Delaware Ave., Albany. 434-2832. Serving Tue-Fri 11:30-10,
Sat 4:30-10, Sunday brunch 11-3. AE, D, MC, V.
price range: $19 (Korean chap chae) to $24 (steak au
B. A. Nilsson
for its previous Albany street address, Avenue A hit the road
a while back and turned up on Delaware Avenue, in the space
once occupied by the Bagel Bite. One of the most charming
aspects of its earlier incarnation was the oddly configured
space, with two different dining rooms; in its new location,
the restaurant sports a similar charm thanks to a careful
redesign that brings out the comfort of the space. In fact,
shortly before my visit, the restaurant installed ceiling-hung
baffles to correct a reverberation problem.
A remains what it’s always been: a place for gourmet dining,
with many an international twist to the cuisine. Chef Un-Hui
Filomeno has a passion for bold flavors, and she once more
reigns triumphant in the busy restaurant that’s been open
for her son, José, on the floor, and he’ll be happy to offer
background info and menu recommendations. Which is not to
slight the other servers, all of whom are well-spoken and
eager to help, and so ensure you’re so well attended that
you can concentrate fully on the dining experience.
see the range of items on the lunch menu, where a bowl of
miso soup is offered alongside the Portuguese caldo verde
($4 or $6, depending on size), and where an Asian hamburger
($9.50), spinach fettuccine with shrimp ($12.50) and a portobello
and artichoke heart quesadilla ($7) are but a few of the offerings,
along with an extensive panini list. Lunch eases into (and
overlaps with) dinner service in the late afternoon, and then
you’ll see a one-page, two-column listing of even more varied
entrées range from steak au poivre ($24) to Korean
chap chae ($19), the latter a mix of beef, sweet potato
noodles, mushrooms and vegetables. An Italian chicken breast
preparation pairs the meat with prosciutto ($22); mustard-glazed
salmon is served with couscous ($23); and pork loin medallions
are braised and served in a mango-plum chutney ($21).
my favorite rice dishes—jambalaya and paella—are featured,
and I reluctantly settled on the paella ($22); all reluctance
swept aside when the compote of shrimp, clams, calamari and
New Zealand mussels hit the table. For once the presence of
saffron was unmistakable, and the chorizo—a spicy Spanish
sausage—that finishes the dish was outstanding.
won’t want to dive right into an entrée without trying one
of Filomeno’s starters. The tapenade, a mix of minced olives
in a Mediterranean blend of capers and anchovies, is enhanced
with eggplant and sun-dried tomatoes, among other ingredients,
and served with garlic bread ($9.20).
($13) gets you a variety of greens in addition to the usual
meats and cheese, and the broiled brie ($15) includes a fresh
head of the list are Korean shrimp-and-vegetable pancakes
($10), which will redefine your view of the humble flapjack.
Look for a range of piquant flavors spurred by onions, carrots,
peppers and, of course, shrimp. The morsels are well matched
by a ginger-honey dipping sauce.
you feel about dumplings? I suspect those feelings will change
when you try the pan-fried yakimandu ($10). They’ll
make a convert out of you. The dumplings themselves are thin
and crisp, the filling juicy, with cream cheese, chicken and
scallions. And, of course, there’s a delicious dipping sauce.
rapidly becoming one of Avenue A’s most signature dishes isn’t
even on the menu. At least not yet. It’s a casserole of lobster
meat and bowtie pasta, baked with five types of cheese (cheddar,
Swiss, ricotta, mozzarella, fontina) that blend together deliciously.
I sampled the dish—it’s a rich, large portion—and was amazed
at the complexity of flavor lurking behind all the creaminess.
(If you finish the plate, you get a free dessert. Good luck.)
on that dish is part of the new brunch menu: an omelet made
with lobster meat and the aforementioned cheeses.
at one of the sleek, roomy tables, or take a seat at the expansive
bar. A well- chosen beer and wine list makes this a great
place for a casual rendezvous; the complexity of the dinner
menu is perfect when you’re looking to impress a date. Desserts
are also made in-house, and include tiramisu ($8), mocha chocolate
mousse with raspberry Chambord sauce ($7) and the best carrot
cake (topped with mascarpone-lemon sauce, $7) I’ve ever tasted.
lucky to have this restaurant back, and it’s better placed