Avec

This week I finally went to popular Avec located just east of the restaurant-inundated section of West Randolph Street. This Paul Kahn joint is no newcomer though, having been around since 2003, which speaks volumes in a city like Chicago. The minimalistic restaurant’s interior is floor, ceiling and walls made of wood, giving the feeling you’re inside a wine barrel. The size of the space also mimics this sentiment, requiring diners to get nice and cozy in the narrow restaurant, especially with communal and bar seating only. My friend and I hopped two seats at the bar and settled in with a glass of wine while perusing the menu. Our waiter let us know that the two signature dishes of Avec are the Chorizo Stuffed Medjool Dates with smoked bacon and piquillo peppers-tomato sauce, as well as Whipped Brandade with garlic bread and chives. We promptly put in an order of each of those, along with an order of the Focaccia and the Mushroom Bolognese.

Photo courtesy of Avec’s website

The dates were definitely not a typical order for me – with the chorizo AND bacon – but when something comes highly recommended, you just have to go for it! The spice from the chorizo and tomato sauce, along with the crispy bacon made this dish a real winner. The stuffed dates were so large, they almost looked like meatballs.

Dinner time

 

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo

Next up, the brandade, which is salted cod, whipped with potato and served as a spread for bread. Touted as a signature dish, we were expecting something better from the fishy spread. It just didn’t do it for me.

Brandade

Our half order of fennel pollen pasta with mushroom Bolognese arrived just in time to stop us from eating more of the mediocre brandade. The pasta was big, round, chewy noodles that were quite fun to eat. Mushrooms and fennel added a robust, earthy flavor that I really enjoyed. This dish was unique and not your typical pasta dish, but the half order was just enough.

Mushroom Bolognese

Last, but certainly not least, was the “deluxe” focaccia with taleggio cheese, ricotta, truffle oil and fresh herbs. This dish was simply incredible. So rich and decadent, it was basically a warm cheese sandwich made with thin cut focaccia bread. The cheese was creamy and oozy and the truffle oil made it even more indulgent. It was good this arrived last; otherwise I might have devoured the entire focaccia.

Focaccia

There were so many other interesting dishes on the menu; I’d like to go back with four people, instead of just two so I could try even more. Even though the dishes are meant to be shared, they are on the larger side so we definitely had a lot of food for only two people. One more tip – if going at peak times, be prepared to wait, as they do not take reservations and the restaurant is tiny.  

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