The Avenue, 7-9 St James’s Street, London, SW1A 1EE Tel 020 7321 2111 www.theavenue-restaurant.co.uk
We went along to The Avenue, it having only recently re-opened following a refurbishment, which also saw private dining facilities added, to sample the new menu that has been introduced by their newly appointed head chef, Mikko Kataja. The Avenue is an impressive place, its long bar with comfortable seating opposite draws you in to the main restaurant area. Clever use of mirrored walls makes this already substantial and spacious restaurant look enormous. Its decor of cream and red is accented by themed pictures of guards in all kinds of sporting and other pursuits, which are both colourful and fun. The place has an open and inviting feel about it.
We had a glass of Piper Heidsieck while we chose our meal – well, the surroundings seemed to invite us to. The menu features what they describe as modern British cuisine, there are certainly a good range of interesting dishes on Mikko’s menu. For starters, the pork terrine was a soft set tranche of good flavoured, tender shredded and chunky pieces of pork meat that was well supported by some wild herbs, a grain mustard and fried capers which finished the dish off perfectly with their light crisp saltiness. The risotto was divine, cooked perfectly, it was just al dente, but with no chalkiness in the bite, it had great depth of flavour and body, featuring wild fennel, green olive and a hint of bitterness from some wild pennywort. These were two excellent dishes with which to kick off our dining experience.
For mains the haunch of venison was a lovely tender piece of meat, served medium, it had great flavour and almost melted in the mouth. This came with a tangy pickled pear puree which contrasted the meat perfectly and was sat on a bed of nicely cooked savoy cabbage. The fillet steak, served medium rare, was a lovely piece of meat, perfectly cooked and tender it had great taste and texture, this came with some crispy chips and a lovely thick béarnaise sauce that coated the chips well when dunked in it. These were two more winning dishes which we supported with a side of fine beans, which had some bite and were buttery, served with broken toasted hazelnuts, a combination that works well. We also had a dish of curly kale which again was left with some bite that made this substantial leaf a great mouthful.
For dessert, the valrhona chocolate and orange was a lovely creation, a thick dark chocolate ganache sat at the bottom of the glass, on top of which was an orange sorbet that had been enveloped by orange foam, digging down through this decadence was amazing. The chocolate and date financiers with chocolate sorbet was served on a piece of slate and comprised of six little soft deeply chocolaty sponges that were close on being fondants and a lovely smooth chocolate sorbet that had a great creaminess about it, another wonderful dessert.
The Avenue has a good sized wine list with an excellent range by the glass, we had a glass each of the house white with our starters, a Languedoc and it was crisp, dry and fruity. We had different wines with our mains, an organic Argentinean Malbec, that was soft and fruity as well as being full in the mouth and a Rioja that was less full bodied, but equally good. Service throughout our meal was excellent; their staff are very observant and seem to notice the smallest thing.
The Avenue has a lot to offer. We liked the fact that the menu featured four sharing dishes – one starter, two mains and a dessert – we also liked that they have a fixed price menu, available for lunch and in the evenings at a cost of £19.50 for two courses and £24.50 for three. Our meal there was excellent and we would highly recommend it.