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Post from Food/Drink News Feed - CultureMap Houston
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Ava Kitchen & Whiskey Bar has been open inside West Ave for six months, but until Tuesday night the "whiskey bar" part of the name was virtually silent.

Not anymore. To debut the restaurant's more casual menu of tipples and bar bites, Ava owners Robert and Mimi Del Grande and Lonnie and Candice Schiller closed down dinner service to throw a bustling word-of-mouth bash complete with whiskey tastings from Dewar's, signature cocktails on offer and passed appetizers.

General manager Rawad Semaan created the tightly edited whiskey menu, featuring "highly recommended" whiskeys and beers, including Chivas 18 year, Balvenie 12 year DoubleWood, Paulaner and Duvel Ale. Semaan also created a duo of specialty whiskey cocktails, the Metropolitan Martini (Four Roses bourbon, maple syrup and grapefruit-infused bitters) and the smooth and refreshing Royal Martini, with Dewar's White Label, Fernet Branca and Lillet Rouge.

The food portion of the bar menu was designed by Del Grande and is divided between "bites" like potato chips with bleu cheese dip, fried cauliflower with yogurt sauce, meatballs and artichoke dip with fontina cheese, all priced between $2-8, and a "bar plates" list starting at $11 with more substantial dishes including a fried chicken sandwich, cobb salad, steak tartar and yellowtail ceviche with mango.

Among the new items served at the party, the addictively salty, crispy trout fries matched well with a citrus-y salsa verde, the fried chicken bites (meant to symbolize the chicken sandwich) had a thick and satisfying batter and a lemon-accented mayonnaise for dipping — I generally abstain from mayo, but this had such a light touch I couldn't resist. The meatballs had a nice if subtle flavor, but the color and texture were a bit off-putting.

The new bar menu is designed for those relaxing by the bar or in the lounge area, but is available anywhere in the restaurant after 5 p.m.

Editor's note: Ava is owned by Schiller/Del Grande, whose co-founder Lonnie Schiller is an investor in CultureMap.


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