Blackbird/Avec, Chicago, Illinois
Concierge.com's insider take:
The neighborhood surrounding it continues to gentrify, but Paul Kahan's Mediterranean-inspired restaurant remains refreshingly simple. The service is friendly and prompt, and the tables are tucked together so tightly that eavesdropping on the well-heeled young professionals who surround you is inevitable. Kahan's specialty is allowing individual tastes to shine, and his best dishes are those made from just a few perfectly prepared regional ingredients—like venison from Minnesota, locally grown cauliflower, and house-smoked trout. Another option is to duck into Avec, Blackbird's slightly dressed-down sibling right across the street. It's noisier, lined with narrow communal tables, and, thanks to its sleek wood walls, looks something like a sauna. But dishes like chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates wrapped in smoked bacon with piquillo pepper–tomato sauce, and crispy duck leg with plums are every bit as good as what you'll find at Blackbird.
Blackbird is open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 pm to 11 pm, Saturdays 5:30 pm to 11 pm; closed Sundays..
Avec is open Mondays through Thursdays 3:30 pm to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 3:30 pm to 1 am, Sundays 3:30 pm to 10 pm.