My husband and I tried Avenida last night. What a disappointment. I had read the Times review and we were so excited to try it. Some of our favorite restaurants are Maya, Pampano and Hell's Kitchen in the city and Topolobampo in Chicago so we had high hopes. I read some old Chow posts after making the reservation, but we still decided to go (and were really hoping the Chow posts were wrong!)
We had a 7:15 reservation and after getting our 3y/o and 6m/o to bed and driving to Greenwich and finally finding a parking spot we arrived at 7:33. I had thought about getting out of the car while dh parked, but I figured it was 15 mins and we'd be fine. Big mistake. Hostess asked our name and when I told her she said (w/a lot of attitude) "That was a 7:15 reservation. After 15 mins or so I give up the table to people who are waiting." I totally take responsibility for being late and not running in or calling, but it was the attitude that got to me. At that point I wanted to leave, but we weren't sure where else we'd get in at that time on Sat night and like I said we were really excited to try this place. She said we could wait and she'd try to seat us. Dh asked how long it would be and she replied, "um, most restaurants have a poilcy of giving up tables if you're 15 mins late." Dh was obviously asking how long for a table. Anyway, not a great way to start the night. She told us she had no idea how long it would be and she'd let us know.
We then climbed thru the very crowded tables to get to the bar where we were able to sit. We ordered drinks and watched everyone else at the bar enjoying chips and salsa. The bartender never checked back to see if we wanted more drinks. After about 45 mins we decided to eat at the bar. A minute later the hostess came over and said, let me buy you your next round, it's going to be a year and a day for a table, you already have drinks so why don't you sit at the bar. We'd already decided to do this, so the drink offer definitely made us happier about the initial attitude.
It took awhile to get the bartenders attention and to get menus. She finally brought us chips and salsa which I actually thought were very good. None of the salt problems I read about in earlier posts. Oh, except that when she took our drink orders she asked if we wanted our margaritas on the rocks w/salt, we said yes...never saw any salt. I really liked the spicy red and the tomatillo. The maragaritas were nothing to write home about. We had the guacamole which was very good, although some of the pieces of onion were larger than I like and yes, it is $14, not $8 as it apparently was when they opened or $12 which is what is listed on their online menu. Dh had the empandas, they were fine...he commented that they should have been called "mini" emapanadas.
Entrees: I had the grilled shrimp and scallops on rice. The rice was cold. I started to cut into a shrimp and it was so difficult that I thought for a minute I'd been mistaken and the shell was on. It was very tough and basically no flavor. The scallop basically tasted burnt on the outside which was too bad b/c the inside was actually very tender and sweet. There was a sauce, but there wasn't much flavor. I did bite into a chili at one point that almost burned my tongue off (and I love spicy). It reminded me of a dish that you'd get at a very mediocre seafood restaurant. Dh had the marinated skirt steak. He said it was good, not great. The marinade had very little flavor and he felt like it should have been served w/some kind of sauce. He liked the smashed potatoes although they were fairly cold too.
We normally order dessert, but we didn't have high hopes for it at that point and we figured the Stew Leonards cookies we had at home had to be at least as good!
Sorry for the long winded post, it's my first time reviewing a restaurant here. Lesson learned, I should have listened to the chowhounds and skipped Avenida.