First look: Aviary on Alberta

February 5, 2011


Sitting at the communal dining bar at Aviary.

Friday night, after worrying over a dozen performance review write-ups, I was ready to relax. Resisting the temptation to succumb to the comforts of Couch and the siren call of Bandini’s pizza, J and I left the house and headed to Alberta and to the newly opened Aviary. Having only a few days of business under its belt made it a risky proposition: On one hand, the chance it would be packed with eager locals who had read the recent press. On the other hand, the opening week of any restaurant has its ups and downs. New waitstaff, new menu … lots of unknowns for any just-opened spot.

Oh, pffft. Why did we worry? With restaurants like Aquavit, Jean Georges and Ducasse, on their resumes, clearly these people know what they’re doing. At 8pm, the dining room was at about 50 percent capacity, so we had no trouble sitting down. And the staff, though perhaps not completely comfortable yet, were more than welcoming and attentive. And the menu? Oh yeah.

Choosing was the biggest hurdle. Ten small plates were so tempting, we found it a challenge to get past that. In the end, we settled on kushi oysters on the half shell with only a skiff of tomato granite and horseradish to complement; crispy, bite sized ox tail croquettes; and tempura pumpkin with mild red curry and bright Thai basil. I was less sure about the pumpkin dish, imagining heavy flavors and textures. Of course, I was wrong, and sorry I doubted.

Entrees consisted of seared snapper with crispy skin over greens and bacon for J, and fork-tender, braised beef cheeks with a creamy celery-root puree and blood orange segments for sweet acidity for me.

Aviary: We know we just met you, but we can’t help it. We think we love you.

4 Responses to “First look: Aviary on Alberta”

  1. julia said

    R- I love your restaurant reviews! you are such a fantastic writer. will you be my mentor? xo J

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