LTH Home

Avec: A Photo Essay

Avec: A Photo Essay
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 8
  • Avec: A Photo Essay

    Post #1 - February 10th, 2005, 11:27 am
    Post #1 - February 10th, 2005, 11:27 am Post #1 - February 10th, 2005, 11:27 am
    A couple of weeks ago, I went to Avec for the celebration of a friend's birthday. Here are pictures of most of the menu items that we ordered.

    Image
    pissaladiere

    Image
    cheese assortment feat., l-r: tomme de loubieres, gottes catalones, and ribiafria

    Image
    l-r: ribiafria, tomme de loubieres, and gottes catalones

    Image
    salumi assortment

    Image
    wood oven roasted pork shoulder with green chili sofrito

    Image
    fettucine "puttanesca" with white anchovies

    Image
    cranberry sorbet

    Not pictured: shaved fennel salad with watercress, grapes, and walnuts; spicy meatballs with chickpeas, rapini, and spanish rice; wood-grilled sturgeon and green lip mussel brochette with cranberry beans, radicchio and red wine vinaigrette; and warm chocolate cake.

    Avec
    615 W. Randolph
    312.377.2002
    Seven Days


    Erik M.
  • Post #2 - February 10th, 2005, 11:45 am
    Post #2 - February 10th, 2005, 11:45 am Post #2 - February 10th, 2005, 11:45 am
    Great pictures, Erik. Avec's likely my favorite place in the city, and last night I was thinking it had been too long since I've been there. Thanks for the motivation.
  • Post #3 - February 10th, 2005, 11:51 am
    Post #3 - February 10th, 2005, 11:51 am Post #3 - February 10th, 2005, 11:51 am
    Great photos, Erik thanks. I need to get over to Avec. Everything looks terrific, particularly the pissaladiere, though I am a little troubled by the pool of liquid at the bottom of your fettucine.

    What'd you drink?
  • Post #4 - February 10th, 2005, 12:16 pm
    Post #4 - February 10th, 2005, 12:16 pm Post #4 - February 10th, 2005, 12:16 pm
    JeffB wrote:Great photos, Erik thanks. I need to get over to Avec. Everything looks terrific, particularly the pissaladiere, though I am a little troubled by the pool of liquid at the bottom of your fettucine.


    The pissaladiere was quite good. The carmelized onion topping also included fennel. The sage leaves were another slight twist on the form. FWIW, as of yesterday, the pissaladiere is still on offer.

    As for the fettucine, I understand your concern. A good bit of that was oil. At any rate, this item is no longer on offer. Presently, the pasta selection is fresh pappardelle with wild boar ragu and Bella di Cerignola olives.

    JeffB wrote:What'd you drink?


    Oh, their list is something that I always get excited about, for sure. This visit, though, we drank bottles of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
    Non-Vintage Brut with the whole meal. [Hand-Carried/Birthday Boy's Choice.] I considered a carafe of wine for myself, but I sat on my hands as we were splitting the ticket even.

    Regards,
    Erik M.
  • Post #5 - February 10th, 2005, 12:23 pm
    Post #5 - February 10th, 2005, 12:23 pm Post #5 - February 10th, 2005, 12:23 pm
    Did they still offer the salad with roasted chicory / chicories? I don't remember if it was a special when I was there or not but I absolutely loved it.
    Last edited by sti3 on February 10th, 2005, 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Aaron
  • Post #6 - February 10th, 2005, 12:31 pm
    Post #6 - February 10th, 2005, 12:31 pm Post #6 - February 10th, 2005, 12:31 pm
    sti3 wrote:Did they still offer the salad with roasted chickory / chickories? I don't remember if it was a special when I was there or not but I absolutely loved it.


    As of yesterday, the salads on offer are the Apple and Celery Salad with toasted almonds, shaved Manchego cheese and apple cider vinaigrette, and the roasted chicken thigh Panzanella Salad with preserved lemon, parsley and natural juices.

