The Avenue

Walking into the newly refurbished Avenue should really make me feel pretty sick.

This is predominantly because it’s plastered in photos of royal guards. Not royal guards doing what they’re paid to do, i.e.standing around all day doing nothing, mind you. Oh no. Its bearskin sporting royal guards engaged in all manner of hilarious and “wacky” activities like keeping fit down the gym or playing in steel pan bands, as if they’re actual real people or something. This is something I’d generally balk at, but as Tristan Welch (Launceston Place) explains, it’s a nod and a wink to the local area, we are after in the heartland of Piccadilly. I let it go, perhaps because the rest of the place is so well designed. The bar is pretty glamorous; in a clean and understated way and the floor to ceiling window lends a nice airy feel.

The menu is full of equally chilled but witty “mix and match” treats. Dishes like clam chowder, burgers and mushrooms on toast lounge comfortably alongside poached lobster, rib of beef and haunch of venison; each with the option of having a sharing sized or individual portion at half the price.

My Angus burger with Lincolnshire poacher cheese was gorgeous to the power of max. Cushioned in a seeded bun from the Hummingbird bakery, the charred smoky crust framed an almost foie like interior. Having tried the legendary Hawksmoor cheeseburger the day before, I found this to be ever so slightly more delicious. My only gripe was the home made gherkins which could have done with a tad more vinegar. A Caesar salad with home cured sardines was inspired with bites of toasted hazelnut and well seasoned leaves. The wild mushrooms on toast were another highlight, buttery sourdough piled with a medley of wild fungi and crowned with the oozing sunset of a slow cooked yolk.  Poached brill with leeks and nutmeg was well executed, if slightly dull. The cheese fondue was the real champion.  What’s not to covet about a caquelon brimming with a molten orgy of Coolea, Lincolnshire poacher cheddar and Danegeld…?  Needless to say, there was much fondue fork jousting and a bit of a Vienetta style stand off over the burnished layer of la religieuse at the base.

Ice cream came in a cornet, and had the texture of a poshed up Mister Whippy, dripping glossily with prune and Armagnac syrup and harbouring a plummy surprise at the base of the cone.

Mikko Katja from Launceston Place is at the helm here and this really comes across in the very confident and sometimes stunningly good cooking. The staff were also knowledgeable, friendly and personable, something that seems be overlooked or dismissed far too often. Having front of house with character and warmth is an essential component and for me is often the difference between a good and a great dining experience.  The Avenue has this in spades, and next time I’m uptown and in need of a proper burger or a five pound cocktail (for a limited period only) I know where I’ll be heading.

The Avenue

7-9 St James’s Street

London SW1A 1EE

Tel: 0207 321 2111

Fax: 0207 321 2500

http://www.theavenue-restaurant.co.uk

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9 comments

  1. Looks like one to put on the ‘must visit soon’ list, for sure! Having revisited LP recently after a year or so’s hiatus, I was a little underwhelmed – maybe The Avenue is the answer…

  2. Looks like a good venue. Those royal guards pictures sound cheesier than your burger.

  3. Hi Rej, the description of that burger is making me terribly hungry, and how interesting that you thought it was better than Hawksmoor. I shall be going there this Saturday to try. Thanks.

  4. So love the sound of that burger. With melted Lincolnshire cheese. Lush! Next time I visit london, avenue is on the cards for sure.

  5. Looks great! Personally I love the images of the Royal Guards. I suppose what they are representing with the images is something associated with being posh in casual senarios. The food they are serving, the burgers and the ice cream, is typically casual yet it is being served poshed-up.

    Yeah, love the whole cross over thing.

  6. Gav

    Have you tried the O’Shea’s burger from Byron – it’s epic …

  7. gastrogeek

    A Forkful – thanks, it’s definitely worth checking out!

    Sarah- they really were- but worth it for that burger alone
    The London Foodie- thank you,I’d love to hear what you think of it
    Maunika- cheers, it was truly lush!
    Grafoo – of course! It all makes sense now.
    Gav – I haven’t tried it yet, but yep, the one named after Dino is high up on the hit list

  8. Dan

    Great review Reg. First I’ve heard about this place and it looks pretty damn good, if only to sample a burger that you rate better than Hawksmoors?!!! this I’ll have to try.

  9. Well this does sound rather good! I really like the idea too of just surrendering yourself to a chef. Oh how I adore crispy pig’s intestines. ADORE. And frog’s legs come to think of it.

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