Blackbird for normal people

I FINALLY went to Avec for dinner last night, something i have been looking forward to doing for months. Matt only has 1 day off a week (if I am lucky) and we have been trying to drag our lazy asses down to the West Loop every week to no avail. After throwing a miniature temper tantrum at about 7:30 last night, we were on our way.

A little background – Avec is owned by the same smarties as Blackbird (read: insanely good food that makes you wish you were made out of money so you could eat there 3 meals a day) and, while it is supposed to be the relaxed, pared down version of Blackbird, don’t expect the quality of the food to be less. It is equally as interesting and well thought.

OK, so you know you are in for something weird the minute you get to the door. You walk into a small (like 4 * 6) foyer that looks like the entrance to a 4 story walkup (which I believe it actually is). To your right is a giant wood door with a difficult to find handle. This is point #1 where you start to think “maybe I shouldn’t be here” or “i am scared and feel like a dork”. You finally push the door open, peek inside, breathe a sigh of relief that you have found the right place, realize that you are about to crush 20 people huddled near the front glass with said giant wood door, and cram your way in.

Avec itself is about 15 feet wide and 40 feet long, with every square inch of space utilized. Along the left wall is one giant table with one giant wall bench and a series of backless stools on the aisle side. If you were planning on coming here for a quiet, private anniversary celebration or something of that sort, you are totally bummed. No matter what you do, you will be sharing your personal space with at least 4 complete strangers, so leave your personal bubble at home.

We decided to skip the door huddle wait clump and just get served at the bar. A very polite and funny bartender quickly hurries over to us, we get a Pellegrino and he informs us of what menu items have been 86’d (which was quite a few, especially considering how early it was in the night – so get there early if you want full dibs). We relax and look at the menu and pick a few mini-dishes. The proscuitto has been 86’d, and I am bummed. But they have a cheese plate, and I am pleased as punch. My love of cheese is epic and will go down in history. On my tombstone it will say “She really loved her a stinky cheese”.

Matt points out that the bar is the best place to sit because you can giggle at all the people like you ten minutes prior, carefully pushing the door open with looks of pure fear on their face. Awesome. This is getting better by the minute.

We ended up ordering the escargot (good), chorizo stuffed dates (awesomely spicy), octopus (meh – Matt said it was better the last time he was here), and cheese plate (i died. they took me home in an ambulance). Best part – all this amazing food for about $50. Not bad, considering we dropped about 4 times as much last time we went to Blackbird.

All in all, it was pretty awesome. The food was great and the service was really exceptional. I didn’t catch the bartender’s name, but he picked some damn good cheeses for me. I wish I stilled worked a block away so I could pick up dinner every night. Consider it like Blackbird for the masses. It is so worth the trip and the wait. Although, Phil Vettel was NOT kidding; leave your low rise jeans at home. I know they are very “in” and you think they make you look “sexy”, but backless chairs are not your friend. You WILL look like an idiot and people will laugh at you. I did.

1 Comment so far

  1. jason (unregistered) on December 17th, 2004 @ 2:17 pm

    I agree, I love that place, not to mention Sarah the hostess.

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