OUR RATING: Chance It!
David Morton and Michael Kornick, heads of the DMK Restaurant Group (including Ada Street, MK, DMK Burger Bar and the soon-to-open County Barbecue), bring Chicagoans Fish Bar, a casual seafood joint serving sustainable (buzzword) seafood goods along with cocktails in mason jars.
With the feel of a seaside fish joint that you’d perhaps find on the south-east coast, Lakeview’s Fish Bar is brimming with briny character that seems at once authentic and tongue-in-cheek. We recommend you try and snap up some of the outdoor seating, as its beautiful in the summer to eat fish en terraza, even if the nearby hospital sometimes makes this a noisy experience.
Adam: When I’m reviewing places, I try to shy away from the specials for two reasons: 1. they might not be available when you go there, and therefore you are left in a bemused state as to what to order, and 2. specials are secretly a way for chefs to get rid of surplus ingredients that don’t necessarily fit the bill. That being said, I was drawn to try Fish Bar’s special the day I went, reeling in a tasty lake trout for good measure.
But, for starters, starters. Our waitress was kind enough to provide us with a complimentary dish of crispy lemon, onion and jalapeno that has to be one of the oddest vegetable medleys to have passed my lips. Very interesting (the most adventurous part being the lemons), I would highly recommend it for the flavor, but be warned that it won’t fill you up.
My lake trout was nicely put together and steamed to a seething flakiness that made it clear that Fish Bar was truly a fish restaurant. Accompanied by greens and a delicious acidic sauce, I was truly sated after this, and would venture to say that it was a medium, rather than small plate.
Alicia: While Po’Boys and Maine Lobster rolls seem to be the most popular menu items, I instead tried Fish Bar’s seafood gumbo paired with their Octopus a la Plancha. The gumbo was slightly thick with the perfect level of spice with a healthy dose of blue crab and andouille sausage. I could have done with a bit more crab, but all in all this was a very filling and delicious start to my meal.
And now for the main event, the Octopus A La Plancha with grilled octopus, preserved lemon, fried caper, chili flakes and parsley. To be perfectly frank, the star of this dish, the octopus, wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. It wasn’t too chewy, but it was just a little dry and uneventful, and while the dressing for the dish proved light and with a nice bite, the seafood itself was just one-noted. And really, fried capers just don’t do capers justice, so I could have done without all of that extra oil and frying. Ultimately, however, I was pleased enough with the dish, and while I wouldn’t order it again, I’m glad to have given it a try.
Final Thoughts: Be warned that while Fish Bar advertises as a fully fledged restaurant, it is really a small plates affair, as the server will tell you when sitting down. We do take issue with this – such information should be made apparent to customers before dining and we consider it rather cheeky to only let your diners know of something of such import upon sitting. Let’s be clear – if you’re small plates, you’re small plates. Ultimately, the plates were relatively medium-sized, so all in all perhaps a bit overpriced. While reservations are for parties of three or four only and most media says that the place is packed out, we managed to comfortably sit five at an outside table with ease. Overall, definitely a yummy and unique take on seafood…for Chicago.