Tuesday, February 21

GT Fish & Oyster-- Restaurant Week: Part I

My favorite week of the year has arrived, Chicago Restaurant Week! If you're unfamiliar with how this week works, I'll break it down for you. A (growing) number of Chicago restaurants participate by offering 3 course prixe fixe lunches for $22 and/or dinners for $33 during the week from February 17-26, 2012. I love this week because it affords the opportunity to try so many restaurants that would normally be too heavy on my wallet. This year I decided just to make one lunch reservation and one dinner reservation because these things do add up!

For lunch, I really wanted to try the newest Boka restaurant group's restaurant, GT Fish & Oyster. This nautical-themed oyster and fish restaurant located in River North boasts inventive dishes from chef Giuseppe Tentori. 

I invited my fellow seafood-loving-friend Allie, for a lovely Monday afternoon lunch on my day off from work (thank you American presidents!). From the moment I stepped into the restaurant, I was impressed with the fishing decor, as well as the friendly and accommodating staff. You could really tell not a single detail had been overlooked, from the fishing line sinkers that topped our napkins, to the hook-shaped light fixtures. The atmosphere really played the part.

Since it was Restaurant Week, we of course went with GT's three course menu and ordered some drinks. I went with a glass of cava while Allie chose one of the signature spiked lemonades!

Three course lunch menu for Chicago Restaurant Week
Cava & Spiked Lemonade...just another Monday afternoon
The first course provided the option of either a fresh lump crab cake or shrimp bruschetta. We both opted for the crab cake! This was definitely the place to order it! Every bite seemed to have giant chunks of what tasted like fresh-from-the ocean crab. It was probably the best crab cake I've ever had, let alone the only rectangular-shaped one! The acidity of the pickled vegetables was a nice balance with the melt-in-your-mouth crab.

Crab cake with red bell pepper aioli and pickled vegetables

The second course was the main course and we had the option of either whitefish or scallops. My favorite fish is whitefish (probably because it is the least fishy) so I went with that, and Allie did too! I know, we are so adventurous!

The whitefish was crusted in herbs and served with roasted celery root (tasted like parsnips or even sweet potato), mushrooms (these were oddly shaped, not quite sure what kind) and chopped carrots, on top of a lobster broth. I couldn't really pick up on the lobster flavor from the broth, but the fish was perfectly cooked and not the slightest bit dry or chewy. I wasn't entirely impressed with this dish because I no particular flavor really jumped out at me, but, nevertheless, it was tasty and light.

Herb crusted whitefish

Last, but not least, was my favorite part of any meal, dessert! Our two options for this third and final course included a caramelized goat milk panna cotta or carrot cake. Keeping with the tradition of ordering the same thing, Allie and I chose the carrot cake. This came out after what seemed like mere seconds after we ordered. The portions at GT Fish & Oyster are small in size and are meant for sharing, however I couldn't get over just how small the dessert was. Maybe it's because I really enjoy dessert, but it looked like my plate arrived half-eaten (see photographic evidence below).

What the dish lacked in size, it certainly made up for in flavor. The two delicately placed cake cubes sat atop a giant puddle of orange carrot sauce, and were drizzled with a thick cream cheese frosting. I took small bites of the moist cake, making sure to scrape up every last ounce of that orange-and-cream-cheese-yummyness. The cake was a sweet ending to our lunch, however it in no way compares to the carrot cake from Chicago Q (which I happened to visit for the first time for lunch during Restaurant Week last year)!!!

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting & orange carrot sauce
Overall, our meal was marked with fantastic service, and meticulously plated courses. It was easy to see why GT Fish & Oyster is so popular. Their fresh seafood offerings (including apparently the best oysters in the city) are flavorful and boast interesting preparations. I recommend going for a lunch or dinner with friends and ordering a wide variety of dishes from the condensed menu. I will definitely be back for lunch again (with the $10 gift card all Chicago Restaurant Week guests received!) to try an assortment of oysters, the tuna poke, lobster roll and the indulgent lobster mac 'n cheese.

GT Fish & Oyster gets 4 stars for their flawless customer service, cute and appropriate decor (it's all in the details!) and their high quality seafood dishes. They can leave the carrot cake to the folks at Chicago Q, but I challenge you to dine at GT Fish & Oyster and not forget you're in the Windy City! Ahoy!

GT Fish & Oyster
531 North Wells Street  
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 929-3501

Chicago Restaurant Week
February 17-26, 2012

GT Fish & Oyster on Urbanspoon

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