Location: 615 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60661
A Quick Word:
When it comes to small plates in Chicago, Avec has continued to be the foodies top choice. Located in the West Loop neighborhood and near the the other Randolph St. restaurants, Avec puts up a great fight against its competitors. Featuring French-style small plates, I find Avec the perfect place for sharing. This theme is continued with their uncomfortable communal table. But, for the first time, I can overlook the communal table because the FOOD IS THAT AMAZING! Some of their most known dishes (chorizo stuffed dates) have been featured on the Food Network and are considered some of the best in the city. As I mentioned before, the communal table can be a problem, especially since they don't take reservations. I suggest going during non-primetime hours otherwise you could easily wait for over an hour. It also gets quite loud so don't expect to have intimate conversations. If you are looking for some of the best food in Chicago definitely give Avec a try. I easily rated it 5-miles and would do more if I could. Incredible!
What We Ate:
Chorizo Stuffed Dates
The obvious choice on the menu was the chorizo stuffed dates. Many places are doing bacon wrapped dates, but these are in a category of their own! These huge dates are stuffed with chorizo before being wrapped in smoked bacon. They sit on top of a piquillo pepper-tomato sauce and is served along side a fresh baked roll. WOW! These are ridiculously delicious. The dates are the largest I've seen and the combination of that mildly spice chorizo with the sweet date is perfection. And everything wrapped in bacon is that much better. The tomato sauce is honestly just a plus... it gives you a sauce to dip the bread in. I could honestly eat an entire order or these or maybe even two orders for my meal and I would be extremely satisfied. A must try dish... and without question, one of the best small plates in Chicago!
Chicken Liver Mousse
Having a weakness for pate, foie gras, and other similar creations, I really wanted to give their chicken liver mousse a try. After a little convincing, my girlfriend agreed to the dish and we were both amazed. This dish comes with a dish of chicken liver mousse served with fresh mint, pickled red onions, and thinly sliced-cooked down rhubarb. It comes with a grilled french baguette. So the key for this dish is to make individual bruschetta-like bites. Spread the mousse on the bread before topping with everything else. The mousse is very rich and buttery so it needs the red onions for a slight bite and the rhubarb for the sweetness. Another flawless dish that I highly recommend.
Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder
For our largest dish, we decided to order their slow roasted pork shoulder. We weren't really sure how the dish was prepared but we were pleasantly surprised. The dish reminded me of the French classic dish... cassoulet. The pork shoulder was surrounded by pochas beans, cider-braised chorizo slices, and apples. It arrived at our table in a piping hot cast iron pot. The dish was executed impeccably. The pork shoulder pulled apart with ease. Tenderness was an understatement. The beans give it some substance and a stew-like feel. The chorizo added some spiciness and the apples a sweet freshness to the dish. It was a huge portion, easily shared between 2-4 people. I did wish it came with some rice or a french baguette to dip into the stew. Delicious!
Nutter Butters and Peach Sorbet
For dessert, we decided to split a couple of the smaller options. The first was my choice--Nutter Butters. These reminded me exactly of the childhood Nutter Butter peanut shaped cookies, but looked much different. Here, they make it with a rice crispy and graham cracker crust before topping with a sweet peanut butter that had a fudge-like consistency. They were cut into bite size pieces and I wished I could take more home. The second dessert was the peach sorbet. Their sorbet is on a rotating menu so hopefully you have good luck when dining there. Overall, I thought it had a great peach flavor. It was on the sour side, especially after eating the sweet butter cookies that act as garnish. Very refreshing though and great value.
Moscow Mule Cocktail
With only a couple of cocktails on the menu, the Moscow Mule was my girlfriend's decision. I was surprised when it wasn't served in a copper cup. Regardless, great cocktail... made with the usual vodka, lemon, and ginger beer. The size is great because it comes in a small cocktail bottle without enough for almost two glasses.
- This place is made for SHARING. So believe in the concept and share!
- Don't expect a quick meal. Seats are very hard to come by and with no reservation policy, it can take sometimes over an hour to get a seat.
- Communal table... once again, be aware and don't expect much comfort/privacy.
How far would I walk for this food?