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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.

Thanks

A

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  1. 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."

    1. hello:

      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?

      seal

      1 Reply
      1. re: seal

        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?

      2. hey RGR:

        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)

        seal

        2 Replies
        1. re: seal

          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.

          1. re: seal

            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.

          2. 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".

            1. 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.

              1 Reply
              1. re: seal

                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.

              2. Wow - long thread ;o)

                Actually, compared to Pylos in the east village, or just about any quality greek place, It's Greek to Me pales. And yes, they are the same group as the one in Hazlet. But, the kids love their Avgolemono soup and gyro and we like the shrimp.

                Again, I think it comes down to expectations. In a way, for us, it is like McDonalds - crap, but comfortable, consistant crap lol.

                Btw - in case you haven't been, nestled amidst the growing number of decent to good to very good restaurants in the east village in the city is Pylos. Compares to Greek to Me like Dominos does to Frank Pepes.

                http://www.pylosrestaurant.com

                But those caramel apples from ?Rocky Mountain? (i think) at the pier are the real deal.

                Any thoughts on that new sushi place there at the pier?

                1 Reply
                1. re: seal

                  I have not yet managed to get to Pylos but am aware that it has many fans because the food is so good. As for the comparison you've drawn between Pylos and the It's Greek to Me at the Pier, well, it sure doesn't entice me to want to give the latter a try.

                  Our favorite NYC Greek is Ethos, on 3rd Av., b/t 33rd & 34th Sts. All the mezzes, hot and cold, are delicious; there are a number of tasty lamb dishes, including moussaka, that are baked and served in clay pots; and you can select a fresh whole fish from the variety on ice, after which the kitchen does a very deft job of grilling it to succulent perfection.

                  Re: your question about the sushi place. I don't eat sushi.

                2. I had dinner at Avenue over the weekend. While the food was decent (but nothing to rave about and certainly not worth the $35 per entree), the service was among the worst which I've experienced. Pre-meal drinks came after the first course was completed. Waitresses repeatedly asked if we were done with our dishes because the kitchen was low on plates. The main courses came while we still were having our appetizers. Dessert was served without forks.

                  Pretty place, great crowd, but they won't get my business again.

                  1. Seal, I agree with you on PYLOS. I always order the Lamb Shank..yum..and their mezes are delicious! I have to agree with RGR on It's Greek to me in Hazlet. We have been there 3 times and it always seems as if something is off. The wait staff always acts as if they are doing US a favor. The one girl NEVER smiles and always rushes us out the door. I don't know why, the place is never busy when we are there.

                    We ate at the location in Hoboken, and I felt as if it was an entirely different restaurant! The food was of much better quality, service was a delight, and even the taste was different of that in Hazlet. So I would give Long Branch a try.

                    1. If its part of the same chain, the 'Greek to Me' in Ridgewood is pretty good.

                      1. After paying over $1000 for two bottles of vodka and to sit in a "VIP" section, I was treated rudely and taken out of the bar through excessive force. I do not reccommend this place to anyone at all. The prices are ridiculous and the staff is the rudest I have ever come across.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Anthony99999

                          You could not have said it better!!! I am sure the place will loose it's "hype" in the winter months. The prices are so outrageous!! We went once to check it out, $ 15.00 glass of house wine, $ 18 for Jonnie Black on the rocks, I decided to try a different glass of wine, what an idiot I was....I did not look at the menu, so I was charged $ 30.00 for a GLASS OF WINE!!!!! The appetizers were so small, but yet so expensive. When we ventured into the club, yes it is beautiful, but NO ONE will will EVER pay those prices at the Jersey shore. Anthony, go down the road to Sea Bright and go to ELEMENTS on Ocean Ave. Much nicer clientele, and much cheaper!!!

                          1. re: Anthony99999

                            You paid $500 a botle for what Vodka? Also what the heck did you "get" for paying VIP?

                            I have yet to hear anthing good about this place!

                            1. re: hummingbird

                              Back on to its greek to me i love the place in long branch. They are not the same owners as the one in hazlet. the food is night and day with the place in hazlet.I go there at least once a week. Probably the best restaurant in the pier

                          2. I went to Avenue yesterday (October 8th) for brunch. The service is soooo slow. Someone took our drink order immediately, however, we had finished our drink before we could get a waitress to take our order. My husband ordered the Macaroni & Cheese (pretty good) and the Eggs Benedict - strange take on it and he wouldn't order it again. I ordered the Grilled(?) Lamb Sandwich. It was supposed to come with tapenade - it didn't - had to ask for it. The lamb was so overcooked it was almost shredded and tasteless. Wouldn't order it again. And if I didn't have a gift certificate I wouldn't go back.

