A romantic little retreat in the heart of Church Road in Hove, this restaurant offers customers not just a taste, but a whole experience of luxury. Third Avenue was relaunched with a brand new concept and new management on 1st July 2022: from the food concept to the ambience, it is bound to impress both you and whoever you chose to dine with.
Church Road is pretty renowned for having a plethora of restaurants and cafés for both your day time or evening plans, so even before arriving at my reservation, I was skeptical about how Third Avenue would deliver something unique amongst competitors. However, from the moment myself and my dinner date stepped inside the venue, we were transported into a space which both demanded attention and functioned to give guests full attention too.
Immediately upon entry, we were greeted by an island bar which we were invited to for a pre-dinner cocktail. The bar was stacked high with an array of ingredients and the staff were keen to deliver whatever drink of choice we wanted, even anything off-menu. Sat at the bar stools made ordering our cocktails an interactive experience as we watched the mixologist finesse his art of crushing fresh fruit and perfectly pouring a concoction of gin and vodka and juice and soda. We ordered the Blueberry Caipirissima and the Third Avenue Mojito, curious to try the menu’s own carefully crafted creations. They were deliciously sweet, and we observed the glass get brushed with mint to ensure we got the full impact and aromas of the flavours. Sipping our drinks, we had a chance to look around and appreciate the decor: haunting artwork on the walls and vintage touches of exposed light and leather booths, known as the ‘bumble booths’ (ideal for dating, according to the barman).
The front space flows beautifully into the dining area at the back of the venue, transporting us from the seductive bar to pristinely set dining tables. Further elegant interior and decor choices captivated me; there is so much attention to luxurious details including plump, velvet cushions on the sofas we ate from.
From the menu, we dived straight into the ‘plates’ and were recommended two per person, plus one or two dishes or a side order for the table to share. While we were curious to try all the intriguing food innovations (inspired by Eastern Mediterranean cuisine) we whittled our choices down to the gambas, squid, pork belly, charred cabbage and asparagus with recommendations from our waiter David motivating the decisions. There were plenty of vegan and gluten free options, and there was a balanced ratio of meat, vegetarian and fish dishes as well as sides and breads.
Barbecue flavours with a hint of sweetness, the pork belly was our favourite choice. It was fatty as expected from this particular cut of pork, but also had succulent chunks of meat on each skewer which really soaked up the flavours. Surprisingly, our next favourite dish was probably the cabbage which we ordered as a wild card plate. I am someone who doesn’t really like cabbage, so I put Third Avenue to the challenge to see if they could make me enjoy this vegetable. They succeeded. The charred edges were the perfect textural match for the creamy but light tahini underneath the leaves. A sprinkling of pine nuts on top too was a wise choice from the chef. Rolling up our sleeves and licking our lips, we pulled apart our gambas – a deliciously interactive plate served with a refreshing dip which we had to assume was chive. In between bites of pork, cabbage and gambas, we swiped squid through a black garlic aioli which was not too overwhelming with flavour. Meanwhile, we had another dish to dip into, the asparagus, which was not charred as the menu stated but was certainly interesting to try with cheese and almond nuts. The asparagus was not my favourite, but we loved the mojo rojo in which it was served. Mostly, we enjoyed the experience of delving into this plethora of colours which looked like an artist’s paint palette spread across our table, and balancing those colours in the forms of sauces and vegetables on our tongues.
Of course, we had to try a dessert so we ordered the chocolate soil to share. The menu could perhaps be more descriptive of all of their plates because what we were presented with was not what we were expecting. Yet, dessert was one of the night’s highlights. A log of rich chocolate ganache decorated with shards of sugar melted in our mouths and had to be nibbled just to make the sweet haven last. Beside it was a light coconut sorbet, again not too overbearing, but an idyllic partner for our chocolate companion. For extra finesse, crumbs of biscuit and shredded chocolate were scattered on the plate representing the ‘soil’, and we found great satisfaction in scooping up all the qualities of this dessert and letting them belong together on the spoon with each bite.
We felt extremely accommodated to and cared for during our evening at Third Avenue in Hove, and especially found the ambience appealing with relaxing music playing in tune with the atmosphere. It is certainly a place to come to impress a date, or for an extra special catch up with an old friend. With private dining and set menus on offer too, consider Third Avenue for your next celebration meal. Remember to embrace that fully equipped cocktail bar, and be open minded to trying unique flavour combinations because you never know what may be pleasant to your taste buds, unless you try something new.
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