A Date with Karen at Avec, Chicago

Sunday, July 25, 2010


My beautiful and sweet friend, Karen really brought Avec to my attention. She sent pictures and videos of her visits to Avec. She texted me when she was had dinner at Avec with her ex-boyfriend to only further have me drool all the way from San Francisco. I could not make a trip to Chicago without dining at Avec with Karen.

IMG_7306The restaurant family consist of Blackbird, Avec, Publican and The Violet Hour. I had all three restaurants on my itinerary. I was unable to make it to Blackbird due to too many meals before our reservation hour. Chef de Cuisine Koren Grieveson won the 2010 James Bread award for Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region. I was hoping to meet her the night I dined but she was away, maybe next time.

Avec is located next to its sister restaurant, Blackbird in West Loop.

What you see is what you get.

Open kitchen. Bar dining area. Movable communal tables. Entirely covered in a light wood panel.


Avec does not take reservations and we arrived around 9:30 pm. We waited in the 'bar area' which is a sectioned area outside in front of the restaurant. The bar area had barrels as bar tables and flanked by potter plants. Adorable as hell.

We were seating in the 'chef area' at the bar which is two seats moved a little further away from other patron and smacked in front of the action. We were in front of the stove burners and oven. Action in full effect.

We were given complimentary ($5) House Marinated Olives served with warm cibatta bread.


IMG_7309Because we ordered a lot of plates for two people our server, Jacob suggested we do a half order of the their (unofficial) signature dish, $9 Chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. Nice and plump, flavorful and juicy. I supremely enjoyed the layers of different flavors - spicy, sweet, smoky - just lots of depth.


The $12 Seared hanger steak with roasted tomatoes, radicchio and cracker salad was a cooked to a right medium rare. I like how the cracker soaked up the meat juices as we were working on the dish.

Roasted chicken thigh with turnip, green beans, creamy house-cured bacon gratin and fresh currants

Jacob recommended the $12 Skatewing salad with shaved fennel, cauliflower, cantaloupe, dill, mint, lime and aleppo pepper. It was Karen's first time having Skate wing. I, personally love the skatewing's cartilage crunchiness. Avec's skatewing was surprising tender.


I was surprise at tenderness and moistness of the $12 roasted chicken thigh with turnip, green beans, creamy house-cured bacon gratin and fresh currants. the bacon sauce rocked the dish. Bacon does make everything better.


I was looking forward to the $13 Pan-fried sardines with crispy duck, garlic bread, olives, rosemary and parsley. There are chucks of the ingredients piled onto the corstini meddled with the herbs. A darker, smoker dish of the lot.


My favorite item of the night was the $16 Wood-fired flatbread with P.E.I. mussels, clams, smoked corn and fennel. The white sauce combined with the 'poppy' of the corn and chewiness of the mussels and clams was wonderful. I'm going to try to make a version at home. The flatbread was even better cold the next day, the bread still retained the chewiness.


Avec has energy - hustle of people, clutter of dishes, communal table, the closeness of other patrons, the fast live action of flipping skillets and servers bouncing around. I already can't wait to return to Avec and hope to try Blackbrid on my next trip to Chicago.

Thanks for the lovely date, Kara!

615 w. Randolph
Chicago, IL 60661
Avec on Urbanspoon


Food Gal said...

I have heard so many good things about Avec. I haven't been to Chicago in ages -- since way before it started becoming this pioneering, hip food trendsetter. The pity! ;)

foodhoe said...

sounds wonderful, that flatbread dish especially... love the combination of flavors!

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