At Bar Native, the motto is Drink like a Local—that’s “Local”, not “Yokel,”—and in that spirit, I left my green plastic bowler in the closet and passed on the opportunity to be tazed along with the light-beer-swilling amateurs on Saturday, opting instead to celebrate St. Patrick’s on its appointed day with dinner at Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf.
Tucked away on a quiet stretch of Kinzie Street in River North, book-ended by Kinzie Chophouse on one end, and Gilt Bar on the other, Bavette’s has been described as “steakhouse concept”, which I guess means it’s less than ten years old. Part of a burgeoning eatery empire that includes Au Cheval, Maude’s Liquor Bar, Dillman’s, and Green Street Smoked Meats, Bavette’s puts me in mind of an RL Restaurant for the younger set—clubby and intimate, the lights are low, the soundtrack is 50′s Post Bop.
The drinks were expertly made, judging by the Negronis I consumed, and the French 75 enjoyed by my wife. One could run up the expense account by ordering one of their signature Seafood Towers or a dry aged slab of beef. But we ate around the edges of the bill of fare, sharing an avocado salad heaped with crabmeat, a perfectly fine prime rib sandwich, and an order of buttermilk fried chicken that my wife declared, “needed seasoning”. Alerted by our waiter to her verdict, the floor manager appeared and offered to exchange it or remove it from the bill. But I found it adequate, if not exactly like my mother used to make, and I’m finishing it off as I type this.
Bavette’s is not a casual drop-in spot. We arrived for our reservation at five, and soon after, the place was comfortably full. If the idea of a little old-school polish appeals to you, book ahead. If you arrive a little early, as we did, you might consider a drink at the bar at Kinzie Chophouse, a cozy spot with tempting bar food specials during the week, and at least on our visit, a tasty Revolution Brewery Porter on tap.