Avenue N, good for casual occasion dinner?
We are going out for a birthday celebration with 10 y.o in tow. How is the food at Avenue N? Haven't found much feedback. Our first choice is North, but I don't know if we can get in without a long wait, and my back up in New Rivers (We have been to Chez pascal and Broadway Bistro within the last few two weeks, our perennial favorites).
I mostly agree with Rhody RedHen-- Avenue N is apt to be loud, and Gracie's is a real standout. They know how to celebrate. They're in a class by themselves, as far as I'm concerned.
I will stick up for the food at Avenue N and New Rivers, though. They are very different restaurants, and have different places in my heart, but I really like them both. Avenue N takes few risks, but turns out no stinkers (unfortunately a rarity these days). Everything I've had there has been competently cooked, and I can be a nitpicky customer. It's affordable, friendly, fun, and a good fit for the neighborhood. A ten-year-old would not be inappropriate there.
New Rivers is more thoughtful, more in love with their ingredients. Maybe I've just had better luck, but I've always walked away very happy, especially in seasons where local produce can really shine.
We decided on new rivers, because we could get a reservation. To be honest, we were underwhelmed. Nothing really wrong with the food, but nothing mind-blowing either. And there was an interminable wait between the appetizers and the main course, clearly the kitchen was having an issue...it wasn't that crowded on a Wednesday night, but not empty either. We felt we would have been better off at chez pascal. Perhaps Gracie's would have been a better choice, but it is less casual. We celebrated my cousin's graduation from her medical residency there at the end of June, and it suited the occasion (and we were going on to Trinity Rep, so it worked doubly well!).
How many are in your party, bawc? If you're more than three or four, both North and Avenue N might pose some problems. They are both pretty small (though North is considerably smaller and Avenue N is considerably louder,) and neither would be my first choice for a larger party.
I have to admit, I've been consistently underwhelmed by Avenue N. The food is solid, fine. I haven't eaten anything I disliked strongly there, but neither has anything blown me away. And for a while it seemed like most of the menu wasn't refreshed seasonally. On the other hand, it seems like a decent place to take a 10 y-o, and I think there would be something approachable on the menu for a picky palate (not to cast aspersions if you're the parent of a pint-sized gastronome!)
North really doesn't seem like a good pick to me to bring a kid. It's got an adult vibe (possibly heightened by the paintings of naked fisherwomen on the walls? tasteful but nude, fair warning.) The menu is pretty challenging for diners, and I really can't imagine most kids enjoying it(delicious, granted, but still pretty out there.) We go quite regularly and I've never seen anyone under 21 in the restaurant, which is understandable given the sort of boozy, hipster vibe. Also, while I think they instituted reservations briefly, they're not doing it anymore, so a long wait is definitely a possibility.
New Rivers seems like a nice option. More space, better and more thoughtful menu. I'll probably get lambasted for it, but I've had some really middling experiences at New Rivers, so it's not on frequent rotation anymore.
Have you considered Gracie's? The food is great and they really know how to celebrate a special occassion. Tell them it's your birthday and see what happens!