Tucked away inside the newly remodeled Broadview Hotel at Douglas and Waco is AVI Seabar and Chophouse. Although this upscale eatery has only been open since late last year it has already undergone a menu revamp, received mixed reviews, and been subject to rumors of closure.
The interior of AVI can be described as modern industrial perhaps? High ceilings and exposed duct work is fashionable these days. A large fireplace in the center adds a hominess feeling to the restaurant. Although there were plenty of tables available on the main level, Steph and I were taken to the more intimate second story for some private dining.
Since it was a special occasion we decided to kick off the meal with some $8 cocktails. Steph ordered the Orange Julius while I opted for the Mint Julep. Both drinks were quite refreshing and contained a decent amount of alcohol.
The menu covers all the typical bases with salads, sandwiches, steaks, seafood, as well as some poultry and pork dishes. Some of the highlights include a cheese and charcuterie platter(this may be the only restaurant in town that has sweet, delicious charcuterie on the menu), a croque monsieur sandwich, a smoked duck
breast, and salmon belly wrapped scallops. I was pleased to see that some actual French inspired dishes were on this menu. If there is one cuisine type that Wichita is really lacking in, it would be classic French. While most dishes will run you about $15-$30 there are several in the $8-$15 range. Since AVI is billed as a seafood and steak place, we figured we should at least try one on these proteins, so Steph went with the extravagantly named Salmon Belly Wrapped Diver Scallops. Once I saw that a smoked duck breast was on the menu that was the end of the decision making process for me. Duck breast is one of my favorite splurge dishes since it is a meat that is difficult to obtain fresh around here, unless I take up duck hunting. The scallops were served with creamed spinach and “griddle potatoes”, while the duck came with roasted asparagus and a parsnip puree.
While waiting for the meal, some homemade roasted garlic bread was brought to our table. Whole cloves of garlic baked into the loaf made it an impressive pre-dinner bread offering. Both of our main dishes received high marks for presentation, although I immediately noticed that my duck was overcooked. Due to the low fat content of duck it really shouldn’t be cooked past medium rare, but this breast looked to be on the high end of medium. Despite this error, it still tasted wonderful. The meat was tender, the skin delightfully fatty, and the smoky, sweet flavor was perfect. Bonus points to AVI for using apple wood to smoke the duck. The asparagus and puree parsnips were good as well, although a larger portion would have been nice. The parsnips tasted very similar to mashed potatoes. Luckily the scallops did not suffer the same fate as the duck, they were cooked perfectly. The tender salmon belly was a good accompaniment for the scallops. While we were not impressed with the griddle potatoes, the richness of the creamed spinach complimented the delicate scallops nicely.
Overall our experience at AVI was positive. We did not have any problems with the service like some have complained about in the past. Hopefully they have smoothed out the operation and will be able to remain in business. When looking for a special occasion restaurant keep AVI in mind.