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Asian Cuisine and South American Fire at Avenue

Never mind the snow, SEEN doesn’t let severe weather warnings come between her and the discovery of a new dining concept. Thus it was that I minced carefully down to the old-school London environs of St James, yet another of those areas in the capital that shows us another side of the city. St James is the home of art galleries, wine importers, swish tailors and many fine restaurants, one of which is Avenue. Very modern and sleek, it offers Asian cuisine with a fiery South American twist. The brainchild of D&D London’s Executive Chef Mickael Weiss, the concept takes its inspiration from the culinary regions that make up the circumference of the ‘ring of fire’. This is the volcanic belt that contains 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes, stretching up clockwise from the Pacific basin to Alaska and down to South America, following the Andes.

The new dishes include spiced Tuna tartare, tobiko, yuzu emulsion, rice and nori cracker; Slow-cooked glazed pork belly with sour apple and charred scallions; Gochujang marinated lamb cutlets, polenta cake and miso aubergine; and Venison loin, spiced pumpkin, honey butter and cranberry jus. The freshest, highest quality ingredients are used by Head Chef Andras Katona, who will be presenting diners with carpaccio, tartare, ceviche, poke and salads. A new cocktail menu is also launching this month, with sustainability and unique ingredients at its heart such as tepache – a Mexiacan fermented beverage made from the peel and rind of the pineapple.

It was very welcome to step out of the freezing cold and into the spacious yet cosy interior. The staff there are just lovely, very welcoming to me as a lone diner (my guest was unable to join me because of the snow). I was installed at a table where I had a good view of the room and refreshed with Belu water and a restorative glass of champagne. I had some hearty wholemeal bread to start with a beautiful half-moon of lightly whipped butter. I didn’t ask for a starter (for fear of filling myself up unduly) but they were kindly brought by the lovely waiter (LW) anyway: two elegant ceramic spoons, one with smoked salmon and the other with beetroot and goat’s cheese. They were both fresh and delicious. I ordered seared salmon with a lemongrass broth and some new potatoes with seaweed butter. The salmon melted in the mouth and the potatoes were buttery. The LW brought me a spoon with which to polish off the delicious broth. It was like he could read my mind… I asked for something light as a dessert and the LW recommended the Pineapple carpaccio with coconut sorbet. It was light but not too sweet, yet very intense in its flavour; the perfect end to a delicious meal.

Chatting to the staff at Avenue, I discovered that the snow hadn’t really impacted that much on reservations, as their main clientele comes from the corporate clients that have their HQs in the area. Such is the hugeness of the city that this fact almost makes them a well-kept secret to those in the know.

Regular readers will know how much I love a warm plate and sure enough Avenue attend to this detail. The food was served in gorgeous stoneware bowls and plates that retained heat really well. The crockery and interior complemented each other in shades of brown. The ambience was one of zen-like calm, the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of London and very much in keeping with the gentility of St James. Recommended.

7-9 St James’s Street