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Restaurant Reviews

Avenue Bistro hangs its hat on kitchen excellence

Avenue-Bistro-swordfish

Grilled wild swordfish topped with strawberry chutney and balsamic glaze.

THE BLADE
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Avenue Bistro is a little gem, chic but unpretentious with a standard menu that the kitchen makes the most of.

At the whizzing intersection of Central Avenue and McCord Road, it has a dozen white-clothed tables and booths in the dining room, high tops in the bar (and live music on the weekend), and a well-landscaped patio. The open kitchen is framed by a handsome stone arch.

I heartily recommend the three plates my companions and I had at a recent dinner, the first two from a special menu.

Wild grilled swordfish ($24) was meaty and every bit of the advertised eight ounces. It was cleverly dressed with strawberries, and given its mild flavor, it benefited from a thorough drizzling of balsamic reduction and a grilled half lemon.

Stuffed chicken ($18) was a thin, pan-roasted breast "wrapped" with roasted tomatoes, spinach, and fresh mozzarella.

RELATED CONTENT: Central Avenue Bistro menu

Barely grilled salmon filet ($21, 7 ounces) was moist and rich. I asked for both the mango salsa and the roasted pepper cream sauce and both were so good I'd do the same again. Sides of broccoli, rice, and mashed potatoes were all perfectly done.

Our appetizer was a quesadilla ($9) made with small pieces of chicken, peppers, cheese, cilantro, and the dark mushroom-like cuitlacoche, a fungus that grows on corn and is sold in cans. But the earthy cuitlacoche migrated to one section of the quesadilla and only one diner at our table hit the fungal jackpot. Fortunately, she had learned in kindergarten to share. Despite the exotic ingredient, it was still a quesadilla.

Open since 1998, the owner for the past several years has been Pat Giammarco, founder of Marco's Pizza and owner of 20 local pizzarias.

The place bustled during a weekday lunch (Monday through Friday).

The pot roast ($13) was as good as mom's: two large pieces, well-marbled throughout, on a slab of buttery toast. Vegetables are often an afterthought at eateries, but these wide chunks of carrots and red-skinned potatoes were as good as the roast.

The batter on the fried perch ($12) was too thick and it was a bit over-cooked for my taste, but the accompanying fries and especially the homemade cole slaw were top shelf.

It's always interesting to see how restaurants handle minor missteps, and frankly, I'm seldom disappointed. At dinner, our server was theatrically charming but forgetful, and did not take our soup/salad orders. When the manager stopped by part-way through dinner and confirmed that soup or salad are indeed included, she offered desserts instead, which I figured was a win. Rich desserts are made here and served in generous portions. There was chocolate cake layered with mousse and frosted with dark icing; a large creme brulee with strawberries atop a glassy surface, and a carrot cake with as much frosting as cake.

At lunch even after the crowd had peaked, our server tended toward larghetto; that meant flagging her down for extra napkins and the bill.

A DJ spins discs Thursdays; there's live music Fridays and Saturdays, and space for dancing.

 

AVENUE BISTRO

* * * *

Address: 6710 W. Central Ave., Sylvania Twp.

Phone: 419-841-5944.

Category: Business casual.

Menu: American.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday; and 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Reservations are accepted.

Wheelchair access: Yes.

Average Price: $$$ (dinner)

Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.

Web site: centralavenuebistro.com.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com.

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