Avenue 5’s New Direction
Recent menu changes are giving reason to stroll in again.
Maine Lobster Cocktail with heirloom tomato, grapefruit segments, avocado and micro herb salad; paired with: Veuve Clicquot Rich Champagne
Photos by Dorothea Hunter Sönne
Bay Scallop Ceviche with wonton crisps and avocado mousse paired with: Domaine Fournier Les Belles Vignes Sancerre, 2014
A few weeks ago, I reported that longtime Truluck’s chef David Nelson had been poached by Avenue 5, a fellow Inn on Fifth restaurant (there’s a friendly relationship, but this kitchen is independently owned and run by Phil McCabe’s team while the other is controlled by the Truluck’s company, which leases the space).
From an early taste of how Nelson has been refining the menu—and retraining the waitstaff—I can easily say he’s steering Avenue 5 back on track. Several of us from the local media were invited to a preview dinner, and although this wasn’t one of my usual mystery-diner experiences that Gulfshore Life allows me to do, I was reassured by chef Nelson that this is how the dishes will look for any given meal—but for the most part the portions will be bigger (though ours were contained so we could thankfully taste a fifth of the menu without feeling like Tweedle Dee).
Grilled Lamb Chops Chimichurri with dauphinois potatoes paired with: Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2012
From chilled sweet lobster meat delivered in a cocktail glass shrouded in mist from a block of dry ice below to the tender Colorado lamb chops topped with authentic chimichurri cleverly foiled by crème fraîche (I can speak of the herbaceous condiment’s authenticity because in my house it’s as much a steady presence as mustard), one dish after another elicited moments of contented silence as we dug in.
For Nelson’s part, you could feel his genuine enthusiasm, mentioning how he loves the creative freedom his position carries but desires to do “the simple things right” and make the menu “approachable.” He also was excited about the breadth of his new wine cellar—if you haven’t dined there and don’t plan to, walk by for a glimpse of the stunningly gorgeous glass towers that are a focal point behind the bar.
Dessert Sampler (from left) Key Lime Cheesecake, paired with NxNW The Benches Vineyard Riesling, 2012; 6 Layer Chocolate Cake, paired with Taylor Fladgate Vintage Porto 2012; Chocolate Pot de Crème, paired with Château de Rayne Vigneau Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2013
He recently hired a pastry chef to reboot efforts in that department, too. Our trio of sweet endings, each paired with a dessert wine, made us leave on a high note, and I’ll be singing praise for the unexpectedly light mocha-and-cinnamon-kissed pot de crème for a long time—and what it was poured with, a real treat, a first-growth premier cru Sauternes from Château de Rayne Vigneau.
To plan a visit:
699 Fifth Ave. S., Naples
(239) 403-7170, avenue5naples.com
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Gnudis & Meatballs with golden-garlic tomato sauce and gremolata paired with: Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva, 2011