Friday, January 6, 2012

New Date Night Fave - Restaurant AVA

We were shocked to find such a gem less than 15 minutes from home. How is it possible this was our first visit here after all these years?! Because we're snobs and we never really expected much in Rockwall apparently.

The parking situation is sort of a pain in the ass. As far as we could tell, we were supposed to park behind the restaurant. Since it was rather chilly NYE Eve, MomNextDoor was not hiking her happy self all the way around to the front door. Enetering through the back and passing the kitchen toward the hostess stand just felt a little intrusive. But we'd do it again.

This place has a really warm, cozy vibe while still maintaining a sense of upscale class. The dining room has a really intimate feel. Not wanting to disrupt that intimacy, we left our flashes off so these pictures are pretty crappy and don't do any justice to the care and attention put into presenting the dishes.

Our first measure of any restaurant is the martinis. We certainly found no fault with the AVA bar on this visit. To start, we were brought house made sourdough and cornbread. Both were tasty yummy but the cornbread was a little sweeter than we typically prefer and the sourdough a little less funky. Actually, we thought the breads would rock our socks as a dessert course since we don't typically eat sweets when we go out.

Clearly the chefs take great pride in choosing the best possible local, seasonal ingredients. In fact, they share information about their sources on the first page of the menu. For us, this isn't so much of a selling point as the house made items, creativity of the dishes and incredible taste.

So far as we can tell, it's darned near impossible to choose a bad dish at this place. This visit we enjoyed the calamari - loved the salty, thin slices but liked the leggy bits slightly less due to the clumpiness of the batter. The squash soup was fantastic as was the perfectly dressed pear salad.

We've never enjoyed a more tender pork chop as this.This bone-in chop was literally butter knife tender and juicy to perfection. The delicate smoky flavor went so well with the fruitiness of the garnish. That schmear of sauce is just the cherry on top.

The beef tenderloin was cooked and seasoned to perfection and was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The smashed potatoes and mushrooms were delish but incredibly rich and, when combined with the roasted cauliflower, were a little heavier than we prefer. We perhaps would have enjoyed the dish even more with some sort of fresh or acidic component.

Make no mistake about it folks, our plates were clean. We will certainly be back often.

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