For a place that takes food so seriously, Vellum makes meals fun. Young, attractive servers exude enthusiasm as they guide customers through menu picks and wine pairings. Decor is understated chic; nothing in this high-ceilinged space (formerly the Ann Arbor Printing Press) distracts from the food. Chef-owner Peter Roumanis’ menu is careful and complex, and though not every dish nails the landing, the ones that do are truly memorable.
Best bet for starters? The game terrine ($9). It looks like a Mondrian painting with tiny fruit and nut clusters surrounding the terrine, a savory morsel hidden under paper-thin cherry fruit leather. The mushroom tart ($12) isn’t as successful, with a nearly sandy-textured crust and a confusing presentation. The “spilled” sauce on the side looks like an accident, primarily because everything else at Vellum is so carefully composed.
Fisherman’s stew ($28) may not sound like something you’d order at a fancy restaurant, but this one is special. The bowl arrives with a crispy sauteed filet of branzino, Yukon gold potatoes, a carrot curl and delicate fennel; a sweet onion broth is gently poured over the ingredients tableside. The contrast of fish, vegetables and smooth liquid is heavenly. Another good choice, the ribeye ($28) consists of deeply flavored slices of filet resting on shallot jam—creamy, rich and just salty enough with tender root vegetables on the side.
Tasting menus offer five courses for $45 or seven for $60, with optional wine pairings. Whatever you order, be sure to involve the staff. They care not only about what they serve but also about making sure customers enjoy an unforgettable dining experience.