Seafood Menu At Avenue Flaunts The Best Of The British Deep
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The uplands of St James's are redolent of old money, boys clubs and Cohibas. Yet Avenue — wedged between an old milliners and a bootmakers — gives off the feel of something fragrantly fresh.
Beneath a great lightwell, punctuated with brash contemporary art, punters tuck into battered fish with chips and mushy peas (crushed, as the menu prefers to word it).
We're staring with something a little more refined: an iced platter of Jersey, Morecambe and Colchester oysters demonstrates the surprisingly disparate tastes and textures available off our shores (and at £11 for a half dozen, they're not just for those who've come from a fitting at Hawes & Curtis). The latter win the mollusc-off: briny, plump mouthfuls of joy — and paired perfectly with a red wine shallot vinegar that's packed with vim.
Arnold Ivey's new seafood menu is about as far from experimental as you can get, and we're down with that. A hunk of plaice, not long off the boat, is scattered simply with intensely delicious brown butter shrimp — proving that less can be more.
But seafood's a capricious beast, and the contents of our pot of St Austell mussels turn out to be lean, gangly things, which seem to have been on some underwater diet. Conversely, the Devon crab is meaty, buttery — full of and we'd take it over lobster any day. You can only work with what you're given.
The only 'turf' of the evening, the pork belly comes with that caramel stickiness that adheres your top set of teeth to the bottom. Dished up with baby potatoes and buttered carrots it's another reminder that British food needn't get a wacky makeover to be good. An evening at Avenue isn't a life-changing experience, but you will come out confident in the knowledge that homegrown cuisine can stand up to scrutiny, even when it's not trying to be avant garde.
Avenue, 7-9, St James's Street, SW1A 1EE.
Last Updated 16 September 2019