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Avec: A Photo Essay

Avec: A Photo Essay
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  • Post #211 - August 24th, 2012, 12:58 pm
    Post #211 - August 24th, 2012, 12:58 pm Post #211 - August 24th, 2012, 12:58 pm
    Yes, she is a true talent. I'm a bit surprised that there hasn't been more chatter about this over here.
  • Post #212 - November 18th, 2012, 11:17 am
    Post #212 - November 18th, 2012, 11:17 am Post #212 - November 18th, 2012, 11:17 am
    Avec has always been my go-to place before Bulls games (and often for late night eats too). But last night was my first visit post-Chef Grieveson. And I have to say that my meal was as good as ever, that is to say outstanding. I mean, really outstanding.

    I was with a friend and we shared just two items, although I cannot recall of the details and the online menu is not exactly current. We had a flatbread with chorizo, sardines and arugula (some dressing/sauce I cannot recall). This flatbread was amazing - delicious chorizo (I'm sure house-made - although perhaps PQM) and sardines, deliciously fresh arugula with quite the peppery bite, a great sauce (harissa here I think) and a perfect crust with a nice char. As good as the individual flavors were, the sum of the parts was even greater. This was about as delicious a pizza as you could imagine.

    We also shared the house-made squid ink linguine with octopus, chorizo breadcrumbs and what I believe was a sofrito of onions, peppers and garlic. The linguine and octopus were just perfectly cooked, and what a fantastic flavor combination. Again, the sum of the parts were even better than the largely perfect individual components. If I were going to offer the smallest criticism on this dish, I'd say it was bordering on being too salty (but barely, and nothing a few sips of water couldn't cure). Overall, just terrific.

    I'm just amazed at the quality of the food Avec continues to turn out. Whenever I have friends visiting from out of town, this is always at the top of the list in terms of Chicago restaurants to show off. And I'm glad to see that hasn't changed post-Chef Grieveson.
  • Post #213 - November 19th, 2012, 8:04 am
    Post #213 - November 19th, 2012, 8:04 am Post #213 - November 19th, 2012, 8:04 am
    A group of us hit Avec before the Bears game last Sunday night. I echo BR that the food is as good as ever.
  • Post #214 - December 26th, 2012, 1:23 am
    Post #214 - December 26th, 2012, 1:23 am Post #214 - December 26th, 2012, 1:23 am
    Fantastic meal at Avec the other day. 4 of us arrived at about 4:50 and had no wait for a table (although about 20 minutes later there was a decent line formed). I went with my parents who aren't super adventurous and my mother especially is extremely picky but they both loved it (took a good amount of convincing in the first place to even get there). I had never been either and left thoroughly impressed.

    One of the things I really liked which differed from some other small plates places I've been is that they took our whole order and then brought things out in waves in more or less the order they should be eaten. Salads and such were brought first and heavier things like pork shoulder were brought at the end. This differed, for example, from the dinner we had the other night at Girl and the Goat where I felt there was no real order to how things were brought out and I didn't exactly care for that (I even saw a neighboring table get their bread order after 2 other plates had already arrived).

    Image
    chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce

    Of course, since I did my research beforehand, we began with the infamous dates. It was readily apparent why these are so popular: they were ridiculously good. I am a sucker for bacon wrapped dates and order them whenever I see them and these are far and away the best. On a whole other level, really. Perfectly cooked bacon, extremely flavorful stuffing, amazing sauce. A perfect harmony of awesome.

    Image
    pear and quinoa salad with escarole, pecans, cauliflower and cider vinaigrette

    This lived up to what I have read about the cuisine at avec being simple (not in a negative way). It was very simple and yet well put together and extremely flavorful. The quinoa added a nice texture and the dish was overall a refreshing start to the meal.

    Image
    roasted leek bruschetta with romesco, hazelnuts, tarragon and charred endive

    This came out with the salad and was good, but was generally forgettable compared with the rest of the meal.

    Image
    anise-marinated hanger steak with shaved artichokes, persimmons, lovage, feta and chili

    Perfectly cooked, fork-tender steak. I really enjoyed the inclusion of the persimmons and thought the dish came together well. I will say that I didn't detect much (if any) anise, however it wasn't terribly missed.

    Image
    whipped brandade with garlic bread and chives

    Another one of the three dishes that never get removed from the menu (also the dates and focaccia). I thought this was also quite good, but not quite as good as the other 2 crowd favorites. Nice texture and good, fishy flavor.

