Generous portions that scream to the fact that value is offered for money, and food with taste – seasoned and cooked to perfection should literally be Avery’s Restaurant Bar & Lounge’s tagline as far as I’m concerned – and not that it’s Adelaide’s best kept secret.
Avery’s is legendary, really. Established by Assistant Commissioner Avery Ferguson, deceased, in 1992, the bar and restaurant came into being in 1992, but many people would be shocked to learn that it was only two weeks ago, that I visited the establishment now under the proprietorship of Joe Johnson, since 2019, for the first time. (Actually, since that first visit, I’ve returned three times – that speaks to how good the food is.) Suffice it to say, I was pleasantly surprised, and definitely pleased.
Perusing the menu, the offerings were enticing to say the least. For a first-timer trying to decide what to have may be difficult. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be one of those times when I know I have to try an item because people told me it’s a must-do, want to try another item because I know I would love it if it’s done right, and simply want to try something else just to try it.
It was impressed upon me that the conch fritters were a must-have item, and they were listed as an Avery’s specialty, so I got an order. Then there’s the fact that I can never resist chicken wings (if they’re done right, and the sauce has to be excellent) and Avery’s offers four different sauced wings that they describe as legendary. (Again, big words to live up to!) I ordered a mix of the guava wings and the classic Buffalo. I also opted for an order of the lobster tacos; Avery’s also offers shrimp and chicken with the option to mix and match.
And this was just the starters!
Avery’s conch fritters definitely live up to the hype. They aren’t playing when it comes to size – the conch fritters are huge, and cooked to a gorgeous golden brown. Tender to the bite, they were chock-full of conch with amazing flavor and seasoned. The fritters were had a light and fluffy interior, and were not at all the dense, grease-laden balls you can sometimes find. I took a delight in dipping these fritters into their spicy house-made aioli.
As simple as a chicken wings are, people can mess them up. When chicken wings are done right, you can’t go wrong. For me, a great chicken wing has crispy skin, and the glaze has to be cooked onto the wing. I am not a fan of dipping a wing into a sauce after it’s been cooked. Avery’s does chicken wings right.
Their guava BBQ sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and savory, and made for the perfect sticky finger food – you know, the kind that makes you want to lick your fingers. And the Buffalo wings had just the right amount of spice. These wings are seriously addictive. (Since my first visit, I’ve returned to Avery’s a second time, and could not resist ordering the conch fritters and chicken wings, again.)
The tacos are served two to an order as opposed to three that you normally expect, but the size of these tacos more than makes up for the fact that you get two. Plus, you don’t have to search for lobster. The amount of cracked lobster meat on these tacos are mind-boggling. The lobster meat is topped with salsa, and pickled onions and drizzled with a Cajun aioli. These tacos are amazing. It takes a bit of work to make it so you’re able to get a bite of everything in one go.
After so many amazing starters, I opted for lighter entrée fare and went with the blackened salmon with a garden salad with Avery’s house-made mango vinaigrette.
The salmon was cooked to a perfect medium, just the way I like it, and again, Avery’s attention to detail showed through in the seasoning. The mango vinaigrette was fresh and light, and transformed the garden salad.
I don’t normally order peas and rice while out, but was encouraged to give Avery’s peas and rice a try; to their credit, it tastes like grammy made it, for all you people that just have to eat peas and rice.
Days later I returned to Avery’s for a second visit, because there were many more items on the menu that had caught my attention. And after a stellar first visit, it was definitely not a hardship to repeat the visit.
On my second visit I opted for Avery’s loaded burger, which is said to be another signature item; in my mind for a burger to be considered signature, it has to be one amazing burger. The Avery’s loaded burger consists of an eight-ounce Angus beef patty topped with smoked bacon, two cheeses – Monterey Jack and cheddar, grilled onions, roasted jalapenos, pico de gallo, pickles, and Avery’s chipotle mayo sauce on a sweet, fluffy, moist brioche bun. The brioche was perfect for this monster of a burger as the bun was big enough to encompass the burger without altering the desired bread-burger ratio. I’ll just say this – your first bite of this burger is one you will remember for a long time.
The chef completed the meal with a special mini guava cake which she served in a white chocolate cup surrounded by fresh fruit for a sweet finish.
If the people of Adelaide and the surrounding communities wanted to keep Avery’s a secret for themselves – well, the cat is out of the bag. Suffice it to say it was one of the best kept secrets – from me. But I was definitely impressed.
While taste is important, presentation is equally as important, and food art and composed plating play a big part in the Avery’s Restaurant Bar & Lounge as it is today. They realize the importance of visually presenting even the most downhome fare in as upscale a manner as possible as people eat with their eyes first.
And over the course of my two visits, I’ve learned that there are some things that can happen that aren’t listed on the menu, like the fact that all proteins can be had grilled, fried, blackened, or sauteed; that you can mix and match your tacos; and if you want something like garlic mashed potatoes instead of rice, just ask for it and that any snack can be made a dinner and vice versa; Johnson says at Avery’s they do their best to accommodate customers’ wishes. These are things I had to learn over the course of my visits.
Avery’s also offers an extensive and pretty impressive cocktail menu led by signature libations, the Hush Hush (Hennessy, mango puree, lemon juice, Kalik Guava Radler and agave syrup); Luck of the Irish (Sour Apple Vodka, Blue Curacao, Mango Mix, simple syrup and citrus mix); Anne by da Bay (Campari, Bombay Gin, Orange Bitters, and Grapefruit Radler); Hey Joe (muddled cucumber and green apples, St. Germaine Vodka, lemon infused syrup, cucumber and apple candied rum); as well as the Grumpy Old Man, a tribute to Avery Ferguson himself. Lychee martinis and tamarind martinis are also popular libations.