• Alison Green
  • Chewy, pillowy sourdough that’s complimentary to boot

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf, the River North restaurant that joins Maude’s Liquor Bar, Gilt Bar, Au Cheval, and Doughnut Vault in Brendan Sodikoff’s burgeoning empire, is so damn good it renders its own steaks superfluous. So says Mike Sula, who found himself scarfing leftovers that were irresistible despite their congealed state. Notable items among Alinea vet Jeff Pikus’s formidable roster are the bread service (here gratis), a fois gras terrine every bit as good as the torchon at Maude’s, and nontrophy meats such as a softball-size meatball and a slab of beef tongue “so tender that it falls apart if you wink at it.” More in the line of steak houses are massive salads and surf-related appetizers—seafood towers and oysters, salt cod brandade, shrimp de jonghe, a fat and fluffy baked crab cake. And as at most of Sodikoff’s spots, there’s a better-than-perfunctory cocktail list, this one based on classics (old-fashioned, daiquiri, a cognac-fortified Sazerac) and a half-dozen sparkling selections.