When you really want to go to a restaurant but it doesn’t take reservations and you’ve only got so many days in a city, it’s time to hatch a plan. Normally Avec, on West Randolph Street in Chicago opens for dinner at 5pm. We thought we’d head down there before six and stand a reasonable chance of beating the majority of the after-work crowd on a Monday night.

The flaw in that idea was a private function which meant Avec wasn’t open to regular punters until 7.30pm. No dramas. We asked the host where we could go for a quick drink locally and she pointed us around the corner to a reasonable bar. We made sure we were back at Avec pretty much 7.30 on the dot. It was absolutely jumping. We were lucky to get the last two bar stools.

According to its website, Avec is the brainchild of chef/owner Paul Kahan who is described as ‘passionately seasonal, unconventionally creative and dedicated to the inspiration of classical cuisine’. Big call. We’d been recommended to try Avec by the chef/owner at Boston’s Asta – also very creative cuisine.

The space at Avec is not dissimilar to Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC. High stools line the bar on one side while low, shared tables are next to the wall. The benefit of sitting up high was being able to watch the tiny kitchen work (with just three chefs).

Greedy Girl wasn’t going to drink but she was talked into ordering some bubbles – a lovely, rich Domaine Collin Cremant De Limoux (a blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc and pinot noir). The wines are served, not by the glass, but in lovely little 250ml carafes. Plenty to accompany a few snack plates. The dishes at Avec are designed to be shared. We initially ordered four small plates, but our waiter advised us against our final choice of pasta, saying one of the larger plates would work well. Sorted.

Domaine Collin Cremant De Limoux

Domaine Collin Cremant De Limoux

The first plate came out – a half-serving of the medjool dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon, pictured at the top of this post. Our waiter said sharing four of these morsels would be enough – he was right. These are spicy little numbers. The chorizo was on the warm side and the tomato sauce is infused with piquillo pepper. It all contrasted very well with the sweetness of the dates. Yum.

Avec Chicago

Medjool dates with chorizo

Next up was the asparagus. This was quickly grilled asparagus, served with pickled ramps (they’re everywhere in the US at the moment), smoked almonds and a romesco sauce. Greedy Girl is becoming enamoured of romesco. Her only tiny quibble was there weren’t enough almonds.

Avec Chicago

Asparagus and pickled ramps

Next up was a lamb sausage dish (pictured at the top of this post). Superb sausages worked extremely well with the sourness and smokiness of the yoghurt while the cucumber and pita chips gave a wonderful crunch. It was a delish dish.

Finally, for savoury plates, we opted for what the menu describes as a focaccia with taleggio, ricotta, herbs and truffle oil. This was seriously good. It was essentially the lightest pizza crust we’d ever tasted. The combination of cheese was inspired and the addition of the truffle oil was absolutely decadent. It packed just the right amount of salt, too.

Avec Chicago

Focaccia with taleggio, ricotta, herbs and truffle oil

Craving a small sweet fix, we opted for the chocolate crisps. The milk and dark chcolate shards were infused with what seemed to be rice puffs – they were scoffed down extremely quickly.

Avec Chicago

Milk and dark chocolate crisps

While neither of us drinks coffee late in the evening, we saw some excellent coffees being ferried out to other customers.

Avec is a great spot. Despite the numbers queuing up for a place at one of the shared tables or the bar, we weren’t rushed through our meals and the atmosphere and quality were top notch. While a lot of the dishes change regularly, depending on what’s seasonally available, others, such as the dates are a staple of the menu. The place looks brand new but it’s been open 10 years! It’s definitely worth a walk down West Randolph Street to check it out.


615 W Randolph Street, Chicago


Avec Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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