Jun 29, 2011

Avenue (Long Branch, NJ)

On Saturday Jared and I had one of those perfectly perfect dinners where all circumstances unite for a dining-experience-to-remember. The weather was perfect. The waves were lapping. The food was incredible. The drinks were plentiful.

I've been trying to drag Jared down to Long Branch to go to Avenue for years. Literally. We finally made the trek and man oh man it was worth it.

Avenue has a really stunning outdoor dining area, a cordoned-off section of the boardwalk so you're literally eating right over the beach. I'd have prefered a little less techno James-Bond-esque music pumping thru the speakers and a little more ocean waves, but other than that, perfection.

The inside of the restaurant is also gorgeous. All very white-washed, open and beachy (though, more French Riviera than Jersey Shore). The bar was packed, even at 5 o'clock, and there was a wedding taking place on the roof deck.

Avenue also has an exclusive beach club (see photo above). We decided we are really going to need to pay whatever exorbitant fee is involved so we can remain close to the incredibly good cocktails while reading on those extremely enticing round beds.
To start, the Avenue Salad. You should really eat this. Mixed greens, just a hint of very thinly shaved veggies (tomatoes, radishes, carrots, mushrooms, cucumbers), fennel, avocado, and grilled shrimp. In a very light, non-overwhelming lemony vinaigrette. In my mind, an example of The Perfect Salad.
Also had a very tasty mojito.
Jared did the 3 course prix fixe menu. 1st course, shrimp cocktail.
Here, you can also see Jared's drink of choice - The Summerhouse (Hendricks, St. Germaine, orange bitters).
A quote from when we returned home that night: "That drink is all I want to ever touch my lips again."
So. There's Jared's recommendation.
Since I had a pretty substantial salad, I didn't want to overdo it on the entree. I was delighted when I saw that the seafood ravioli I'd been lusting over was also available as a half portion. Perfect serving size. And SO. FREAKING. GOOD. I hate to even utter it, because you know where my loyalties lie, but this ravioli was 10x better than Due Mari's (I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry!). Due Mari's was a little bit chewier... you actually got chunks of shrimp... but Avenue's ravioli was a perfectly delectable combination of crabmeat, shrimp, scallops and ricotta. Sitting in some sort of light lemony sauce, with a heartier fresh tomato sauce piled in the center. Good gracious it was excellent.
Jared got a burger. Or perhaps, as you can see from the picture, fries with a side of burger. But let me tell you those are some goooood fries. Burger was also very good, but to quote from the man himself, the bun tasted like it came from a Little League game. Let's work on the bun Avenue - it's a burger's crowning glory!
For dessert, Jared selected the chocolate pot de creme from the prix fixe. Smooth and not too sweet, he was a happy camper.
I was extremely full at this point, but felt it was my duty to sample the dessert selection as well (read: cannot refuse sweets). On the waiter's recommendation I got the classic profiteroles, which were very good, but a bit boring. I think I should have been more adventurous and gone for the pistachio cake or chocolate and pistachio crepes.

For a memorable meal right on the water, you should go here. Soon.

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