THINGS are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.
But I believe it’s definitely a good place to start.
That is why as soon as I stepped into the Avalanche restaurant, located just off the popular Albert’s Square, I was immediately attracted to the stunning interior.
Set on a street corner, the venue boasts of beautiful lighting draped around the restaurant in the form of prominent chandeliers and twinkling window lights. It reminded me of a mid-summers’ paradise.
What I loved most about this place is that it had atmosphere. It was a hive of happiness for young families and friends in the warm July evening.
Walking into the building there was an empty but reasonably sized bar area to the left, accompanied by a bright dining area to the right – that is where the magic happened.
Accompanied to the table by the very welcoming manager, we were then looked after by a smiley, chatty host who had no problem in helping recommend top wines or meals.
Even if it was said purely in politeness, her enthusiasm was contagious.
Bringing a slice of Italy’s finest foods to the dominant capital, I was dying to sample a taste of the dishes.
Looking through the menu, nothing initially caught my eye. With a vast array of choices, it was full of the standard, traditional type Italian/English favourites. I have to admit it didn’t excite me.
But it was perfect for those who enjoy an uncomplicated option for their palate.
Not wanting to miss out on anything, my food partner and I decided to share our selections. Served at reasonable prices, there was quite a lot which caught our attention.
Opting first for the calamari (my favourite ever) and the gamberoni piccanti, pan fried king prawns finished with spicy tomato and herbs sauce, served on toasted bread, I was pleasantly surprised at the effort which had gone into the dishes.
The regular sized prawns were doused in a blend of tomato flavoured goodness, although I enjoyed the mix of textures, I felt it was something my mum could have rustled up in five minutes on a Sunday afternoon. They just didn’t have that ‘za za zoom’ which I strive for in every food parcel.
The calamari on the other hand – utterly delicious. This definitely was the peak of the meal and I can honestly say it is up there with the creme de la creme of fish dishes.
Just bursting with flavour, it was light, airy, soft and not overly coated in disgustingly dry batter, it was rounded off perfectly with a mayonnaise-type dip and salad.
Next, and upon careful consideration, we shared the ‘Avalanche Speciale di Pesce’ (minimum for t people).
It was the whole fresh catch of the day cooked with lemon, white wine, garlic, served with a mixed leaf salad and finished with berci sauce.
It wasn’t what I expected but once again a lot of effort had gone into deciding what sea creatures to put on the plate in order to appeal to its audience.
But it was just lacking that something. It was the type of dish your 13-year-old sibling would stamp their foot at.
Despite the fish being expertly cooked, each piece was soft and succulent and literally melted on your mouth.
It was just that little bit bland. There were no mix of colours, flavours or spices and I didn’t realise the meal came without any carbohydrates so therefore, without being warned, was forced to order a side of chips.
The chips though were your standard thin fries which arrived slightly lukewarm.
It was just ‘fine’ and it did the job though, I was comfortably full and at least it left me room for dessert.
Then again, after the low came the ultimate high. We ordered the creme brulee to share. It arrived big enough to share between the two of us and it was as light and round and bouncy as an illustration on a classic Roald Dahl book.
The top was glazed like the most expensive frosted glass, crispy and sweet with a soft, creamy house of heaven living inside. It didn’t come with any garnishes or ice cream but it didn’t need to – it did exactly what it said on the tin.
This dish definitely wasn’t fine, it was a whole lot better.
Despite a couple of set backs, I left on a high. Memories of good company, lovely setting and a buzzing atmosphere is all I am left with. First appearances hide some flaws, but it definitely gives a good indication of the overall product.