Photograph: Marc Hauser Photography
Avec (615 W. Randolph St., 312-377-2002). Mediterranean.
½ (very good to excellent)
$$ ($30–$39 per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
After nearly ten years and the recent promotion of Erling Wu-Bower, Avec is still a well-oiled machine, dispensing pleasure and vacuuming up cash in a packed room that looks as good as it did on day one.
Expect simple, seasonal, shareable small plates that let their ingredients shine. Cases in point: the brandade with garlic bread and a salad of hanger steak, shaved artichokes, pine nuts, and kale. To quote a nearby exuberant diner: “You’ve got to get the pork shoulder. It will change your life.”
Only complaint: Compared with the exciting food, the wine list is starting to seem a bit sleepy.
Dishes We Liked: brandade ($11), leek bruschetta ($13), hanger steak salad ($13), Fermin Serrano with figs ($22), pork shoulder ($21), chocolate budino ($3)
New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Avec and Courtright’s maintained their two-and-a-half-star ratings; Taxim maintained its two-star rating. The updated reviews appear in the April issue, on newsstands now.