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Avli Estiatorio in Winnetka (Greek)

Avli Estiatorio in Winnetka (Greek)
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  • Avli Estiatorio in Winnetka (Greek)

    Post #1 - July 24th, 2009, 9:22 am
    Post #1 - July 24th, 2009, 9:22 am Post #1 - July 24th, 2009, 9:22 am
    I went to the debut of Avli Estiatorio last night and really enjoyed myself. I don't really know how to write about food (my love of it has not translated into an ability to write about it...) but I wanted to put out the word that there's a great new option on the North Shore.

    When we arrived we were treated to pita flatbreads (carmelized onions, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, myzithra, feta cheese and basil) and Locanico (sausage flavored with orange rind and herbs) and the two house wines. I had the red, and it was delicious - I wish I could remember the name of it, all I know is that it's a Greek wine. My husband had the white and thought it was also very good. The house red is only $5.50 a glass, an unexpected treat on the North Shore.

    After we were seated we were treated to Dakos, a salad of whole wheat bread rusk, chopped tomatoes, feta, herbs and EVOO - I could have eaten this all night, it was absolutely delicious. After that came roasted red peppers stuffed with cheese - deliciously spicy, and then big plates of grilled octopus, calamari and shrimp. Divine.

    For dessert we were treated to a spiced walnut cake soaked in Muscato (very rich) and a pastry of lemon custard wrapped in filo dough - we were pretty much dueling it out to get the last pieces of that.

    The menu is broken down into Meze, Soups & Salads, Pita Flatbreads, Kirio Piato, Souvlakia, Thalassina, Sides, and Desserts. Greek with a twist, I'd say - I didn't see any of the typical, touristy Greek stuff on the menu.

    The restaurant is in the Laundry building, in the space that most recently had the Harbor House, and they've done a great job building out the space. The entrance is no longer across from the hair salon, but on the north end of the space, across from Classic Kids. You walk in, through a separate bar space (which looks out on the patio with outdoor seating), and into the restaurant space.

    We're going to go back with kids - they have a great kids' menu (no mac n cheese!), too.

    And that's all the news fit to print from Winnetka. ;)
  • Post #2 - July 24th, 2009, 9:30 am
    Post #2 - July 24th, 2009, 9:30 am Post #2 - July 24th, 2009, 9:30 am
    Thanks for the review.

    Avli Estiatorio
    566 Chestnut St Winnetka, IL 60093
    Phone (847) 446-9300
    -Mary
  • Post #3 - July 25th, 2009, 1:19 pm
    Post #3 - July 25th, 2009, 1:19 pm Post #3 - July 25th, 2009, 1:19 pm
    Sorry for not including all the relevant info - I forgot that I was supposed to do that!
  • Post #4 - July 25th, 2009, 1:29 pm
    Post #4 - July 25th, 2009, 1:29 pm Post #4 - July 25th, 2009, 1:29 pm
    WinnetkaFoodie wrote:Sorry for not including all the relevant info - I forgot that I was supposed to do that!

    No worries. You're not 'supposed' to do that, but it's always helpful. :) Thanks, to The GP, for filling in the blanks.

    I appreciate the write-up, btw. Being in the northern burbs, we're always looking for good places to try. Your descriptions have me thinking that Avli is definitely worth checking out, and I hope to do so soon.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #5 - July 27th, 2009, 11:53 am
    Post #5 - July 27th, 2009, 11:53 am Post #5 - July 27th, 2009, 11:53 am
    We had a very nice lite dinner on Friday, which was apparently their first night open to the public. We were warned about slow service (they were lowering expectations), but it was fine. I don't have a menu in front of me, but we had:
    Trio of dips, one eggplant, taramosalata, and tzatziki. The eggplant was the standout, and the others were fine. I could have used a bit more umph in the taramosalata.
    Locanico: simply grilled orange scented sausage was good, although there was a bit of unneeded sauce on it.
    Grilled octopus: Nicely grilled but tender, as it should be. Just olive oil and some herbs.
    Dakos: called a salad, but it's actually chucks of whole grain bread (they say they import it), feta cheese, some tomatoes and dressing. I would have put a bit more olive oil on, but we cleaned the plate.
    We ended up tasting three desserts, two were a bit too sweet for me, but the chocolate baklava was excellent.

