by Theo Tritsarolis, 11 September 2016

A trip into Mayfair is usually cause for delight - a rare occasion that one has the chance to sculpt themselves into the high life of the moneyed gentry and their Arab counterparts who are perennially stationed throughout this privileged arena. So an invitation to dine at Avista, an Italian restaurant at 39 Grosvenor Square, conjured visions of a grand dining room, exquisitely decorated. Upon arrival a friendly hostess guided us to our table and I found myself to be under a slight misapprehension, lights - a bit too bright - glared off almost bare walls; dual butterfly pieces and a stalwart blue-roll dispenser stationed strategically behind the chef’s granite-topped prep area attempting their best to put on a brave face.


My partner and I made ourselves comfortable at a generously large table bedecked in a sparkling white cloth and began grazing on a parade of Italian breads, including crunchy crostini and focaccia, brought to tide us over until we ordered. 


The menu itself, creation of Chef Arturo Granato, is Italian with the names of dishes being written in English and Italian for added authenticity. We started with a creamy burrata alongside courgette (which surprisingly appeared encased in tempura), peanut and saffron oil, and a duck and foie gras terrine with cherry, popcorn, caramel vinegar and coriander which I eyed as being suspiciously French, but decided not to raise my distrust due to its delicious nature. 


Following our server’s suggestion I moved on to a lemon sole in a light and crispy tempura with lemon emulsion and Taggiasca olive, proving that your local chippy does not have sole custody of battered fish. Despite this beautifully presented plate, my partner’s fillet with girolle mushroom and port jus did instil a slight hint of food envy at the back of my throat; swiftly quenched by a glass of Verdicchio del Castelli, a rather punchy Italian wine, chosen by our server, that brought back memories of navigating treacherous wine lists while on holiday on the continent.


The highlight of our meal however - at least for me - was the dessert. My prosecco sorbet (unbattered) was fizzy and zingy, presented in a crystal cut glass. Although I did generously tuck into the old-fashioned but spirituous rum baba my partner ordered, it was slightly reminiscent of the eighties decor that surrounded us and unfortunately lacked the flair that the rest of menu possessed. 


Avista, while having solid fare that you cannot fail to enjoy, could do with a touch up of the cosmetic variety, but its location in Mayfair is hard to beat. 




Twitter: @AvistaBar