"Deeply satisfying food in Balham"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
The Avalon in Balham looks appealing from the outset: a cute garden at the front and a very elegant dining area at the back with a high ceiling from which hang large, modern chandeliers. Upon arrival we are greeted by a very cheerful waitress who apologises for having lost her voice, despite sounding perfectly fine to us.
We decide to kick off with a bottle of Rioja, and we delight in its smooth, oaky flavour. I grab the bottle to have a closer look at the label only to realise that this isn’t the Spanish Rioja we had ordered but an Argentinean Nieto Senetiner Malbec from 2008. Despite this mishap we decide to stick with it, as it’s just too enjoyable to send back.
We start with the crab, chilli & parsley and squid ink linguine. The thin noodles have turned black due to the squid ink and have an intense garlic and parsley flavour. It’s a filling dish for a starter but none remains by the time I’ve finished with it. My companion chooses one of the specials of the day: the chicken breast with lentils in truffle oil. The lentils have a bright, slightly piquant flavour, the chicken is perfumed by the truffle oil.
For our main course we both select dishes from the specials’ board: fish pie for me and pigeon breast for my companion. My fish pie arrives in a mini-saucepan of fish goodness – prawns, chunks of salmon, peas and onion in creamy mashed potato. A small dish of seasoned boiled cabbage was served on the side.
The pigeon breast is dark in colour and tender, with a strong, gamey taste. Pigeon meat in cuisine is undergoing something of a renaissance in British kitchens - after years of being associated with rationing during World War II it is now finding itself onto diner’s plates in South London gastropubs.
The service throughout our meal was superb, and we never found ourselves with empty glasses. Food is of a high standard at The Avalon; thought has been put into an interesting menu that delivers the goods thanks to head chef Adam Hicks. At roughly £70 for a three course meal for two I’d recommend this eatery for anyone in the area wanting a satisfying meal; couples feeling amorous can also choose the house specialty oysters.
Leila reviewed Avalon on Thu 08 Apr 2010