Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Avenue Bistro Anew

Avenue Bistro
6710 W. Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43617
Monday through Saturday
Lunch starting at 11:00am
Dinner M-Th 4:00pm to 10:00pm, Fri 4:00pm to 11:00pm

When was the last time you went to Avenue Bistro? Unless it was within the last three weeks, you haven't experienced the Avenue Bistro under chef Chris Burchell. Coming from a catering company in Pittsburgh by way of Genoa, Chef Burchell immediately added specials to the lunch and dinner menus to showcase his talents.

On my recent visit, the specials included potato latkes with smoked salmon and a baby greens salad ($12), a Cuban sandwich ($9) featuring braised pork and ham served with thinly sliced pickle, Swiss cheese and a honey whole grain mustard mayo on flat bread, a turkey and roast beef sandwich served "Pittsburgh Style" with Swiss cheese and cole slaw on grilled sourdough bread ($9) and sweet cheese stuffed crepes served with Chambord sauce ($9). Chef Burchell is already making his mark with these signature dishes.

For dinner, I ordered the 8 oz. fillet Mignon ($26) and was pleased with the cut of beef and perfectly seared steak. My guests ordered the Caesar salad with salmon ($14) and the special Neapolitan Steak Wrap ($14). The Caesar salad can be ordered with grilled chicken, shrimp or salmon. The salmon fillet is cooked to an elegant medium rare temperature and the Caesar dressing is mild but tasty. The Neapolitan Steak Wrap was enough for two people and was filled with sliced steak, sauteed mushrooms, fried onion straws, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and horseradish sauce and then grilled. My friends chose the home made Cajun potato chips as an accompaniment. Although the chips were a little bit burnt that night, I suspect Chef Burchell will set a standard that will be hit even when he is not in the kitchen.

The salads at Avenue Bistro are the best in the city. There is no other restaurant with as broad or gourmet selection. Each salad combines a perfect balance of flavors, textures and visual contrast to delight the senses of a hungry diner. The salads taste as delicious as they look and this is the only place in town where ordering a salad as an entree means you will not be hungry before your next meal. Seriously. This is not a plate designed for those among us who order a salad and push their forks around the plate to avoid ingesting any calories. This is a hearty and health conscious meal.

On another visit I sampled the salmon salad($14) and the Stilton Steak Salad ($15). The salmon salad has an Asian twist with a combination of crunchy rice noodles, radishes, scallions, mushrooms, sesame seeds and almonds over mixed greens and features a 6oz grilled salmon fillet served with Teriyaki vinaigrette. The Stilton Steak Salad is served with house made Stilton bleu cheese dressing, Roma tomatoes, chopped red onion, enoki mushrooms and candied walnuts. It is a sensory delight. Both the lunch and dinner menus include the full variety of salads. I can't wait to get back and try the Grilled Pear Chicken Salad ($12) and the Grilled Tuna Steak Salad ($14).

With all this eating, the Glass City Gourmet uses her gym membership regularly and sometimes is just a little too misty for the dining room. So tonight I ordered carry-out and tried the Pizzas. Keep in mind that the restaurant is owned by Pat Giammarco, Chuck Mirra, and Dr. Ashraf Banoub. There is no question that Pat and Chuck take pizza very seriously and installed a stone oven for the sole purpose of making a thin and lightly browned crust. The Margarita ($11.00) and the Mediterranean Bistro Pizza ($12.00) are terrific. For the Bistro Pizza, the slim crust is coated with garlic butter and topped with chicken, onions, tomatoes, Greek olives, mozzarella and feta cheese.

The desserts are all made on the premises. This is a rarity in Toledo and a real treat. The night I was there with friends for dinner, we tried everything and passed the plates twice. Everybody wanted more, more, more. I have to say the cranberry and orange bread pudding was my favorite.

Avenue Bistro is new again. The prices are reasonable, the portions are generous, the atmosphere is relaxing, and the service is friendly and helpful. Go for lunch, go for dinner, go to the bar and meet Nikki for a stiff drink or advice on the wine selections. If you decide to make a dinner reservation, ask to sit in "Little Debbie's" section. She's a mother of five and a career waitress who can read the mood of the table to pace your meal and interact with you appropriately. She kids with the kidders and works formally and quietly around a business meeting. Do your part to support the Toledo economy by dining out at this locally owned suburban treasure.

“Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".

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