                            1. I wish there was a way of forwarding these posts to the restaurant itself. Although, that probably would'nt change the shotty service and serious attitude problems of the staff. It probably also would not be sent to the kitchen to correct any flaws either.

                              I still cannot beleive Anthony paid $ 1000.00 on vodka! Oh my! What were you thinking? I better not ever complain about a house wine (tasting like boxed "Inglenook") costing $ 15.00!

                              1. Tried that while in the restaurant.

                                Did you read the posts at the top?

                                I can overlook a lot in a restaurant, but, as a businessman, I'm sure you understand the value of keeping the customers happy. IMO, they do not. So they get not one more cent of my money.

                                1. I saw the newspaper advertisement the other day for the 3 course price fix at $24.95 the ad also said 'Cash Only"...thought that was a bit strange....you don't see that too often anymore

                                  1. Also saw the $24.95 price fix ad and would have tried it except for all the negative reviews. Monkfish was one of the entrees which was a surprise as was the cash only notice. Is 24.95 so cut-rate that they cant afford the 3% credit card fee?

                                    Btw, I was at Pier Village last Weds and the entire mall was deserted. A few ppl in Gold's Gym, Turning Point and a couple jogging that was it. I wonder who will be the first to go out of business.

                                    1. I dined at Avenue once -- a mid-week lunch in August. My steak sandwich was underwhelming, disappointing. The waterside seating was very nice.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: val ann c

                                        The service at Avenue never changes...slow to slower to slowest...went a couple time for that feeling of 'just getting away for a bit' ....a nice sunny spot overlooking the ocean is tough to beat. The omelettes and profiteroles are super, but beware the drinks!!! Wine for $15 a glass...I ordered a seltzer only to be charged $8...yikes! They are trying for a very sophisticated vibe, but its not working...also, I find the food down the sidewalk at McLoones to be forgettable and the overall atmosphere kinda dismal. Lots of bridal/baby shower parties there make for a noisy mess.

                                      2. food is good but expensive. atmosphere is elegant in their diningroom, reservations a must. A bit too much NY snobbery for our shore area.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: foodie28

                                          Two things I will give Avenue.
                                          1. They have a fantastic (year 'round) happy hour with $5 martinis (not small) and discounted raw bar.
                                          2. They are running a price-fixe menu through the off-season of I think $35 per person for a 3 course meal.
                                          Their food quality has always been very good, if you can make it past the hostess and get some service.

                                        2. Stopped by today and have to say the food from the bar menu was fantastic. Can't comment on the slow/poor service that others have mentioned, but the food was superb and priced reasonably. From the garlic shrimp and brussel sprouts to the deviled eggs and ham croquettes... very good and flavorful. Also had the Bananas Foster desert which was really really good. Definitely we will go back.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: mjk

                                            There seems to be an unwritten understanding that if the restaurant is on the water, people will come no matter what. Unfortunately, this understanding is upheld summer after summer at so many restaurants on the Jersey shore.

                                            My first time visit to Avenue was not too soon after it opened - lunch off season and during a rainstorm. Being the only people in the restaurant, it was relatively impossible to be neglected.

                                            All subsequent visits in season and prime time were nothing less than obnoxious. Here's the drill:

                                            Though we came with reservation in hand, we were rudely herded like cattle onto a line, mobbed by loud groups of wannabes pressing into the club upstairs. Not a civil word was uttered by any member of the staff. After waiting a whopping 30 minutes on this line, a young lady with absolutely no people skills noted our names as if we were at the deli counter in Foodtown, and ushered us off to whatever empty space was not occupied by bar patrons spilling over. NO CIVILIZED WAITING AREA AT ALL and crushed by Paris Hilton and gangsta imitators...quite the visual assault.

                                            Arrogant and low class are kind words for this PRE-dining experience. Whoever trains the staff must have years of experience at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

                                            Our waitress hurriedly pushed us to order. As we are a couple who genuinely love each other's company, we weren't ready to order one minute after sitting down. As if we were offered the golden opportunity of a lifetime, our punishment for not giving our order immediately was a major disappearing act.

