Review: Avenue

This is the new restaurant opened by longtime local chef Bryan Carr, upon closing his former Clayton spots, Pomme and Pomme Café. He moved into arguably the prettiest dining spot in Clayton, the onetime Café Mira on Meramec Avenue, with French doors opening to a long, streetside patio. And to his credit, he has restored the inside to elegance (which had largely disintegrated in its last incarnation as Roxanne’s). You enter to the bar area, which includes café tables for walk-ins. Step down into the main dining room, which is done in contemporary greys, and beyond that is a warmed-up anteroom with a fireplace.

As for the menu, it’s not as French as Pomme, but still French-influenced with a touch of Italian. The French Onion Soup, Duck Confit and Trout Amandine are mainstays. But you’ll also find things like Pork Schnitzel and pumpkin ravioli. A starter of Cauliflower Soup ($6) was good, if not remarkable. Not the usual thick puree, it had a thin, milky consistency with bits of roasted cauliflower.

A Little Gem lettuce salad ($8) had a nice hunk of breaded and sautéed goat cheese and bits of roasted red and yellow beet. The lettuce, baby romaine, came attractively displayed as full leaves fanned out on the plate.

The entrees are where chef Carr, who has a solid following in town, really shone. His Rainbow Trout Amandine ($22), a carryover from Pomme, is stellar. Wonderfully buttery and crisped at the edges, the full trout was covered in toasted almonds and accompanied by roasted potato cubes, buttered baby carrots and roasted cauliflower. It’s a memorable dish and a full gourmet meal at a price that is more than fair.

The Cassoulet ($26), a traditional French country bean stew, was very well prepared, the beans slightly crunchy on the outside from the long baking process. They were dotted with shredded pork and duck, as well as large chunks of sausage. This is a very satisfying dish: heavy comfort food for the cold weather.

Roasted Scottish Salmon ($30), a fish special, had the attractive browning and crispness on top that adds so much to protein dishes. The fish itself was flavorful and cooked medium rare to maximize its inherent characteristics (fat content, taste, texture). Although the fillet was small—maybe 3 ounces—also on the plate was a generous medley of vegetables: carrots roasted to release their natural sugars, crisp-baked potato cubes and steamed broccolini. One minor snafu: the veggies did not come out hot, but lukewarm.

A dessert of Chocolate Caramel Mousse cake ($8) was stellar, the dense cake layered with thick, buttery, fudgy, house-made caramel. A small pool of raspberry coulis served as the base, and house-made vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream accompanied the chocolate treat. Outstanding on all counts.OnTable_Avenue_Carr_19

[amuse bouche]
the scene | Intimate Clayton bistro
the chef | Bryan Carr
the prices | $4 to $12 starters, $18 to $32 entrees
the favorites | Rainbow Trout Amandine, Chocolate Caramel Mousse Cake, Roasted Scottish Salmon, Cassoulet

[chef chat] >> bryan carr
what made you move one block over? | A bigger space became available
How did yo u determine the interior design? | I left it to my wife, Diane. We tried to capture the same ambience as Pomme.
How is the menu different from that at Pomme? | It’s basically the same, but with a few new items
What is your favorite new item? | Oysters

12 n. meramec ave. | 314.727.4141

Photos: Bill Barrett