Best Seafaring Dishes for Fall
Let's be honest with ourselves. Much like ice cream and sunscreen, we tend to pigeonhole most seafood into a summery stereotype. Beachy lobster rolls and seafood boils are all well and good with a side of sunshine and short sleeves, but seafood is just as worthy of fall cravings as short ribs, pecan pie, and stew. From squash-adorned octopus to pumpkin-crusted bass, chefs throughout Chicago are whipping up novel new ways to prove seafood's year round dexterity. Here are some of the best autumnal seafood dishes to eat this season:
(Monkfish liver pate at mfk. Photo: mfk)
mfk is seafood Mecca year round. The Lakeview sensation continues to serve up nautical innovations with seasonal aplomb, featuring dishes such as ceviche with squid ink tostada, monkfish liver pate, salt-cured anchovies with buttered bread, shrimp bisque with lemon custard, and Burgundy snails with harissa butter.
If grilled octopus seems like a patio-friendly summer dish to you, that's understandable. But maybe consider visiting La Sirena Clandestina to broaden your mind and partake in a nice fall version of this toasty favorite. Here, grilled Spanish octopus comes with acorn squash romesco and apple-celery relish.
Have you ever been eating lobster and thought to yourself, "I wish this tasted more like escargot"? Then you're in luck. Chicago Cut Steakhouse is peraps serving the richest riff on lobster ever in their new "Lobsterscargot" dish, wherein pieces of Maine lobster tail are set adrift in garlic butter with melted Havarti cheese and crostinis.
While sea bass may not seem like the most obvious fall showstopper, black tea and roasted sweet potatoes sure do. Altogether, they team up for one seriously salacious dish at Ruxbin, where chef Edward Kim is combining sea bass with black tea and cured lemon broth, fried ginger, fennel, roasted sweets, and pickled plums.
Tea and fish may very well be the trend of the season, because 42 Grams is also doling out tea-scented fish at the moment. The tasting menu-oriented restaurant in Uptown is soaking Skuna Bay salmon with in smoked fallen pine tea and accompanying it with spent grain sourdough, and housemade miso butter.
(Lobsterscargot at Chicago Cut)
Turns out spice is the key to helping seafood transcend seasons at Baffo. The fine dining, full-service outpost of Eataly has dishes like string pasta with striped bass roe and habanero oil; charred octopus with marinated beans and spicy limoncello vinaigrette; and red prawns with salsa verde and orange among their fall offerings.
Envisioning Maine lobster, we probably often think lobster rolls and sunny lobster boils, etc. But nowadays we can rethink shellfish thanks to TÊTE Charcuterie, the restaurant with a carnivorous name that goes so far beyond the meaty norm. As evidenced by their Maine lobster with red kuri squash, lobster mushroom confit, and tom yum jus.
Chile, chocolate, tortillas, and almonds sounds like the makings for an enriching Mexican meal. Or a salmon entree at Beatrix. The crafty, eclectic eatery is putting a uniquely heady and hearty spin on salmon this season by glazing it in chile and chocolate, serving it with smoked almond slaw and corn tortillas.
One surefire way to imbue autumnal richness into a delicate piece of fish is by encrusting the fillet in pumpkin seeds. Travelle's Tim Graham gets it. Visit the Mediterranean-tinged restaurant inside The Langham, Chicago for some pumpkin seed-crusted striped bass with cumin-pumpkin puree, feta, and mint.
Bonus shoutout to TWO for cooking up some serious seasonal magic via whitefish. Sure it's not so much seafood as it is Great Lakes food, but considering the whitefish is potato-crusted and splashed with maple aioli, it deserves some props.
- Matt Kirouac