                                            Oh and the wine...on one occasion, every wine by the glass I ordered tasted sour, and each tasted the same. In light of my other experiences with wines by the glass, both here and other restaurants, I suspect that on this night, every glass was poured out of the same bottle.

                                            The food is very good. And prices aren't the issue because when the restaurant experience is positive, one doesn't mind spending a little more. But even the best food would not justify the rest of the experience at Avenue.

                                            I think that restaurants that train staff well and support great food with a great dining experience attract a strong and discriminating audience. Because Avenue does not provide that, when we dined prime time, we were surrounded by a very undiscriminating audience. I felt bad for us and some of the other patrons who clearly chose Avenue because of its gorgeous decor, good food, and stunning location. We had to suffer greatly to enjoy these features.

                                            What a shame that a restaurant with so much potential plays to a low common denominator resulting in the perpetuation of the worst NJ stereotype. The lack of class and style of the staff and management support this awful stereotype.

                                            I urge Avenue's owners to go to Frog and the Peach, or to Witherspoon Grill, or to any number of truly great New Jersey restaurants to see how its done.

                                            In the meantime, on any given day or evening in the summertime, I would rather pick up a great bottle of wine and go to Red's in Point Pleasant. OUTSTANDING seafood. You know you will wait to park, wait on line for food, and dine in a beautifully classic bare bones waterside setting. Thing is, Red's doesn't claim to be anything but what it is, and it delivers quality EVERY TIME. Avenue on the other hand does that ridiculous and embarrassingly make-believe NYC posture - all show and no go.

                                            WAKE UP AVENUE! You have great potential and a couple of months to get your act together. I'll be back to give you another chance and if things are better, I promise to sing your praises!

                                            Good luck and here's to raising the bar!

                                            1. re: cgsugar

                                              An excellent and well written first post. Thank you cgsugar and welcome to the Board. I agree with your assessment on Avenue. Beautiful space, great location/view, decent food, and horrible service. The only other thing I want to add is that their pricing is a bit too high for the fare they offer. I believe they are trying to rectify the matter with their $24 (cash only) prix fixe during the week.

                                          2. Went to Avenue recently with my parents and fiance for Sunday brunch. The food was really very good, albeit expensive. Portions were oddly proportioned - french toast was enormous and more than a person could eat, as was the side of bacon. However, the salmon portion was tiny, though very tasty. The steak tartine with bleu cheese sauce was expertly cooked to specification and the black forest sandwich was also spot-on. I was surprised at how busy it seemed for a cold, blustery Sunday in March. I definitely want to try dinner, despite poor reviews. Service was okay - not amazing, not terrible.

                                            1. Listened to some locals and tried out Avenue for Mother's Day brunch. Big mistake! It was evident early on that any staff remotely concerned with providing service had decided to spent the day with their mothers.

                                              Forget the reviews that mention the sounds of the crashing ocean waves and the passing seagulls. The deafening beat of far-too-loud house music not only drowned out the seashore sounds; it made simple conversation a challenge for a roomful of mothers and their families. It was one of those rare occasions when even the music of Kenny G would have represented a welcome upgrade from Avenue's selection of the mind-numbing "Drum Machine in B-Flat." Numerous requests to turn down the music in the form of pleas to our server and phone calls to the front desk went unheeded.

                                              As for the meal, it might have been the first $32.95 brunch in history that charged extra for....toast! When we asked for butter for the $2.50 toast it resulted in a world-class eye-roll by our server, followed by a ten-minute wait. The $2.50 fries with the omelette? They arrived a couple of minutes prior to dessert, after most of our plates had been cleared. The Bloody Mary? Probably about four ounces of actual drink. When I asked for just the scoop of ice cream that came with my dessert (included in the $32.95), I was told to "pick through" the full dessert to get to my scoop of ice cream.

                                              Two members of our group are not permitted to consume caffeine. When we asked two different servers how they distinguished the two coffee pots (caffeinated and decaffeinated), neither could tell us, and the second person volunteered to replace our coffee cups. But how could he be sure that the replacement cups would contain the correct coffee? Blank stare.