    Regards,
    Erik M.
  • Post #7 - February 10th, 2005, 4:46 pm
    Post #7 - February 10th, 2005, 4:46 pm Post #7 - February 10th, 2005, 4:46 pm
    As it sounds like you were there last evening, we must have crossed paths having eaten there as well last night. We too had the salumi, always an excellent snack, the olives, ditto on the snack part. We also had the crispy hangar steak and the chicken panzanella, two menu standards that we've never tried, and the spicy meatballs. All three were excellent. Our only disappointments were the desserts. Meyer Lemon panna Cotta, ordinarily a favorite of mine both because of the ingredient and the preparation, was marred by a red sauce that overly sweet and sour at the same time, which I only can imagine was cranberry (but maybe not).

    I do agree wtih Bob, that Avec is one of my absolute favorite places in Chicago. I love the vibe, the cuisine, the wine list and the diversity of the patrons. My most favored time to go is in the early afternoon (it opens at 3:30), particularly on a Friday.
    MAG
    www.monogrammeevents.com

    "I've never met a pork product I didn't like."
  • Post #8 - February 10th, 2005, 5:48 pm
    Post #8 - February 10th, 2005, 5:48 pm Post #8 - February 10th, 2005, 5:48 pm
    Aaaaaaaand if anyone would like to check for changes to their menu, you can start with

    http://www.avecrestaurant.com/menu_small.php

    and the other food menus are linked from there. Libations are at

    http://www.avecrestaurant.com/winelist_sparkling.php

    and again, the others are linked from that.

    Melissa, thanks for noting that they're open early; I had no idea. I'll be able to take a half-day next Friday (which in real-life means leaving maybe 3ish if everything goes well), and that sounds like an ideal way to beat the crowds and unwind.
  • Post #9 - March 15th, 2005, 10:28 pm
    Post #9 - March 15th, 2005, 10:28 pm Post #9 - March 15th, 2005, 10:28 pm
    Avec is clearly a place to go with a group and without a major toxin-induced headache (more below). Saturday night, I soloed at Avec's bar for dinner. This was my first visit, so I threw myself at the mercy of my server; the only thing I required was the escargot, and I let her pick two more dishes. As a preface to this review, let me note I was suffering a terrible headache, resulting from a very thorough massage that morning that apparently dislodged an extraordinary volume of intensely undesirable toxins into my system (probably left over from the tequila consumed a week prior at Dorado). Anyway, I was truly miserable, felt like I had a terrible flu and with the splitting headache, should not have been out, but was due at 7:00 at a trendy spot on Randolph Street for a farewell party for my erstwhile friend Emme from Paris (who spent 6 months here before landing a job in San Francisco ... I call her friend yet hate her). So I soldiered on.

    (NOTE: All evaluations are notched up a mark or two to compensate for the world of pain I inhabited throughout this meal, which is obviously not Avec's fault; my own experience was veiled by pain throughout, but that was because the food was not laced with ibuprofen or a 4 hour nap, which I needed. I think I am being fair here...or at least trying to).


    I started with the escargot with tomatoes and breadcrumbs. This was pretty good stuff,. It think I had escargot maybe once before in my life, at an age too young to appreciate the rather obvious gross factor of eating snails, but certainly too long ago to have a basis for comparison. I liked these snails, which were a little bit chewy and had a nice gamey/smokey flavor, and the spicy stewed tomato sauce in which they were presented was lip-smacking good. This in fact was the highlight of the meal (although it was very good overall).

    The next two dishes were chosen by my server, who was openly delighted at the opportunity to make the choices. Seriously, she thought this was fun and I think it is completely consistent with the "Avec" theme, as well. These two dishes were one of the nightly specials, rabbit rillettes, and a menu standard, hanger steak with peppers. The rabbit was a real disappointment, with or without headache. To my taste it was equivalent to a rather under-flavored tuna or chicken salad, served on some nicely selected greens. Basically, it was a "meh" reaction, with or without massive killer poison headache. The hanger steak and peppers dish was altogether better, and would be enough to draw me back to Avec on its own. The meat itself was delicious, barely medium rare with a black pepper crust. The accompaniments were a variety of pickled peppers and other pickled sundries that were charming, surprising and delightful. Every bite of these little devils brought a new sensation or association to the fore. This was truly a dish to write home about, and that even wormed its way through my poor throbbing headbone during this ill-timed dinner. I can only imagine how I might enjoy this dish when I'm on all my pegs.

