Chicago, IL 60606
Neighborhood: Near West Side (312) 377-2002 http://www.yelp.com/biz/avec-chicago
Our CFO, upon learning that I was in Chicago, suggested that I go try Avec. Since it’s within a few blocks of where I was staying, and the restaurant does not take reservations (which was perfect because I wasn’t sure when I was going to go), off I went!
Since the restaurant does not take reservations, there was already a big crowd waiting for tables. Luckily for me, there were some open seatings at the bar, so I was seated right away. For parties of 2 or more, expect at least a 30 minute wait. Avec is pretty small, with the bar/kitchen on one side, and communal tables lined up on the other. Good thing there’s coat check, otherwise it’d be difficult trying to hang a coat on your chair while avoiding bumping into other people!
There are large plates and small plate selections. To me, it seems like a tapas restaurant. The restaurant also does half-portions on some of the items, so it’s a good way to try many different dishes. My fellow neighbors at the bar were really friendly, so we chatted while sharing our food. Come to find out, one of them is a chef owner at a Toronto restaurant (Campagnolo). So for those of you who are planning to visit Toronto, go give the restaurant a try! Campagnolo has really good reviews on Yelp too!
Even the napkin is printed
The bar seating, right next to the kitchen
Started off with the chorizo stuffed dates, which is a misnomer. It’s more like a chorizo meatball wrapped in bacon. The date is hidden within the meatball to cut out the bite of the spicy tomato sauce. This dish was so good and so different! Comes with bread. This is the half-portion. $5 Normal portion comes with 4 meatballs.
Followed by half order of the fermin serrano (Spanish ham) with marinated peaches and cocoa beans. This was also an unusual combination – the ham went well with the peaches, while the cocoa beans gave an unexpected earthy aroma and flavor. Mmmm… $10.50
My neighbors graciously insisted that I pair my food with their wine. The Toronto chef says that this wine is hard to find since it’s from a small vineyard in Sicily. It’s a really nice red that pairs well with meat.
Third plate: roasted squid with san marzano tomatoes, guanciale, fideo and fennel aioli. It’s sort of a squid pasta, quite spicy, but the squid still retained excellent flavor. Perfect with beer! $12
Last but not least, dessert! White chocolate panna cotta with maple figs and walnut shortbread. The panna cotta is more gelatiny than usual panna cottas, but the walnut shortbread and the maple figs were both good! $7
All in all, Avec is a great place for a meal!