Bill and I went out to dinner last week at Avanti Bar and Grill, the restaurant at the Marriott Courtyard North in Oklahoma City. We’ve been there more than a few times over the last couple of years because yes, we enjoy the food, but also because we enjoy the Wednesday night live music by well known Oklahoma guitarist, Edgar Cruz. In fact, we enjoy Edgar’s music so much we had him play at Bill’s and my wedding, and reception, back in August. Yup. Edgar is awesome; we needed an Edgar “fix.”
Avanti Bar and Grill is an Italian, sort of, restaurant. Not really southern Italian, not really northern, kind of a combination, with dishes that are aimed at widespread appeal. They’ve changed the menu in the last year, some of it’s quite good, some of it I still have questions about. Entrees are what I’d call in the mid-priced range: from $10 for the Fettuccine Alfred0-Romano, to $24 for the Beef Tenderloin Filet. Avanti Bar and Grill has a fairly active bar area, especially on weekends, and they also serve Sunday brunch.
Our server brought the water and bread pretty quickly after we were seated. The bread looked like a Portuguese roll cut in half, spread with some oil, topped with grated cheese and rosemary, and then toasted in the oven. The texture was ok, but the topping was a little heavy on the rosemary.
And, while we’ve had a number of different dishes there before, like the Seafood Risotto, the Chicken Marsala, and the Margherita Pizza, as it turned out, this time Bill and I ordered the same entrée: Seafood Tarragon Orzo for $16.00. The description from the menu says: “Shrimp, scallops, baby shrimp, campari tomatoes, and pine nuts tossed in orzo, truffle oil, and fresh herbs.”
See the picture at the top? The presentation was pretty. The shrimp and scallops were cooked perfectly, and the orzo combination was tasty. But we both wished there were more shrimp and scallops. And why were they served separately, in the decorative clam shell? Two each of the scallops and shrimp was barely enough for an appetizer, and there were no baby shrimp in sight. And, since we were both very hungry, we ate everything on the plate, but wanted more.
I was also thinking (cook that I am), that in addition to more seafood, grape tomatoes might look a little better and still taste great. I’ve already warned Bill: I want to try and replicate/tweak this dish at home.
We wanted dessert, something chocolate please, but nothing on the menu really rang our chimes, so we sat and listened to the incredible music of Edgar Cruz and his guest musician, Michael Kelsey.
Edgar started off and played some of our favorites, including Cancion del Mariachi, and Classical Gas, along with some original songs like Red Dirt Rag. He and Michael played some songs together, and Michael also did some solos, and then Bill and I got up and danced (yup, we were the only ones) when Edgar played, Unforgettable (we’re such romantics, ain’t we?). Edgar even played his awesome rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. Here’s his YouTube Video so you can see and hear it for yourself.
Bottom line: Avanti Bar and Grill has decent food, but even better live music.
Recommendation: Check Edgar Cruz’s schedule to see when he’s playing there.
Avanti Bar and Grill
13509 Highland Park Boulevard
Oklahoma City, OK 73120
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11 am – 1:30 am