It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. "It" is Avenue, a new restaurant on Manhattan Avenue north of Manhattan Beach Boulevard.
The best of the restaurant is its food--its purpose. We had the succulent appetizer of stout battered oysters in a pistachio cream with fried leeks, a unique and very flavorful in the contrast between the oyster taste and that of the pistachio cream sauce. We followed this choide with a main dish of crisp skate wing with salsify, cokcles, and cherry tomatoes. This dish was outstanding because of the crisp outside of the skate and the mild softness of the inside bathed in a broth that called out to be sopped up with the bread slices we were served. The second main dish we ordered was slow roasted pork shoulder, with apple smoked bacon, maple grits, and puple kale. All of the elements worked together to comeplement the superbly roasted,lean and tender pork. Another asset of Avenue is that the menus will be changed monthly with only the foie gras remaining.
The worst of the restaurant is the seating which is horribly uncomfortable. Only one booth appears in the room, and it is held for parties of four. Otherwise, one is seated on the world's most uncomfortable and tallest banquette with a small straight chair facing the tall diner on the banquette. One can also eat outdoors in the front pation but must again be seated on those small straight chairs. The only compromises are to eat at the bar on tall bar chairs or to eat at one of the three oval high tables which face the bar (this option proved to be the most comfortable alternative).
We loved the food so much so that we would like to go once a week, but the uncomfortable seating and the very skimpy $10.00 martinis make this choice doubtful.
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