Thursday, August 4, 2011

avec

p.s. working on getting a new skin/template for the blog and possibly a change of name but that's a work in progress. also, it's my excuse for lack of updates but i promise i have much to write about!
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so i've been waiting/anticipating my first visit to avec for almost two years now and it has finally happened a couple of weeks ago. i was introduced to avec when ryan and i went for dinner with our ex-boss from college but the wait was so ridiculously long hence we headed to the publican instead. and since then, i've been meaning to try this restaurant located just next to blackbird. (yeah, i am somewhat slow..)



i went there with two of my co-workers/friends for a weekday dinner - also partly to avoid the huge crowd and the wait time. we assumed that it wouldn't be busy because it was a weekday but surprisingly when we got there at about 6pm, there was a crowd of hungry people waiting. thank goodness for us, we didn't really have to wait and got a table at front end of the room by the main entrance.



so.. i am not so sure what is the deal with communal tables. i don't fancy them but it's  becoming a trend now in various restaurants. avec has them too, the communal tables concept but i just don't get it. i really don't need to have strangers staring at my food nor share my conversations about how my day went with them. and sometimes we'd have to get up from the bench to let any patrons in or out, mid-bite even. (/end rant) 




anywho, avec is a narrow room, fully clad in wood panels with the back wall lined with wine bottles which i thought was apt since they have a good, extensive wine list. their food concept is rustic tapas with influence from southern france, portugal, italy and the coast of spain. the dining room was noisy with everyone trying to talk over each other and the music playing in the background. we almost had to yell at each other in order to carry out a conversation.


now, the most important aspect - the food. we decided on sharing two items from the small plates menu, two from large plates and possibly finish up with dessert.

small plates | chorizo-stuffed medjool dates . smoked bacon . piquillo pepper - tomato sauce . ($10)



you could say the chorizo stuffed dates is the star of their menu. i've read it on reviews, heard raves about it from friends and even chris cosentino concluded that it was the best thing he ever ate 'in a bowl'

i mean c'mon, what is there not to like? 
sweet, soft dates - check.
spicy and savory chorizo - check.
crispy, smoky, salty bacon - check.
and then you tie it all together with the tangy and sweet sauce.



the combination of flavors is amazing. probably one of the best bites i've ever had. it's like a symphony in your mouth. first, the sweetness hits your tongue then you get that spicy flavorfulness of chorizo in the back of your throat which is then mellowed by the sauce and i mean how can you ever go wrong with bacon? hugeeee love! a huge burst of flavor in a tiny mouthful of uber yummyliciousness. oh and don't forget the fresh soft bread you can use to sop up all the tomato sauce so that it doesn't go to waste. honestly, i'd been happy with just two orders these for myself. again, chris constentino, you have not disappointed me with your recommendation.

small plates | charred octopus salad . marinated limas . roasted brussels sprout leaves ($13)



i am a sucker for seafood anything and since the rest of our dishes are mostly meat, salad was probably a good way to go. let's start with the good. the octopus was cooked through but not overdone and love the charred flavor on it. the bad: the vinaigrette had too much vinegar that it overpowered all the the other ingredients in the dish. the sourness made my lips pucker but even though the vinegar goes well with the octopus, they went a tad heavy handed on the vinegar.

large plates | "deluxe" focaccia . taleggio cheese . ricotta . truffle oil . fresh herbs ($15)


huge hunk of bread (well, it is listed under large plates) - a golden round pie laying on top of parchment paper... i started with a tiny corner piece and thought, 'ummm, where is the truffle flavor?' then i figured since it was the edge piece, it probably missed out on the truffle oil party. so i tried another piece and found that truffle flavor i was searching for. while creamy between the flat airy pieces of focaccia bread with the slight salty crunch from the salt sprinkled on top of the bread, i was missing the herbacious punch. there was more truffle flavor towards the middle of the pie but.. the edge squares had a smoky crusty flavor from the grill. i guess you could take a pick for your favorite square. i thought it was a good dish but it didn't blow me away.

large plates | wood-oven roasted pork shoulder . roasted baby carrots . black rice . basil pistou ($21)


all of us kind of went, 'ohh' when the dish arrived to our table and the aroma filled our senses. hmm.. it smelled promising. the tender pork shoulder bathed in the glorious broth which had a depth of flavor but in a comforting kind of way. the savory broth (borderline salty, though) that contained black rice was hearty with some sweet baby carrots and paired well with the pork shoulder. however, christina and i couldn't help but compare this dish with the one from purple pig. in comparison in terms of the tenderness of the meat itself paled to the one from purple pig which was more fall off the bone luscious.

drinks |  cappuccino ($3)



it came with a side of biscotti. i didn't have any but i liked the heart shape on the foam. :)

dessert | almond tart . honey ice cream . ($6)


i imagined this to be like a key lime pie except with a almond pudding filling instead of key lime but it ended up being like a mini pecan pie with almond instead. the crust was hard to cut through with a spoon and the filling ended up being too sweet. and this was paired with a sweet honey ice cream which tasted like..well.. honey which made it overwhelmingly sweet. the sweet honey ice cream was great on its own though. the pie.. not so much. 

dessert | dessert of the day ($6)


i can't remember what this dessert was called but i know it's made out of goat's milk. it's like a goat's milk creme brulee but it tasted like a lighter and sweeter version of greek yoghurt with the slight tart notes in the silky texture. the slices of strawberry which were tart but was slightly sweetened with balsamic vinegar which was a great topping to garnish the light dessert. 


i really wanted to love avec but i came out from the experience just liking it. i'd say it's mostly my fault for building such high expectations over the past two years before finally trying the place. we were pretty disgruntled with the service cos it took a long time before our food was served in comparison to the group next to us who were finished with dessert while we were just finishing up our entree. and they were seated at the same time we were.

but again, i have to say that chorizo stuffed dates wrapped in bacon is exceptional and i would return just for two plates of those yummy bites. i would be willing to wait for a table even only for this one dish. :)

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others

Avec on Urbanspoon

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