Mon–Fri 12pm–3pm and 5.30pm–10pm, Sat 11am–3pm and 5.30pm–10.30pm, Sun 11am–4pm
Serving up New American cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Avenue captures the buzz of the New York dining scene while nodding to its St James’s roots with striking art-focused interiors, designed by Rick Mather and transformed by Russell Sage to give a glamorous loft feel to the restaurant. Most noticeable amongst the eclectic selection of art and design features is the central Decanting Bar, with its enormous, glittering wine-glass chandelier.
Avenue, with its central location, has a steady stream of well-spoken diners coming for a post-work meal. There are, as one might expect, a number of American tables too, there to get a taste of home (if home had dozens of staff whisking delicacies to you, ballroom-esque proportions and a wine list of epic length).
Starting with a Waldorf salad and the Baked beetroot set the meal off down the track on which it continued; a mixture of novel options and flavours—the beetroot was exceptional, the textures and combination of the goat’s curd and dressing very complementary—and more classic dishes, almost comfort food—the salad was reliably traditional rather than exciting.
The mac and cheese main course was another example of a homely dish given an added edge by its high-calibre ingredients and the addition of truffle, which worked beautifully with the rich cheesiness. The Tennessee slow cooked Jacob’s ladder was also rich and pungent, sauce stickily and satisfyingly oozing over the meat. Portions were as American as the menu, so despite our enjoyment neither of us could finish our plates!
Puddings, such as the stand-out brownie with salted caramel popcorn, were equally indulgent, and the whole experience felt languid, time passing in an American drawl rather than chattering by, weighed down by sauces and wines and enjoyment.
The sommelier was delightful and really knew his stuff, providing us with a constant thoughtful flow of options to suit each of our food choices. But apart from charming service, Avenue is also the first restaurant in the country to offer the unique wine access system Coravin, developed by a surgeon, which allows one to pierce through the cork and pour single glasses of any wine, pressurising the bottle with inert argon as it does so—so there is no oxidation of the remaining liquid. This means guests at Avenue can take full advantage of their very thorough wine list, trying single glasses of even the most prestigious vintages—an oenophile’s dream.
While the food at Avenue might not have tempted me in before, having tried it and enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of the staff, the grandeur of the space and the depth of the wine list, it feels like an option to add to my list of regular haunts, comfortable enough to relax in and luxurious enough to treat people to. My New Yorker friend was certainly impressed, and was making plans to come back with her husband before we’d even walked out the door.