    The real problem I see with my experience is that the best items at Avec are the ones meant to be shared (cheese selections, etc.). Because I was alone, I think I stressed Avec in a way and direction that is antithetical to its real intent, so I won't put much weight on my review, except as a warning to potential future solo diners at Avec: Don't do it, find a friend or make an arrangement with a couple out on Randolph first. I'd love to try some of the cheese and cured meat selections pictured above in this thread, but the individual diner won't make those choices (unless that diner is willing to waste a lot of food for a taste or two).

    Jim "Captain Beefheart" InLoganSquare
  • Post #10 - March 16th, 2005, 12:08 am
    Post #10 - March 16th, 2005, 12:08 am Post #10 - March 16th, 2005, 12:08 am
    I can't remember if I ever posted about this here or not, but one secret I am happy to share about Avec, one which I happened upon my first visit and requested on my other visit, was the "kitchen table". That is to say, there are two seats at the bar directly in front of the stove and main dish prep area.

    It's really fascinating to watch them cook and prepare the dishes, and on both occasions the chef (different each time) was happy to answer questions about ingredients, preparation, plating...whatever really. On both occasions, I began the conversation somewhat tentatively, as the guy really works quite hard. But each chef seemed enthusiastic about an interested observer and more than happy to indulge our questions. Whether this speaks to exceptional disposition or exceptional service, I can't say for certain, but in both cases, the experience was delightful. I would surely like to return to experience the communal aspect of Avec, but it will be hard to pass up the kitchen table. Oh, another advantage, no wait either time for a party of two. Once early (6-ish) on a weeknight, the other closer to prime time (7:30-8 on a Saturday).

    Cheers,

    Aaron
  • Post #11 - March 16th, 2005, 11:11 am
    Post #11 - March 16th, 2005, 11:11 am Post #11 - March 16th, 2005, 11:11 am
    Aaron Deacon wrote:It's really fascinating to watch them cook and prepare the dishes, and on both occasions the chef (different each time) was happy to answer questions about ingredients, preparation, plating...whatever really. On both occasions, I began the conversation somewhat tentatively, as the guy really works quite hard.


    The Chef? Unless you lucked upon Paul, Aaron, it would seem that she ignored you altogether. ;)

    Erik M.
  • Post #12 - March 18th, 2005, 10:00 am
    Post #12 - March 18th, 2005, 10:00 am Post #12 - March 18th, 2005, 10:00 am
    Had an excellent meal at Avec last night, but am sad to note that the saulmi is no longer offered :( Our waitress said it should be back on the menu sometime in the future...not sure what the deal is.
  • Post #13 - March 18th, 2005, 10:27 am
    Post #13 - March 18th, 2005, 10:27 am Post #13 - March 18th, 2005, 10:27 am
    LionRock wrote:am sad to note that the saulmi is no longer offered :( Our waitress said it should be back on the menu sometime in the future...not sure what the deal is.


    The deal, apparently, is demand. Too much, rather than not enough.

    rien
  • Post #14 - March 18th, 2005, 11:38 am
    Post #14 - March 18th, 2005, 11:38 am Post #14 - March 18th, 2005, 11:38 am
    Unable to to recall where I heard there might be additional reasons for the sausage hiatus, I have revised this post to correct any possible suggestion that I have any good reason to know otherwise than was noted above and below.

    I will observe that I find Blackbird, Avec and all associated therewith to be brilliant and upright. I do not comment on anyone associated with the City of Chicago.
    Last edited by JeffB on March 18th, 2005, 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #15 - March 18th, 2005, 11:46 am
    Post #15 - March 18th, 2005, 11:46 am Post #15 - March 18th, 2005, 11:46 am
    LionRock wrote:Had an excellent meal at Avec last night, but am sad to note that the saulmi is no longer offered :( Our waitress said it should be back on the menu sometime in the future...not sure what the deal is.

    LionRock,

    We started to go to Avec last evening but, after a glance in the window and the tightly packed crowd, decided on Blackbird. I also asked, having read the Newcity article Rien linked to, about Avec's saulmi. Our waitperson mentioned demand as well though I get the impression there may be ever so slightly more to the house-cured hiatus.

