"Vast and yet intimate at the same time..."Review Rating: Reviewed by Laurel
Occupying something of a cavernous space on St James Street, Avenue is one of those restaurants that feels somewhat vast and yet intimate at the same time. The venue promises 'an explosive influence of Asian-inspired dishes, with a South American twist' and so with a new menu on offer, dinner beckoned.
I didn't realise until arrival that I'd been before, (for a particularly disastrous brunch a couple of years ago involving multiple undercooked eggs) probably a good thing as it meant walking in with no preconceptions. The space is huge, thanks to striking high ceilings and its central rack of wine glasses forming something of a modern art sculpture certainly lends an impressive air.
The new menu culinary regions that circumference the 'Ring of Fire' and with a set menu on offer at certain times throughout March (two courses for £20 with a glass of wine, or 3 for £25 with bubbles) it's worth noting as the time arrives to switch up our tastebuds from winter comfort food to some altogether fresher flavours.
The sea bass ceviche, accompanied with a zingy mix of mango, lime and avocado, was a deliciously delicate way to start the meal and the spiced tuna tartare with tobiko, yuzu emulsion and rice nori cracker showcased a lovely pairing of textures, if a little underwhelming on the taste front.
With mains including Gochujang marinated lamb and slow cooked glazed pork belly with green mango and ginger as well as options like New York strip loin chimichuri and miso glazed tuna from the Robata grill, you're not sure on options. The native lobster, with a (un)healthy dose of smoked lime butter certainly didn't disappoint, succulently juicy flesh and claw meat as good as that which I devoured on an Antiguan beach a few years ago. Served with a side of fries (nothing particularly special to report), it admittedly could have done with a bit of a side salad to accompany it.
The dessert list has on a couple of exotic inspired options, but a Madagascar vanilla poached pineapple carpaccio with a coconut sorbet proved the right choice, refreshingly zingy and a perfectly light way to end the meal. The wine list was exceptional and while I can't quite remember the details of the wine expertly chosen to accompany our food by the sommelier (who undoubtedly made a better selection than I would have) it was a delicious crisp white. Note to self - write it down next time, or take a photo of the label.
This visit to Avenue was pleasingly more successful than my last and while the restaurant had all but emptied by the time we left at 9.30, given that it was a weeknight and St James's is hardly the most packed part of town, it actually made for quite a pleasant evening. I'll certainly be back soon to see if they've picked up their brunch game since my last visit.
Laurel reviewed Avenue on Fri 09 Mar 2018