Thursday, May 6, 2010

Your Call - The Avenue Pub/J'anita's

Editor's Note: Your Call is running today due to yesterday's May's Sink Article. We apologize if you spend the rest of the day thinking today is Wednesday.

The Avenue Pub is the city's best dispenser of beer. The selection of beers from local, regional, national, and international brewers of pilsners, porters, ales, and lagers would mesmerize even the biggest beer geek. Situated in a an unfolding, ramshackle building on St. Charles, the bar boasts two levels, a balcony, and an interior that can best be described as Frat house chic. Quite simply, this bar kicks ass if you like beer.

Inside of The Avenue Pub, J'Anita's slings upscale bar food to a willing and ready crowd. While some of the food served as shining examples, other options served only to befuddle. For instance, the much-talked about St. Chuck Duck sandwich could only be developed or liked by a stoner with the munchies. Cabernet braised duck meat, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, balsamic reduction, currant tapenade, apple, the kitchen sink, and nuclear launch codes rested uncomfortably between two slices of sourdough. Admittedly the first bite is interesting, the second more so, but by the third your palate is exhausted by the assaulting cacophony of competing flavors. The cool potato salad, however, had many redeemable qualities.

A good idea would be to shift the some of the attention from the St. Chuck Duck to the burger. Absent from this bar staple was any discernible flavor or juiciness. While this burger may be wonderful after three glasses of Stone Rumination I.P.A., after only one, it fell way short of what a burger can be.

All the missteps aside, the kitchen crew at J'Anita's turns out nearly perfect examples of bar food staples. And let's be honest, if you are drinking beer, you would be hard pressed not to order cheese fries anyway. Although the cheese fries could use more toppings to justify their price tag, they are a shining bacon covered city of sturdy potatoes and flowing rivers of melted cheddar. Or get your hands on their impeccable guacamole. In fact, J'Anita's guac is the best in the city. Creamy, tangy, and just a touch of heat make this the perfect foil for cold beer.

Which at the end of the day, is why you came here. Come for the beer, but stay for the appetizers.

The Avenue Pub - Eagle
J'Anita's - Par

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

You need to have the fish sandwich- it is the best thing on the menu, simple and really delicious

Shelly said...

I had the St. Chuck Duck last week and while I enjoyed it (the apples were a nice touch), it really upset my stomach! :( I do think that it is a little too heavy (and oily) and kind of wish I'd had the duck and slaw sandwich instead.
Also, when I was asking the bartender about the beer selection, he suggested a beer saying it was selling well. I said "Well have you tried it?" He said "No. I don't drink."
I guess in theory there's nothing wrong with a bartender who doesn't drink, but I definitely left the conversation feeling like a jerk.
That being said, I would probably go back and try more of the food. My friend got the fish sandwich and it looked really good.

Rene said...

Shelly,

I like my bartenders to be drinkers or in the alternative to have drank enough at one point they no longer need to now.

Anon,

I think Peter had the fish sandwich, hopefully he will chime in.

Shawn said...

I'm a sucker for their swamp reuben. Brisket, pork, slaw... delicious

Vasu said...

@Shelly (hi Shelly!) that was Alfred, he's a great bartender, pours a good pint, and knows I like to get a soda water to go when I close out, but he doesn't drink anymore. Feel free to tweet me if you need beer recommendations!

@Rene while I haven't pried much, I believe Alfred has drank enough, which is why he doesn't anymore. I remember when I first started going to avenue, since he knew I was a beer geek, he'd ask me about every beer I was ordering to try and get some insight into it so he could help inform others.

As far as the review goes, I love the St Chuck Duck, though I usually take a while to get through it since it's so rich, and sometimes take half of it home instead. It, and the peanut butter and duck sandwich at Bayona are the only forms of duck that I like (sandwich or otherwise.)

Which burger did you have. The standard cheeseburger isn't anything to write home, but the Sweet Spot (burger, merlot reduction, blue cheese, and apple slices) is lovely.

For the regulars, the menu favorites are often the Best Chicken Sandwich, and the two fish sandwiches (Best Fish and Beach). I'm also a fan of doing The Best Chicken Sandwich up Beach Fish Sandwich style, with slaw on it in place of bacon.

The cheese grits are also a favorite side. They remind me of Zea's corn grits, minus the kernels.

Lastly, I take some slight offense to "And let's be honest, if you are drinking beer, you would be hard pressed not to order cheese fries anyway." No offense, and maybe I'm reading it wrong, but that statement comes off a little frat-y as in "Duuude lets get brewskis and cheese fries!" Then again, I'm easily offended by beer stereotypes since craft beer and BMC are two different beverages! :)

Peter said...

