615 W Randoph Street
Date of Last Visit: Thursday, June 30, 2011
The Victim: Dan
The Damage: About $50 each
The Background: I want to like Avec. I really do. EVERYONE likes Avec. So when Dan suggests we meet up at Avec — a place I haven’t been to in ages — I say yes. But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking…”Avec. That place that everyone thought I’d like but I didn’t. And then everyone told me to go to Blackbird. So I did. And I didn’t like that either.” Hmmm. (Granted both my prior visits to these establishments were ages ago. Ages and ages.)
One reason why I don’t like Avec is THE NOISE. There is not a soft surface in this little matchbox of a place, which creates a thundering din as the night goes on. And we were on the end, close to the window. Imagine if we’d been in the MIDDLE.
We ate a lot of vegetables at Avec. I’m cool with that. The brussel sprouts with parmesan were nice. But was it like the best thing I’ve eaten in forever? No. It was just brussel sprots with cheese. And onions. And some green stuff. I know I know. I’m being picky. But when you’re eating in a place that is widely regarded as one of the best casual-dining spots in Chicago, you want more. Or well…at least I do.
We ordered some of Avec’s “famous” flatbread. (“Everyone” says you have to try the flatbread.) And this is what arrived. Um, I don’t know about you, but I call this pizza. Pizza with beets and olives. But pizza just the same. It was very nice beet and olive pizza. And it was pretty tasty. But it was just pizza.
The Service: Service was a little confusing. Was the girl waiting on us, or was our busboy waiting on us? He certainly seemed knowledgeable enough about the menu. Someone deserves a promotion. And our female server…she did not smile once. Odd. This is America, after all! And stop please stop filling my water glass up every 2.5 minutes. Please.
The Verdict: I think I have this high expectations problem in America. Everyone tells me I will love a place. So I expect to love it. And while I do love Avec’s very comprehensive wine list, and while the food is quite nice and of very high quality, I’m just not totally wowed. You’re probably wondering…”What does it take to wow her?” Good question. It takes things in combinations I don’t normally have. (And it’s probably why I love Ottolenghi in London so much.) Unfamiliarity probably scares off the average diner, and this is maybe why a lot of American restaurants don’t do it all that much. I just want someone to take some goddamn risks.
So…I like Avec. I really do. But would I say you MUST go there? Nah.