    Nothing negative, just a detail or two left out, which I can easily understand. I, for one, am a believer in 'just because someone asks a question, does not mean you have to answer' I'm a fan of Avec's salumi and hope it reappears soon.

    Our meal at Blackbird was great, no qualifiers, simply great. Buttermilk soaked, lightly fried white sardines and Ipswich clams as an appetizer and Guinea Hen for a main course were wonderful. My cousin Marty's seared rare scallops a revelation and Ellen and Marty's tuna main course very good.

    I am always seriously impressed with the level of service at Blackbird, interested, attentive, professional without being overdone or forced. No taking the customer for granted at Blackbird, that's for sure.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    [Edited to reflect proper spelling of Ipswich]
    Last edited by G Wiv on March 21st, 2005, 3:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - March 18th, 2005, 12:34 pm
    Post #16 - March 18th, 2005, 12:34 pm Post #16 - March 18th, 2005, 12:34 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    LionRock wrote:Had an excellent meal at Avec last night, but am sad to note that the saulmi is no longer offered :( Our waitress said it should be back on the menu sometime in the future...not sure what the deal is.

    LionRock,

    We started to go to Avec last evening but, after a glance in the window and the tightly packed crowd, decided on Blackbird. I also asked, having read the Newcity article Rien linked to, about Avec's saulmi. Our waitperson mentioned demand as well though I get the impression there may be ever so slightly more to the house-cured hiatus.

    Nothing negative, just a detail or two left out, which I can easily understand. I, for one, am a believer in 'just because someone asks a question, does not mean you have to answer' I'm a fan of Avec's salumi and hope it reappears soon.

    Our meal at Blackbird was great, no qualifiers, simply great. Buttermilk soaked, lightly fried white sardines and Ipswitch clams as an appetizer and Guinea Hen for a main course were wonderful. My cousin Marty's seared rare scallops a revelation and Ellen and Marty's tuna main course very good.

    I am always seriously impressed with the level of service at Blackbird, interested, attentive, professional without being overdone or forced. No taking the customer for granted at Blackbird, that's for sure.

    Enjoy,
    Gary


    Had not seen that NewCity article before, so had no idea that this was an issue. I'm sure the staff there are sick of being asked about it, but what can you do eh? I should note that our waitess did say that it would be back, so I agree that there may be more to it then simple demand.

    I did notice that in the NewCity Article, Koren Grieveson was quoted as saying "In its place, we're doing a plate with, let's say, a duck confit with a duck liver mousse with truffles, crostini, mortadella with some cured tongue". I wish some of that stuff was on the menu last night...but the proscucitto di palma more then made up for it!
  • Post #17 - March 18th, 2005, 3:21 pm
    Post #17 - March 18th, 2005, 3:21 pm Post #17 - March 18th, 2005, 3:21 pm
    G-Wiv, I was there with my husband last night as well. I spotted you but didn't want to interrupt your meal/was too shy to say hello.

    We also had and loved the clam and sardine appetizer, but my Massachusetts-bred husband was shocked to see "Ipswich" misspelled on the menu. A blackbird first, maybe. As for the fantastic meal we had, it's the best we've eaten since the last time we were there.
  • Post #18 - March 21st, 2005, 3:45 am
    Post #18 - March 21st, 2005, 3:45 am Post #18 - March 21st, 2005, 3:45 am
    kl5 wrote:G-Wiv, I was there with my husband last night as well. I spotted you but didn't want to interrupt your meal/was too shy to say hello.

    Next time please say hello, it's always a pleasure to meet fellow LTHers.

    kl5 wrote:We also had and loved the clam and sardine appetizer, but my Massachusetts-bred husband was shocked to see "Ipswich" misspelled on the menu. A blackbird first, maybe. As for the fantastic meal we had, it's the best we've eaten since the last time we were there.


    Oops, looks like I misspelled Ipswich as well. :oops: However spelled, they were really quite delicious.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #19 - March 22nd, 2005, 11:12 pm
    Post #19 - March 22nd, 2005, 11:12 pm Post #19 - March 22nd, 2005, 11:12 pm
    Erik M. wrote:The Chef? Unless you lucked upon Paul, Aaron, it would seem that she ignored you altogether.


