As Avenue heralds a new globally-inspired menu, American fine dining takes on a vibrant twist
Words Julia Krupska
Tucked away in the heart of the city is London’s answer to New York fine dining. Avenue, with its warm bustle, dim lights and gold, bronze and cream accents, encompass all that a glitzy brasserie should be. We are led through the bar, past a fabulous upturned wine glass installation and to a table tucked away in the rear. A blend of indie-dance meets nu disco with a side order of dinner jazz sets a modern ambience for us to ponder over their new menu.
For a restaurant inspired by cuisine from across the pond, I expect the choice to be a whole lot more native. But a revamp devoid of few American classics (no fear, the cut steaks, ribs and burgers have firmly stood their ground), brings forth a fusion of globally-inspired choices instead. Recommended to start is the seared yellow fin tuna with ponzu glaze. One, I’m told, has never been altered. I can see why. The tuna arrives neatly sliced in three and of flavorous taste – caviar trickled across three specks of whipped avocado. My companion opts for a spiced squash soup with mild curry powder, croutons and a dash of sour cream – a deliciously-light warmer, perfect for this time of year.
Entrées, Grill & Drinks
For mains I opt for the lobster salad; a blend of sheep’s ricotta, crisp leaves, tangy lemon dressing and avocado. A light alternative that surprisingly satisfies all hunger. With my companion stressing a keen appetite for blue steak, our waiter points out the New York strip – tender but grilled, marinating the meat in a delicious smoke. To side is a roasted half clove of garlic, peppercorn sauce and an incredible buttery spinach dish. For someone who sends meat back if it is not blue enough, my companion is in heaven. The strip oozes such raw juice, we have to check the animal is not still alive. That, or we have drunk far too much American chardonnay; Au Bon Climat ‘Wild Boy.’ Not that you would even notice, the exquisite blend of fruity oak making it the most palatable and glorious wine I have ever tasted.
No American experience would be complete without their famed Mac ‘n’ Cheese, so an additional side is ordered. Such a divine explosion of cheesy taste and creamy texture follows; shaved truffle sprinkled on top to add a garlic hit to the already succulent dish.
Onto desserts, and the contrasting two we choose steal hearts and taste buds alike. The Avenue chocolate bar is made up of 24 dark chocolate layers and mousse, something we find hard to believe when it arrives in a dainty rectangle. But one bite of the soft coco dream, offset by a delicious cornflake crunch confirms there is. On the other hand, the lemon parfait tastes like summer, and winter has arrived much too soon; light fruits and zesty flavours make for a stellar finish to those struggling to fit more in.
The service is exquisite. Barely seconds pass before remnants are lifted and fresh dishes land in their place. Echoed also in our drinks, a care to attention that never sees an empty glass on our table. The service slows a little before dessert, but it’s as if they know I am almost at bursting point. Our waiter is attentive, friendly and very knowledgable, but never intrusive. To balance the fine line between suffocation and neglect can be a tricky skill to master, but Avenue have it nailed.
One thing’s for certain, such an infusion of flavours across all dishes must require decadent precision in the kitchen. It’s certainly a feast, but not one you’re overwhelmed by, artisanally crafted to expertly leave you in gastronomical bliss.