Tom Sheffer, owner of Avo and Dram had a moment of brilliance when he decided that patrons could order from either menu. I remember when the restaurants first opened, someone explained, “Dram is a whiskey bar with food and Avo is a fine dining restaurant.” Neither description gave a fair description of the culinary excellence that takes place at each restaurant. To fairly write the review, I figured that I should make a minimum of two trips this month—one to experience the downstairs and one to better understand the ambiance of the upstairs dining. But, anyone who has eaten at either restaurant really knows that I was working to justify two dinners out at the same restaurant in the heart of Mt. Brook village.
While at Dram, we mixed and matched from both menus. We began with the avocado appetizer from Avo’s starter menu, which was a perfectly fresh avocado blended with picco de gallo. For my meal, I ordered the Inside-Out burger with sour mashed sweet potatoes. The inside-out burger is stuffed with Kentucky Barren County blue cheese. The bread is not your typical bun but has a lightweight freshness about it, which makes the burger less heavy. When I bit into the burger, the way that the cheese oozed from the inside and moistened the bread and the burger gave a special delight to my taste buds. My friend ordered a California burger from Avo, which is topped with blue cheese and prosciutto and served with the matchstick fries. The fries were the type that won’t just let you have one or two. I found myself constantly on his plate looking for another bite. The night ended with the tarte tatin, which was a house-made puffed pastry stuffed with apples and topped with ginger-white chocolate ice cream.
For the second meal, we made reservations at Avo and decided to order completely from Avo’s menu. We decided to order in a way that would order in a manner that gave us the most exposure in one sitting. I insisted that we eat out on the upstairs balcony because the evening was a perfect spring evening in the village with a perfect temperature and people walking throughout the village, visiting Starbuck’s and the Mt. Brook Creamery.
We began our meal again with the avocado appetizer from the starter menu. I know that some of you may be questioning this decision since I had already experienced this luxury in the first visit. But, I could not resist. The homemade pita-style fried chips with the fresh avocado spread were beckoning me from the kitchen. The fresh oysters looked great, but I had to have some more avocado dip. I can tell you that when we arrived, we stopped and conversed with a couple of friends eating on Dram’s front porch, who were enjoying cocktails and oysters, and they were very happy with their appetizer choice. Next, we ordered the chicken-fried lobster and the crepes saigonnaise from the “mids” section of the menu. The crepes were filled with shrimp, squid, scallions, and sprouts and topped with a tomato-jalapeño chutney. The chicken-fried lobster was a couple of strips of lobster that were battered and cooked like grandma’s fried chicken. Scrumptious is the only word that I can currently think of to appropriately describe this starter.
Because we began with three starters, we decided to share the prime tenderloin of beef, medium rare. The meat melted in my mouth. As if the mouthwatering steak was not enough, this entrée included a truffled goat-cheese twice-baked potato and haricots verts. I love good carbs, despite what the trainer may say. But, honestly, I would break any carb-counting diet for another bite of that twice-baked potato. As I finished my meal before my friend, he stated, “I am glad that they split the steak for us in the kitchen,” understanding that I would have been taking more than my share had we been sharing on the same plate. We ended our evening with a French press of decaffeinated coffee and two desserts: the carrot cake and the cheesecake pancakes. The cheesecake pancakes were unique and were a bit more like pancakes than cheesecake. I guess for me, this delightful dessert was like miniature pancakes blended with cheesecake filling. I ordered the carrot cake, which was obviously extremely moist and made with fresh carrots. As the desserts were coming to an end and my friend reached for a last bite of the carrot cake, I found myself glaring at him until he halved the size of the bite that he was about to take. I needed to ensure that I had enough left to complete my dining experience.