    Well, excuse me. :roll: :wink: I suppose I should have said cook.

    In any event, another data point for those scared off by potential long wait times at Avec: Stopped by on Friday night, about 8:30. No wait whatsoever for a table of four.
  • Post #20 - March 24th, 2005, 10:19 pm
    Post #20 - March 24th, 2005, 10:19 pm Post #20 - March 24th, 2005, 10:19 pm
    I was at the University Club where Chef Tony Bourdain has just spoke.
    The question was asked where had he dined in Chicago last night, he mentioned AVEC.

    As I’m heading out of the Loop on Randolph, what do I pass but AVEC and there is a parking spot 20’ from the restaurant. Fate for sure, so I park.

    The restaurant is small, communal style seating. Looks like a large sauna room, all wood with no art. Rear wall of restaurant is composed of the bottoms of green wine bottles.
    Seating for about 50 people.

    Seating is available at the bar, it is busy this Wednesday night, only a few bar chairs left.

    Started out with a special of Heirloom tomatoes & burata cheese. Seeing as this is the last hurrah for tomatoes I chose this dish. Tomatoes were sweet and delicious, burata cheese is like a mozzarella but slightly stronger tasting, and creamy in the center, sortof like a brie. Great dish.

    Next were the chorizo stuffed medjool dates wrapped with smoked bacon in a piquillo pepper sauce. AWESOME! Sauce was not needed but was delicious as I sopped it up with my just baked bread.

    The wood oven roasted port shoulder with green chili sofrito was the main entrée. Pork was so flavorful and tender. Served with sugared pickled garlic. A good dish.

    avec has many cheeses to choose from, including some raw milk cheeses. Enjoyed the cow’s milk gorgonzola, raw cow’s milk mahon semi curado and the raw sheeps milk farmstand idiazabal. Gorganzola was my fave but all were good.

    Had a Portugese red, Vinha da Palestra.

    It appeared that avec has its own cured meats, the guy next to me had a plate that reminded me of Salumi in Seattle.

    avec
    615 W Randolph
    Chicago
    312.377.2002
    http://www.avecrestaurant.com
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #21 - March 25th, 2005, 8:47 am
    Post #21 - March 25th, 2005, 8:47 am Post #21 - March 25th, 2005, 8:47 am
    Could you please give me a hint as how to insert photos? I am new to LTHForum and cannot get the HTML option to be ON. I do not know if using safari on my mac is interfering.

    Thanks,
    Mary
  • Post #22 - March 25th, 2005, 9:00 am
    Post #22 - March 25th, 2005, 9:00 am Post #22 - March 25th, 2005, 9:00 am
    How-To Crib Sheet.

    It's explained in there. Note that the board does not host photos-- you have to host them yourself and link to them.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #23 - March 25th, 2005, 10:52 am
    Post #23 - March 25th, 2005, 10:52 am Post #23 - March 25th, 2005, 10:52 am
    Sweet Willie wrote:I was at the University Club where Chef Tony Bourdain has just spoke.
    The question was asked where had he dined in Chicago last night, he mentioned AVEC.

    As I’m heading out of the Loop on Randolph, what do I pass but AVEC and there is a parking spot 20’ from the restaurant. Fate for sure, so I park.

    The restaurant is small, communal style seating. Looks like a large sauna room, all wood with no art. Rear wall of restaurant is composed of the bottoms of green wine bottles.
    Seating for about 50 people.

    Seating is available at the bar, it is busy this Wednesday night, only a few bar chairs left.

    Started out with a special of Heirloom tomatoes & burata cheese. Seeing as this is the last hurrah for tomatoes I chose this dish.


    I assume this was not a recent meal...
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #24 - April 28th, 2006, 12:15 pm
    Post #24 - April 28th, 2006, 12:15 pm Post #24 - April 28th, 2006, 12:15 pm
    Argggh! I should have looked at this thread before trying Avec last night. I'm just now realizing that I missed out by not ordering the salumi (which was apparently gone and is now "back").

    But, I had a terrific meal, in any case.