                                              By the end of the meal, we were almost waiting for a TV crew to tell us that we had been videotaped to record our reactions to inept, obnoxious, and arrogant service. As I drove home, I was embarrassed for having chosen such a place and for having asked our guests to drive over an hour to experience such a debacle.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: fudd

                                                Ouch!! So sorry to hear that, fudd. It;s not your fault. This restaurant clearly only has one thing going for it. Location. I think people only flock to it beacuse of the beach. I would never go back, nor would most of my friends and family. We all had a horrible time. It truely is a shame because it is beautiful inside.

                                                I am sure your friends understood the place is not worth the money. I also think it is funny when the wait staff thinks they are doing "YOU" a favor by waiting on you. PLEASE....I rather wait on myself than have any of those little snoots take care of me.

                                                You live and learn that's all. Sorry, fudd.

                                              2. I had dinner there just last week and was extremely content. We started with a few cocktails. I had the red Paloma a blend of anejo tequila fresh grapefruit and agave nectar, very nice. My Girlfriend had their espresso Martini which they use the Patron Cafe, a very nice tough. We met another couple and cracked open a bottle of Jolivet Sancerre which was drinking amazingly well, light and crisp and truly a perfect summer wine. We paired that with some crab cakes and fresh oysters, how can you go wrong? We also tried their tuna tar tar which had a melon jus surrounding it. I enjoyed the tuna and the light sea salt, but I could have done without the melon, not so sure what they were thinking with that------not for me. They completely redeemed themselves with the scallops I had. Cooked to perfection with black trumpet mushrooms and an incredible risotto. After the second bottle we were stuffed and skipped dessert. I can't wait til my next visit. If they can maintain that level of service and quality of food I will assuredly be there soon.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: chris the wine guy

                                                  Just returned from having dinner at Avenue. It was one of the worst meals I have ever eaten. I was suprised by the attentive service by the wait staff-----and ever more suprised bt the quality of the food. My husband and I had the $28.95 prix fix meal. His steak frites was ok. My Orecchiette pasta was one big lump of mushy pasta with 2 grape tomatoes and a couple of bland shrimp. The Bistro salad with haricot verts and tomato consisted of frisee with ONE haricot vert and ONE grape tomato cut in half! Profiteroles were so stale the were not edible.
                                                  It was a beautiful night and we ate out on the deck. $125. for a beautiful ocean view. Should have bought a hot dog at Stewarts and ate on the beach!
                                                  Zin

                                                2. we ate here for lunch.. view a 10, food a 3 and service 0....
                                                  4 of us ordered the prix fixe lunch.. 2 wanted to change the soup..and from the soup of the day to the soup on the menu (both on the menu for 8,00)

                                                  The server told us that the sandwich with or without the soup would be 12.95 and that she couldnt sub out the soups.. the computer wouldnt let her... needless to say 2 members of our party were not very happy. She wouldnt even try... what happend to customer service... so we had the gazpacho.. it was a green pureed soup with no flavor...and the braised shortrib sandwich with goat cheese had good flavors but the shortribs were a little dry.... will not go again

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: newinnj

                                                    I think your complaint about the promotion (not being able to substitute soup) has nothing to do with customer service. The menu that is offered for the special (read-reduced) price is the menu. If you would like to order the soup, order it! Lets not mistake poor customer service with charging $8 for soup!

                                                    1. re: Nicholasfan

                                                      to be sure.. it was the attitude of the server. If a customer has a request..as a server or employee in any business you should make sure the customer feels you will try to do whatever you can to make their experience positive. I have owned a retail store for 10 years.. and tell my people that when a customer has a request.. at the very least if it is something that we cant accomidate that you make sure they have the impression that you were willing to try on their behalf. Our server was very curt in her response...and I understand teh promotion.. but at the hight of lunch they had 3 tables...in season...maybe better customer service and a little bending of the rules could fill the tables... most restaurants that I have gone to will bend over backwards to accomidate customer requests.

                                                        1. re: newinnj

                                                          Don't you fine that the wait staff here feels like they are DOING you a favor by waiting on you?

                                                          Also, why do the hostesses' have that mean, nasty look on their faces? For being young girls, why are they so angry?

                                                          Just my thoughts.....

                                                    2. A decent place gone bad ...real bad... We've been a regular visitor to Avenue for a long time despite its poor-to-fair reviews (from actual restaurant goes). We went for a few reasons - best happy-hour deal (on Wednesday and Friday only), best ribs on Jersey Shore (only at the bar during Wed/Fri happy hour), best bar-food appetizer - roasted brussel sprouts (really!!), best cheese sampler (at the bar on Wed/Fri happy hour.) Unfortunately, the place has always had its shortcomings - poor to bad service, unpredictable food quality, total Yuppieness and (during the summer) noise level and crowding so high as to totally eliminate our visits there.

