An Approachable Fish and Oyster House in River North
I have known for quite some time that the crew behind the Boka Restaurant Group was getting their hands wet in a casual fish house. When chef Giuseppe Tentori was actually slapping his initials on the name, I knew they were serious. I have been waiting and waiting for this day to come and it was worth the wait. Personally, I’m a big fan of the chef and think he is one of the most talented chefs in Chicago and beyond, but that’s beside the point, kind of.
I wandered over to GT Fish & Oyster with my father, an avid seafood fan, and dabbled in a handful of dishes. We started with the Red Snapper Carpaccio served with hearts of palm, chives and lotus root chips.
Light, delicate and refreshing all describe this dish. Next was the Smoked Hamachi served with edamame and seaweed scattered throughout. The fish picked up a light smoky flavor, enough to still let the fish shine. After that, I had the New England-Style Clam Chowder Soup served with housemade oyster crackers, accompanied by two bottles of housemade hot sauce. This soup was thinner than your typical chowder – but in a good way – with beautifully diced vegetables along with bacon and clams. We also enjoyed mussels served traditionally with a spicy red sauce along with some grilled bread. Simplicity at its finest. Next was squid stuffed with chorizo and shrimp and served on top of some saffron risotto. Along with that we had the Sesame-Crusted Sturgeon served on top of white eggplant puree and burst cherry tomatoes. Rounding out the dinner was the Cheesecake Panna Cotta, a light, fluffy and airy square of delicious goodness that is not to be missed.
While we did make our rounds on the menu, I do look forward to going back to try the fish tacos, lobster roll and whatever else Chef Giuseppe Tentori decides to put on the menu.
GT Fish & Oyster, 531 N. Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60610, 312-929-3501, www.gtfishandoyster.wordpress.com
Local, Sustainable, Organic Bla Bla Bla
Graham Elliot may knock the whole local/sustainable/organic buzzwords, but when applicable, he will use them - that is, if their flavor is up to par. The first time I went to Grahamwich I ordered the Short Rib Sandwich. It was served not in a pretzel bun, but rather a pretzel boat, with the fillings loaded in from the top, similar to a lobster roll. It had beautifully tender and shredded short rib, horseradish sauce, shoestring potato chips and pickled red onion. A delightful sandwich indeed. Along with the sandwich I ordered a side of Yukon Gold Chips with cheddar and ranch powder, which arrived crispy with a generous sprinkling of the powders. Lucky for me they were giving out samples of the Cinnamon Soft Serve ice cream with apples, pie crust crumbs and salty caramel.
A couple months later I headed back to Grahamwich upon hearing that the menu had been tweaked. I ordered the Lamb Gyros with English cucumber, heirloom tomato, red onion and tzatziki sauce, all in a pita pocket.
True to the Greek flavors of your local hot dog stand gyros, but in true Graham Elliot form, too. Along with the sandwich I ordered the G’wich pickles – labeled as “possibly local, probably sustainable , hopefully organic.” The order featured a variety of veggies, from turnips to cauliflower to cucumbers and everything was sweet, tangy and delicious. For dessert, I enjoyed a few spoonfuls of the vanilla bean soft serve ice cream with warm nutella, caramelized banana and marshmallow fluff.
Grahamwich is not your run-of-the-mill local sandwich shop, but that’s not why you’re going. Veer off the typical sandwich path and give it a try.
Grahamwich, 615 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654, 312-265-0434, www.grahamwich.com
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, these days you’ll find him on the road talking up kids and cooking as Director of Yum-o! and keeping special projects running smoothly for Rach, all the while taking a bite here and a bite there as he samples and shares local flavor from across the country, from taco trucks to fancier finds. Follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate!