New American cuisine in a swish St. James' setting
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : American
Opening Times : Mon-Fri 12pm-4.30pm & 5.30pm-10.15pm, Sat 11am-4pm & 5.30pm-10pm
Closest Tube : Green Park
London has experienced a veritable blitzkrieg of American food over the past decade, originating with the steak house and then branching out into burgers, barbecue and various others of their high-calorific ilk. However, we haven‘t really witnessed ‘New American‘ cuisine yet. Not until now, that is. Avenue, the popular D&D restaurant on St James‘s Street, has been given a sensitive reboot this month, and we‘re very happy to introduce this upscale Yank-influenced eatery to our discerning Innerplace membership.
The dining room at Avenue was designed by Russell Sage and nods to the late, great Rick Mather‘s original design. The bright and airy space borrows as much from Scandinavia as it does from the Art Deco influences of uptown Manhattan, with an abundance of natural woods playing off the monochromatic walls, an effect that is reinforced by floor lighting. The setting is dominated by an ornate chandelier crafted from wine glasses with wine bottles displayed below, and there‘s a long bar running alongside one wall fashioned from mellow wood panelling, with stools designed by Young British Artist Gary Hume. Plush navy blue banquettes bring to mind New York, as does the artwork. The prevailing effect is a room that is casual yet glitzy, where diners can choose from either luxury comfort dishes or laidback fine dining.
Avenue has brought in head chef Michael Blizzard to do the heavy hitting in the kitchen. Blizzard has worked at an array of impressive restaurants, including Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental, The Dirty Habit in Kent, and the three Michelin-starred Daniel on the Upper East Side, in all of which he has proven himself a deft hand at creating contemporary cooking with seasonal and ethically sourced ingredients.
On our visit we were very impressed by the starters, which were prepared with precision and finesse. Corn crab - fried soft shell crab with avocado, arugula and chipotle mayo - was a masterwork of crispness, ideally complemented by the rich creaminess of the avocado and the smooth spice of the chipotle. A scallop ceviche of incomparable freshness was cut through with acidic green tomato and a zingy jalapeno sauce, livening up the palate for the beefy mains to follow.
Our waiter gave us an excellent, and successful, pitch for the burgers on the menu. We chose the most sumptuous option, the Beef on Beef, consisting of a beautiful Black Angus patty on a brioche bun, topped with slow-roasted short rib and shallot, and served alongside a hot relish, a green pickle, and a pewter tin teeming with golden chips. Slow cooked lamb chops were tender but didn‘t fall off the bone, served with quinoa and a tart, astringent gremolata.
D&D has brought in sommelier Andres Ituarte, previously of Lutyens restaurant, to curate a list of American and New World classics. Many of the prestige bottles were on offer by the glass due to a new-to-Britain Coravin wine system, and we were lucky to try a Ridge ‘Lytton Springs‘ 2011, an excellent blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignan. We finished the meal with a pair of cocktails from the bar.
We‘re very happy to add Avenue to Innerplace‘s favoured coterie of restaurants. Innerplace members will now receive priority bookings with members and guests receiving a complimentary glass of Champagne upon arrival. Contact us at [email protected] for bookings.