Archive for the 'Mediterranean' Category

Avec – Chicago

Avec - Chicago

While it might seem silly to down four doughnuts just before dinner, it was necessary for survival in Chicago, where no reservation policies are the norm at the most popular spots in town.

Case in point: we arrived at Avec at half past seven on Saturday night and were finally seated near 10 PM at one of the cramped communal tables. Such is the life of a foodist in the Second City. #FirstWorldProblems.

Avec - Chicago

Opened in 2003, Avec serves a Midwestern interpretation of Mediterranean classics in small plates fashion. “Taking its cue from the regions of Southern France, Italy, Portugal, and the coast of Spain, Avec’s cuisine reflects the aromas, flavors and colors of the Mediterranean,” according the the restaurant’s website.

Chef Koren Grieveson helped open the restaurant in 2003, earning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes in 2010. In 2013, Perry Hendrix, took over the kitchen.

Avec - Chicago

To start, an order of Avec’s famous chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon in a piquillo pepper-tomato sauce ($12). These meaty mouthfuls were sweet, spicy, and tangy all at once. Beautiful stuff, and maybe even worth a two hour wait. Maybe.

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Brunch at Cortez – Los Angeles (Echo Park)

Cortez - Los Angeles (Echo Park)

You won’t find decadent French toast or overstuffed omelettes on the brunch menu at Echo Park’s Cortez, but what you will find, inspired Mediterranean fare, is quite possibly even better.

Cortez - Los Angeles (Echo Park)

Marta Teegan, the owner of nearby green grocer Cookbook, opened Cortez after years of hearing from neighbors and customers that she really ought to have a restaurant. In the spirit of Cookbook, Cortez serves locally grown organic produce, sustainable seafood, and pasture-raised meats. The room is as simple and comfortable as they come.

Cortez - Los Angeles (Echo Park)

My brunch-mate Kat and I sipped cava mimosas ($11) to start, a bubbly, zippy reward for enduring the horrendous traffic to get there.

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Zankou Chicken – Pasadena

Zankou Chicken

There is no greater aperitif than a long walk. Strolling at an easy pace, admiring buildings and people along the way, works up an appetite like sitting in traffic never can.

While the number of restaurants within walking distance (and worth eating at) isn’t tremendous in our Pasadena neighborhood, The Astronomer and I have a solid list of go-to places including Pie ‘n Burger, Old Sasoon Bakery, and Cham Korean Bistro. Our most recent addition to the walkable and craveable list is Zankou Chicken, an L.A. institution located about a mile from home.

Zankou Chicken

This much-loved rotisserie chicken shack was founded in Beirut in 1962 by Vartkes and Markrid Iskenderian. The couple fled war-torn Lebanon and opened the first American branch of Zankou in Hollywood in 1984. There are currently ten Zankou locations in and around the Southland.

Zankou Chicken

Zankou is run much like a fast food establishment. Orders are placed and paid for at the counter, and numbers are shouted out as food is ready for pick up. Business was bumping the Friday night we visited. Still, lines moved efficiently and food was prepared swiftly.

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