by The Urban Grocer in Architecture on Friday 31 July 2009

Officially, Avec is first and foremost a wine bar. Yet, a few minutes in this vibrant, energetic Chicago-based space and it’s quickly evident that it’s so much more. Set in a long, narrow honey-colored room wrapped in cedar and hickory, with five communal tables and red oak seating, the atmosphere is loud and boisterous, filled with lively conversation and music to match. Within this James Beard Award Winning designed room, rustic cuisine, charcuterie, and cheese from the Mediterranean regions of Southern France, Portugal, Italy, and Spain are served as small and large plates.

The wood-oven, roasted flavors that dominant the menu are rich and representative of local foods, like Chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates and prosciutto with peaches, ricotta, and mint. And of course as a wine bar, Avec’s list is abundant with over 130 affordable bottles from the region and 30-plus wines available by the glass to encourage tastings and experimentation. The long lines around Avec speak to the success of their formula (and their no-reservation policy), but if you’re not in the mood to wait for hours, check out their equally intriguing, more formal – and expensive – sister-restaurant, Blackbird, just next door.