Thursday, June 21, 2012

Off the Map: This Is Slightly Irregular

Chorizo Stuffed Dates -- Avec, Chicago, IL

To sum up the problem, Avec hates us.

On our first day in Chicago, they completely ruined our perfectly planned itinerary by being CLOSED for a private event.

On our second day in Chicago, they inundated us with passive aggressive attitude.

Not cool, Avec.
Nothing Like Being Tortured in the Name of a Gross-Looking Date
As you might recall, our waitress at Publican had gotten wind of the fact that we wanted to go to Avec to try their chorizo stuffed dates, as recommended by Chris Cosentino on the IN A BOWL episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Being that she apparently works at both institutions, she had suggested that we come back the next day and ask for her.  Now, it is worthy of mention that the entire time we were at Publican, we could not tell if said waitress liked or hated us.  To say we were getting mixed signals would be an understatement, as she would switch from mildly befriending us to looking at us like we were the biggest idiots she'd ever seen without a moment's notice.

Therefore, color us surprised when she suggested that we ask for her the following day at Avec.
Okay Lady... Whatever You Say...
To set the scene, Avec features an outside "patio" where people can stand around large barrels and drink.  Not eat -- just drink.  The reason for this dichotomy is never explained.  Instead, the hostess states that they "can't serve food outside."  We then proceed to have the most wishy-washy, passive aggressive conversation of our lives:

"Okay, we just want to eat the dates, so...?"

"Do you want a table?"

"We'll sit at a table, but we really just want to eat the dates, so is that still okay?"

"You can eat the dates at the bar."

"Okay, so we can just sit at the bar?"

"Well, there isn't room."

"So you want us to sit at a table?"

And so on and so forth.

In the midst of this entry into the Avec Twilight Zone, our long-lost "friend," the waitress from Publican, comes bounding to the front of the restaurant to greet us.  It is worthy of note that she is truly BOUNDING, seemingly pleased that we have come back to her other place of employment.  And we (naively) think that she is going to help clarify the situation with this hostess who refuses to just SAY WHAT SHE WANTS US TO DO IN ORDER TO EAT THE DATES.

Avec, You're Losing Stars By the Minute Here
At this point, fed up and completely off schedule, Vodka hones in on the only free bar stool directly across from the hostess and takes matters into her own hands.  "We'll order from here," she states, to which she receives blank stares.  Coming back to earth, our waitress lays plates and napkins in front of us and says (again, in a COMPLETELY passive aggressive tone!), "This is slightly irregular, but I'll let you guys do it since you came back."

So just to clarify, guys, WHAT DID YOU WANT US TO DO?
Besides, Presumably, Leave
To make a long and tortured story short, we proceed to hover at said stool for the next hour (yes, a full hour -- one would think they'd be eager to get rid of us and would speed up the process), which is apparently how long all of our haters at Avec have decided it takes to whip up four dates for us.  When they finally arrive, they are on par in size with the Extra Virgin meatballs -- so large that the Jolly Green Giant wouldn't be able to fit one into his mouth.
So Just to Confirm, It Took You SIXTY MINUTES to Pull This Cutting Board Together?!
We each remove a serving from the bowl and attempt to cut it apart.  Slightly stringy bacon is wrapped around each sphere, with blood-red chorizo meat spilling out of the center.  The date is pretty much hidden from the eye, and the platter comes with a solitary roll to accompany the softball-size concoctions.  Cutting them up into bite-size pieces, we take our first taste -- and true to Avec itself, Ginger finds them passively good, and Vodka thinks they're aggressively bad.
Seriously Now, Does THIS Look Appetizing to You?
To Vodka, there is nothing appealing about these creations, neither with their components separated or together.  The dates are pretty much a non-entity, masked by the other flavors except for a small hint of sweetness towards the end of each bite.  The chorizo is spicy and so red in color it is disturbing to look at, and the bacon is so fatty that it is almost enough to induce a gag.  The bread does not add much to this combination, as it's dry and crumbly and not even useful for lapping up the sauce.

In theory, Ginger agrees with all of these points -- just not as "aggressively" as Vodka does.
Which Is Pretty Much Par for the Course
In the end, Vodka is unable to polish off a single date ball, while Ginger makes her way through a couple before abandoning ship.  To the bitter end, we are incapable of discerning the wishes and motivations of the Avec waitstaff, including our frenemy, the waitress.  Perhaps this means that years in New York has rendered us incapable of picking up on the rest of the country's social cues.

Or maybe, as we suspected, Avec just hates us.

Avec's Chorizo Stuffed Dates: 3 stars

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