Restaurant review: Avenue Restaurant & Bar
Location: St James Street, near Piccadilly Circus
It’s that time of the month again… no, not that one. I have a monthly team meeting where we discuss what we’ve been working on, and then follow it up with a nice lunch. Previously, we have been to Cay Tre and Shampers, both excellent, and so I was under pressure to choose another restaurant that would measure up.
After extensive research and some help from London Twitter feeds (thanks, @TownFish_London and @londoneating), I decided to book the Avenue Restaurant and Bar, which is about a 10 minute walk from Piccadilly Circus. As we entered, the interior felt slightly imposing and I wasn’t sure if I was fancy enough to be eating here. However, the service was so friendly that we felt at ease immediately, as they took our coats and bags and showed us to our table. We opted for their ‘Summer in St James’ menu, which was good value at £19.50 for two courses and a glass of prosecco (my favourite drink, summer or winter!).
Our waiter opened with a friendly ‘Hello’, and when we smiled at him, he followed up with ‘Is it me you’re looking for?’ This immediately broke the ice as he started explaining the items on the menu to us. I opted for the pork and pistachio terrine to start, with almond-topped lettuce on the side. I’m always a little hesitant of terrine, as I have had some that taste more of fat than meat, but this one was outstanding, particularly when spread on their European-style bread (coming from Switzerland, which has some of the best bread in the world, I wholeheartedly approved of their baked goods). The almond and lettuce combination was unusual, but very tasty.
As a main course, I had the baked salmon with purple aubergine and garlic pesto, which was absolutely phenomenal. The waiter informed me that their Finnish chef liked to make the salmon in the Scandinavian way, which was slightly undercooked. ‘If you’re brave, you should have it that way’, he advised. So I did – and I did not regret it. The aubergine was neatly slotted under the fish and soaked up its juices, which has definitely inspired me to try out a similar recipe in the future. Meanwhile, my colleagues had nothing but praise for their choices, which included roasted fennel and quinoa salad, smoked salmon with potato and horseradish cream, risotto and burgers.
Verdict: 5 stars. Try it for yourself!