Polish restaurant an 'oasis of fish' on West Addison

December 2, 2009 10:25:35 AM PST
Seafood lovers don't necessarily have to venture downtown to find fresh fish. In fact, there's a new option in an unlikely neighborhood, on the city's Northwest Side, tucked in among bakeries, butcher shops and florists. There's an oasis of fish to be found on West Addison.

The section of Addison we're talking about is closer to O'Hare rather than Wrigley Field, in a Polish neighborhood that's been going through some very slow changes. Yes, there are still travel agents and check cashing storefronts nearby, but Big Fish is trying to tap into a segment of the population that's as interested in red snapper and cod as it is smoked sausage and cabbage.

There are plenty of Polish bakeries and restaurants in and around the Schorsch Village neighborhood on the Northwest Side, but Big Fish on West Addison is definitely unique. In addition to the usual stews, pancakes and cabbage dishes, they focus the majority of their menu on seafood.

"There has been a gap in the Polish restaurants, they probably have one or two fishes on the menu, so I always wanted to kind of fill the gap, and that's how I came up with Big Fish," said Pawel Czauderna, owner of Big Fish.

The restaurant's subtitle is "Gruba Ryba," which refers to a giant red snapper that is fried whole, served with boiled asparagus and fried new potatoes. The fact that it's served whole means the flesh is beautifully firm and full of flavor.

Other entrees include a thick filet of cod that's dredged in flour, lightly pan-fried then baked. It's served atop a giant mound of French fries. A little healthier option can be found in the form of pan-fried trout -- again, served whole, which results in more flavor -- plated along with some fried potatoes.

Not everything is fried thankfully. Plump, deveined shrimp form a ring around zesty cocktail sauce, which makes dipping easy and frequent. Their seafood salad resembles something that would more likely come from an Italian or Greek kitchen -- due to the chunks of calamari and baby octopus. But in some ways, that dish is a reflection of the changing neighborhood, which is no longer 100 percent Polish.

"It's kind of a mix of the Polish and Italian. We do get a lot of American customers, Polish, Italian. Pretty much, it's a mix, so were trying to fit everyone," said Czauderna.

The menu also has Polish classics like smoked sausage and stuffed potato pancakes. They also have a full bar.

Big Fish
7117 W. Addison
773-777-1000


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