Seafood-heavy menus emerge in city of steakhouses

June 15, 2011 9:41:12 AM PDT
A chef who's no stranger to Chicago's food scene opens an oyster bar that also features creative takes on fish and shellfish, GT Fish & Oyster.

Chef Giuseppe Tentori has gone from a cook at Charlie Trotters to the executive chef at Boka. He's always refining his technique and has cultivated a loyal following. Recently he expanded into seafood at GT Fish & Oyster in River North.

Like nearly every new seafood restaurant to open lately, the menu at GT Fish & Oyster in River North has the requisite clam chowder and ceviche - that is, raw fish cooked in fresh citrus. But look closer at the menu, and you discover an ambitious kitchen, going well beyond the cliche fish and chips.

"We try to tweak and spice it up a little bit. What that mean..yes we have chowder and lobster, but then you can come over here and have like a beautiful barbequed eel with a potato salad and octopus salad. Or you can have like a rustic mussel and then you could have like a wonderful piece of seared pike with monkfish liver," said Giuseppe Tentori, the Chef at GT Fish & Oyster.

Tentori's Italian roots are evident in a crab agnolotti.. but this seafood-stuffed pasta gets an Asian turn, thanks to the coconut cream, crunchy bok choy and earthy honshimeji mushrooms that accompany it. Garnishes of black tobiko, pickled red jalapenos and grated lime zest add texture, mild heat and brightness.

"This dish I want to make a little Asian style. So in there is a little curry powder, tumeric, and inside we have these wonderful pieces of crab meat. We put a little coconut milk in broth, bok choy, honshimeji mushroom, little black tobiko not just for the color, but for the crunchiness. And some pickled jalapeno," said Tentori.

As for bruschetta, don't expect run-of-the-mill tomatoes and basil. Here, Tentori delicately assembles grapefruit wedges with sliced shrimp and avocado puree.. sprinkling it with crunchy pistachios to give it added textural contrast. It's almost as if the chef and his partners wanted to create a casual fish and oyster bar, but realized diners were more savvy these days, allowing them to flex their creativity.

"I think people more they're acceptable waiting for somebody to open like a seafood restaurant, but keep it casual at the same time. And that's what we're doing here," Tentori said.

GT Fish & Oyster started lunch service this week, so you can satisfy midday cravings for tuna BLTs and lobster rolls. Since this is Chicago, they'll have a beef burger on that menu as well.

GT Fish & Oyster
531 N. Wells St.

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