Well, the Games are nearly here. We've patiently waited, primping and grooming and trimming in anticipation of hosting this worldwide event. Things will be bustling in Salt Lake City.
I have the strangest feeling I should run for the hills. But, alas, our guests will be found there, too.
Opening just in time in the central Sugar House area, is L'Avenue Bistro. As the name suggests, it is a French-themed bistro with an accompanying patisserie.
My husband and I dined on a Monday night, and the cozy dining room, rich with woods and ochre tones, was bustling and warm. Chewy French bread and soft butter were brought to our table as we settled in to make appetizer selections.
We started with foie gras of duck with toast points and a tart of chevre and caramelized onions. We enjoyed the rich foie gras, though the portion was quite spartan for the price. One doesn't need much to enjoy the distinct flavor, but even with a premium on such a delicacy, two pats for $8 was out of place. The chevre tart was robust and absolutely worth having. Layers of rich onion and herbed goat cheese made this starter worth every dime, even at a more modest $6.50.
It seemed like forever between courses, though the space between a house salad of wedged butter lettuce and bowl of onion soup was shorter than between that and our entrees. I'm all for a relaxed meal, but the wait was ridiculous. Some communication from our server would have been nice. As it was, we'd been there two hours by the time dinner arrived.
Despite the drag, I enjoyed the soup. It was hearty but not super beefy. It's a version one can appreciate for warming but not weighing one down, as with some gloppy, overfilled interpretations.
I chose the mushroom ravioli for dinner, and Gary had the salmon. Although, it was a minimalist serving again, the ravioli was rich. Tender pouches of pureed mushrooms were paired with golden sauteed mushroom slices resting in a pool of delicate broth infused with truffle oil. The portion was right for my appetite, and the dish was promising, but for the size, it was again overpriced.
The salmon was simple, dressed with a very mild horseradish vinaigrette and paired with wilted spinach. We regretted it's doneness, as it was not cooked medium-rare as ordered.
Dessert was delicate and delicious. Gary had a chocolate trio of mousse, tart and sorbet. The presentation was precious and refined, and each element was fun to taste. I'm partial to mousse, though the tart and sorbet were quite smooth. I had L'Avenue's creme brulee, which was, despite its slightly loose texture, a satisfying dose of true vanilla.
The menu at L'Avenue is exciting, with an artful balance of classic and modern touches. I'll go back to sample from an interesting menu of mussels, for example.
If the wait staff can be a bit more attentive, and the kitchen can work into a better sense of timing, word of mouth about the food will ensure the restaurant's success. It may be a while before it hits its stride, but as things smooth out, L'Avenue just may become a neighborhood classic long after our guests have gone home.
Prices for appetizers range from $1.25-$9.95, soups $1.75-$4.95, mussels $13.50-$14.95, salads $1.75-$8.95, entrees $12.95-$19.95.
*** 1/2 (out of five)
Hours: Lunch Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., dinner nightly from 5 p.m., Sunday brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Location: 1355 E. 2100 South, 485-4494
Payment: major credit cards, checks
Reservations: suggested at all times but not required