4.6 / 5 2 / 5

May 11, 2018

Looking for destination dining? Avec in Chicago is the place. Incredible food and their cocktail program means there is only 2 cocktails available at a time

Now under new leadership, avec still remains destination dining. This award-winning, reasonably priced Mediterranean-inspired and wine-focused eatery has been a hit since it opened in 2003 with chef Koren Grieveson’s food gaining well deserved plaudits. New chef de cuisine Erling Wu Bower is working his own magic in the kitchen. The bacon-wrapped, chorizo-stuffed dates – the stuff of local legend, with good reason remain on the menu, but there have been one or two changes, most notably a shiny new cocktail programme. There are only two cocktails offered on the menu at any one time, but these as with everything at avec are carefully chosen, made with seasonal ingredients from the local farmers’ market. The full drinks list, as ever, features a huge array of wines, ports, and sherries and while the food menu has been repositioned slightly to focus on the Mediterranean rim, the place is still capable of true kitchen fireworks: think pumpkin-tahini bruschetta, whipped brandade with garlic bread, baby octopus with squid ink linguine, and anise-marinated hanger steak with shaved artichoke. This is some seriously creative cooking, exciting, alchemical. The space itself was, and remains, slightly stark, the focus very much on the contents of your plate and your glass. We suspect a table here will remain as difficult to come by as ever.