Friday, February 12, 2010

Roll into J’anita’s at the Avenue

*Note: These days (4/10/2011), J'Anita's is at the Rendon Inn...

If, at any time this weekend, you’re strolling down St. Charles hunting for something to eat between parades, you can skip the chicken on a stick and find some of the best bar food around at the Avenue Pub. Not too long ago, Craig and Kimmie Gieseke, who ran J’anita’s from a location on Magazine Street, shuttered their doors and teamed up with the folks at Avenue Pub. The resulting combining is great local and imported beers at a neighborhood bar with the incredible cuisine of J’Anita’s. Last night, John and I took advantage of the cold weather and cancelled parades to visit this fairly new collaboration. This is my 24th cheat and I am down 50 pounds.

When J’anita’s was located on Magazine, my co-workers and I visited often and had tasted everything from the Best Fish Sammich Ever to the Swamp Rueben, both of which are still on the menu at the Avenue Pub. But, since their move, I noticed some new items that definitely caught my eye.

John and I dropped into the Avenue Pub at around 6:00 p.m. last night, thankful to be out of the cold. The Avenue is a warm and inviting establishment with the classic high ceilings and wood floors typical of local architecture. Following the brightly designed chalkboards, we walked over to the kitchen counter and ordered our dinner, picked up a few draft Abita Ambers and sat down.

We appeared to be the only ones eating, so our food came out rather quickly. Our appetizer was called Sirloin Bites featuring bite-sized pieces of well-marinated, grilled sirloin served with house-made chimmichurri sauce, Kimmie’s famous guacamole and chips. Although I enjoyed the sirloin, the guacamole stole the show. I’ve had Kimmie’s guacamole before, and it is the best I’ve tasted with large, creamy chunks of avocado.

In short order our sandwiches arrived. John chose the St. Duck Chuck that is, as the menu so aptly states, a sandwich you’ll never forget. It’s a grilled sourdough sandwich with a currant tapenade, Cabernet sautéed duck, granny smith apples, cheddar cheese and bleu cheese. I fought to get as many bites as I could, but I will definitely have to return and order one for myself. All “sammiches” include one side and I couldn’t help but snag a few of John’s seasoned steak fries on the sly.

Please don’t get the impression I wasn’t pleased with my order, the Adult Grilled Cheese Sammich, because it was equally tasty. With an exquisite combination of cheddar, pepper jack and feta cheeses balanced with thick slices of bacon, chopped tomato and grilled onion, my mom’s old grilled cheese made with processed cheese slices would have crawled away in shame. For my side I chose the special, a creamy white bean soup accented with bacon, cheddar cheese and a splash of NOLA Brown Ale.

Although I didn’t get dessert, I was tempted to order from the extensive beer menu, which included items like Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan Ale, offering a different sort of sweet for my drinking pleasure. But, due to the cold weather, all I could think about was curling up in bed to a good book. I’m thrilled that J’Anita’s was able to re-invent itself inside the Avenue Pub, and you should be, too. Don’t forget, when the parades come to a lull and your stomach is rumbling, the finest bar food on the avenue can be found at the Avenue!

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