Avant Gout - anyone tried it lately?
Thinking of checking it out this week - any recent reviews?
I was there just before Christmas.
Exactly as it always was! Comfort bistro-style food. The winter menu is a bit more bracing - heavy on meat that's been long-simmered, with a few lighter options.
And they've hung a heavy curtain to help keep out the draughts when inconsiderate patrons open both exit doors at the same time (but it's probably still better to try and sit nearer the kitchen).
Very good value - and don't forget the creme brulee (as if you would).
Don't do it...
Two recent bad experiences - one personal and one a friend's.
My husband and I went with his parents...got there at 6 to beat the rush and were told to sit where we wanted. We got settled, removed coats, etc., only to have the owner tell us that we would have to move. No apology. Then the owner and waiter spent the next hour rearranging tables to accomodate the 7pm rush (I assume). This was distracting and we were bumped a couple of times. This was annoying enough, but the food wasn't near as good as it had been, and we didn't order anything new. All told, we were really underwhelmed and felt bad...as we had recommended the place.
The second-hand experience was that a friend's husband and a friend were eating there...and were asked if they could move to the bar as the table was needed. They said that they didn't want to move, but that they were done, so if they could get the bill they would be on their way. The bill never came and a while later, the owner came by and apparently yelled at them and demanded that they give up the table. There was no offer of a free drink or anything of the sort, just anger... And they were regulars there (in that they used to eat there at least once a week). They haven't been back. I understand wanting the table, but come on...
Try Brownes Bistro further up Yonge on Woodlawn (just south of St. Clair). Similar atmosphere and much better food and service...
Wow! I agree that doesn't seem right - but I've been to Avant Gout maybe a dozen times time (in its two incarnations) and have never seen the owner/chef come out of the kitchen. He's the only one in the kitchen, and he rarely comes out even to see regulars - I have to go into the kitchen if I want to greet him.
And of course, he was the regular chef at Browne's for many years. It was after Browne's went downhill that I discovered that he'd bought Avant Gout and transferred my loyalties (I used to be a regular at Browne's before it was sold a few years back).
But I have to admit I stopped going to Browne's during its fallow period, so haven't been for a couple of years now. Yes, it's a nicer room - but the food was pretty bad for a while. Maybe I'll give it another try sometime.
But I'm prepared to wager that the creme brulee is better at Avant Gout!
I live within a few hundred metres of avant gout, and go there frequently (once a month or so).....few places anywhere in the city can hold a candle to this place as far as food, service and ambience go......I have had several encounters with the owner and he has never been anything but charming and accomodating to my company and I....I would urge anyone to try this restaurant....the food and atmosphere are incredible for the pricepoint.....
Well, I finally got around to trying Avant Gout and I have to say, I was pretty disappointed. The food was just okay - tagine salmon had a slathering of unidentifiable vegetables with an insipid flavour. I loved their riff on a Caesar salad on paper - big hearts of romaine leaves with sundried tomatoes, Caesar dressing and frites - the frites were great but the overall effect was underwhelming i.e. the sum seemed almost less than the whole of its parts. My friend had the daily veal roast special which was by far the handsomest dish on the table and he really enjoyed it. I also tried the halibut special and it had a fishy flavour. Yes, the creme brulee was very good but the flourless chocolate cake with ice cream was dense and almost flavourless. Worst of all was the service - we were one of the the only tables left as of 9:45 on a Saturday night (8:15 reservation) and they were overtly anxious for us to leave. There was a bit of pacing by our table, the bill was dropped off without so much as an "anything else I can get for you?" request, chef (or someone from the kitchen) came out around 9:50 and ate at the bar in front of us. It was kind of like, well, our evening is done so if you would be good enough to leave, we could pack up and get out of here. Very uncomfortable.