                                                      But the good points kept us returning - till recently. On one recent visit to try the Prix Fixe dinner, we arrived about 10 minutes before the cutoff time for ordering. The Maitre D' told us "It's too late. You can only order till 7") and then when I mentioned that it was 6:50 and we knew what we wanted to order, she soooo reluctantly (it seemed to us) seated us (after some discussion with another staff). (I have noticed this same problem at the bar - Happy Hour till 7 but when we tried to order after 6:30-6:45 they said "Sorry - its too close to end-of Happy Hour!!" What's with that??) Anyway, the Prix Fixe menu actually available did not match what was advertized on the web-site menu (that very same day, BTW) so we were not able to order the food we intended and for which we had come. Prix Fixe dinner we had was average/OK (Mac/Cheese appetizer was very good though.)

                                                      By our next visit things seemed to get worse. We brought a guest to try our personal choice for best ribs, etc - but what a let down. First we had a minor issue about a dry gin martini ("We don't put vermouth in our dry Martinis says the waitress") OK, please make an exception and add a drop or so for us. "I'll have to check if we can do that" she says. We order our Martini's with two olives. They show up in warm classes with only-cool gin and one olive. "Sorry - you have to pay extra for an extra olive!!!" No kidding!!! ONE DOLLAR MORE FOR AN EXTRA OLIVE. We thought it was a joke but apparently it wasn't. The waitress was apparently distressed by our surprise and walked away after saying "There's nothing I can do." Thinking this was a language misunderstanding (the waitress did not seem adept at English) I spoke with a guy who appeared when I went to the Maitre D' and asked to speak to the "manager." So this guy tells me "Sorry - we are trying to save money - Only the first olive is free!!" So here is a place that is willing to lose three customers (and two long-timers) for the cost of pleasing a customer by adding one "free" olive???? Frankly we should have just sent the drinks back, laughed it off and departed, but we were tired and I still wanted to show off the ribs, Brussel sprouts and cheese platter.

                                                      OK - so the once-wonderful ribs showed up. Barely warm, undercooked to our taste, and apparently just recently dipped into what appeared to be cold ketchup instead of the great BBQ sauce we had come to enjoy!! The once terrific roasted B-sprouts were mushy and falling apart. And the cheese platter that we had often recommended to friends was no longer available.

                                                      All in all, a lousy experience. So lousy that we are unlikely to give this place another chance until we hear that there is a change of ownership. (It would be hard to believe that any good reviews that might show up were legit...) This place seems to us to view its niche as catering to noisy crowds coming to drink goofy "Martinis" and hook up at the bar - not as offering a good, fine-dining experience. There are soooo much better alternatives even, in Pier Village.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: firecoral

                                                        Was there last Thursday nite - after I placed a call to a friend (to check out the Tri City Times to see who had any happy hour/appy specials. He recommended Avenue (I was also looking at Trinity & Pope but couldn't establish either of the above having a special via the Net).

                                                        Avenue is way overpriced. Their specialty drinks are 'so so' (full of ice which make it nearly undrinkable) and the bar tender is slow to fill your drink at happy hour. I ordereds the Malpeques and got clams instead. Their appy menu is over the top expensive. Two cocktails, a Stella and those clams and I was $32 lighter and nowhere near where I wanted to be (needed to unwind). We stopped into the Wooden Duck and got more value than this place.

                                                        Leave it to the Bennies as I really have no reason to visit PV (any of the places in there I can find better 'locally'). They can have this place. Da woist. Simply da woist.

                                                        1. re: JustJake

                                                          While I agree that Avenue is overpriced for what you get on the typical menus and I would absolutely never sit for a meal there, I have to disagree with you about happy hour. The oysters have always been served exactly right and are above par (I'm betting Lusty Lobster). They have been consistently shucked perfectly, perfect accoutrements, perfect temperature, and the piece de resistance - mignonette...made perfectly...and tiny spoons! The bartenders can be indifferent one day and attentive the next. But $5 for top-shelf martinis? Color me there! It's also a pretty place, nice to bring out of town friends.