    Image
    "deluxe" focaccia with taleggio cheese, ricotta, truffle oil and fresh herbs

    Now this I thought was just fantastic. Not overly cheesy, not overly bready, a very nice balance. I like the salt added on top and just about everything about this. I definitely know I will be ordering this and the dates every time I return.

    Image
    wood-oven roasted pork shoulder ribollita: pancetta, cavolo nero, rice, beans and ciabatta

    Our last savory and another very simple and very good dish. My only complaint is that there seemed to be quite a bit of white meat (fat) in the dish. This wasn't such a big deal as it's easy enough to avoid (or eat sparingly) and added a nice richness to the broth. I also wasn't expecting a potage but that's from my lack of knowing what ribollita means and of no consequence.

    Image
    lime coconut sorbet

    A very nice, refreshing sorbet. The coconut was quite overpowered by the lime but was definitely present if you looked for it.

    Image
    mint stracciatella gelato

    I'm not normally a big fan of mint in my ice cream but I suppose that's because it's not normally actual mint. This was quite nice and also refreshing.

    Image
    nutter butters

    A bit deceiving based on the name (not too similar to the cookies) this was more like a butterfinger without the chocolate. A tasty bite.

    Overall an extremely enjoyable meal. I never had the opportunity to eat when Chef Grieveson was at the helm but I definitely like what Chef Wu-Bower is doing here. I look forward to returning (soon).
  • Post #215 - December 26th, 2012, 2:41 pm
    Post #215 - December 26th, 2012, 2:41 pm Post #215 - December 26th, 2012, 2:41 pm
    We had a great meal here last week that included several of the dishes photographed above by fropones. I especially loved the hearty, ultra-rich, unctuous ribolitta, which I thought was even more enjoyable than the version I had at PQM shortly after it opened. While the date dish has morphed quite a bit since the early days, it was still delicious, and the piquillo-tomato sauce it's served with is fantastic. We also had another standout: Squid Amatriciana, which showcased tender squid in a delectable sauce that was mildy spicy and multi-layered in flavor. It had been a couple years since I'd been to Avec but I won't let that much time pass before making another visit, even if means getting there at 4:30! :)

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

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

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #216 - January 11th, 2013, 3:23 pm
    Post #216 - January 11th, 2013, 3:23 pm Post #216 - January 11th, 2013, 3:23 pm
    Had a stellar meal here last pm. First time back post Koren- will say it was a seamless transition. Wanted to try a particular dish @ Au Cheval but the wait was 45 min-hr. Figured we'd walk down to Avec and try our luck. Got in in about 10 mins as they were a little less busy than norm. Maybe W. Randolph scene is taking it's toll? The highight for me was the wood fired squid amatriciana with San Marzano's, guanciale, fideo and fennel aioli. A dish pulled from their greatest hits and one of the best things I've eaten in a long time. The warm burrata w/braised shrooms was also excellent. Could have used a bit more heat on the cheese though- a minor issue. Really great sopped up w/warm bread and olive oil (you need to ask for on the side). My favorite oil in town. I forget how good the food is here.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #217 - May 19th, 2013, 11:57 am
    Post #217 - May 19th, 2013, 11:57 am Post #217 - May 19th, 2013, 11:57 am
    Going to pile on some more praise after a fantastic spring dinner the other night, standouts included the asparagus al'tonnato featuring tender, flavorful asparagus accented nicely with the tuna aioli, the crispy wild striped bass with fava bean pesto, and the wood-fired squid amatriciana which was a awesome as I had remembered. IMO Avec remains the king of the small plates trend it was so instrumental in starting.
  • Post #218 - July 10th, 2013, 5:37 pm
    Post #218 - July 10th, 2013, 5:37 pm Post #218 - July 10th, 2013, 5:37 pm
    Avec is launching brunch service on July 21st:

    http://chicagoist.com/2013/07/09/after_ ... inally.php
  • Post #219 - September 25th, 2013, 3:24 pm
    Post #219 - September 25th, 2013, 3:24 pm Post #219 - September 25th, 2013, 3:24 pm
    From Avec's website:
    On Wednesday, October 16th New York's Mark Bello of Pizza a Casa Pizza School will be taking over avec's kitchen. In addition to Bello's pizzas, the menu will feature avec's signature chorizo-stuffed medjool dates, as well as a selection of salads and antipasti.


