The Avenue in Long Branch, NJ
Has anyone eaten here? I read a review of the place in this past Sunday's paper. The menu looks amazing. (French) www.leclubavenue.com
Just wondering if anyone has any input on this place.
It got a mention in this month's Gourmet.
"Sophistication may not be the first thing you think of with regard to the Jersey shore, but the sauve oceanfront Avenue brings a new dimension to vintage French. Chef Mora trained under Daniel Boulud. Lobster roll gone Gallic on open-faced brioche. His bouillabaisse and braised rabbit are also spot on."
We just got back from a special anniversary lunch at Avenue. Big mistake.
We were hoping to get at least a Balthazar level food experience without the drive into the city, but alas. On a positive note, the ingredients were fresh.
I would like to know what happened to making sure the customer is satisfied. After reading the small blurb in Gourmet, and then checking the Avenue website online, I had decided that the lobster "tartine" was to be my lunch. I am a big fan of brioche and can usually judge a restaurant solely by it.
Well, the lobster arrived on a store bought potato roll (read - hot dog bun) and my face fell. Not shy, I immediately found the manager and complained that this was not what was advertised. Instead of asking me if I would like something else, or some other similar response, he went and got the chef.
I stood there like an idiot when the chef came out. Was I supposed to discuss the merits of brioche over hot dog buns with him?
$80 for food only at lunch may not grant me "high roller" status, but I believe I am entitled to be satisfied. I would have gladly paid twice that if I could have enjoyed my lunch.
It is now part of my mission to spread the word of mouth to my entire family and allow my mother and mother-in-law to do what they do best and gossip.
Am I wrong?
Your post reminded me of a similar situation I had at a restaurant in Red Bank called Dish. I ordered the hanger steak, which came with a side that was described on the menu as a "root vegetable gratin." I envisioned that to be a combo of sweet potatoes, carrots, and parnips. It turned out to be mainly white potatoes which were mashed and had barely a discernable hint of any other "root" vegetable. Essentially, to my taste buds, it was mashed potatoes -- not one of my favorites. In addition to this "problem," the steak was not cooked to my specifications. I had asked for medium rare, and this piece of meat was practically moo-ing on the plate. When I called over our server to tell her about both these issues, she said she would send someone over. Next thing I know, the chef is at my table. No problem cooking the steak a bit more; however, when I told her exactly how I felt about the potatoes, she said she saw nothing wrong with the menu's description. So, that was that. Afterwards, I discovered that one can ask for fries, a more conventional hanger steak accompaniment, to be substituted. So, I decided that, in the future, if I again order the hanger steak (which was delicious!), that's what I'll do.
In your case, while I can understand your disappointment, the long and the short of is that Avenue's version of this lobster dish uses a roll that you didn't like. When the chef showed up, you should definitely have told him that the classic version of this dish uses the far superior brioche, and that you were *very* disappointed with his use of a plain roll. Maybe that would have persuaded him to consider changing to brioche in the future. Or, maybe they should call it a lobster "roll" and not a "tartine." Other than that, what were you expecting them to do?
Glad to see a reply here from you. I always enjoy your posts and respect your opinion.
The funny thing is that the chef told me they are changing the lunch item to "lobster roll" on the menu. Of course, yesterday, I couldn't have cared less. I just wanted something wonderful and got something very ordinary.
You asked the right question though. What was I expecting? For starters, I was expecting the manager to simply ask if they could get me something else. I did not even touch what they brought out and that would have made my lunch more enjoyable.
I also made the mistake of expecting "world class" cuisine, whatever that means these days. I'm sure I will have a better idea after dinner at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Vegas this Saturday ;o)
Hey, seal, Thanks for the compliment. I enjoy your posts as well. :-)
Ah, yes, the high expectations problem! When one looks at Avenue's website and sees the chef's pedigree, then reads the stellar newspaper reviews, it's easy to understand why you expected "world class" cuisine. I would have as well.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not familiar with a lobster "tartine." But what you described sounded just like a lobster roll. I think when an upscale restaurant tries to be too fancy by half with its menu descriptions, diners can end up with the kind of confusing and disappointing situation you encountered.
Re: the manager's response. If you made it clear that had you known this dish with the fancy nomenclature was actually a lobster roll, you never would have ordered it, then I would agree the manager should have offered to replace it with something else.
Hope your meal at L'Atelier meets -- or, better yet, exceeds -- your expectations.
I was sorry to read about your adventure at Avenue, although after strolling by and tucking our noses against the menu in the window I am rather relieved not to have to try the place ourselves. At the price you should have expected more than you received.
I'm not exactly expecting "world class" cuisine in my backyard, but a reasonable value would be nice. I don't think that the expectation of having a substitution after your obvious disappointment was out of the ordinary. And to be put in the place of having to defend your position to the chef instead of just to the manager is more than unpleasant.
Here's wishing you better luck at L'Atelier--I suspect that you will find it.
I must tell you bith, I always enjoy both of your posts RGR and SEAL), probably because I feel we all have very similar tastes. This is why I hope you both continue to POST...POST...POST! :)
Perhaps, I will wait a while to try the Avenue. I guess they need to work out all the kinks first.
Again, thanks for the input. Sorry you had a disappointing meal, Seal.
Seal, is the place also a nightclub? The only reason I ask is because I added my email address to their mailing list and last week I recieved an invite for what seemed to be a "night club advertisement".
Honestly I'm not sure if it also has a nightclub, but there was good evidence...
$10 Valet Parking in front, A sign on the restroom that said "Club Members Only" and even a separate entrance. We thought that it might have been a beach club, health club, or something like that, but a nightclub is also possible.
If you do decide to eat at Avenue, I would treat it as just another lunch and maybe even order the 3 course prix fixe that they just started. If you go in without high expectations, it's harder to be disappointed ;o)
As an aside, we go to It's Greek to Me at the pier there sometimes and always get just what we expect - try the shrimp over orzo. Afterwards we usually head to the chocolate shop and splurge on one of the over the top caramel apples. One caveat, not that it's a big deal, but while the regular (not nearly as good) caramel apples are only a few dollars, they charge about $5 more for the really good ones dipped in chocolate and other goodies on top of the caramel.
Hey, Angelina and Seal, In her review of Avenue, Cody Kendall describes the venue upstairs from the restaurant as a club where people go to dance, and which comes "complete with velvet rope and beefy bouncers in black at every turn." Btw, she really liked the restaurant's food; said service, despite a full house, was flawless; and gave it 3-1/2 stars. (Note: The review is on Avenue's website.)
Seal, We went to the It's Greek to Me in Hazlet. The food was horrendous! Sounds as though you like the one at the Pier and think the food's pretty good. Since they're part of a chain and, I presume, have the same menu, it makes me wonder how two locations could differ so radically in terms of food quality.