Vivo's new lounge act offers bite-size eats and clubby beats.
There’s no doubt that V.I.C.E., Vivo’s new adjacent sibling, is a lounge. You have no choice but to lounge/slump on the banquettes and ottomans. If you can’t score one of the tables out on the sidewalk, prepare to practice your posture sitting on a small cube that puts your knees smack-dab at the edge of the glass-topped coffee tables.
Aside from the not-so-comfortable seating, diners get tiny silverware—typically reserved for children’s tea parties—that’s supposed to assist in eating the bite-size portions. It’s a bit like being at a cocktail party, except you don’t have to stalk some sweaty kid in a tux to get more food.
And you will want to fill up here. Chef Chris Laramie’s food is very good, especially the mini Kobe burgers, which are juicy and topped with crispy pancetta, Camembert, fresh arugula and a ripe little slice of tomato. The burgers only come two to an order, but luckily the menu spells out exactly how many itty-bitty portions come with each dish so you have a good idea of how to orchestrate the onslaught.
The presence of premium caviar and a $600 bottle of Dom Perignon on the menu (the cheapest bottle of wine is $40) signals that V.I.C.E. expects some serious high-rollers to come through the doors, but during typical dining hours, the crowd of well-heeled thirtysomethings seemed pretty happy sticking to $10 small plates and $12 cocktails. We took a cue from a group who was cooing over the duck confit flatbread and followed suit. They had reason to like it: The shredded duck meat was well seasoned and moist, and was a good match for the tzatzikilike yogurt spread and tangy arugula on the grilled pita. Little chicken drumettes had a nice, sweet hoisin-based glaze and were well cooked, but the jasmine rice served with them was dry and boring. That dish and an overly tart passion fruit panna cotta, were really the only misses among the half-dozen hits. Other diners seemed to agree: Empty plates were cleared left and right at around 10pm, when the DJ began hauling in vinyl crates, the bass was cranked up and the Cosmo-sippers commenced cackling. Apparently, Laramie’s work was done.—Heather Shouse
840 W Randolph St between Green and Peoria Sts (312-733-3379). El: Green to Clinton. Bus: 8 Halsted, 20 Madison (24hrs). Dinner (closed Mon). Average small plate: $8.