    I'm no wine expert, but they offer an interesting selection of mostly Greek wines, many by the glass, all with reasonable prices. Our glass of red and white were both very pleasing.

    All in all, this will be a very nice addition to the dining desert that runs from Wilmette through Glencoe. They are trying to do a higher grade of Greek cooking then, say, Cross Rhodes (which is very good at what it does). The dining room is very pleasant, and they have quite a few outdoor tables. I fear for the place, however, because they owner seems very nice, but enthic food does not have a great history in this area.

    Jonah
  • Post #6 - July 29th, 2009, 6:58 pm
    Post #6 - July 29th, 2009, 6:58 pm Post #6 - July 29th, 2009, 6:58 pm
    Wow! We had a fantastic, eye-opening lunch at Avli the other day that will not soon be forgotten and will, hopefully, be reprised soon. Based on this meal, the menu, the impressive all-Greek wine list (over 40 different bottles are listed) and owner Louie Alexakis' overall philosophy, this is one of the most exciting restaurants I can remember opening in the northern suburbs in some time. As I ate this lunch, I couldn't help but think that this is the restaurant Taxim wishes it was because while the cuisine at Avli is clearly grounded in the traditional, it's dotted with all sorts of touches that give it a decidedly contemporary vibe. Noted cookbook author Diane Kochilas consulted Mr. Alexakis on the menu, which helps explain some of the updated renditions. But Louie is hardly a neophyte. He's actually the son-in-law of the owner of Greek Islands and he managed the restaurant for over a decade. His knowledge of and passion for food is apparent and he seems to know full-well what he's up against in the perilously vanilla dining destination known as Winnetka.

    Image
    Melizanosalata, Skordalia and Taramosalata (left to right)
    These cold dips were excellent, as was the grilled pita served with them. I loved the unconventional melizanosalata, which included capers that provided focused points of tart contrast to the eggplant. The skordalia was also excellent, coming as close to Greek Islands' version as any I've ever had -- heavily aromatic garlic but no burn. The taramosalata was milder than what I am used to -- it was not a salt bomb -- and its subtlety was nice.


    Image
    Grilled Octopus
    Excellent octopus -- crisply charred on the outside and tender on the inside. Louie explained to us the multi-step process that makes it so tender and to my surprise, it doesn't involve banging it on a rock :wink:. This dish, like so many others at Avli, is made to order, which is the only way that Louie and executive chef Ruben Villanueva would have it.


    Image
    Gigantes (giant Greek lima-type beans)
    Right up there with the best versions of these I've ever had. Tender but not mushy and baked in a sweet/slightly tangy tomato sauce, with rich Greek olive oil and herbed feta.


    Image
    Lentil Salad
    This dish really blew my mind. I love lentils and was expecting a fairly straightforward preparation but the inclusion of fresh spearmint provided a remarkably distinctive note that made the dish compelling. The roasted red peppers and baby spinach rounded out the dish perfectly.


    Image
    Greek Sea Bass
    This was the fish of the day and it had been delivered to the restaurant on the day of our meal. It was served whole and filleted at our table. Since this was only the restaurant's 4th day being open, Louie coached our server through the filleting process. It was amazing to listen to him relaying years of distilled experience in condensed, concise measures. The bass's moist flesh was almost as good as the well-charred skin. The
    lemon-oregano vinaigrette served atop it was utterly fantastic.


    Image
    Papoutsakia
    This roasted half eggplant was stuffed with onions and herbs, among other ingredeints. It was so delicious -- slightly sweet and savory in each bite. I cannot wait to order this again.


