Monday, May 22, 2006

Chicago- Avec

My foodie friend A recommended we meet at Avec for dinner during my stint in Chicago. Our first conversation when we met a year ago revolved around food and all of the interesting ways A's city is having recess, playtime in the kitchen. What I love about Chicago is the freedom- freedom to experiment and be brash concocting interesting pairings that equates to good celebratory food. Chicago doesn't feel the need to be San Francisco or New York and there is incredible innovation afforded.

Avec is next to its sister restaurant Blackbird, both managed and owned by mover and shaker Chef Paul Kahan. He won the James Beard award for Best Midwest Chef in 2004 and she had aptly described this place as always bustling and bubbling over with activity. This is apparently where all the chefs come to dine- that's not the worst piece of news to find out before supping and coming from the source of an editor at a food magazine, to be believed. Avec is also accomodatingly priced, so it will not break the bank.

The door is hard to find. This was a bit of an obstacle, since it blends into the wall and gives no signs of its egress one way or the other. Once inside, long banquete-style tables line the wall and there is bar seating as well. Since Avec doesn't take reservations and is a rather popular eaterie, we happily made plans for a Monday night supper. Green wine bottles blanket the back wall giving off a sprite soda green caste. The decor is spartan as if to make way for sensational food. And we were not disappointed.

Since small plates are the rage here, we attempted a tasting spree starting with the whipped brandade and the prosciutto salad with grilled peaches and mint. Both were very tasty ways to get the palate revved up. The pairing of the ham and summer fruit complemented one another in this light, decadent salad. Next, we received one of their house specialties of medjool dates stuffed with chorizo, wrapped in smoked bacon and served with a spicy tomato-pepper sauce. The sweet and spicy play off each other well in this feisty dish that rang true with my Chateau Maruine red wine. These dishes came framed in classic white porcelain dishes, showcasing the contrast and play of color and texture of the food. Lastly, they brought out a pork shoulder with lentils in a small dutch oven. The pork was so tender that it fell off the bone and combined well with the lentils which added a creaminess to the dish.

We had saved no room for dessert. At Avec it is all about the food and that is a great thing. Je reviens tout suite!
  • PRICE: $-$$
  • SERVICE: Good
  • GROUP FRIENDLY: Small Group-friendly or one-on-one (as one-on-one as you can get in a banquete).
  • COOL QUOTIENT: Absolutely.


Blogger Elenannelies said...

AVEC must really be one of those special places for other chef's to come to. Sounds like a great place to eat & compare to other great resturants.

How wonderful that you take the opportunity to try some of these interesting & quite good places to eat. I love your reviews!


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