Consider the Red Lobster

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if Beyoncé is being literal or figurative. For example it’s abundantly clear that she is not really riding an actual surfboard in “Drunk in Love”. Skittle candies are also not being eaten in “Blow”. However, in “Formation” when she says, “When he fuck me good, I take his ass to Red Lobster, ’cause I slay”, I think she really means she’s taking Jay Z to Red Lobster after sex. Advertisements


Wheel of Fortune

Sequels are tricky. They’re rarely better than the original. “The Godfather Part 2” which had a richness and depth that surpassed “The Godfather” is one of few exceptions. Usually what happens in a sequel is you get a tired, slightly different rehash of the original.

Sink Swim Ceviche

One of my favorite new restaurants to open in 2015 was Sink Swim in Logan Square. One of my favorite TV shows back in 2006 was “Gilmore Girls.” These things may not seem related, but they are. Just because something is great doesn’t mean that it will last forever. “Gilmore Girls” was canceled in 2007, and the folks behind Sink Swim announced a change of course last month, leaning toward more casual, affordable eats. Founding chef Matt Danko left and was replaced by Mitch Cavanah (GT Fish & Oyster) earlier this month.

Smack Shack

Located inside the Google building in Fulton Market, Smack Shack is not, as its name might suggest, an underground fight club for disgruntled techies. It’s the second location of a warehouse-sized seafood restaurant that started out as a humble food truck in Minneapolis in 2010. It gets its name from old East Coast fishing vessels called smacks. I like to imagine salty Boston fishermen used to say stuff like, “I pahked de smahk in Da-Ches-ter bay and it’s fullah lobstah.”


You don’t know lox. What you might know of cured salmon, if anything at all, is that sad vacuum-packed orange mush tucked away in the refrigerated section of your neighborhood grocery store. Jennifer Kim (Blackbird, Nico Osteria) and Bill Montagne (C Chicago), owners and partners at Snaggletooth, a tiny new restaurant in Lakeview, don’t sell mush. They purvey the real deal: delicately spiced, heavenly thin, sustainably fished, super-fresh cured fish. It’s a rare and addictive addition to Chicago’s deli scene.

Oyster Bah

The common image of a food critic is a bitter, vindictive, monocle-wearing bon vivant, aka Anton Ego of “Ratatouille.” The truth is I eat far too many cups of instant noodles to be considered a bon vivant. I want every restaurant I try to be worthy of four stars. Who wants to suffer through a terrible meal, even if you’re getting paid for it?

The Essentials: Brown Bag Seafood Company

I don’t have the luxury of obsessing over a single restaurant. My job requires that I eat in as many new restaurants as fast as I can. But hazards be damned! I’m obsessed with Brown Bag Seafood Co. in the Loop. This column is usually reserved for Chicago institutions, places run for three generations by the same family, places that if you haven’t eaten in you’re not allowed to call yourself a Chicagoan—not places that have been open for less than a year and a half.

Sink Swim

Craft cocktail bar Scofflaw and come-as-you-are dance hall Slippery Slope are two of Logan Square’s hottest watering holes. With the momentum of that success, the owners have started a restaurant group and secured a rising star chef, Cleveland native — and Food and Wine magazine best pastry chef nominee — Matt Danko, to lead the opening of seafood-centric Sink Swim, also in Logan. Clearly the Scofflaw group knows its drinks, but restaurants are a different game. Could they swim with the big fish or would they set anchor with a dining dud? I set out to find out how tight their new ship really was.

Angry Crab

A yearning for a taste of home is quite often a recipe for culinary success. That’s what the brothers Nguyen—Mark (front of house), David and Irvin (in the kitchen)—are banking on by trying to satisfy their cravings for Cajun seafood via their California upbringing with The Angry Crab in West Ridge. “We’re all from California and there are these crab shacks all over the place,” Mark said. “Every time I go back home, we head out to eat at one. But when my brothers would visit Chicago, we could never find one, so we decided to bring the concept here.” I stopped in recently to see if the brothers’ effort would taste like delicious innovation or cheap nostalgia.


Sometimes life is like a bowl of cereal. It can be engaging, always offering something to chew on. Other times, it can turn in to a soggy mess, like it did when veteran seafood restaurateur Glenn Fahlstrom (Davis Street Fish Market, Jonathan Livingston Seafood) found himself embroiled in a legal dispute with his business partners over his namesake Glenn’s Diner (1820 W. Montrose Ave.) in 2012. Instead of seeing out a protracted disagreement in court to the bitter end, Fahlstrom cut bait and opened Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market last month in Lakeview.