    Image
    Horta (blanched dandelion greens)
    I loved these distinctive greens, one of 3 sides we ordered. They were slightly bitter with a delicate finish and a satisfying texture.


    Image
    Spanakorizo (spinach and rice with tomatoes and herbs)
    Aromatic, savory and delectable.


    Image
    Mari's Briami (baked vegetable medley)
    My Greek friend Kevin jokes with me that there's no such thing as an al dente vegetable in Greek cuisine. "We cook the crap out of them," he always tells me. I love soft vegetables, especially when cooked in this style. The long cooking in olive oil seems to coax flavors out of them that just otherwise are never experienced. I loved this version, which boasted a nice variety of seasonal items.

    This may be a challenge. Winnetka is not exactly known for its ethnic food and based on its most enduring restaurants, its residents are fairly conservative when it comes to dining. Additionally, Avli's space is located entirely inside The Laundry mall and it doesn't really have a visible presence on the exterior of the building. But it's a beautiful space with a small, comfortable courtyard that seats around 30 diners. Because so much of this cuisine skews toward the healthy (fish, olive oil, greens, vegetables) it could very well develop some immediate traction. Beyond that, though, Mr. Alexakis is knowledgeable and passionate but not overbearing. He seems to be the kind of person who can educate ever-so-subtley at the outset and finish off the 'lessons' in a manner that makes them truly resonate, by delivering delicious food, which needs no verbal explanation at all. There were so many great-looking dishes on the menu that we didn't get to try. I look forward to going back to Avli soon and working my way through the entire menu.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #7 - July 29th, 2009, 8:18 pm
    Post #7 - July 29th, 2009, 8:18 pm Post #7 - July 29th, 2009, 8:18 pm
    Jonah wrote:All in all, this will be a very nice addition to the dining desert that runs from Wilmette through Glencoe.


    Well not exactly... What about Michael in Winnetka?
  • Post #8 - July 29th, 2009, 8:27 pm
    Post #8 - July 29th, 2009, 8:27 pm Post #8 - July 29th, 2009, 8:27 pm
    mhill95149 wrote:
    Jonah wrote:All in all, this will be a very nice addition to the dining desert that runs from Wilmette through Glencoe.


    Well not exactly... What about Michael in Winnetka?

    I realize you weren't addressing me but I'm not a huge fan of Michael. Even if I were, though, it's just one restaurant. Wouldn't that still be pretty much an oasis in a desert? :)

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #9 - July 29th, 2009, 8:37 pm
    Post #9 - July 29th, 2009, 8:37 pm Post #9 - July 29th, 2009, 8:37 pm
    I'm so glad you went and loved it! We went back last night with our two children, ages 5 and 7, and had an amazing meal. I love the garlic dip they serve when you are seated (Skordalia?). We ordered Xilaki (pork skewers) as an appetizer and the kids loved them as much as we did. My husband went the non-risky route and had the Gyros, and I had the Pastichio, which I loved and still have half of to eat because the portion was so large. The kids each had the chicken skewers (not on the menu, but they offer five meals for children: chicken skewers, pork skewers, pasta, hamburger, and ... I can't remember the 5th). The kids were already stuffed full of pork, pita, and bread, so I ate most of the chicken for lunch today and it was wonderfully seasoned. I had a glass of red that I loved, too. Sorry guys, I didn't take notes or photos (I'm such a newbie...) and my descriptions are vague, but I'm very excited to have Avli only a few blocks away.

    Based on Ronnie's review I want to try the Gigantes and Lentil Salad next time. And everything else. :)

    About Michael's... I haven't eaten there, but isn't it more of a special occasion place, and not for little kids? Winnetka (and the North Shore) needs more good, moderately-priced, family-friendly restaurants - I think Avli fits the bill.
  • Post #10 - July 29th, 2009, 9:32 pm
    Post #10 - July 29th, 2009, 9:32 pm Post #10 - July 29th, 2009, 9:32 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    mhill95149 wrote:
    Jonah wrote:All in all, this will be a very nice addition to the dining desert that runs from Wilmette through Glencoe.