                                                          Did you mean the Sitting Duck? If yes, apples and oranges. Of course you get more value there. It's a pub. No snark intended.

                                                          My point is that Avenue can serve a purpose...for me it's to fill the oyster craving with a cocktail in a beautiful atmosphere then I'm off to dine someplace else.

                                                          1. re: fershore

                                                            I understand your reply, but it took way too long for our bartender to address my thirst during Happy Hour. Maybe 12-14 seats filled with most folks doing 'more talking' than sipping. Cocktails were quite good. Delicious in fact.

                                                            But seriously, I can't get HAPPY when I'm ignored and 'wanting' for another cocktail - which when we were next visited (at the end of the bar as you walk in), I couldn't wait for another cocktail to be made (I was trying to drink the jalopena based tequila). Instead opted for a Stella as I anticipated my oysters arriving soon which they did. And they were sweet, chilled and fresh. Only problem was that I ordered the Malpeques - and rather than send back (I am after all an equal opportunity swiller of mollusks), I decided, why bother.

                                                            Your thoughts as to having a drink/appy and then going somewhere else is a good idea - problem is that that Avenue pricing exists throughout PV - so the thought of getting into the car to drive somewhere else for dinner will take the 'glow' of any relaxation created by having a pre-dinner cocktail there.

                                                            1. re: JustJake

                                                              I'm sorry that the bartenders weren't doing much tending during your visit. I had the same experience the first time I went there, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Every visit since has been surprisingly pleasant. The DD usually has only 1 cocktail and then we tempt fate. We don't eat in PV.

                                                              1. re: fershore

                                                                fershore - It is commendable that you gave Avenue another chance. Sometimes restaurants have only one opportunity to make a first impression. My first time at Avenue was not so good (especially with regard to service) and therefore I haven't returned in years.

                                                          2. re: JustJake

                                                            Avenue's happy hour used to be crazy awesome when they had their 1/2 price deals with 1.25 oysters. Since then it's become a horrible rip off.

                                                            They do have some good stuff on the menu still but overall they're serving up some exceptionally mediocre food for a serious premium.

                                                        2. The restaurant and bar are straight out of Architectural Digest - beautiful. I only wish the Happy Hour drinks and service matched. With wine at $16/glass, we had $8 drinks. Martinis did not "buzz" as usual, nor did the Chivas. (Watered down?) Bar food offerings included the freshest-tasting littleneck clams (incorrectly shucked, however), mini lobster rolls (little lobster flavor), and tender pulled-pork sliders, all illustrating that someone in the kitchen knows what they're doing. It was the service that was especially disappointing, particularly the pretty young Asian woman with less-than-zero service and drink-making skills. Despite the manager's helpfulness trying to solve our disagreement concerning ordering after HH ending, I cannot recommend the place.

                                                          1. I was going to bring the parents here for Mothers Day this year, but I think I'll stick with my reservation at Nicholas, having read some of the recent postings. I hope this place gets its act together. It was good the 2 times I was there in 2010 and 2011. But I can't tolerate attitude in a restaurant, and certainly not in Monmouth County. Concerns expressed above about the quality of the food are also worrying.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: mikedparen

                                                              The Avenue is 1st a night club and 2nd a restaurant......and don't let anyone try to tell you any different. The restaurant is and will always be an after thought to the bar/booze business they do there. They try to put up a good front about being a fine dining at the Jersey Shore but they fall short in many area's and will always continue to do so. Don't try to fool yourself. I'm not trying to slam the place I'm just saying it how it is. Over priced for the service and quality you get. If the prices were 20/25% lower I would be telling you all to line up outside!!!

                                                              Same can be said for Park East in Hazlet...........Chris Michaels in Woodbridge and several other places as well.

                                                            2. My wife and I just tried Avenue for the $ 30 prix fixe and were pleasantly surprised.

                                                              We were early at 5pm so service was good, if anything a little too fast. Our waiters were a couple of Croatian students on a working holiday, so not perfect but at least they know how European tables are supposed to go. They were also fun to talk to. I have the impression that due to the beach location staff and turnover is a problem during the summer, which may explain the spotty service others have noted.

