If you locked the Apple design team in Thomas Edison’s workshop, it would probably be a lot like working as a cook at Avenues. New chef Curtis Duffy was a frontline player under the culinary wizard Grant Achatz of Trio and Alinea, and now he brings his own big bag of chemicals, stabilizers, powders and potions along with a hefty dose of French gastronomic technique to Avenues.
His plates – which feature airy foams, vivisected fruit, neon smears, shiny oil spheres and herb confetti – are so organic looking you might mistake them for dioramas of real life garden and forest scenes. Duffy reinvents classics, and a steak is not just a steak, rather it’s a melt in your mouth cube of Wagyu beef with smoked coconut and basil puree, and Dungeness crab claw meat gets tossed with macerated cherries.
It’s a good thing your eyes are bulging at his magnificent platings, because the dining room, which features boundless wood, arts and crafts style stained glass, gold riveted padded leather chairs and ornate chandeliers, is totally incongruous with the food. The decor is so old school that if Al Capone rose from the dead, he’d likely be comfortable here. Don’t forget your jacket and slacks, as the wait staff, which is just as stodgy as the décor, will remind you of your faux pas.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant