Avril BYOB in Bala Cynwyd! Two thumbs up (out of 2)

Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2009


By John McNulty, Eat well, drink better

Avril BYOB in Bala Cynwyd, PA.   www.avrilbyob.com
A different kind of Bistro for sure. Ambience on a Sunday night with close to 40 in the space was neighborhood friendly without being too loud. The hardwood floors and art covered walls need a bit of fabric to dampen some of the decibels that seem to bother some reviewers and patrons, but I like an active restaurant and I can be as loud as I need to be to be heard (everyone who knows me, knows that).

To start we opened a bottle of Pol Roger (since it is a Wildman product and my wife is soon to be working for them in PA, NJ and DE). While the glassware at Avril is good, they only have one size, but now that you are forewarned you can bring sparkling glasses if you choose. We enjoyed the fizz with our first courses….Becky’s grilled endive salad was served with lentils and a savory dish it was. My first course was a chilled escarole and leeks soup. Texture was coarse, in bistro, not fine dining, style. It had excellent flavor.

Second course was from the Boulangerie side of the menu and was accompanied by Ch de la Maltroye Chassagne Montrachet 2006. I had the Scallops with (perfect with the wine btw) Wild mushroom and caramelized shallot ragout on parmesan and nutmeg scented pate sable with seared sea scallops and lemon thyme sauce béarnaise. Portion size was petite as advertised on the menu. Flavors were awesome with just a hint of sweetness. Becky’s app was Crab Crespelle. Crab stuffed crepe with capers and asparagus gratin. Creamy and savory with plenty of crab stuffed into the crepe.

Main Courses were from the Bistro (no baked goods) side of the menu. Becky had the Salmon filet in potato crust with roasted pearl onions, beets and Brussels sprouts served in a red wine brown butter. She was getting full, but I was going strong. She loved the salmon, but I had already decided I needed to try the homemade gnocchi after my Rabbit Gratin Confit of rabbit served in a crock with wild mushroom sauce, four spice fillo and roasted vegetables (so there was a little baked goods anyway). Savory, earthy and left me wanting more. Our wine for this course was a 2004 Auxey Duresses…perfect for the duo.

The Gnocchi were house made, with pistachio, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano and basil pesto. They were light and airy (not anything like the lead sinkers I dread at most places) and swimming in pesto that was fresh and delicious. Needless to say we couldn’t finish all the gnocchi and B could not finish her Salmon. We did try the Chocolate Torte…..fudgy and creamy..yum

While we didn’t finish all of our wine nor all of our dishes, we left feeling quite satisfied with our visit. We spend more on sushi at dinner for 2, so we also felt it was a value. Avril’s menu is not the predictable “Bistro” menu, but there is a wide selection of fish, fowl, and meat from which to choose. The Boulangerie side shows off the daily made baked goods, making it unique. The foccacia and bread sticks we enjoyed with our meal were also quite good. All in all a very encouraging meal and the nice crowd on Holiday weekend Sunday eve was, I hope, a sign that the French style cuisine is not dead in the Philadelphia area.

Merci, et Bonne Chance Christian et Avril (April).

134 Bala Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, PA    610-667-2626 avrilbyob.com