Dinner at Avalon in Richmond

The first weekend of my spring break, I attended a Matchbox 20 concert in Richmond.  I made two earth-shattering discoveries on the night of the concert: the first was that the lead singer, Rob Thomas, of Matchbox 20 is the same person as Rob Thomas, solo artist.  I know it seems like a trivial discovery, but I found it quite amazing that songs I had been listening to, thinking they were sung by different people, were actually created by the same artist.

My second discovery was food-related, of course.  And it came at a restaurant in Richmond called Avalon.  It has a tapas-theme, so you can order a combination of small plates to share, but they also offer entrees and more traditional appetizers.  This is another restaurant that my family and I keep coming back to.  Some of our favorite dishes there are the Brussels sprouts and the bibb salad.  The salad is a casual stack of bibb lettuce cups with little green peas and radish slices scattered about the plate.  Everything has a creamy, herbed buttermilk dressing on it that’s light and simply delightful.

The Avalon Brussels sprouts are a thing of legend.  My mom told us that she hadn’t liked the vegetable until she tried them at Avalon.  They are blanched to soften them, sliced to allow the curled leaves to separate, deep fried to get all the exposed edges golden and crispy, and served with plenty of salt, pepper, and surprisingly, pine nuts.  They end up slightly greasy, but not in bad way; the crisp leaves just barely shimmer with oil.  The sprouts’ shape and texture lends them so well to being fried that the appeal of potato chips or Pringles will seem trivial and naive, for now you’ve realized that green vegetables can truly be delectable.  Unfortunately, this is a dish that disappears as soon as it arrives at the table, so there was barely anything left by the time I even thought of taking a picture.  So you simply must travel to Richmond to experience these for yourself. :

However life-changing those sprouts sound, I had already experienced them on multiple occasions, and they had already secured a spot in my heart (or stomach!) as one of my favorite foods.  The real culinary discovery of the night came in the form of french fries.  I know I just dismissed the appeal of potatoes in the form of processed potato chips, but those are so removed from the real food.  The french fries we had truly celebrated and complimented the essence of “potato” and elevated the plain spud into something mind-numbingly delicious.  They were cut thin and fried multiple times so that they were tender on the inside with a golden, salty, and delicately crunchy exterior.  They would have been tasty on their own, but what made them a revelation was their dressing.  They were drizzled with honey that had been infused with truffles and topped with salty parmigiano-reggiano cheese.  The syrupy sweetness of the honey is balanced perfectly by the earthiness of the infused truffle.  I don’t even know how to describe or distinguish the flavor of the truffle in the dish, but somehow the combination of honey, truffles, parmesan, and crispy fried potatoes was simply meant to be.

We ate a whole appetizer portion of Avalon’s truffle honey fries before I remembered to take a picture, but luckily, my dad ordered an entree that came with fries and our waiter was kind enough to have them topped with the truffle-honey and parmesan.  Here’s a picture of my dad’s burger (without the bun and on lettuce!) and a side of the marvelous truffle honey fries.

Avalon BurgerYou must realize how good these fries were that a carnivore like me is raving about potatoes and hasn’t even mentioned meat yet!  I will move onto my protein-rich entree shortly, but first, one more comment about these magical fries: I just attempted to make my own version of them at home with sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, so expect a blog post soon about my take on Avalon’s fries.

Now onto the main course.  I ordered pan-fried rainbow trout with a lemon aioli served over cannelini beans and a shellfish stew with mussels and plenty of fresh herbs.  It was a generous portion of moist and delicious fish whose flesh was tinged with pink, with a creamy sauce that toned down the brininess of the savory shellfish broth.  The beans served as the starch in the stew, maintaining their form, but dissolving breaking down to an almost creamy consistency having absorbed the delicious broth.  I loved the texture they added in addition to a few tiny, halved fingerling potatoes that served as the base for the beautiful filets of fish.  It was simply a beautiful and delicious dish.

Avalon Trout and Stew

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