River North is home to the brand new Bar Avec, located on the 8th floor above Avec River North at 640 North LaSalle Drive. This open-air bar features a menu that one would expect to find while cruising around the southern coastal towns of Portugal and Spain. With a welcoming ambiance, this 1,200 square-foot bar is the ideal spot to eat and drink in the city this summer.
One Off Hospitality’s Culinary Director Perry Hendrix, Executive Chef Paul Kahan, and Avec River North’s Chef de Cuisine Ross Henke have combined their talents to create a Spanish-inspired menu. Featuring shareable plates and dinner entrees, the menu at Bar Avec is both breezy and satisfying.
Starting with their shareable plates, don’t pass up on that chance to taste the delicious poached asparagus with almond Ajo Blanco, smoked trout roe, and cava vinaigrette. Likewise, the wild halibut a la plancha with potatoes and charred olives is well worth ordering two of. Perhaps the most standout snack on a menu full of them is the chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates highlighted by bacon and piquillo pepper tomato sauce. Each bite had me eyeing my other dining companions to ensure no one was getting an extra one of these delectable dates.
More ample items on the menu at Bar Avec include the slow-roasted pork shoulder with a supporting cast featuring chorizo, clams, sweet peas, and smoked almonds that provide a symphony of joy for your taste buds from the first bite to last.
If you’re craving fish while enjoying drinks at this rooftop bar, definitely order the zesty whole fish with garlic, smoked olive oil, and charred lemon. If you have chicken on the brain, Bar Avec’s griddled half chicken with pan con tomate, arugula, and smoked paprika is the way to go. Perhaps the tastiest dish on a menu full of top-notch choices is the bone-in rib eye surrounded by slow-roasted peppers and charred sweet onions. You would be wise to include Bar Avec on your list of places to get a delicious dinner this summer and not relegate this River North spot to simply an outdoor bar.
When it comes to drinks, Bar Avec has whatever you might be in the mood for. Of particular mention is the I Want to be Sedated cocktail featuring Old Forester Bourbon, house date dram, and walnut bitters. The Jazzhattan is a delightful liquid concoction of jasmine-infused Rittenhouse Rye, angostura, mango, Mata Vermouth Tinto Reserva, and lemon. The Side to Side cocktail offered up at Bar Avec is a wonderful medley of Banhez Mezcal, Aperol, grapefruit jarritos, habanero shrub, and lime.
The outdoor patio setting at Bar Avec is a refreshing reminder that summer is on its way back to Chicago. You will feel like you stopped off for a leisurely meal and drinks at a picturesque coastal Portuguese town, thanks to the laid-back ambiance full of greenery and scenery. Of course, instead of looking out at the Iberian Peninsula, you will have to settle for the gorgeous views of Chicago’s skyline while basking in the warm weather.
Bar Avec is open Monday through Thursday from 4 pm to 10 pm, Friday through Saturday from 4 pm to 11 pm, and Sunday from 4 pm to 9 pm.
ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO