spicy
tuna nicoise and beef tenderloin
with truffled potatoes, to a taste of
Hawaii: Mako shark with French
lentils, wild mushrooms and buerre
noisette. "It's actually a really popu-
lar dish," Buescher added.
Rush Street's wine list compli-
ments its expansive menu selection.

"The wine list is big enough to suit
any taste. You can find the right
wine for any meal," Shaw said.
Ranging from a glass of Crit-
alino Brut at $6 to a Simi Reserve
Chardonnay at $12, to bottles main-
taining an Italian or French origin
or influence, Rush Street keeps its
stylish edge by adding bottles from
the Russian River Valley and South
Africa, which Shaw calls the "new
trend" in wine-drinking.
In addition, Rush Street serves
"wine flights," two-ounce selections
of four different types of wine. From
"A Taste of Tuscany" to "Champagne
Flights," it gives guests a dhance to
sample different tastes of wine in
various varieties. The wine flights
change monthly,
with each month
featuring a red
selection along
with a white.
Walk from
Rush Street to
800 North, how-
ever, and leave the
wine glass behind
to pick up a marti-
ni. Maggie Carps
- is a bartender at
800 North Sunday
through Wednes-
day, and can usu-
ally be found
hip-swinging Sier-
ra Nevada bottles
and Key Lime Pie
martinis.
Even Wednes-
day nights,
she claims, are
slammed with
- ~-, martini-imbibing

crowds and jamming with the live
music from musicians with guitars
and violins.
"It's wall to wall with people,"
she said. "And I get to be back here
doing what I do best, just slinging
drinks."
But don't walk down Main Street
on a Wednesday late-night and
expect to see the entertainment of
800 North. Hidden from the street,
Lacomb said the fact that the bar
feels "almost secluded" from the
street adds to its allure.
"There's a special draw, a special
privacy," said Brian Conway, bar-
tender at Goodnite Gracie.
But the success and unique-
ness of both 800 North and Rush
Street goes beyond their martini
list, cheese selection and offering
octopus and duck on the menu. The
restaurant and bar, however, didn't
create themselves - the hard-work,
dedication, and passion of Hanna,
Buescher, Terry Martin and others
rendered this innovative experience
a possibility.
"There's been nights where Terry
and I fell asleep on the bar benches.
It's been challenging, but it's also
been fun," Buescher said.
Fortunately for Ann Arbor's Main
Street, the sleepless nights of deci-
sion-making and barstool-napping
has paid off.
"It's first rate," Conway said, "but
it's also unpretentious. The real draw
is the food and the atmosphere."
Whether its an afternoon cocktail, a
late night martini with some live gui-
tars, or an evening dining with friends,
Rush Street and 800 North offers a
sampling selection of Chicago's taste
buds on the streets of Ann Arbor.

ALEXANDER DZIADOSZ/Daily
ABOVE: Tapas cuisine combines flavors and foods from
many different cultures. RIGHT: Hungry patrons of Rush
Street share their tapas dishes with each other.

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