    Well not exactly... What about Michael in Winnetka?

    I realize you weren't addressing me but I'm not a huge fan of Michael. Even if I were, though, it's just one restaurant. Wouldn't that still be pretty much an oasis in a desert? :)

    =R=



    Not like the good old days when you could go to the
    Indian Trail in Winnetka (just not between 4:30 - 6:00 pm, senior rush hour)

    or head over to the Sweet Shop for a burger and a milkshake.
  • Post #11 - July 29th, 2009, 9:35 pm
    Post #11 - July 29th, 2009, 9:35 pm Post #11 - July 29th, 2009, 9:35 pm
    mhill95149 wrote:or head over to the Sweet Shop for a burger and a milkshake.

    Awww...just your mention of the Sweet Shop unlocked a flood of wonderful memories. :)

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #12 - July 29th, 2009, 9:42 pm
    Post #12 - July 29th, 2009, 9:42 pm Post #12 - July 29th, 2009, 9:42 pm
    Loved how they would make candy canes in the front of the store.
    Such a nice family that ran the SS....

    Had my first dinner date there back in 1974
  • Post #13 - July 30th, 2009, 12:06 pm
    Post #13 - July 30th, 2009, 12:06 pm Post #13 - July 30th, 2009, 12:06 pm
    What are the prices like? I was not able to get a copy of their menu online.
    Thanks
    Elie
  • Post #14 - July 30th, 2009, 12:36 pm
    Post #14 - July 30th, 2009, 12:36 pm Post #14 - July 30th, 2009, 12:36 pm
    ett094 wrote:What are the prices like? I was not able to get a copy of their menu online.
    Thanks
    Elie

    Starters range mostly from $3 to $7, with a few seafood starters (squid, shrimp, octopus, which are offered in more than 1 size) ranging from $8 to $13. Entrees range from $10 to $19.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #15 - July 30th, 2009, 1:21 pm
    Post #15 - July 30th, 2009, 1:21 pm Post #15 - July 30th, 2009, 1:21 pm
    What are the prices like? I was not able to get a copy of their menu online.
    Thanks
    Elie


    I have a menu...

    Meze: $5-12
    Soups & Salads: $5-7 (cup of soup $3)
    Pita Flatbreads: $6-7
    Kirio Piato: $10-15
    Souvlakia: $12-16
    Thalassina: $11-19 (one dish is $6 or $11, I assume based on a half-order)
    Desserts: $3-6
    Beers: $4-5

