On the fourth day of Christmas blogging ... my vegetarian friend suggested to me that we go to Avenida, the cute Latin restaurant in Mt. Airy.
Avenida is very cute, under its colonial stone exterior, with its separate red rooms and seating that manage to retain the charm of a home. I understand that you can reserve one of the separate rooms upstairs where, on the night I ate there, unbeknownst to me, MCRF's mother was meeting with her book club. Not a bad book club place.
Avenida has received much hype and I confess expectations were high for me. Which is why when service was slow and fairly unresponsive, I was disappointed. Avenida did pass the guacamole test, offering chunky, freshly made, flavorful avocadoes with a hint of citrus. It comes with "dos salsas," one of which that night included the "enchilada sauce," a cheesy looking sauce that was cold and slightly bland although, in the style of all vaguely cheesy sauces, had a comfort food appeal.
I elected to get the Pork Pibil, with green mole and zucchini cheese pastel. After assurances that it could be made to be less spicy (yes, I like mild food, no, it's not a reflection on my personality), it was, in fact, pretty spicy. This lent itself to my really wanting those tortillas that our server promised many minutes ago. Finally they arrived and with the tortillas cutting some of the spice, I enjoyed the pork's intense flavor but was not blown away. The zucchini cheese pastel was as good as it sounds, a fluffy baked mix of cheese and zucchini, without being too heavy.
My vegetarian friend got, appropriately, the chef's vegetarian plate, a fully loaded plate that included the zucchini cheese pastel, along with fresh sauteed vegetables, greens, a fried potato or corn something-or-another, and asparagus topping. Although reported as tasty, it lacked a certain thematic coherence to me that spelled "side dishes on same plate," but then again, side dishes can be pretty tasty.
All in all, worth a return trip for the ambience, armed with lower expectations around service and a willingness to branch out on menu choices.
Avenida is located at 7402 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa, 19119, http://www.avenidarestaurant.com/.