    A friend and I decided to have a girl's night out and I'd been wanting to try Avec so we headed over there around 8 o'clock. It was PACKED. But we managed to get a couple seats at the bar right across from the chef, Koren Grieveson. The Avec space is long and narrow with wood paneling which, as mentioned above, gives it the appearance of a sauna (which in this case was appropriate because we were sitting right in front of the stove). This was a happy trade-off because we felt like VIP's with a kitchen table, getting to watch the chefs in action. I'm kicking myself as I write this for not bringing my camera.
    There were some new items on the menu, so even though there are extensive posts about Avec and Blackbird, I thought I'd include a summary of our meal.

    We started with some very nice wines, served in small carafes rather than by the glass (?quarter liter--I'm not sure but basically a glass and a half). I had a terrific Sicilian wine--Dievole Pacchino, I believe it was called.
    For appetizers, we had the above-mentioned chorizo-stuffed, bacon wrapped dates. I mean, need I say more, bacon on the outside, chorizo on the inside. Had it been served on a bed of spareribs, it could have been pork perfection. As it was, they were pretty darned delicious.

    We then had a delicious head-on prawn dish in an Asian marinade with scallions and sliverd almonds. I would have been perfectly happy ordering another round of each appetizer, but that would have been boring.
    So...we ordered the foccacia with taleggio cheese. This was quite good--two crispy thin layers of foccacia made in the wood-fired pizza oven layered with mild, creamy cheese. On my next trip, though, I'd skip this one--it was just less interesting than the other dishes we had.
    The hostess had recommended the tagliatelli with artichoke bottoms, lemon and asparagus. I never would have ordered this without her recommendation, but I was glad I did. It was neck-and-neck with the dates as my favorite dish.
    For desert we split a pecan-pie like tart with rhubarb ice cream and candied pecans. The crust of the tart was deliciously flaky and light.
    I'm looking forward to returning. However, I might be a bit cautious about recommending this as in event meal location because it's so raucous and cramped. Also, the seating is hard wood stools and the service is a bit casual (but knowledgable). I'm all about the food--I had a great experience. But it's not the place to go if you're looking for a nice, relaxed occasion meal.
  • Post #25 - April 28th, 2006, 1:18 pm
    Post #25 - April 28th, 2006, 1:18 pm Post #25 - April 28th, 2006, 1:18 pm
    I'd actually skip the focaccia on my next trip, too. It was fine, but not particularly exciting for the price. I'd rather have two orders of the dates, or of the gnocchi with venison :)
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #26 - April 28th, 2006, 1:26 pm
    Post #26 - April 28th, 2006, 1:26 pm Post #26 - April 28th, 2006, 1:26 pm
    I had totally forgotten that we had the taleggio foccacia on our Super Bowl day visit, and that it came with truffle oil-- the exact dish, almost, that I just made at home. In this one case, at least, Avec wasn't nearly as good as Chez Mike G....
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #27 - April 28th, 2006, 1:32 pm
    Post #27 - April 28th, 2006, 1:32 pm Post #27 - April 28th, 2006, 1:32 pm
    I actually saw some food network show where a chef in New York made the same dish.

    Stretch out and dock a piece of pizza dough. Slide it in the oven and bake it about 90% of the way. Pull it out and with a long knife slice the dough in half (so you have two very thin rounds). Smear taleggio or another type of cheese in the middle and slap the halves together and toss it back in the oven.

    Drizzle with truffle oil and season with sea salt.

    It looks, really, very easy. I was expecting a focaccia more along the lines of, say, d'amato's. I wasn't unhappy -- it was still good -- I was just a touch disappointed
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #28 - April 28th, 2006, 1:35 pm
    Post #28 - April 28th, 2006, 1:35 pm Post #28 - April 28th, 2006, 1:35 pm
    I had totally forgotten that we had the taleggio foccacia on our Super Bowl day visit, and that it came with truffle oil-- the exact dish, almost, that I just made at home. In this one case, at least, Avec wasn't nearly as good as Chez Mike G...

    Yeah, Chez Mike G sounds like the hot table in town. Especially since homemade bacon would be delicious wrapped around dates.
    Now how does one go about securing a reservation...
    :D :D
  • Post #29 - May 9th, 2006, 8:53 am
    Post #29 - May 9th, 2006, 8:53 am Post #29 - May 9th, 2006, 8:53 am
    The Griffins can chime in on the love of the chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates! Wonderful flavor combinations.