    The wines, if I remember, were about $5.50-8.
  • Post #16 - July 31st, 2009, 9:04 am
    Post #16 - July 31st, 2009, 9:04 am Post #16 - July 31st, 2009, 9:04 am
    I'm going to try this place out, thanks for the reviews. :)
  • Post #17 - July 31st, 2009, 2:34 pm
    Post #17 - July 31st, 2009, 2:34 pm Post #17 - July 31st, 2009, 2:34 pm
    I too am inspired to stop by next time I'm in the area.
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #18 - August 2nd, 2009, 10:30 pm
    Post #18 - August 2nd, 2009, 10:30 pm Post #18 - August 2nd, 2009, 10:30 pm
    -I just went to Avli this evening (8/2/09) with a group of 8. The food was great and the courtyard is not to be missed.
    -On the hot appetizers (meze) the Grilled Octopus was outstanding, and probably my favorite of the Meze. The sauces on both the Shrimp Tourkolimano and the Bekri Meze were excellent. The Bekri Meze was nice as well because often at Greek restaurants the pork tends to be overcooked; this was done perfectly.
    -We tried several of the salads. I thought the Lentil Salad was great. The lentils were cooked exactly right. Based on one of the prior reviews we also tried the Dakos salad and while it was not bad, I wasn't particularly impressed; when (not if) I go back, I'll probably skip that one.
    -On the main courses we tried several, but the Pastichio, Papousakia and Sea Bass were the winners. The Pastichio gives my Yiayia's competition, which is saying a lot, because I wouldn't say that about any other Greek restaurant in Chicago. The Papousakia was great, perfect flavors.
    -We will definitely be back. This is a very welcome addition both to dining on the North Shore and also Greek restaurants generally. I've been so impressed with some of the creative Greek cuisine I've found in NYC, and it is excellent to see some of that come here to Chicago rather than just the tried and true standard fare you get down on Halsted Street and at most other Greek restaurants.
  • Post #19 - August 4th, 2009, 8:56 pm
    Post #19 - August 4th, 2009, 8:56 pm Post #19 - August 4th, 2009, 8:56 pm
    I had lunch at Avli today. The food was very good, as everyone has pointed out. The octopus, salad trio, whole fish, lamb shank with gigantes and lentil salad were great, but the real standout for me was the simple dish of fried zucchini. The zucchini are sliced very thin and fried up crisp, almost like potato chips. This is the closest I've ever found to my holy grail of the zucchini chips served at Harry's Bar in Venice. My only criticism is that they dole out the (very good) pita bread like it was made of gold leaf. We had a table of four, and when we asked for more bread, they brought out four more small wedges of bread. This is a small criticism of what is otherwise a restaurant that is doing some very innovative things with a familiar cuisine. It's way better than it has to be for its Winnetka location. While that's a good thing for LTHers, I hope it's not their undoing, given the demographics of their area and the less than optimum location inside a mall-like building with little or no exterior signage.

    In any event, I absolutely loved my lunch at Avli and I plan on going back often.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #20 - August 5th, 2009, 10:20 am
    Post #20 - August 5th, 2009, 10:20 am Post #20 - August 5th, 2009, 10:20 am
    Much has been said about the food and deservedly so. A recent visit was excellent on numerous counts. Standouts for me were the zucchini chips w/skordalia (best version I've had, as I only had a Bellini @ Harry's in Venice), Grilled Octopus, eggplant spread aka Melizanosalata, Dakos (rusk bread salad), Lentil Salad w/mint and feta, baked vegetables (Briami) and the Whole Broiled Sea Bass.

    One big reason the food is as excellent as it is though, would be the owner, Louie Alexakis. I found him to be extremely knowledgeable about industry minutia, passionate about sourcing his product and hands on in implementing his vision besides being warm, humble and generous in nature. It was infectious. A winning combo for the "hospitality" industry that all too often is missing one of these key components. *NOTE... Owning a restaurant does not make you a restauranteur.

    While there is no formula for success in this cut throat business, possessing the above spirit and attributes should surely help stack the deck. I hope it's appreciated. I wish him the best of luck, if anyone deserves it, he does.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #21 - August 6th, 2009, 12:16 am
    Post #21 - August 6th, 2009, 12:16 am Post #21 - August 6th, 2009, 12:16 am
    I agree with stevez and Jazzfood about lunch earlier this week. It may have even been better than the first meal I posted about. As was mentioned, we tried several items, some of which I had not tried the first time around . . .

    Image
    Tsatziki & Pita
    A nice sample sent out as an amuse by the kitchen. I really enjoyed the intense tanginess, aromatic garlic and strong cucumber notes.


    Image
    Tirokafteri - Spicy feta spread (left)
    I think I may have liked more than everyone else at the table. It was a little looser and spicier than other versions I've had.


    Image
    Dakos - Whole wheat bread rusk, grated and chopped tomatoes, feta, herbs and extra virgin olive oil
    Compelling combination of flavors and textures.


    Image
    Lentil Salad - Baby lentils with roasted red peppers, herbs and feta
    Wonderfully satisfying and maybe even better than last time (a theme that recurred throughout this meal).


    Image
    Fried Zucchini Chips and Skordalia
    Wondrously crispy, piping hot chips, served with Avli's killer version of skordalia.


