Towering ceilings and lots of windows make Avenue seem somewhat cavernous at first glance, but then you notice the warming fireplace, the long stainless bar, the booths in the bar area, a raw bar right out on the floor and of course, the amazing ocean views. The beige palette is soothing, the staff young and attractive and even early on a Sunday evening there’s a kind of buzz here.
The menu is classic French brasserie with daily specials like Coquille St. Jacques, Bouillabaisse and Dover Sole. You’ll find standards like charcuterie and fromage, onion soup, escargot and steak frite on the regular menu. But, you’ll want to start with the excellent raw bar, one of the few around, which is strange for an area by the sea. Fresh East and West Coast oysters, shrimp, King crabs, clams and lobster will satisfy just about anyone’s need for fruits de mer.
My standard for roast chicken has always been Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston cooked by the acclaimed chef Gordon Hamersley, but I have to tell you this was equally as good, with a crisp skin, tender meat, a pommes puree and fava beans. Paired with an excellent Muscadet, it was a terrific meal.
Jen enjoyed a succulent boeuf bourguignon that literally fell off the fork it was so tender. Served with fresh parpadelle, red wine sauce, braised vegetables and lardons, the flavors were rich and savory.
The desserts are sinful, but don’t miss the crème brulee or the flourless chocolate torte served with a fresh raspberry sauce.
The wine list is very good with some excellent choices and I particularly like the presentation where the wine style is described clearly. While I would like to see more, there are ample choices under $50 in just about every category.
ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Sit outside on a balmy, moonlit night and you just might get a proposal.
WHAT OTHERS SAY…
A “sexy”, “French Riviera”–esque vibe draws “lively”, “hip” types to this “swanky” French seafooder in Long Branch’s Pier Village, touted for its “scrumptious” raw bar and “excellent” craft cocktails; “picture-window ocean views” and “terrific eye candy” help distract from the “noisy” decibels and “expensive” price tags. ZAGAT