Dinner With a Side of Music at the Avalon Bar & Grill in Talent
Last Sunday I ventured out to the Avalon Bar & Grill in Talent to check out the newly formed Charles Guy Quartet and have a fill my belly with delectable dinner.
I have been a fan of the Avalon since its opening; being a frequent performer at Camelot Theatre, Gumshoe Gourmet and Ashland Community Theatre, of which the Avalon and the Wild Goose have been supporters.
Usually, I am at the Avalon following a performance and arrive at 10:30pm when only the appetizers and lunch menu is being served.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the venue packed at 8pm on Sunday night. A quick shout out here: Thank you to the community for supporting local musicians.
One of the ideas behind the conception of the Avalon was a venue for local musicians to be showcased that is a step up from the usual bar scene. The Avalon is more than a step above the bars, its more like an entire staircase above the usual.
Owners Dal and Renee Carver took the old Senor Sammy’s space 10 years ago, and converted it into a contemporary but classic supper club. The feel of the interior is classy yet casual: the perfect spot to meet for a drink after work, but also perfect for Valentine’s Day dinner.
All of the specials listed on Sunday were tempting. It was a difficult decision to choose just one so my dinner companion helped out by selecting a special the “Bassa Con Papas”. I know from experience that the Avalon serves wonderful risotto and had a “Cajun Catfish Risotto” featured on its specials as an appetizer. But, I had my eye on the “Surf & Turf” and determined that would make me happiest. The specials change daily at the Avalon.
Other tempting choices from the regular menu were:
Cedar Plank Roasted Wild Coho Salmon, Crab Ravioli, Duck Breast or New York Steak. One entree that I will most likely order the next time around will be the Marinated Flank Steak served on a bed of spinach with house-smoked bacon and caramelized onions, drizzled with a green peppercorn demi-glace and served with creamy polenta. I do so love the polenta as a side dish.
Our dinners arrived fairly quickly. The kitchen must run like a well oiled machine to have made our dinners fresh to order with such a packed house, very impressive.
The Basa Con Papas entree was a basa fillet wrapped in thinly sliced potatoes pan fried and topped with a light lemon cream reduction, served with potato-fennel hash and sauteed vegetables. The presentation of the Basa was beautiful. The fish was a sweet white fish similar to catfish and not at all fishy in taste. The lemon cream sauce was not really needed, as the fish wrapped in the potatoes was delicious on its own, but I found the lemony sauce was a very nice compliment to the licorice flavors of the potato-fennel side dish. It also tasted wonderful sopped up with the baguette served to us in a basket before dinner.
My Surf & Turf lived up to its potential. I ordered it medium rare and was very happy that the chef was able to keep the meat pink throughout. The entree consisted of a New York steak broiled and topped with seared sea scallops drizzled with a bleu cheese cream reduction and served with a baked potato and sauteed vegetables. What a melody in my mouth! The bleu cheese flavors with the steak and scallops made me want to get up and sing with the band. The bleu cheese reduction was not pungent but was creamy and smooth–also a great sopping sauce for the baguette on the table.
The atmosphere at the Avalon is like no other. With the Guy Charles Quartet playing a little Flamenco number and the delectable dishes in front of us, my dinner date and I agreed that the Avalon is the perfect “get out of Ashland” hideaway. The interior provides a warm atmosphere on a cold night and is the ideal place to escape the crowded Ashland dining spots during the touristy summer months. The Avalon has a heated patio: a nice place to enjoy a cold drink and house made dessert on a warm evening. Speaking of house made desserts, be sure to try the chocolate lava cake at either the Avalon. This is a personal sized chocolate cake oozing with a hot fudge filling topped with chocolate sauce. Don’t attempt to share this dessert with your dining companion because you will want to eat the entire thing yourself. The Avalon has a full bar so I would recommend ordering a coffee with Kahlua to accompany that chocolate lava cake. If you are more of a cheesecake person, the Avalon offers a house-made cheesecake selection that is freshly made and wonderfully creamy.
I have to mention that the Avalon’s bar manager, Pauly, is one of the best bartenders in the valley and the Avalon wouldn’t be the place it is without him.
The Avalon is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner and has a late night menu of appetizers, like bbq riblets and cold poached salmon, as well as panini sandwiches, burgers, their famous sweet potato fries, soup and salads served after 9pm.
Dal has also billed the Avalon as a recording studio for local musicians on certain Mondays that he is otherwise closed. This is a great aid to musicians who need a venue to record in front of a live crowd. I have also attend a book release party at the Avalon and I hope the Carvers continue to rent their restaurant out for events on days they are not open to the public. Another fun event at the Avalon is their “employee Talent night” where employees are given the chance to strut their stuff in front of diners. There are music events weekly at the Avalon which they post on their website avalonbarandgrill.com.
If you are planning to attend a music event at the Avalon reservations are recommended. If you plan to have Valentine’s Day dinner at the Avalon make reservations now. I enjoyed dinner on Valentine’s Day at the Avalon in 2007 and it was a very memorable evening. I have enjoyed Valentine’s Day dinner at many of the finer dinner houses in Ashland and I have to say that in Ashland it seemed like I was rushed so the tables could be sat for the next reservation but at the Avalon I felt it was relaxed and I could really enjoy the evening.
The Avalon Bar & Grill is the “Gem of Talent”.