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Delray Beach's AVANT Dazzles Guests With Decor And Handcrafted Cocktails

A 12-foot bear sculpture stands guard in front of AVANT’s outdoor patio in Pineapple Grove. The figure’s exterior has changed with the seasons as artists have painted it with Hello Kitty, to something out of a Tim Burton film, to harvest leaves. It will continue to evolve this month with local artists’ designs that are nothing short of original.   In terms of flavor and edge, AVANT (short for “avant-garde”) has it all. The new hotspot mixes tradition with the unexpected in order to shake things up in Delray Beach’s culinary scene.

But it’s not only the artwork (inspired by the guerrilla art movement of the early 1980s in New York City) that has people talking.

The menu concept is “global-inspired by the greatest hits on menu items featuring a large selection of small plates and select large plates for traditional dining,” says Steven Dapuzzo of Society 8 Hospitality Group who joined forces with NXT BIG THING and opened the restaurant this past fall.

Guests can pick from an eclectic menu along with a selection of unusually creative handcrafted cocktails made with fresh ingredients.

“The ‘Comes & Goes’ is a big hit,” Dapuzzo says of the Casa Noble tequila cocktail infused with watermelon, agave, lime and sour.

For starters, nibble on the Truffle Chips, made with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese, or dig into the kale salad that’s tossed with savoy cabbage, manchego, radish, tomato, red pepper and a spicy peanut dressing.

AVANT’s menu takes classic dishes and adds a modern spin. For example, a grilled cheese that includes poached lobster with onion, cheddar truffle oil and manchego on challah served with a side of creamy tomato bisque.

Other musts are the Drunken Mussels (pink vodka sauce, pancetta and fries) and tender Korean barbecue short ribs served with dashi risotto with shiitake mushrooms and peas.

And while enjoying dinner, take a break from your plate in order to appreciate the artwork that covers every square inch of the restaurant. From a 3-D asymmetrical wall, to the upholstered chenille banquettes, to a gold leaf art piece by Italian artist Jacopo Cecarelli, it’s all part of the dramatic ambiance Dapuzzo helped create in evolving the restaurant’s setting into a meaningful interaction with art.

AVANT, 5 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach / 561.921.8687/ avantdelray.com