I usually don’t mention the bread at restaurants but Avoce’s was something special. The crust had the crunch of a cracker, and the inside had the fluff of a marshmallow. This was one of those breadbaskets where you consider sacrificing dessert for just another piece of bread.
stracciatella: creamy pugliese, mozzarella, roasted artichokes, lemon thyme, arugula – $14
This was an unimpressive cheese appetizer which started off creamy and smooth but quickly took a nosedive to a grittier, rougher finish. The artichokes did little to remedy anything.
beets, pistachio, sweet garlic, thyme, orange
Simple, pure beets. I enjoy beets but only when they don’t taste like a pile of dirt. The finish here was clean in part because of the sweet garlic and orange. On any summer day this is an essential dish.
baccala: house made salt cod, curry sauce
Cod can be fishy, but these fritters were buttery and light and looked to the curry sauce to bring that punch every starter should have.
chicken livers, stone ground polenta, spring onions, lemon
If you can’t tell from the picture, the kitchen served up a giant portion of chicken livers and polenta. I expected something maybe half this size. Between the creamy polenta, bright, lemon-y onions and solid chicken livers, the plate lacked nothing as far as texture or flavor contrast goes. Now this is modern Italian.
branzino: mediterranean sea bass, blood orange, artichoke – $29
The combination of seabass and blood oranges had excellent potential but was sadly nothing more than what the menu said it was. There was seabass here and then blood orange there. While cooked to the appropriate temperature, the fish was under seasoned, a problem the oranges could have fixed. How about a sauce? A marinade? Something other than just the juice from an orange.
duck legs, cippolini onions
By far the best entree of the meal. Crackling skin and moist duck underneath. Beautifully done and a lot of it to enjoy as well.
handmade whole grain pasta, hen of the wood mushrooms
When I think of whole grain pasta, I imagine pasta from the DUC that reminds me of improperly cooked polenta. Chef Robbins at Avoce has a reputation for pasta and this dish showcases that skill. There’s a slight nuttiness from the thick strands of whole grain pasta, a strong, if not overly so, banana flavor from the olive oil, and a heavily salted chicken stock. The mushrooms play more supporting roles here.
apple fritter – a surprisingly light crust with apple right around the corner.