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They needed the walk home YOU, our dining critics

It was a good thing that Cheryl French’s husband drove the three ladies only to dinner at L’Avenue, 1568 Bayview.

On a balmy evening early in September the three neighbours on Rutherglen Rd., she said, “…needed a walk home after what we knew would be a full dining experience”.

When they got there at 7:30 p.m. the restaurant was full. When they left it was empty and “We were all aching from over-indulging in the dishes that were too good to stop ourselves from eating,” said Alanna Wilson.

They decided to share dishes.

The hit of the night was Helena Lazar’s duck dish. “It was outstanding. It was crisp on the outside and tender moist meat on the inside,” she said.

From left, Alanna Wilson, Helen Lazar and Cheryl French. We give $100 to help pay for a meal for three at any restaurant in our area, the M4G postal code, which includes Leaside, Bennington Heights and the Leaside Business Park (known also as the industrial area).

From left, Alanna Wilson, Helen Lazar and Cheryl French. We give $100 to help pay for a meal for three at any restaurant in our area, the M4G postal code, which includes Leaside, Bennington Heights and the Leaside Business Park (known also as the industrial area).

French: “Helena’s duck was divine. I typically would not order duck as my main, but the dish prepared by the chefs at L’Avenue have it perfected. It was so tender, so tasty, just melt in your mouth good. The braised cabbage and mashed potatoes were perfectly paired.”

Wilson: “I think it may have won the night for flavour. The duck was so crispy, and decadent. The mashed potatoes and braised cabbage with red current demi glace… was bang on. I would come back again for the duck, hands down.”

She had ordered a Catalan zarzuela seafood stew: “It arrived piping hot, with two small crisped dried bread pieces that acted as large croutons, and allowed me to soak up some of the delicious tomato saffron broth. The stewed tomatoes, onions and mini potatoes complimented the mussels, which were joined by shrimp, tilapia and a scallop. I was already full half-way through my meal but felt compelled to finish the seafood as it was just too good to let go to waste.”

French: “My main, the beef bourguignon was outstanding. It is a hearty meal, with melt-in-your-mouth beef that flaked with a fork, pearl onions, diced carrots in a rich beef sauce. It came with steak frites, piping hot and a nice complement.”

Their appetizers:

French: “The French onion soup is by far the very best I have tasted – ever. It had just the right consistency of onions and beef broth beneath a soaked baguette, covered with baked Gruyere and Emmental cheeses.”

Wilson: “Helena and I started with the pan seared crab cakes, scallop and bacon. The crab cakes were delightful  in a thin bed of romesco sauce, topped with lemon/chive crème fraiche. Not at all fishy and just enough lemon/chive crème fraiche on top that helped to balance the bite from the spice.

“The confit pork belly with dried sage and house BBQ sauce tasted like perfectly braised ribs and melted in my mouth. The preserved apple chunks (heavily marinated in cider vinegar) paired well with the pork, but sampled on their own were quite tart.

“By the time our plates were cleared we moaned at the impossible thought of dessert. We were all aching from over-indulging in the dishes that were too good to stop… from eating.”

They ordered crème brulee. All praised it. They were also impressed by the décor.

Prices: Mid-range for a glass of wine is $12. Appetizers ranged from $7 to $18, mains from $21 to $32.

“This seemed like a very ‘happening’ restaurant in the heart of Leaside,” said French. “The décor is typically French and chic, white tablecloths, table candles, beautiful wall decorating and lots of ambiance.”