avec - Chicago
An instant success when it debuted in 2003, avec is the second restaurant from One Off Hospitality, the group behind Blackbird, Publican, The Violet Hour, Big Star and Nico Osteria. The restaurant, located in the West Loop Gate (also home to Michelin-starred gems Grace and Sepia), specializes in Mediterranean-inspired small plate dishes, vino and beer.
Mostly avec showcases seasonal, rotating dishes and drinks and also cheeses--from the custom-designed cave. But there are several menu items that will always be staples: wood-oven roasted oysters, chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates and the avec lamb roti. For the latter, guests must order 24 hours in advance for the whole roasted lamb that's served with freshly baked pitas, mezze and sauces. It's for two to six diners and $250, with the option to pair with wine.
Speaking of wine, avec is known for its extensive list, which includes many selections from France, Greece, Italy and Spain. And in recent years, they've added a few craft cocktails to the beverage program.
Seating is communal and tight, so get ready to get chummy with your neighbors.