Lately in the world of food, there's been a lot of brouhaha about Umami, the fifth taste (after the more easily recognizable sweet, bitter, sour, and salty) that imparts a fuller, more savory flavor to any dish. Ingredients like aged parmesan, fish oils, and truffle impart this highly desired fifth element, and elevate simple foods into the realm of the divine. This weekend, I experienced a rush of Umami at Avalon  on Bardstown road.
Avalon kindly invited me to sample their fare, so I packed up the boyfriend and headed into the cozy nook last Friday evening. Avalon specializes in a fresh take on American cuisine, and they have recently revamped their menu to include more recession-friendly options; like lunches under seven dollars and half price drinks after five at the bar. We were assured by our (very attentive) waitress that the lobster macaroni and cheese was Avalon's best dish. It is advertised as a "small plate" but it's really a decent sized skillet of tender pasta soaking in creamy sauce and inundated with chunks of lobster. The perfect cherry on top of this dish, though, is the truffle oil drizzled over the top. This truffle oil adds that oh-so-coveted umami, and set the meal off to a roaring start.
We tried the fried chicken with cracked pepper gravy and the filet mignon as our entrees. The fried chicken was boneless and extra spicy, perfectly set off by the thick gravy. The filet mignon practically melted in my mouth, the flavor of the meat really coming through in the absence of heavy seasoning. Being an absolute glutton, I couldn't resist the pull of an espresso martini. If I could justify drinking it for breakfast I would--silky and thick, studded with three little coffee beans. Though Avalon was kind enough to pick up our tab, the meal came out to an extremely affordable sixty seven dollars, including appetizer, two entrees (including filet mignon!), dessert, and a cocktail.
The list of delights at Avalon goes on: pumpkin creme brulee encased in a cracking sugar shell; a lavender blueberry mixed drink that smacks of summer, the Brussels sprouts like little pouches of leafy flavored grilled in butter. Like a good romance, eating at Avalon is both familiar and surprising, both satisfying and new.
all photos by Elizabeth Orrick