photo: kari skaflen

The bacon-roasted tomato salad at Bavette's Bar and Boeuf comes with watercress, olive oil, and herb salt. 

Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf (218 W. Kinzie St., 312-624-8154). Contemporary.

  ½ (very good to excellent)

$$$$ ($50-plus per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)

With Brendan Sodikoff’s name attached, it’s no surprise that tables are hard to come by at this sexy bi-level spot. And sure, the rib eye is delicious. But the predictability ends there, because the true stunners are found outside the menu’s steak section. A gigantic meatball nested among chewy hand-cut noodles is simplicity perfected; ditto the lemony roasted chicken and the prime rib sandwich that drips with smoky Monterey Jack. The dining room has an air of formality; venture to the downstairs parlor for the low-key version. Either way, augment your meal with the city’s best old fashioned and a wedge of velvety chocolate cream pie. 

 Dishes We Liked: shrimp cocktail with horseradish, cocktail sauce, and Dijonnaise ($18); bacon-roasted tomato salad with watercress, olive oil, and herb salt ($11.95); roasted chicken with lemon, rosemary, and chicken jus ($19.95); meatball with hand-cut noodles, red sauce, and Parmesan ($17.95); chocolate cream pie ($10)

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. Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf previously was not rated. The review appears in the June issue, on newsstands Thursday.