    Image
    Locanico - Greek sausage with orange rind and herbs
    I'm not usually a fan of locanico but I really enjoyed this plump, juicy, aromatic version. This rendition had a grind similar to a Polish sausage and was cured -- something I had not seen before. Louie sources this from an outside source, whose name I cannot recall at the moment.


    Image
    Grilled Octopus
    Crispy, tender and delicious. Better even than on my fist visit.


    Image
    Whole Grilled Striped Bass
    Charred crispy skin and moist, tender flesh. Again, even better than on my previous visit.


    Image
    Arni Me Gigandes - Braised lamb shank with giant Greek white beans
    Tender, moist and just the right amount of fat. The richness of the lamb was cut very nicely by the slightly tangy sauce the beans were cooked in.

    Image
    Bread Pudding
    A work in progress that Louie sent out for feedback. He plans to serve it with a sabayon sauce. I enjoyed this, even without the sauce. It was restrained -- not mush, not too much cinnamon and just sweet enough. The addition of candied orange rind and kalamata figs added a nice complexity.

    After 2 visits, I'm really digging Avli. I still haven't been there for dinner but that's probably not too far off. I'm still working my way through the menu and I'm also eager to try a few of their wine offerings. While we did get to sample some terrific Sigalas 2003 Vinsanto at the end of this meal, if the non-dessert wines are half as good as that Vinsanto was, they should be quite a treat. This place is the real deal. Winnetkans should be flocking to this place.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #22 - August 6th, 2009, 9:08 am
    Post #22 - August 6th, 2009, 9:08 am Post #22 - August 6th, 2009, 9:08 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:I agree with stevez and Jazzfood about lunch earlier this week. It may have even been better than the first meal I posted about.

    Count me in compliance with my three lunch mates, really dug Avli. Clean fresh well executed flavors, interactive thoughtful friendly owner.

    Louie Alexakis

    Image

    Outdoor seating available for those so inclined.

    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #23 - September 4th, 2009, 11:26 am
    Post #23 - September 4th, 2009, 11:26 am Post #23 - September 4th, 2009, 11:26 am
    Just noticed Avli's web site is now up and it's very nice -- festive music, gorgeous images and comprehensive menus . . .

    Avli's website

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #24 - September 4th, 2009, 12:10 pm
    Post #24 - September 4th, 2009, 12:10 pm Post #24 - September 4th, 2009, 12:10 pm
    Thanks so much for bumping this, I've made a reservation for tomorrow night. Will report back.
  • Post #25 - September 4th, 2009, 12:16 pm
    Post #25 - September 4th, 2009, 12:16 pm Post #25 - September 4th, 2009, 12:16 pm
    Yum, looks great. Now I'm wishing I weren't making peanut butter & nutella sandwiches for the kids, but heading over to Avli for some Dakos and Gigantes.

    We've been back several times and I've had some things I hadn't had before: the Bekri Meze was wonderful, tender and spicy - even my five year old loved it, and he doesn't usually do spicy. The Papoutsakia was some of the best eggplant I've ever had (sorry grandma...). The Makaronatha was really nice too - the cinnamon in the sauce is really well-done, not too strong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Fried Zucchini Chips, and the Skordalia is by far my favorite spread.

    I might have to toss these PB&N sandwiches...
  • Post #26 - September 4th, 2009, 1:56 pm
    Post #26 - September 4th, 2009, 1:56 pm Post #26 - September 4th, 2009, 1:56 pm
    It was our carry-out lunch today at the office which led me to Avli's website (even though we have a printed menu here). Our meal was up to their typical, excellent standard and since it was the first time we'd had it here at work, several of my co-workers were particularly impressed. I went for the Papoutsakia and Gigantes again, which were both terrific, and also had tastes of the minty-fresh lentil salad and the rustic dakos, which was as good as ever today. For the first time I also tried the delectable Dolmathes Yialantzi, which were stuffed with a mixture of rice, currants, pine nuts, dill & mint and the Soutzoukakia Smyrneika (meatballs), which were tender, rich and bursting with flavor.

