Stayin' Alive

Avanti Ristorante survives the McKinney Avenue curse

Then in places where you would least expect it, Avanti goes flat. Veal artichoke, a piece of stringy meat more parched than dank, was tousled with tender artichoke bottoms and petals. The collaboration sounds so good on paper, but it didn't necessarily work in the flesh, even though the promise could be tasted.

Jumbo stuffed shrimp with crabmeat lands like a lawn dart into the heart of Red Lobster monotony. I kept thinking that if they gave it a breezy Mediterranean name with elaborate vowel placement, it might have tasted better, but it's hard to see how. Though the plate was puddled with a deliciously tangy and smooth sun-dried tomato sauce, the shrimp had been tortured beyond culinary coherence. The milky shellfish flesh was tough, dry and fibrous, a little like pasteboard with a red fanny fan. It's difficult to get shrimp to end up this way; at least I've never seen such degradation. What a tough job that mushy crabmeat stuffing had, trying to reanimate a serving of freeze-dried space scampi.

Given its style, who'd a thunk this place could finesse a steak? Avanti does. This is Dallas after all, though judging by the rash of suspicious stuff that's served as prime, you'd think the carnivore hordes could prod City Hall to assemble a posse to smoke out the frauds and skewer them in public, out of civic pride if nothing else. It's doubtful that Avanti's New York Prime sirloin is a fraud, though. Cooked char black on the outside, the meat was juicy and rich.

Avanti is a swanky night creature.
Stephen Karlisch
Avanti is a swanky night creature.

Location Info

Map

Avanti Ristorante

2720 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75204

Category: Music Venues

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn

Details

214-871-4955. Open for lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; open for dinner 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 5 p.m.-12 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, "moonlight breakfast" 12 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, 12 a.m.-4 a.m. Friday & Saturday. $$-$$$

Carpaccio: $9.50
Italian ceviche: $8.25
Salad Avanti: $7.25
Portobella Florentine: $7.75
Cappellini basilico: $11.50
Shrimp linguini: $17.50
Salmon fillet: $18.25
Prime sirloin: $19.75
Veal artichoke: $17.25
Jumbo stuffed shrimp: $17.75
Panna cotta: $6

2720 McKinney Ave.

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Like its stuffed sibling, the shrimp in the shrimp linguini was a huge disappointment. The pasta was supple and al dente, but the shrimp, paired with squash and zucchini, were soapy and listless.

Which is why the salmon fillet was such a welcome seafaring rescue. The meat was firm, flaky, deliciously mild and slathered in a fresh tarragon sauce that basted it with an herbal sweetness.

Dessert, too, scored high. Avanti panna cotta was a near perfect moment: delicate, silky and cool custard imbedded with raspberries and sloshed with Chambord. It's the perfect apparatus to stylishly secure satiation. And wash away the soapy shrimp flavor.

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