                                                              My raw bar appetizer was good although the oysters were on the smallish side. My wife's steak tartare came premixed. It tasted well but we had no idea what was seasoning it, so not like the real experience. My main was duck confit with frisee and lentils, very good. Wife had roasted Scottish salmon on Cannelini beans. Salmon was superb, cooked perfectly medium rare with a crispy skin. The beans were, well, interesting, might have been better if pureed. Dessert was the best part. My wife had a very good creme brulee while I had a strawberry rhubarb tart that was really, really, good. Not too sweet, more like Europe than the US. The best dessert I have had in a long time at a US restaurant.

                                                              The wine list is extensive, 27 pages. We chose a Macon from France that was very acceptable for under $ 30. You could keep busy going through the list for a while and not repeat yourself. Lots of unusual bottles from Alsace for example that I haven't seen elsewhere in Jersey. Anyone complaining about wine prices should quit bitching, get the list and order a bottle.

                                                              I should mention that we were seated outside. It was a beautiful day and the beach scene was unwinding. The Shore is not exactly St. Tropez when it comes to people and yacht watching, but if you don't mind the usual Jersey patois it can be very entertaining.

                                                              The food and service for us was definitely a touch above the usual swill at the Shore if not completely up to NYC standards, and we would definitely go back again with guests.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: vikingkaj

                                                                What a lovely review, vikingkaj. I really enjoyed reading it. I've only been to Avenue for cocktails before heading to dinner elsewhere but your review actually made me think about a meal there before the summer winds down.

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  All of Pier Village is a tourist trap. Very few of the restaurants have quality food, just quality prices. I've lived in the area for 40 years. These places have great views and that's what you pay for. Avenue, Sirena, McCloone's are the biggest rip-offs. Nightlife at The Avenue is a big attraction if you want a meat market. The only good restaurant at Pier Village is Turning Point, which is breakfast/lunch, they are top-notch. A few blocks away on Ocean Ave. is Tre Amici which has great food, they only serve wine, so it's like a BYOB. If you want pizza, go to Scala on Brighton Ave, Long Branch. Angelica's in Sea Bright is also good. Sallee Tee's in Monmouth Beach has changed owners/chefs. The food is average, not like it used to be. Kitchen Witch in Monmouth Beach has a Friday dinner, small place, BYOB, but limited seating. Charlie's in Long Branch is good, not as good as it used to be but better than Pier Village. A lot of excellent choices in the area, and some decent places but I have tried The Avenue, Sirena's and McCloone's several times to be fair and they just don't cut it.

                                                                  1. re: lcas

                                                                    Icas, I do appreciate the time you took to be insightful and offer suggestions but I am very comfortable sharing that I adore Pier Village. Call it what you will but it offers me a lovely walking area, bike area, food area, beach area, people watching area and an uplift to THE AREA. I don't miss the Long Branch of old. As you have pointed out so beautifully the dining choices are broad. But the decision of what floats ones boat, well...fair to say we all have our favorites. Enjoy! J

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      J...you are so right when you say the area is great. I don't miss the Long Branch of old either. I love the shops, and everything else you mentioned. I just think the food should be top of the line considering the beautiful area these restaurants are in. You pointed out all of the different things that draw you to Pier Village, although you neglected to comment on your favorite restaurant(s) there....could it be that there are other restaurants nearby that are a tad better than Pier Village restaurants?

                                                                      1. re: lcas

                                                                        re: lcas Point taken. So far I've enjoyed meals at The Turning Point, Shaka, Avenue, McCloone's, Red Orange, the Greek place, tried cookies at the bakery, wine at the wine shop, gelato at the cafe, caramel apples at the Mountain, a wedding at the hotel tiki on the beach, takeout sushi, pizza, tried a hotdog from a street vendor and sampled olive oil since Pier Village opened.

                                                                        All after a bike ride to and a walk on the boards. I've also attended a few events (car show, art gallery, July 4th).

                                                                        eta w/more time: I think just about every "tourist trap" falls under this challenge; Cape May is one prime example. Few gems amongst the beauty; many fail. I'm happy to find a beautiful place to run, bike & eat...in that order if I'm solo....and with dh or friends enjoyed a few of the places I mentioned.

                                                                        What nearby restaurants were you referring to? I've tried the Greek grill off Ocean Avenue, Sallie Tees in Mon Beach, a number of Sea Bright joints in that direction. Have a few recs?

                                                                    2. re: lcas

                                                                      Icas, I understand your perspective and we went to Avenue prepared to be disappointed in the food. We weren't. It's just that simple.