Exquisite is a word she barely uses, but as soon as her mouth met the Linguini with Shrimp, my friend belted out the nine-letter word and smiled.
West Chester’s Avalon tends to have that effect on people.
Located at 116 East Gay St., the modern Italian tour de force has been consistently conjuring up smiles in West Chester for over a decade.
Chef and owner John Brandt-Lee gives his customers a wide selection of exceptional dishes all prepared fresh with locally harvested ingredients.
Upon hearing about their 2013 visit from renowned celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, I had to stop by the restaurant and explore all that Avalon has to offer.
As I entered the venue, I noticed the elegant decor that blended well with the mellow music, the rustic look of the furniture, and the dim lighting.
Avalon is sophisticated and cozy; a perfect place for date night or for family dinners.
The floor to ceiling windows allow customers to sip their wine and enjoy the outdoors from within; which was great for my guest and I as we watched the rain dance on the window seal.
The lighting of the dining room and the bar area are soft, not unlike the calm and comforting ambience of a candle-lit dinner.
Furthermore, the restaurant is a friend of natural and earthy materials, as their tables and chairs are made of finely crafted wood.
Aside from the beautiful aesthetic features of the restaurant, this new location allows for a fully stocked bar, so customers who prefer to interact with others have the space to do so.
The bar also acts as a haven for specialty deals.
From Tuesday through Friday at 5-6:30 p.m., Avalon offers $10 pasta bowls, and on Wednesday nights customers can order all you can eat mussels from 5-6:30 p.m.
While the dinner specials are great, Avalon also serenades its customers with live music every Friday and Saturday night from 8 p.m. to midnight.
During my time at Avalon, I devoured three dishes: Mussels Red, Crisp Calamari, and the Linguini with Shrimp.
The mussels are prepared with chorizo, garlic, tomato, and white wine; the perfect blend of ingredients for a mouthwatering dish.
They were not only fresh, but also paired well with the crisp calamari.
The calamari came with a lemon caper dipping sauce and was cooked to perfection, as the balance between the lightly crisp coating and the tender warmth of the calamari was a true measure of the chef’s ability to not only prepare savory food but to make each dish memorable.
I ended the night with a pasta, the Linguini with Shrimp topped with finely grated Parmesan cheese.
At first, I thought that I would be overwhelmed by the size of Avalon’s pasta dishes, but what’s great about this restaurant is that they offer smaller portions.
The Linguini with Shrimp stole the show, as even my friend with her picky palate dug in and melted at the smooth texture of the sauce and the perfect combination of spices.
Aside from the taste, the presentation of the food is also worth noting.
There’s something illuminating about the presentation, as the appearance of each plate is not ridiculously lavish or so full of foliage that the customer can’t appreciate the appearance of the cuisine.
The simple design of each dish allows the customer to revel in the natural beauty of the food.
Coupled with the bustling bar, beautiful decor, and tasty dishes Avalon provides its customers with excellent service.
All of the employees and servers were not only respectful and kind, but they were also accommodating, helpful, and attentive.
Overall, Avalon is definitely a rare gem.
The service, food, atmosphere- even the affordable prices- are all top of the line and to quote my friend, simply exquisite.
Angira S. Pickens is a fourth-year student majoring in English writwith minors in journalism and ethnic studies. She can be reached at AP765497@wcupa.edu.