We got over to the Avenue Grille in Dorchester this evening after debating whether to go to Shanti, CF Donovan's, and a couple of other places along or near Dot Ave. It turned out to be a good call.
The place is a lot smaller than I thought it would be, with only about 10 tables squeezed into a dining area that is perhaps only 4 or 5 times bigger than their bathroom. But it is cozy in an old-Boston sort of way, with old wooden bench seats, a tiled floor, and those old hanging lights that you only seem to see in well-worn Boston and New York watering holes.
We started with a Caesar salad and a Greek salad, both of which were very fresh (the Caesar salad was particularly good, with finely powdered cheese and a fairly mild but tasty dressing). We also were given bread with some wonderfully flavorful rosemary-flavored dipping oil. The bread--and oil--were gone in a flash, but we declined another round, as it would have filled us up too much for the main dishes.
We tried the marinated turkey tips and the potato gnocchi with meatballs for our entrees. The turkey tips were very good, with a moderately zesty marinade, though they did not reach the level of those at the New Bridge Cafe in Chelsea. The tips came with delicious garlic mashed potatoes as well as some tasty cooked spinach. The potato gnocchi was mixed with a really red tomato sauce that had a good amount of oil in it. A good combination, but it was the meatballs that did it for me; they had a complex taste that I have only seemed to have found in a few Italian restaurants in the area. I could definitely taste a mix of pork and beef in them; perhaps veal, too, though it was tough to tell.
I will be heading back to the Avenue Grille many more times, I think. There is so much more I want to try there. As my GF said, it was like the people who created the menu at the Avenue Grille asked themselves, "What dishes would Marc enjoy eating....check, ok, yup, check, ok, let's put them all on there." I can see boneless fried chicken, steak tips, spinach ravioli, and pork chops in my future.