    Mark is my friend and also my business partner (not in the pizza school business, alas) and his pizzas are terrific. There is a full list of the pizzas that will be available that evening on avec's website.

    avecrestaurant.com
    Anthony Bourdain on Barack Obama: "He's from Chicago, so he knows what good food is."
  • Post #220 - February 19th, 2014, 9:15 am
    Post #220 - February 19th, 2014, 9:15 am Post #220 - February 19th, 2014, 9:15 am
    The New York Times has an adapted version of Avec's bacon-wrapped date recipe in today's paper
  • Post #221 - February 20th, 2014, 9:51 pm
    Post #221 - February 20th, 2014, 9:51 pm Post #221 - February 20th, 2014, 9:51 pm
    While I've never loved the dates as much as others do, it is downright silly to credit new chef Perry Hendrix for a recipe that has been on the menu at Avec for years and years and was almost certainly developed by Koren ...
  • Post #222 - July 5th, 2014, 5:31 pm
    Post #222 - July 5th, 2014, 5:31 pm Post #222 - July 5th, 2014, 5:31 pm
    We stopped in today at 5:30 ish and while it was crowded it was not full nor was there anyone waiting.
    Seeing two seats at the bar we inquired if we could sit there and have a drink and a bit of food. The hostess mentioned that we could BUT if she needed the seats for a couple having a full meal we would have to give up the seats. I'm not sure what one needs to spend there to keep a seat pre-6pm but luckily for us $60 seemed to qualify. We did enjoy the cheese course and a pepper and squash dish but the overall vibe was broken right at the start of the meal.
  • Post #223 - July 5th, 2014, 8:28 pm
    Post #223 - July 5th, 2014, 8:28 pm Post #223 - July 5th, 2014, 8:28 pm
    mhill95149 wrote:We stopped in today at 5:30 ish and while it was crowded it was not full nor was there anyone waiting.
    Seeing two seats at the bar we inquired if we could sit there and have a drink and a bit of food. The hostess mentioned that we could BUT if she needed the seats for a couple having a full meal we would have to give up the seats. I'm not sure what one needs to spend there to keep a seat pre-6pm but luckily for us $60 seemed to qualify. We did enjoy the cheese course and a pepper and squash dish but the overall vibe was broken right at the start of the meal.


    Definitely a head scratcher--how, exactly, would they have cut you off--walked you outside with half eaten plates in hand?? Wondering if maybe holiday help was the culprit here. Or hope so anyway.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #224 - July 6th, 2014, 4:45 pm
    Post #224 - July 6th, 2014, 4:45 pm Post #224 - July 6th, 2014, 4:45 pm
    I think the host must have not heard us say that we were going to have "a few plates" as well as our drinks.... Who knows?
  • Post #225 - July 7th, 2014, 10:44 am
    Post #225 - July 7th, 2014, 10:44 am Post #225 - July 7th, 2014, 10:44 am
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    mhill95149 wrote:We stopped in today at 5:30 ish and while it was crowded it was not full nor was there anyone waiting.
    Seeing two seats at the bar we inquired if we could sit there and have a drink and a bit of food. The hostess mentioned that we could BUT if she needed the seats for a couple having a full meal we would have to give up the seats. I'm not sure what one needs to spend there to keep a seat pre-6pm but luckily for us $60 seemed to qualify. We did enjoy the cheese course and a pepper and squash dish but the overall vibe was broken right at the start of the meal.


    Definitely a head scratcher--how, exactly, would they have cut you off--walked you outside with half eaten plates in hand?? Wondering if maybe holiday help was the culprit here. Or hope so anyway.


    I recall people talking about this at other places where the bar is for seating not waiting. I suspect it's a communication issue. You are saying "I want to sit at the bar and have some wine and a light meal" they hear "I'm planning to nurse a glass of wine, and maybe get some olives, and take up space".

    Just say "are those seats available?" - they don't need to know what you think you might be eating.
    Leek

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  • Post #226 - July 14th, 2014, 9:01 pm
    Post #226 - July 14th, 2014, 9:01 pm Post #226 - July 14th, 2014, 9:01 pm
    leek wrote:
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    mhill95149 wrote:We stopped in today at 5:30 ish and while it was crowded it was not full nor was there anyone waiting.
    Seeing two seats at the bar we inquired if we could sit there and have a drink and a bit of food. The hostess mentioned that we could BUT if she needed the seats for a couple having a full meal we would have to give up the seats. I'm not sure what one needs to spend there to keep a seat pre-6pm but luckily for us $60 seemed to qualify. We did enjoy the cheese course and a pepper and squash dish but the overall vibe was broken right at the start of the meal.


    Definitely a head scratcher--how, exactly, would they have cut you off--walked you outside with half eaten plates in hand?? Wondering if maybe holiday help was the culprit here. Or hope so anyway.


