Centrally located in Richmond's Fan district and extremely close to quaint Cary Street, Avalon Restaurant & Bar offers unique tapas-style dining. With a wide array of small plates influenced by cuisines from across the globe, the menu at Avalon is constantly changing and evolving. There is a wide variety of meat and seafood options as well as several vegetarian and gluten-free dishes as well.
Avalon's small-plate-style dining is what originally attracted me, as I wanted a light meal where I could taste several items without gorging myself. The menu is split up into starters, seafood, meat and vegetables; making it easy to try the lighter options like mixed Spanish olives or garlic hummus for five and seven dollars, respectively. While I still ended up trying about five different dishes, I didn't exactly feel light afterwards.
The menu consists of several salad options such as the baby spinach salad with walnuts, black currants, chevre goat cheese and bourbon maple vinaigrette for $7. However, I found myself helplessly attracted to the richer items on the menu, namely, the fried Brussels sprouts. If someone were to ask me what the most delicious part of my meal was, curse the day when I'd say Brussels sprouts. Well, friends, that day has come.
These Brussels sprouts were the closest things to French fries that any green vegetable will ever come. But then again, anything fried in butter and topped with sea salt is going to be phenomenal. The pine nuts added a nice texture variety and nutty flavor to the Brussels sprouts as well. I'm even in awe now that I've written six sentences about Brussels sprouts that I actually enjoyed.
Moving on. Trustworthy members of my party thoroughly enjoyed the fennel- dusted scallops with wild mushrooms in sherry and walnuts (I couldn't taste them because of my darned shellfish allergy). Although they mentioned that the chef had a heavy hand with the salt. If you have a low tolerance for salty foods then perhaps you won't enjoy Avalon quite as much as I did. However, I will say that the dishes I chose were prone to high salt content and there were plenty of dishes on the menu that did not share that quality.
The risotto carbonara with pancetta, garlic, melted leeks and pecorino cheese was a lovely homage to the Italian pasta carbonara; eggy and creamy with that slight onion flavor from the leeks. The duck confit cassoulet was a version of the homey classic with white beans stewed in duck stock for a rich flavor, although salty as well. The final small plate we tried was a daily special of lamb and roasted vegetables atop a bed of Israeli cous cous. The special plate was somewhat bland and paled in comparison to the other dishes we tried. We concluded our meal with a White Russian creme brulee. The custard riddled the flavors of the classic cocktail perfectly and was a sweet last bite.
Our waiter was incredibly attentive, patient and friendly throughout the entire meal and every member of my party felt strongly about giving him a generous tip. I was able to share six different dishes and leave completely satisfied and spending only what I would on a shared appetizer and normal entree at a traditional restaurant. All vegetarian small plates were under $10 and all seafood and meat dishes were under $14. In my opinion, the delightful service and unique combinations at Avalon are certainly worth a trip to the Fan for dinner.
Contact reporter Bridig Beitel at firstname.lastname@example.org
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