The latest in Element Collective's impressive gamut of restaurants, Chicago Restaurant Kinmont makes a splash this weekend in River North. The powerhouse restaurant group has been on fire since opening Old Town Social in 2009, adding Nellcote and RM Champagne Salon to the mix, with Leghorn Chicken and OWEN + ALCHEMY still to come. For their latest endeavor, the focus is on sustainable fish and seafood. In fact, Kinmont marks Chicago's first entirely sustainable fish and seafood restaurant in Chicago, a laudable achievement for such an esteemed and accomplished group of influential restaurateurs. As we prepare to go fishing for a sustainable meal, here's what you need to know about your new favorite fishtaurant.
An Homage to Fly-Fishing
Kinmont's name derives from a salmon fly-fishing lure called the Kinmont Willie, and the restaurant itself pays homage to the Americana traditions of fly-fishing and hunting in the Midwest. These pastimes were alive and well particularly in the late 1800's, as the gentlemen of the house would fish and hunt for sustainable products to feed their families. This is also when sportsman's clubs developed, nature-centric organizations committed to sustainable sourcing. These philosophies are what inspire Kinmont today, sourcing exclusively sustainable food from the Midwest and beyond.
Duncan Biddulph Joins the Brigade
For their latest concept, Element Collective partners Chris Dexter, Chris Freeman, Jared Van Camp, and John Warken welcome Duncan Biddulph as executive chef. The Chicago native has been steadily amassing his own culinary spotlight over the years working at places such as Lula Cafe and Rootstock. With plenty of experience dealing with sustainably focused kitchens, the chef cites fish cookery as one of his foremost passions. At Kinmont, his philosophies and techniques dovetail perfectly, reflected in a seasonal, sustainable menu that celebrates fish and seafood.
Things Are About to Get Rough
Rough fish are like the kids picked last to be on gym teams. It's unfortunate, because they are just as talented and driven as the other kids, they're just rarely given the chance. Until places like Kinmont pick them first and give them the attention they deserve. Rough fish, aka trash fish, aka what an unfortunate name, are given due diligence at Kinmont. This means less familiar, less popular varieties of sustainable fish such as triggerfish, cobia, and amberjack are served as a focal point, rather than an afterthought.
An Ode to Sportsman's Clubs
The motif at Kinmont harkens to the bygone era of sportsman's clubs and anglers. The 6,200 square foot restaurant has the feel of a rustic, polished lodge, apropos considering the space is a turn-of-the-century warehouse that formerly housed Zealous. Copper plays a crucial role in the design work, along with oriental rugs strewn from the ceilings, walnut flooring, timber beams, and exposed brick.
Sourcing both from inidividual fishermen and from seafood watch list-approved outlets along both coasts, Kinmont amasses a menu organized in traditional appetizer/entree/sides format. There's a daily selection of oysters and raw and chilled seafood, plus starters like Door County whitefish chowder, roasted sardines, pan-roasted mussels, and fresh crab gratin. Entrees include fish and chips with Lake Superior whitefish, squid ink spaghetti, grilled sturgeon, and salt-roasted celery root. There's also seafood platters, shareable plates for the table, and vegetables and grains like smoked carrots, charred beets, and grilled mushrooms.
- Matt Kirouac