    I recall people talking about this at other places where the bar is for seating not waiting. I suspect it's a communication issue. You are saying "I want to sit at the bar and have some wine and a light meal" they hear "I'm planning to nurse a glass of wine, and maybe get some olives, and take up space".

    Just say "are those seats available?" - they don't need to know what you think you might be eating.


    They take customer service there very seriously. I also suspect it was a miscommunication. It's usually very loud in there. Once you ordered food, I'm sure they realized your intention to eat something. If you were just having a drink, the hostess might have preferred you did it outside and free up the bar seats for people who are actually eating (since they don't serve any food outside). Even if you had only ordered a single food item, I doubt they would have asked you to give up your seats once you put in your food order. I'm also fairly certain they never have "holiday help" at avec. It's not the type of place where the uninitiated can just fill in for somebody.
  • Post #227 - July 14th, 2014, 9:54 pm
    Post #227 - July 14th, 2014, 9:54 pm Post #227 - July 14th, 2014, 9:54 pm
    By "holiday help" I meant staff being a bit less patient/facilitating due to the holiday weekend--it happens. AndI don't actually think anyone from Avec would ask anyone to move. Bad attempt at humor.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #228 - July 15th, 2014, 9:06 am
    Post #228 - July 15th, 2014, 9:06 am Post #228 - July 15th, 2014, 9:06 am
    Once you ordered food, I'm sure they realized your intention to eat something.


    Thanks for clearing that up! :roll:
  • Post #229 - July 15th, 2014, 4:46 pm
    Post #229 - July 15th, 2014, 4:46 pm Post #229 - July 15th, 2014, 4:46 pm
    sundevilpeg wrote:
    Once you ordered food, I'm sure they realized your intention to eat something.


    Thanks for clearing that up! :roll:


    Thanks for your helpful comment! :roll: Is it a habit of yours to take things out of context and mock them?
  • Post #230 - September 30th, 2014, 11:47 pm
    Post #230 - September 30th, 2014, 11:47 pm Post #230 - September 30th, 2014, 11:47 pm
    Had a disappointing meal here tonite. 2 of the last 3 times we've been, they've been off their game. As someone that's eaten here prob 30 times, and considered it a go-to place, I don't like this trend. Spread too thin is what I'd wager. Not that I've been here that recently but only recognized the bartender and a busboy, no waitstaff or cooks. Also, I can usually find a 8-10 things that appeal to me on the menu. Tonite I was pushing it @ 4. Cooked dates were sitting next to the oven. It's called "sandbagging" and I get it. What I don't get is being served warm @ best within 3 mins of ordering them. The didn't even reheat them right. Pizza w/burrata suffered the same fate temp wise. Warm not hot. Even the olive oil has changed and was very bitter this evening. When the highpoint of the meal is the busser, there's something wrong. When asked how it was, we told them it was off, which was promptly brushed off and told that hopefully it will be better next time. Bad move. "Takes customer service seriously"? It pains me to say this but I don't feel the need to go back.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #231 - October 1st, 2014, 6:27 am
    Post #231 - October 1st, 2014, 6:27 am Post #231 - October 1st, 2014, 6:27 am
    FWIW, I met a friend at Avec two weeks ago and they comped our two carafes of wine. My meal was fine but my SF friend was not as impressed.
  • Post #232 - October 1st, 2014, 7:24 am
    Post #232 - October 1st, 2014, 7:24 am Post #232 - October 1st, 2014, 7:24 am
    Both the waitress and hostess asked about our meal and were told the above +. Sad that they both missed the op to make it right and sadder still that I have to be down there again Monday PM and would have automatically gone there and won't be.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #233 - October 1st, 2014, 8:55 am
    Post #233 - October 1st, 2014, 8:55 am Post #233 - October 1st, 2014, 8:55 am
    I went last night after opera. Which is our tradition. We arrived at 11 pm. Maybe a dozen diners filled the whole room. We had a table to ourselves. Both my wife and I thought it was as good as ever. I too have been here over thirty times. We started with the werp farm greens which were fresh and delicious. The shawarma sausage was perfectly cooked and our favorite plate of the night. The wild salmon with sumac was wonderful, it was well prepared with hints of Persian cuisine. The paella was a surprised. We weren't sure if we had had it before. When they brought it out we remembered that we had and did not like it. Last night was different. It was fantastic. We had a great time and can't wait for our next opera.
  • Post #234 - October 1st, 2014, 9:28 am
    Post #234 - October 1st, 2014, 9:28 am Post #234 - October 1st, 2014, 9:28 am
    We went after the opera as well. Got there about 11 15. Unfortunately our experiences differed considerably. Such is life.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #235 - December 3rd, 2014, 10:08 am
    Post #235 - December 3rd, 2014, 10:08 am Post #235 - December 3rd, 2014, 10:08 am
    We hit Avec before last night's Bulls game. We shared (as copied from the online menu): roasted cauliflower tabbouleh with freekeh, orange, radish, green olive and tahini, steamed mussels with green chili zhoug and za’atar flatbread, and shawarma sausage with crisp pita, pickled onions, cucumber and smoked yogurt. Dessert was the goat cheese cheesecake with cocoa nib, red wine poached quince and pistachio. There was not a dud in the bunch. Mr. X proclaimed the cheesecake as the best he's had in years. I'm still thinking about the shawarma sausage. I arrived before Mr. X so wasn't officially seated right away. We were offered the chef's table when he did arrive, which was a lot of fun. I'm plotting my return trip.
    -Mary
  • Post #236 - May 12th, 2015, 10:06 am
    Post #236 - May 12th, 2015, 10:06 am Post #236 - May 12th, 2015, 10:06 am
    Avec opens for lunch beginning May 20th, according to Paul K. on Twitter.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #237 - November 17th, 2015, 11:00 am
    Post #237 - November 17th, 2015, 11:00 am Post #237 - November 17th, 2015, 11:00 am
    One Off Hospitality this week bought the building on West Randolph Street that holds Avec, setting the stage for expansion of the perpetually busy 55-seat restaurant.