    We ordered a huge amount of food (enough for 10 people) and the bill was around $150, which made it a very reasonable lunch, especially considering we had quite a few leftovers. Not an item was missing and the packaging used was outstanding -- no leakers, breaks or mishaps of any kind. We neglected to ask for lemon wedges but happily, a few were included anyway -- along with quite a bit of extra bread.

    Still really digging Avli . . . :)

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #27 - September 4th, 2009, 2:12 pm
    Post #27 - September 4th, 2009, 2:12 pm Post #27 - September 4th, 2009, 2:12 pm
    Count me among the growing legion of Avli fans. Went there last night, sat in their beautiful outdoor garden (with heat lamps). I can't recall all the Greek names, but the fried zucchini chips with skordalia and the grilled octopus were noteworthy appetizers, and the whole roasted fish (sea bass) was outstanding. Reasonably priced and surprisingly good all-Greek wine list. A small bottle of ouzo for only $14 is a real steal -- it will take a party of four from aperitif through dessert. Service was professional. It's my new favorite North Shore restaurant.
  • Post #28 - September 5th, 2009, 5:52 am
    Post #28 - September 5th, 2009, 5:52 am Post #28 - September 5th, 2009, 5:52 am
    Jazzfood wrote:One big reason the food is as excellent as it is though, would be the owner, Louie Alexakis. I found him to be extremely knowledgeable about industry minutia, passionate about sourcing his product and hands on in implementing his vision besides being warm, humble and generous in nature. It was infectious. A winning combo for the "hospitality" industry that all too often is missing one of these key components. *NOTE... Owning a restaurant does not make you a restauranteur.


    Alexakis is no novice as a restaurateur. He grew up in the industry -- his family managed hot dog stands. He owned Ouzeri in Lincoln Park in the 1990s. After that, he was a longtime manager for Greek Islands, whose owner is his father-in-law.

    Many of the ingredients that Gus Couchell has been importing from Greece for Greek Islands are now finding their way to the kitchens of Avli, as well. And they are both using the same New York supplier for the loukaniko, which I agree is first-rate.
  • Post #29 - September 5th, 2009, 10:55 pm
    Post #29 - September 5th, 2009, 10:55 pm Post #29 - September 5th, 2009, 10:55 pm
    After a little challenge trying to FIND Avli (didn't know it was in the Laundry building, facing the street is a thai place), we were seated exactly at our reservation time. The group decided to stay inside, which I'm sure helped the promptness! We ordered 4 spreads, all of which we loved. The flatbread with the sausage was great, but OMG, those zucchini chips with skordalia were fantastic! Wish we had gotten two orders of those. My husband loved his rack of lamb, our friends loved their lamb shank. I had a Hawaiian snapper, which was not hot enough when served. I'm sure it was wonderfully tasty when freshly cooked, but I think it had sat waiting for the others so was closer to room temperature. Everything else was so good that I'll go there again. They had run out of the chocolate baklava so we didn't have dessert :( but I'd know better to place that order early.

    It was very busy and service was friendly but a little distracted. The owner visited the table next to us a couple of times, it was a large group and he obviously knew them. Overall I'm very very glad we went and look forward to returning.
  • Post #30 - September 24th, 2009, 10:05 pm
    Post #30 - September 24th, 2009, 10:05 pm Post #30 - September 24th, 2009, 10:05 pm
    OK...We all know about Cafe de Issacc, Taboun...and after that maybe a few others. Try Avil inside the Laundry Mall 566 Chestnut in Winnetka. Word is the owner is related to the Greek Island guys in greek town. This spot is still moderate price, but more contemporty in food and style. Greek Style sea bass whole was great tonight...better than Greek Island. I did carry out just to try it, but service seemed great. Maybe be a long time coming hit. Supposidly they opended about 6 weeks ago.

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