We’ve been waiting a while for Craig Laban to weigh in on Avance, and now that he has, we’re guessing that the crew in the kitchen and on the floor probably wishes he’d waited a little longer. In a review that read even harsher than the two bell ranking Avance scored, Laban calls out problems almost everywhere–with the notable exception of the downstairs bar.
When we stepped up for the full $138 chef’s tasting two weeks later, though, Avance wasn’t yet ready for its training wheels to come off. The excellent house-baked breads (smoked wheatberry, Armenian rye) became a tasting of one cold roll after another (save for scorched brioche with the foie gras.) Servers hovered, popping over to answer eavesdropped questions that hadn’t actually been asked. Cherniavsky’s by-the-glass pairings were mixed, scoring with a fleshy Greco from Basilicata to start, an Angerer Grüner for the tartare, and a Florido Moscatel sherry for the custardy frozen foie gras, but stumbling over reds, with an $18 just-opened 2001 Crozes-Hermitage that needed more time to open up and a funky South African cab franc blend that was just off.
Two Bells — Very Good