Tempted by same day tables at Next, a five course meal at Moto and the new opening of Little Goat, I still opted for dinner at GT Fish and Oyster for my birthday, a place I had heard rave reviews about but was timid to try.
For whatever reason, I pictured GT Fish and Oyster as more of your typical scripted steak or seafood house, I won’t name names, but places where the food is decent but is more fit for big egos in suits than a crunchy foodie gal. Needless to say, GT was more than a pleasant surprise. This enchanting seafood locale opened in March of 2011. It’s a coalescence of a rustic fisherman’s cottage with a sleek (yet not too pretentious) yacht – I’m paraphrasing from their site. The food, mostly seafood, part traditional, part contemporary, all seasonal small plates.
I was lured (pun intended) by the daily selection of oysters and on this Tuesday night, there were 11 different oysters. We told our server what we like (light – med salt, creamy, more West coast than East) and the chef picked out the ones we should try. We had everything from your typical Kumamoto to Sun Hollow and they were the perfect way to start our meal.
Normally, I would accompany these little guys with a nice dry martini or some champagne but the ‘new money’ cocktail was calling my name, Benchmark bourbon, Aperol, Nux Alpina walnut liqueur and allspice. I wouldn’t say it was the perfect accompaniment to my seafood dishes but it was pretty amazing.
The small plates that followed were nothing short of wonderful.
- TUNA POKE mango, cucumber, black sesame
In the picture above the mango looks like your typical pickled ginger, but the thinly sliced mango provided a lovely citrus and tender texture as the fresh tuna morsels coat your mouth.
- OYSTER PO’BOY SLIDER kimchi, peanuts
We tried these at our server’s recommendation. As you might know, I’m not a fan of kimchi but this little 2-bite sandwich was delightful and received a James Beard award, at bargain at $4
- SAGE GNOCCHI crab, butternut squash, burrata, spicy pepitas
Before I set foot in GT, I know I would have ordered this. The crab was tender, fresh, the seeds toasted and crunchy with the gnocchi and burrata melting in my mouth, I was in heaven.
- BERKSHIRE PORK BELLY tuscan kale, figs, carrots, asian gastrique
While still good, my one critique of the meal lies with this dish; I think pork belly was a little overdone and chewy. I do give some forgiveness since it wasn’t seafood, that being said, I think restaurants that can make a fantastic dish that’s not in their wheelhouse sets apart the really good from the great.
Don’t you worry dessert more than made up for the chewy pork belly. I think we literally spent 15 minutes trying to make our shortlist into a consumable amount of food. After a couple rounds of healthy banter with our server, it was decided:
- CHOCOLATE PIE stout ice cream and peanut brittle
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what a chocolate pie really was. All I could think it of a chocolate pudding pie, but this put that to shame. Think thin shortbread crust with a warm semi-sweet cookie meets brownie with stout ice cream on top. YUM. Not overly sweet but very satisfying.
- SALTED CARAMEL TART – Chantilly and bananas
Tart mold + a cup of salted caramel with some bananas foster = amazing and sugar high. With of course some birthday wishes.
They probably don’t want this advertised to widely, so if I make it to the top 20 food blogs in Chicago, I’ll remove this but until then… if you go there for your birthday, instead of a free dessert, you get a $20 gift card to use on your next visit. Not the reason I went, but a very nice touch at the end of our very delicious meal.