Friday, February 20, 2009

San Diego restaurant- Avenue 5

It was enough to throw you off the trail. Avenue 5 blended seamlessly with the surrounding office buildings, enough for me to ask, “Is this it?” Clientele was clearly scooped from the business set, out for their designated eating hour, and I was pleased to have discovered this secret suit society of Banker’s Hill.

The interior had the newness and simple detail of an Ethan Allen showroom, but warmth surfaced through its elegance. High ceilings and hardwood floors brought stylish depth, and the brick-backed wall in the rear attracted the eye. Our busboy saw us admiring it and told us that they weren’t real bricks, but a design trick. His spontaneous and honest conversation was refreshing, as was our waitress, whose genuine friendliness didn’t go overboard. Time to eat-

Butternut squash soup: Their somewhat untraditional, thinner broth layered rutabagas and apple along with the squash for a light, but complex finish. It was topped off with crème fraiche, which melted into creamy swirls. I was won over by its taste and individuality.

Pulled barbeque pork sandwich: This alone was worthy of a return trip. Pickled onions gave perfect vinegar tang to the barbeque sauce and the pork’s tender shreds soaked into the toasty bread. I wanted seconds.

Knuckle sandwich: Lump crab (knuckle) meat arrived piled on a roll with avocado, mango and Asian slaw (hints of ginger and jimica.) I made the mistake of trying this after the barbeque pork. The crab was so much lighter and it had to vie for my taste-buds’ attention…it lost. My mouth could only sense the ghostly presence of crab and it was clear I had been swayed by the swine. The Knuckle deserved a second crack, but realistically I would probably go straight for the pork when I returned.

Future visits: Their dinner menu also caught my attention with phrases like, “pecan crusted lamb loin” and “bacon/herb gnocchi with braised short rib,” but it’s a little pricey (high $20s) for everyday, so I would probably stick with lunch or happy hour (ie. Camembert en croute or duck confit with port drizzle) when needing to satisfy my jaw’s daily grind.

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