Anon,

I tried the plain fish sandwich, and my only qualm is that my fish was overcooked just a tad. Otherwise, it's a very good sandwich. The ciabatta from La Boulangerie is a perfect match.

Next time I am going to try the "Best Fish Sammich Ever", but remember reading that it had a lot going on... maybe too much.

Adam said...

The best chicken sammich and swamp reuben are where it's at. The plain burgers really aren't anything special. In general, I'd stay away from the "bar menu" and just go for the good stuff. If you order well, this is the best food in the city at this price.

Rene said...

Vasu,

No offense taken. It was more along the lines of I find cheese fries to be a perfect accompaniment to beer, much like port and stilton, vodka and caviar, etc...

Obviously some more investigation is needed. Your Call may develop into Multiple Calls.

Vasu said...

Speaking of stilton.. I recently paired Stilton with Thomas Hardy's Ale (which you can grab at Cork & Bottle and Steins) and found it to be really amazing

Andrew L. said...

St. Chuck Duck is a great name.

Adult Grilled Cheese is the best item (other than the guacamole) on the menu.

The Beer Buddha said...

Hmmm. I find the Duck Sandwich to be absolutely incredible but prefer Buddha's Temptation for obvious reasons. An apricot stuffed with bleu cheese wrapped in bacon and fried. THAT'S the way to go!

Cheers!

The Beer Buddha

Capt. John Swallow said...

Perhaps J'anita's food is a bit overwhelming for some folks expecting "regular ol' bar food", but finding "upscale pub food" - there is a difference and it requires a somewhat more diverse palate to appreciate it. That being said, ye can develop said palate by working yer way through things like the Adult Grilled Cheese, Swamp Reuben, Buddha's Temptaion, St. Chuck Duck...etc.

As for the decor, it's really classic upscale 1800's colonial - despite the overpaint, the ceiling is covered in COPPER tile (the posh version of tin ceilings), copper topped bar, giant archways, pocket doors, the traditional New Orleans shuttered doors and the biggest balcony on St. Charles.

The Avenue Pub is "Pyrate Approved" and is always a comfortable spot for food and the best selection of taps in the city.

Anonymous said...

Im with Rene on this, the St. Chuck Duck is not good. It reminds me of watching a WrestleMania Super Tag Team fight, to many tired flavors fighting foe your attention.

Craig said...

Sorry the St. Chuck Duck was too much for you. It is our best-selling item and our most-reordered. Some of your commenters are correct, in that it takes a more sophisticated palate to appreciate. Perhaps the cheese fries are more in some folks' league.

Our approach is that higher-level beer (with more complex taste) deserves higher-level food to match. Just as there are those who prefer their familiar PBR to craft beers, there are also those who go into cheese-fries or mini-taco mode when they get any kind of beer. That's why such items are on our menu.

Thank you for your kind comments about the guacamole and other items. We're sorry if the fish was a bit overdone or the burgers weren't up to your standards. We do what we do in an 80sqft kitchen under (particularly at night) tremendous pressure. We are a bar and not a restaurant.

We urge you to keep trying our more complex items and to please ask us for pairing suggestions. We know what we're doing -- and it takes experience to get there. If it's too much, we're also glad to scale things back so they'll work for you. We are well-reviewed for a reason -- mainly that we are inventive and willing to push limits. It's not for everyone. Otherwise, we'd be Applebee's.

Thanks for the notice and for coming by.

--Craig
J'anita's Owner.

Rene said...

Thank you to everyone for the wonderful comments. We will be back to The Avenue Pub/J'anitas in short order.

Anonymous said...

Rene,
I think you missed the mark on the Avenue Pub, overall...I would never use frat-house chic to describe it nor would I use "stoner" in a sentence unless I was talking STONE Brewing...The Avenue Pub really is a trinity of neighborhood bar, craft beer pub and service industry hangout with really great food to satisfy a plethora of palates. Nuff said

Rene said...

Anon,

My knowledge of interior decorating terms aside, I meant Frat House chic as a compliment. The interior is nicely done with deep rich walls which reminded me of the library in my college fraternity house. Spicing up these walls was placards, signs, and beer memorabilia which reinforced this notion. And I was drinking beer and enjoying myself. Add all that up and you have a term which I see ruffled feathers unnecessarily.

But you can't convince my palate that a sandwich with wine cooked duck, apples, and currant tapenade needs two types of cheese. And if you love the sandwich, then more power to you. I did not.

Let me be clear here: I think The Avenue Pub and J'Anita's are very cool places which are doing the drinking public of New Orleans a great flavor by offering beers and food away from the mainstream.

The purpose of the Your Call series is to draw our attention places it hasn't yet been. And thanks to our readers we discovered The Avenue Pub and we will be back.