Dinner – Saturday, June 30, 2018

Despite hearing some good things about it, I never made it to Rodney Wages’ (ex-Saison, ex-Benu, ex-Atelier Crenn) extended pop-up restaurant, RTB. He ultimately decided to put down roots in the Fillmore, in the same space that hosted his pop-up – enter Avery (named after the abstract painter Milton Avery). I dined alone on this night, enjoying the signature “Bouquet by the Sea” menu (incidentally, both this and the shorter “Cello Player” menu are artworks by Avery).

Broth of toasted grains, burnt onion butter

Japanese sea bream
Pluot, shiso, togarashi

Mt. Lassen trout
Smoked roe, Everything seasoning

Cinco Jotas Jamon Iberico
Warm potato cake, romesco

Decadent. The leg of ham was sliced in the dining room, and strips taken back into the kitchen. They returned as an assemblage over a warm potato cake and romesco sauce. The warmth was just sufficient to melt the ham fat slightly, adding to the mouthfeel.

Golden Osetra caviar
Cultured cream, warmed wagyu fat

“Plated” directly on a diner’s hand – the caviar was overlaid with cultured cream piped from a pastry bag, and this was all draped with a slice of wagyu ribeye fat. Fun.

Shigoku oysters
Marinated Sungold tomatoes, charred fig

Æbleskiver with avocado and roasted garlic
Crispy shrimp, seaweed

Soft-shell crab
Fermented black beans, corn, chorizo oil

Fried soft-shell crab set in sweet grits. Great interplay of textures, and the fermented black beans were a surprisingly delightful combination with the corn’s sweetness. The chorizo oil felt a little out of place, adding heat and fat where it seemed unnecessary.

Grilled black cod
Chorizo, razor clam, bearnaise mousseline

A perfectly cooked rectangle of black cod, slightly smoky from the grill, was set atop a pillowy bearnaise mousseline. These two components covered a base of chopped-up razor clam and chorizo. Very punchy and in-your-face flavours, yet well-balanced. Here, the spiciness of the chorizo actually made sense with the tangy bearnaise, and its smokiness echoed that of the fish. My dish of the night.

Tortellini en brodo
Mushrooms, cultured butter, brined and smoked foie gras, roasted garlic

Raw Mendocino lamb saddle and its crispy belly
Grilled Monterey Bay abalone, wild seaweed, nettles

Hokkaido A5 Snow Beef, Kansas City BBQ sauce
Wagyu from Hokkaido, simply seared. It was fantastic – I ate it without the BBQ sauce, which I found too overpowering for the delicate meat. The dish was paired with an intriguing sake brewed partly with red rice – it had notes of oxidation that really went well with the beef fat.

Jasper Hill Farm Harbison, buckwheat tart
Candy cap mushrooms, roasted onions

Black truffle dulce de leche cake, blueberries
Grilled milk ice cream, buttermilk, figs

The restaurant seems to be going for a casual vibe, but the ambition of the kitchen is anything but. Given the confines of the small space (both in the front and back of house), they put out a nice progression of dishes – and the availability of a (delicious) sake pairing is a treat. To my mind, there’s still work to be done to balance some of the courses, but the raw material is in place.


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