MEDFIELD – There is a beautiful new neighborhood restaurant in Medfield named Avenue. Chef / owner Josh Foley and his family live so close to the restaurant, he actually walks to and from work every day, and he can smell the enticing aromas coming from the wood fire burning in the kitchen all the way at his house.
“I like to think of it as rustic New England comfort food focusing really on our wood fire cooking,” Josh said. “I like to buy quality and do as little as possible to it. I wanted to offer food that I love and that I have learned to make from talented people over the years, but also a menu that is creative but accessible so we would be busy seven nights a week instead of just on the weekends.”
The crowds have been coming since the day Avenue opened, for crispy flatbread pizzas, big BLT salads, fall off the bone confit chicken wings, potato crusted Port Judith calamari, pan-roasted mussels with chardonnay and garlic butter, wood-grilled swordfish, and cabernet braised short ribs. But the hottest attraction might be the kitchen itself.
“In the kitchen we have a wood oven. It’s a combination of gas and wood. We do all the flatbreads in there. And then next to the salad station is the wood grill, which is kind of the center piece of the kitchen. It was custom made in Northern California,” Josh explained. “The wood lays down on the bottom but you spin a wheel and the wood just raises up if you need to get it hotter and faster. During the day it’s down low, slow roasting the chickens, but during dinner service doing swordfish, steaks, burgers things like that we need it hot and fast.”
Josh learned how to cook over live fire during his time working at some legendary restaurants in San Francisco, including Boulevard and Zuni Café. His wood roasted chicken has a direct lineage back to the West Coast, and his signature burger was inspired by his days working the grill station at Harvest restaurant in Harvard Square, where culinary legend Julia Child was a frequent customer.
“It’s a certified Angus beef product, so it’s delicious already. We cook it to temp. It’s on a house made brioche bun. We serve it with comeback sauce – which is a secret recipe – and then we make our fries in house too which is important to me,” Josh said. “If our burger’s good enough for Julia Child what better testimonial is there than that?”
The wood grill also imparts an extra layer of flavor to the Steak Frites, featuring a corn fed prime skirt steak that’s brushed with compound butter, served with hand-cut fries, and plated over Argentinean style chimichurri sauce.
From the outside, Avenue looks like something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Inside it’s a combination of rustic and modern, with lot of windows, wood, and slate. Between the bar and dining room, there are over 100 seats, and most of them are filled with customers who come for the flatbreads.
“They are rectangular,” Josh said of the flatbreads. “We make the dough in house and it’s a double zero flour from Italy. There’s a two day rise, so it’s in the walk-in for two days before we even touch it. It’s then cooked hot and fast in the combo wood gas oven.”
There’s the sweet and spicy Avenue Flatbread topped with housemade pork sausage, wild mushrooms, and onion jam, and the ultra-popular caramelized onion and cherry wood smoked bacon flatbread.
“That is on the flatbread with a roasted garlic crème fresh and fresh mozzarella that goes two minutes in the oven. We toss arugula with red wine vinaigrette and just top the hot flatbread with that. The roasted garlic hits you in the face, but then so does the smoky bacon and peppery arugula. It’s a great combination.”
But believe it or not, the Bolognese might be ever better.
“First of all it’s a big portion. We sell 100 orders a week. When you bite into it, it’s like Sunday dinner at your Italian grandmother’s house,” Josh described. “It’s loosely based on a recipe that’s over 200 years old, so I wanted to do something kind of old school, but we’ve sourced certified humane veal and an all-natural ground pork and we use really good pancetta. I think buying what we buy and applying it to the old world recipe really makes it special.”
Of course, you should finish off your meal with a butterscotch blondie sundae with sea salt caramel ice cream, because you really need to explore all avenues from this talented team.
“I think what you’ve got is some restaurant people with a lot of experience from cities like Boston and San Francisco, that are in the suburbs,” Josh said. “My favorite thing is that we’re in a community that we’re invested in. My wife and I have four children and I think we’ve built something here that’s built to last.”
You can find Avenue at 445 Main Street in Medfield and online at avenuemedfield.com.
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