Have you ever walked into a space so chic and elegant that it makes you feel important? That’s how I feel when I walk into Bavettes. It’s a beautiful space to see and be seen.
I fell in love with Bavettes on my first visit. I love the 1920s French bistro atmosphere. The downstairs lounge feels like a speak easy. It’s mysterious, romantic and cozy. You feel more sophisticated just by being there. The space elevates the dining experience, it becomes a grand affair, not just another meal.
The food is just as memorable as the decor. The first time I dined there with four men, including my friend Adrian. We ordered so much food it barely fit on the table. Everyone insisted that you try a bite off their plate. It’s food so decadent that you want to share the experience.
Recently I asked my husband what his favorite all time dinner is and he answered instantly: steak with Roquefort from Bavettes, with a side of bacon, and a loaded baked potato. I think we had both been craving it ever since, and when we both received exciting career related news, we knew just where to celebrate.
Bavettes is the type of place that can do no wrong. It is the perfect place to take someone if you want to impress them, the menu has something for everyone, and I have never heard a bad word about the food. Charles and I have tried many items on the menu, and have enjoyed each item so much that deciding what to order has become a difficult decision.
A meal at Bavettes begins with a drink. They have a fantastic cocktail list, which includes three different Old Fashioned. Charles loves the Old Fashioned that is described as being the booziest. I often order wine, and somehow only just discovered that you can BYOB. Bavettes has an interesting BYOB policy. You may bring your own bottle of wine, under the condition that you share a glass of your wine with another table. It is a fun way to interact with other diners. I was very happy to accept a glass of red from the two gentlemen seated beside us.
When we dine at Bavettes with friends, Charles always orders the Oyster Tower. It includes both East and West Coast Oysters. Oysters aren’t my thing but Charles loves them.
The salads at Bavettes are huge and meant to be shared. Last time I ordered the Wedge Salad with egg, bacon, and blue cheese. It was the perfect size for three people. We loved the blue cheese dressing and thick crunchy bacon.
Often I skip the appetizer and go straight to the entree because I want to save room for dessert. My favorite entree is a toss up between the short rib stroganoff and the duchess cut petite filet. The short rib stroganoff is so rich that even though I love every bite I can only finish half of it. For this reason it is a great dish to order for the table and share if you are with a group. The short rib is cooked to perfection, it just melts in your mouth. The pasta is fresh and the mushrooms are caramelized and full of flavor. The sherry cream sauce pulls everything together.
My other favorite meal is the Duchess Cut Petite Filet which comes with Roasted Tomatoes and herb butter. The steak is always cooked to the precise temperature requested and is so tender that it could probably be cut with a butter knife. The roasted tomatoes are a great touch; they are honestly the best roast tomatoes I have ever tried. They are simply topped with olive oil and steak salt, but they are the perfect side. Sometimes we get a full side order for the table.
Charles usually orders the Chicago Cut Steak, which is a rib eye. The steak comes with Bearnaise, but you also have the option to add wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, Roquefort, au poivre, butter, or bone marrow. Charles rotates between getting the Roquefort and the wild mushrooms.
Sometimes Charles mixes it up and orders the Pork Chop. He loved this so much, and ate it so fast that it was nearly gone when the waiter came to ask how the food was. He said it was the best Pork Chop he has ever had.
Now on to the side dishes. Adrian introduced us to the side of bacon. It is very thick cut and seasoned with maple. It is dangerously good.
I am obsessed with Elotes so when I noticed Elote Style Corn on the menu I had to try it. It is seasoned with parmesan, chile and lime. The portion is huge but that didn’t stop the two of us from eating every bite.
Our favorite side dish is the Loaded Baked Potato. It is crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and comes with all of the toppings – bacon, sour cream, chives, and steak salt. It is also giant, and can easily feed three people. I have been recreating these potatoes at home.
This chocolate pie is worth saving room for. The chocolate filling is smooth and rich and has a thick pudding like texture. It sits on a chocolate crust. The whipped cream prevents chocolate overload. The whipped cream is flavored, perhaps it is caramel, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know I like it. Even though my husband “doesn’t like sweets” and doesn’t want to order dessert he always helps me eat this pie.
Unfortunately it is very easy to fill up too much to order this pie. Sometimes I let my waiter know about my intentions to save room for the pie. I skip the appetizer, limit the number of sides, take a portion of my entree home, and eat the pie. I have completely neglected to try any of the other desserts on the menu since I always get this pie. It is one of those dishes that you see someone else get and know you need to try.
A meal at Bavette’s is a memorable experience. It is on the pricy side, but the quality of the food and the elegance of the atmosphere justifies the price.
Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf is located in Chicago’s River North at 218 West Kinzie Street. It is a very short walk from the Purple and Brown line stops at Merchandize Mart. I highly recommend making a reservation, otherwise be prepared for a wait.