    We went to Avec last night (Monday). It was fairly busy (bar seats were open but all tables full around 6:30). The music was a bit loud and thumping, but otherwise a very nice experience. The dates were a wonderful dish.

    The pork shoulder hunk was moist and delicious, served in its own Staub pot. (the new version is "curried" with lentils, green garlic, leeks and patty pan squash -- we couldn't detect the curry unless that just meant stew)

    The foccacia was very nice for what it was. I couldn't detect the truffle oil, so it was not so deluxe. But it was very good for the guy from Minnesota who was a little scared by our other dishes.

    The duck leg confit was done crispy (perhaps overdone) but with good flavor. A leg did not seem to be the best offering for tapas however, as it was hard to split and the meat was not falling apart like the pork).

    We also got a special small dish of morels in cream sauce. Again, delicious (and I would not let the busboy bus the plate until all sauce was gone) but could have been served on round toasts instead of a long oval slice (again making it hard to share).

    The beer selection was impressive, which was a nice surprise since I couldn't find the beer list on the web site -- a few Spanish beers, and a nice selection of belgians including Gouden Draak, Delerium Tremens, Saison Dupont, and Westmalle Dubbel. The server we had did not know that some belgians have yeast in the bottom so she tried to pour off the ends to the bottles into glasses. Watch out for that. (The yeast makes the beer bitter and cloudy, best to pour the beer off slowly in one pour until you start to see the sediment coming, then stop. Also best to not shake the bottle up too much.)

    Our other entree was the pruscutto with white asparagus and smoked almonds -- a nice combination that would be especially pleasing in hot weather. Many people around us got the tagliatelle (with artichokes, asparagus, lemon and fresh ricotta) and it looked wonderful.

    For dessert, Griffin was lured by the oatmeal cake with rhubarb compote and buttercream ice cream. This was dissappointing. Uninteresting cake (even considering it was oatmeal) and a small amount of the compote. As noted above, another order of dates would have really been a better ending :)

    All in all, it was creative and interesting cuisine, and the quality was quite good.
  • Post #30 - September 12th, 2006, 7:50 am
    Post #30 - September 12th, 2006, 7:50 am Post #30 - September 12th, 2006, 7:50 am
    Avec is one of those places that I like to make a point to visit seasonally. After not making it there all summer, I managed a late summer visit last week with three friends.

    If Avec is not the best restaurant in Chicago, it is certainly one of my favorite restaurant experiences. Every single item on their compact food menu interests me, as does nearly every bottle on their ecclectic wine list.

    We ordered one salumi plate to enjoy for the table, the highlight being crisp rounds of pan-fried cotechino. They were crispy, meaty, rich, and salty--the ultimate bar food.

    Each of the four of us chose a different "small plate" items from the menu:
      Chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped, medjool dates in a piquillo pepper sauce. These have been spoken of before in this thread and deserve tons of praise.

      Crispy chicken thighs with couscous and cerignola olives. A mild dish with excellent textures. Very enjoyable.

      English pea crostini with lima beans, pine nuts, and ricotta. These were the biggest surprise in terms of flavor. The pea puree, the consistency of a thick hummous, had a wonderfully rich, green flavor that was complemented perfectly by the beans, nuts, and cheese garnishes.

      Hangar steak with wax beans, fingerling potatoes, and salsa verde. A fresh take on meat-and-potatoes dish that was never bland or uninteresting.


    After the salumi, four small plates and a bottle of wine, we enjoyed a diverse cheese plate and a little more wine (two 250ml carafes). The cheese plate accompanyments of fig moutard, marcona almonds, date cake, and quince paste nearly outshone the soft Spanish cheese la serena torta, but not quite.

    We were full and happy, surprisingly, for less than $40 per person. My three guests, all from out of town, were skeptical at first about a "wine bar", but afterwards were falling over themselves with thanks for being introduced to one of Chicago's best eateries.

    If you haven't been to Avec in a while, I'd recommend a visit.

    Best,
    Michael

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more