Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf
218 W Kinzie St
January 24 – We’re classy yo…
We started our evening off at a wine tasting event where our illustrious companion, Viktor (yup that’s how you spell it), won a ridiculous $1400 coffee table from a $20 raffle. To get even Natalie and I made sure we tasted every type of wine in the place (that’s equivalent, right?). We were right around the corner from Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf–# 1 on the Best Bar For Grub list. Let’s do this, we chanted! And eagerly proceeded to the dimly lit downstairs bar for a few drinks and to sample some of their alleged best grub.
Natalie started with the French 75, a refreshing blend of champagne, gin and lemon. It was deliciously crisp with just a hint of sweetness like an adult version of Sprite. I went with the Cognac Sazerac, much more potent…not as smooth but definitely a tasty cocktail. It had a lot of those big words/ingredients we saw on the Sable menu (that must be the sign of a solid drink) like demerara and peychauds along with rye and cognac. A couple of hairs may have sprouted on my chest.
These finely crafted cocktails were courtesy of our friendly bartender Ryan. Ryan recently moved to Chicago from Kentucky a couple of months ago and is a whiskey drinker–shocking for a Kentucky boy, I know. Ryan’s first drink of choice is a Manhattan 4 Roses Single Barrel (found at Bavette’s) and second choice, a good ole Makers Mark, which you can find at any bar or basement Man Cave. In keeping with his Kentucky roots, Ryan’s signature cocktail at Bavette’s is of course the Old Fashioned!
Bavette’s is a classic European style steakhouse and the restaurant looks the part just as much as the menu embodies it. The main restaurant upstairs screams old world understated, elegance with exposed brick, dark wood and mirrored wall panels (not the tacky motel-by-the-hour type), deep red leather banquette’s and vintage chandeliers. Downstairs the vibe is more speakeasy–low timber ceilings, soft lighting, cozy leather furniture, exposed brick and dark wood.
Speaking of the menu, it was time for food and everything sounded amazing. Bavtte’s has a wide variety for whatever mood you’re in–steaks, chilled fresh seafood, entrees like simply broiled salmon, braised veal cheeks and hors d’oeuvres. The fact that they call them hors d’ oeuvres instead of appetizers, nibbles, or snacks solidifies this place as classy! People don’t use the word hors d’oeuvre enough anymore. My favorite part of a wedding is the cocktail hour because of all the hors d’oeuvres. Romantic (and classy I know) but I stand by this declaration and we stuck with that part of the menu. Ryan recommended the Peppered Duck & Goat Cheese Terrine and Garlic Shrimp De Jonghe.
As we waited for our for food, Ryan whipped up the next round including one of his signature Old Fashioneds, the Lillet Rose Martini, and a Negroni. We started chatting with our neighbors–two very nice young gentleman named Spencer and Duncan (classy names yo) who were enjoying Ryan’s Old-Fashioned and assured us we were in for a treat. All of these drinks had one thing in common. Alcohol. Damn–Bavette’s makes some potent cocktails. All the drinks were delicious, strong and classy yo each with just a few distinct ingredients (mostly liquor.) The Old Fashioned was smooth with just the right amount of burn, slightly sweet and superb–definitely a classic. The Lillet Rose Martini with vodka, St. Germain and Lillet Rose and the Negroni with gin, sweet vermouth and Campari were both perfectly chilled and full of floral flavors with the martini edging out the Negroni with just the right hint of sweetness.
As we slowly sipped our cocktails our food thankfully arrived to soak up all the delicious liquid. The duck and goat cheese terrine was awesome. The flavors of the duck and goat cheese were delicious and classy together–creamy, peppery, slightly rich but not too heavy. The charred bread and apricot mustard were great accompaniments and played up the flavors of the whole dish. Saving the classiest for last, apparently Shrimp De Jonghne (which I had never heard of before) is, according to wikipedia, of the oldest pedigree of Chicagoan cuisine, originating in the late 19th or early 20th century at the DeJonghe’s Hotel and Restaurant. It tasted every bit as fancy as it sounds like an extra fancy shrimp scampi with garlic, herbs and the sherry gave it a nice kick.
So does Bavette’s deserve a spot on the 100 best list? It’s classy yo, of course it does. Both Bavette’s bar and food offerings are classic and straightforward with distinct, simple ingredients and strong flavors. While the menu and the interior are the epitome of glamour, the vibe is still friendly and relaxed without a hint of stuffiness. This is definitely a place we’d return to for a nice stiff drink or a tasty treat from the hors d’oeuvres menu!
- Great date spot – Cozy and romantic for the cute ones yet dark enough if your blind date turns out to look like an Ewok
- Old men drinking martinis post business dinner meets Frat-tastic 20 somethings who clearly were lost on their way to Public House
- Giant yummy buttery baked sweet potatoes can be found on the menu – Natalie, the vegetarian, found something cruelty-free to feast upon (she made me write that)
- An array of cocktail making tools that look like they’re from a shed or a bedside drawer
- Discussions about cryptic tattoo epigrams: 1
- Numbers received: 2
- Friends made: 4