All time fave || Avec
Avec is our [especially mine] all time favorite Chicago Restaurant. They don’t take reservations, so if you arrive with a group, be prepared for a wait, or get there closer to opening time to avoid long waits. We usually head here as a two-top and like to sit at the bar, but no matter where you sit this place is ‘communal’ and ‘close quarters’ and you will like share conversations with those around you, another reason why we like this place. We have met some really interesting and fun people here.
The food is obviously the big draw card. Thank-goodness they treat their staff well as Chef de Cuisine Koren Grieveson is the secret sauce, she has provided the magic from the start and I hope she is the main-stay for years to come. The menu has been a revolving & consistent menu. Revolving in that they do different seasonal takes on several staple dishes providing the consistency. There is always a ‘crostini‘ to be found, and when we were there it consisted off smashed early spring peas, red onion, parsley & marinated feta in red wine – delicious. People go crazy for the ‘chorizo-stuffed medjool dates‘ with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce, they do taste good, but there are so many other things that we are typically drawn to.
This dish was on the specials board, a ‘white-fish spread‘ with fava beans, paired wonderfully with the recommended bottle of rose they selected.
The menu also features a whole fish at MP [market price], a salad, some seasonal vegetables and a dessert or two as a special. The dressing they use on their salad is so drool worthy we asked for the recipe, all we got was a list of what went into it. That was three years ago we are still trying to get the balance right – we are almost there, not that a few more trips to Avec won’t help. A few other faves to try that we also like are the: focaccia with taleggio cheese, truffle oil and fresh herbs; any salad that is shaved be it fennel or brussel sprouts; and of course the bread fresh & hot from the wood oven. Did I mention they have a great wine list? They offer up an interesting selection of European wines.
The ‘pork shoulder‘ also a staple on the menu comes in some form or another. This visit it was a wood-oven roasted pork shoulder with harissa, marinated rock shrimp, hominy, peanuts and tomatillo. It is always moist & succulent and packed with interesting flavors & textures to round out the dish. It is huge and filling, although it looks small – trust us. The other fave dish to order is the ‘prosciutto‘ also always seasonal in flavor the current version is a la quercia prosciutto with lavender mascarpone and coriander. As an insiders tip, this is listed on menu as large plates, if you ask nicely they will serve it up as a 1/2 portion. Truly fabulous. Thanks Avec.