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... -to-expand
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #238 - April 22nd, 2018, 12:24 pm
    Post #238 - April 22nd, 2018, 12:24 pm Post #238 - April 22nd, 2018, 12:24 pm
    Bumping this

    I want to highly recommend the pizza that Avec is currently serving.

    Salty and snappy crust, it seems to be a simple, traditional style dough (salt, flour, water, yeast) cooked in a lower temp oven so it isnt as chewy as Neapolitan. topped with olive oil, a really nice buffalo mozzarella, ramps, chiles from calabria and centered with a runny duck egg. the way its all placed on the pie is thoughtful, letting you enjoy the cheese and egg before getting to finely chopped ramp stems and chiles, then ramp leaves and finally the crust, with had course salt on top (stealing this technique). we also ordered the focaccia, which was equally well done with ricotta and truffle but as it was served before the pizza, its been demoted mentally.

    started with sparkling wine (don’t remember which), ate with a cocktail (ordered by my companion, don’t know which, lol) and then finished with mirto, which is a Sardinian amaro made from myrtle.

    I’m usually very skeptical of nonpizzerias doing pizza but honestly this is my favorite pie in the city right now.
  • Post #239 - July 15th, 2020, 10:23 am
    Post #239 - July 15th, 2020, 10:23 am Post #239 - July 15th, 2020, 10:23 am
    Mr. X's birthday coincided with a five-course French rosé dinner that avec was doing for Bastille Day. The to-go meal was $90 for 2 people, plus tax, etc. Wine was extra. Dining there, it was $75/person including tastings. We took it to go and added two bottles of wine. The ability to use the gift certificate from Blackbird was a plus.

    First course: Poached prawns with crustacean butter, fresh radish, and espelette pepper.

    Image

    Second course: Preserved mushrooms on sourdough with whipped brandade, crisp shallots and chives.

    Image

    Third course: Roasted heirloom tomato with grilled olives, fennel and lavender.
    Image

    Fourth course: buttermilk brined poussin with marinated artichokes, fava beans and cured pork (sorry for the unfocused photo)
    Image

    Fifth course: Roquefort cheesecake with fresh cherries

    Image

    Menu:
    Image

    We drank the 2018 Lise & Bertrand Jousset "Éxilé", Petillant Naturel, Loire (organic gamay) with our meal and have a bottle of 2018 Famille Sumeire "M", Mediterranée, Provence (grenache, cinsault) in the fridge. The Éxilé worked with all but the dessert course.

    Overall, this was a good dinner. I would have liked to have known what some of the other things in each dish was. For example, what was the tomato served on? We guessed whipped ricotta or something like that. How much of the espelette pepper should we use on the prawns? (not much as it had a good deal of salt) We learned the "poussin" is small, young chicken. The prawns and the tomato were our favorite dishes with the cheesecake close behind. There was almost a gamey-ness to the chicken that I didn't love. I wish we had a piece or two of bread to mop up some of the ingredients. These are quibbles. It was a fine way to celebrate another year around the sun for Mr. X. :-)
    -Mary

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