Night 2 with my buddy John from Chicago, and tonight he wanted to stay local in Long Branch to I took a cruise out to see what kind of dinner we could get ourselves in to.
We ended up walking over to Avenue, just a short walk down the boardwalk from his hotel. And I have to admit, though I used to work just minutes from Long Branch when stationed at Fort Monmouth, I have never actually stopped in this town. I am happy I did though.
Avenue is located in Pier Village, which is a gorgeous area. The restaurant itself looks gorgeous, with a lot of windows, right on the shore, and it is open and airy. Places like this however always have me skeptical as being tourist traps, with high prices, and mediocre food. Unfortunately, this kind of fit the bill here tonight, but I will say that the wine list is worth mentioning, at least for high end bottles.
Are high end wines worth the price off of a restaurant wine list? If you can afford it, sure! But God knows that I can not, but I am sure many in this area can. Regardless, the offerings ranged from Trimbach "Clos Sainte Hune" Riesling to Chevalier-Montrachet (2007 I think) on the white wine side, to Chateau Petrus (I forget what vintage but it was an off vintage at $1500) to an '82 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild ($4200). They also had a few other first growths, but again, when you have these wines in your cellar, why pay restaurant pricing for them? I am not that deep pocked unfortunately.
Even so, I had a decent Cotes du Rhone at $9 pre dinner, and then a decent glass of Burgundy with dinner. Neither were mind blowing by any means, but what do you want for the price? I've said it before, and will say again that I have spoiled myself for far too long with such great access to BYO's in New Jersey!
We skipped appetizers and went straight to the entrees tonight. John ordered the Sea Bass, and this was served over almost a soup or broth of sorts, with what looked like Bok Choy, mushrooms, and other vegetables. This also looked like it was garnished with an oil of some sort, but I don't know what it was. He said it was OK, but he wouldn't order it again.
For me, there were many options that I considered. I really wanted to try their take on Boeuf Borguignon, but I figured it would be disappointing, so instead I opted for the Braised Shortrib Lollipop. Sure, it was big, but it was actually a bit fatty and tough, almost as though it was undercooked. Perhaps cooking this longer would have melted some of the fat, but I don't know. The flavors were OK, though it was a bit dry, and a bit bland. For me, the highlight of the dish was the celery puree that was served on the side. There was also a green of some sort, possibly collared greens or kale, but they were over cooked and extremely soggy.
Overall, the food was boring and bland, but the service was friendly. This restaurant is overpriced in my opinion, but even so, it's not a bad place to stop for a drink. I am guessing this place is packed in the summer time. If I go back, it will just be for drinks, or maybe an appetizer at the bar. Nothing to write home about. Cheers!