Ava Restaurant Review - January 1, 2007 BunRabs Home Yummy Chow Home

636 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA


A nut for a jar of tuna

What kind of Palindrome-aphobe doesn’t like a Toyota? Not me. When I ava  craving for vitacultural vittles, I go back and forth to AVA.

The service is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. They don't do any upselling, but they do make good suggestions based on your preferences.

Reclaimed wood tables and super comfy chairs adorn this intimate dining room. It's low key enough for jeans, but most people we saw were business casual.

Peppers di padron ($6.00) were simply and deliciously prepared in a skillet with olive oil and sea salt. A great way to prime the saliva pump.

Fried cardoons ($8.50) came with thinly sliced and battered lemons. The light tempura-like coating to this fruit and veggie dish was slightly greasy, but still good. A ramekin of olive aioli was so good that I spread the remainder on my bread.

Dungeness crab ($12.50) was spread over a tower of jicama, orange segments. avocado, and frisee. The cilantro vinaigrette was studded with crunchy, toasted pepitas. The combo of flavors and textures worked well in this retro salad tower.

The striped bass ($19.00) was a tasty, thin, filet of crispy skinned vertebrate. It was a little more cooked than I prefer, but it was flavorfully accented with Meyer lemon confit.

A side of turnip, Brussels sprout and bacon had a pleasant marriage of earthy and salty tastes with contrasting textures.

Marin Sun Farms Burger ($13.50) came on a bun that matched the patty diameter. The meat was cooked to a rare, juicy goodness with Bravo Farms Cheddar melted on top. The light, brioche bun looked and felt as though it would get juice logged, but it held up to its task. Ketchup and mustard came in little ramekins, but there was only lettuce (no tomato or onions) to accent this otherwise tasty burger. The side of kale was tasty enough to help relieve my sorrows.

Fried chicken ($16.00) was cooked confit style (slowly in fat) before being dipped in buttermilk, dredged in flour and deep fried. The result is a rich and juicy bird. All the entrees come with mix and match sides.  The Castroville artichokes with potatoes was not the best thing to order with this heavy dish. In retrospect, a better selection would have been the chard (which would have had a nice astringent, fat cutting quality.)

Hanger steak ($19.50) was a savory, well marbled and tender Cedar River cut cooked perfectly rare. Don’t expect a huge hunk of meat as this cow is presented in slices that are fanned out in a display of bloody goodness. Young, mild cipollini onions were a perfect counterpoint for this tasty protein, but I unwisely ordered the side of wild mushroom and brioche budino which was too heavy to teeter to the meaty totter.

I wish they didn’t use the stemless “o” glasses  with so many fingery (and oily) foods on the menu. You have to exercise care to remove all traces of oil from your burgery hands before taking a glug of red wine or it could easily end in disaster with these non-oxo products.


Two and a half carrots out of four

AVA is a great addition to San Anselmo. Their menu supports local, sustainable producers and follows the season’s best offerings.



Ava Bathroom Rating

The bathrooms are clean and well stocked with the exception of  toilet seat covers. What is up with restaurants not providing these butt-a-gami products? It seems to be the latest restaurant trend to skimp on the ass-gaskets.



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