Mayfair, Monopoly’s most prized location and London’s diamond district, used to be my usual haunt. For a few years the West End was a playground for stomping and romping – intoxicating parties, luxurious clubs and beguiling people. However, with increased responsibility (yawn) and a move from west to east, play dates have become few and far between.
Now my rare visits to Mayfair are laced with a warm sense of playfulness and nostalgia. It will always be a location for luxury and fun, which is why new restaurant Avenue is perfectly suited to entertain well heeled gents, socialites and post-work pleasure seekers.
Avenue is a recent addition to St. James’s Street, serving up new American cuisine for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday. Originally designed by American architect Rick Mather in 1996, the interiors have been transformed by Russell Sage ‘to create the feel of a glamorous Manhattan loft space, with eclectic modern art and design features’ – something they have achieved in spades. Everywhere you look there are intriguing design features and eccentricities, most noticeably the extravagant wineglass chandelier in the centre of the dining room.
We were recommended a full-bodied Clos de Los Siete Malbec, which didn’t disappoint and started dinner with beets salad, buffalo ricotta and pistachio, and fried soft shell crab, avocado arugula and chipotle mayo. These were two excellent, light and fresh plates that provided well-known flavour combinations in a contemporary and exciting way.
We both had cravings for steak, so shared the rib eye with sides of macaroni, onion rings and the obligatory side salad (which of course cancelled out all calories consumed). All of these dishes were delicious, well-executed classics. Happily not over complicated, whilst also showing a touch of distinction.
We couldn’t resist the puff pasty apple tarts with ice cream, and I was recommended by a friend to try the tart raspberry jam and vanilla sugar donut holes, which were incredibly moreish and gone within the blink of an eye. Once again a side of raspberry coulis neutralised all calories (ahem), so I was remorseless and completely contented by the end of the meal.
The food and interiors of Avenue are decadent and creative, and the service was impeccable. Where it could be pretentious, it is warm and friendly instead, and as we left towards Piccadilly, seeing some of my old haunts made me wonder why I hadn’t come back to Mayfair for so long.
7-9 St James’s St