CHICAGO (WLS) --Taking a seafood lover to a steakhouse might seem counterintuitive, but that's exactly what you need to do in the West Loop. It's there that a large counter and an impressive array of raw seafood await, along with quite a few creative dishes, plus an impressive dessert menu.
Yes, it's tucked into the front corner of one of the largest steakhouses in Chicago, but don't let that stop you from peeking your head inside Cold Storage. Named for the building that stored huge sides of beef for a century, it now features some of the city's freshest seafood.
"The space kind of gave life to what the concept should be and it's a seafood-focused restaurant with a great counter for eating oysters at, as well as a myriad of other seafood items, not to mention some great milkshakes and pie," said Chef Chris Pandel.
The obvious shellfish platter is a given, and here, it's treated with the same respect as any other seafood palace in town. Clams, oysters, shrimp and king crab, plus ceviche make it a meal in itself. But don't overlook some of the cooked items, like the fish collar.
"Right behind the gills, and what it does is it's a very rich piece of fish, and so it eats a little heavier than the filet would, but it's the most flavorful part of the fish," Pandel said.
Marinated in soy and fish sauce, it's cooked in a combo wood-burning grill and oven.
"And it just permeates a little bit of smoke, some high heat so the skin caramelizes nicely," he said.
Head-on prawns are split lengthwise, plated with anchovy butter and breadcrumbs, a nice setup for a series of sweet endings, including a fantastic butterscotch shake, and a Frango-inspired mint chocolate sundae that pastry chef Meg Galus created in part, as a counterbalance to the savory side of the menu.
"It's still rich, but it's gonna cleanse your palate at the same time," said Pandel.
So don't be confused by the giant "Swift and Sons" sign on the outside of the building. That certainly implies a major steakhouse, but here in the front part of the building at Cold Storage, it's obviously a very different story.
1000 W. Fulton Market, Chicago
EXTRA COURSE: East Coast vs. West Coast oysters