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REVIEW: Avenue, London

Written by gaytourism

Avenue in St James, London | Photos: Courtesy of Avenue

This daring restaurant holds its own in London’s well heeled St James area. It offers an indulgent but unpretentious dining experience in the heart of the capital.

Evoking an atmosphere of a New York loft, Avenue is not afraid to be bold. High ceilings, real sense of space and striking interior design features include a huge illuminated chandelier sparkling with wine glasses. I was instantly transported to 1970s Manhattan.

Live music added to the sense of atmosphere without being too imposing, as did the statement bar, which I was reliably informed by my American guest serves the best Manhattan cocktail in London.

Avenue does well to stay on the right side of brash and overly fussy. It has a pared-down menu and excellent but amiable service. This ensured we had a relaxed dining experience and were able to enjoy the meal over the evening without feeling rushed.

The latest new menu takes its culinary inspiration from regions that encircle the volcanic ‘Ring of Fire’ zone in the Pacific Ocean basin. Thus, Avenue offers an original, eclectic menu concept. It blends American, Asian and South American fare seamlessly to create an offering that is truly unique.

My guest and I were initially unsure of how such diverse cuisines would marry on the plate. But what we enjoyed was a harmony of flavors that gave the dishes we tried complexity and depth without being confused.

Avenue prides itself on using high quality, natural ingredients to create dishes that are fresh and full of punch. Diners can choose a whole host of delicacies from the fish roll bar, which has fresh produce every day.

My highlight was a melt-in-the-mouth scorched salmon as a starter. It combined beautifully flavoured fish, the tang of pickled mouli with charred Romano pepper. The white soy dressing lifted the dish beyond the sum of its parts. My guest enjoyed a tuna tartare dish with tobiko and citrus notes of yuzu. This expertly brightened a meaty fish.

For our main courses, we took advantage of the robata grill. I enjoyed a beautiful cooked lobster in a never-want-it-to-end smoked lime butter. My guest ordered a delicious Aberdeen Angus rib eye steak. This was served with a slightly overly bitter charred lettuce side. Both dishes pared powerful, eclectic flavors with perfect combinations of texture.

Other stand out moments included a poached pineapple carpaccio. This was original and refreshing on the palate, in equal measure. The deliciously creamy coconut sorbet remains by far the best I’ve tasted.

The wine offerings did not disappoint either. Having already sampled a couple of the top-notch aperitifs from the bar, we went on to enjoy adeptly paired wines with each course of the meal.

This included a well-rounded Malbec with the steak and an exquisite Picpoul de Pilet from the Languedoc region of France, which I was informed by our waiter is the new kid on the block when it comes to stand-out, high-quality white wine.

Described by the French as a ‘bite of the lip’, the zesty nature of the wine smoothed perfectly with the flavors and textures of the salmon and is one to remember.

If you’re looking for an atmospheric and memorable dining experience which blends flavors from across three continents with flare and originality then look no further than Avenue. A veritable ‘Ring of Fire’ culinary treat.

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Words: Catherine Rossides

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