Seven year restaurant anniversary special dinner all week

7th Anniversary

Boy does time fly!

Amazingly enough, seven years ago I started a little tea and sandwich shop — The Darjeeling Café — just up the street from where my restaurant resides today.

It’s hard to believe the dramatic evolution that I’ve had as a business owner. I’m so proud of the direction that my restaurant today — AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar — is going and look forward to creating and evolving my techniques and offerings even more.

To honor this big anniversary, I’ve crafted a seven course meal that showcases how I’ve grown as a cook. It features local ingredients whenever possible. Each course is something that I love to make and has been on past menus in some form. Each has an optional pairing of wines that I love and ones that I think epitomize summer.

This seven course menu is $70 and with advance notice can be made to accommodate vegetarians. It will be served Wednesday through Saturday of this week — a whole week of anniversary celebration!

First Course

Apple, pear, Brie, and arugula salad with honey Champagne vinaigrette.

Paired with San Vencenzo Sparkling Rosé.

This is a riff on a wrap that was on my first menu — the Pooh Bear. It was an apple pear wrap with Brie and honey drizzle. It was messy and delicious. This is a slightly more adult version of some favorite childhood flavors.

Second Course 

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho.

Paired with Protea Chenin Blanc.

This is one of the first things I learned to “cook.” I love the simplicity and ease of a gazpacho, but also the depth and layers of flavors that a properly made one can yield. This is just the season for such a soup. The spice, the salt, the acidity — yum!

Third Course

Roasted beets with goat cheese, avocado coulis, and an orange-infused white balsamic reduction.

Paired with J. Fritsch Pinot Blanc.

Beets are one of my favorite foods — I just love them! Red, golden, white, heirloom, they’re so delicious and unique both in sumer and in winter.

And if I could put goat cheese on everything I would. Pair that with the creaminess of avocado and the bright acidity of orange and you can see why this dish has been a classic for over 30 years.

Fourth Course

Pan-seared cod with white bean cassoulet and buerre blanc.

Paired with Bonterra Organic Chardonnay.

I’ve never been much of a fish eater (unless you count the massive amount of tinned tuna I consume), so fish has always been something that I was scared to cook. It’s so delicate and can fall apart and over cook so easily. But once I learned to cook it, it’s become one of my favorite things to play with.

In general I’m heavily influenced by French cooking styles. Being self-taught, I’ve never been a part of a kitchen brigade — which is oh-so-French — but I’ve read so many French cookbooks it’s astounding. While I don’t always create things the way the French do, I’m amazed and drawn in by their techniques.

This dish showcases two classic French components with my Southern American twist. Julia Child would approve.

Fifth Course

Spice rubbed pork with grilled peaches, summer succotash, lemon pepper zucchini, and citrus dressed greens.

Paired with Leese Fitch Zinfandel.

When people ask me what I feel like is the best thing I cook, I always say the pork. Having been a vegetarian for most of my life, off and on, to say a meat is the best thing I cook seems odd. I’m currently on my off-again state, so I can say this dish is awesome! It combines a lot of my favorite side dishes as well. Each component comes together to provide a great balance of sweetness, acidity, citrus, and spice.

Every dish should tantalize your taste buds, and this one really does.

Sixth Course

Cheese Plate.

Paired with Sofia Coppola Sparkling Blanc de Blanc.

For many years I lived with a vegan and we didn’t have any dairy in our home. When I moved out the first thing I did was go spend a ridiculous amount of money on cheese and fancy butter. So, of course, we have to have a cheese plate because cheese is one of my favorite foods. I regularly make a meal of it with just bread, olives, and jam.

Seventh Course

Birthday Cupcakes.

Paired with Barren Ridge Christof.

I spent years perfecting ways to make vegan food taste like it was made with animal products. The best thing that I came up with, aside from vegan chicken and waffles, was key lime cupcakes with “sour cream” icing. They are so moist and delicious. No one misses the dairy!

This menu is me putting myself on a plate — which is something that I ‘ve done for seven years now.

To reflect on the growth I’ve had over the years is remarkable to me. Truthfully, I look back and I can’t believe how far I’ve come.

I’m proud of my accomplishments and my restaurant and I thank you for coming on this journey with me. Without my guests, this would be a pointless venture.

We hope to see you this week for this special menu or our regular menu, your choice — just come celebrate with us!

— Mary Beth Haris, Proprietress, AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar