I have long been a fan of the perfect steaks served at CHICAGO CUT, so when I heard that the team was opening up a seafood-focused restaurant, I knew I had to check it out.
While David Flom and Matt Moore bring an elevated and innovative approach to seafood in Chicago, Chef Bill Montagne leads the kitchen in executing the amazing dishes. Chef Montagne is a rising star-chef, and comes with four years of experience as the sous chef under Eric Ripert at Le Bernadin in NYC. Definitely a perfect fit at Ocean Cut Chicago.
OCEAN CUT CHICAGO has now been open for a few months, and has quickly become a go-to spot for business dinners, special occasion dinners, and just dinners for those who love seafood. The boyfriend and I enjoyed a very special date night at Ocean Cut last week, and thoroughly enjoyed everything. The restaurant is gorgeous, and has the perfect ambiance.
Before I get into the food, let’s talk about the restaurant and its concept. Firstly, is there any other high-end restaurant where you know the fish that you’re eating was swimming in the ocean no more than 48hours prior? All of the fish that you find at C is flown in each morning, and is sold at market price. That alone ensures that you have seafood of the highest quality.
When you choose a whole fish as a part of your meal, you have two choices. You can participate by taking a walk over to the seafood bar, where you’ll find anywhere from 8-10 types of fish and other seafood to choose from. Each is sold by the pound, or by the piece (as in the case of Spanish Prawns, and the like). If you’re not interested in picking out or seeing your fish before it’s prepared in the kitchen, you can let you your server know what you’d like, as well as what size you’d like (1lb and up). Either way, you’re getting an amazing fish. Yes, it’s pricey as you can see in the photo above, but it’s worth it.
What’s also nice about preserving the quality of the seafood, is that everything is prepared extremely simply – salt, pepper, lemon. That’s it. No need to add copious amounts of spices or sauces to mask the seafood. If you’re a seafood lover, you immediately taste the quality.
Now, onto the meal we were served. Because there were so many dishes shared at the table, I’ll go course by course. I had wine pairing as well, so I’ll include what was served.
FIRST COURSE – “Holy Trinity” of Appetizers (Owner, David Flom’s 3 favorites and recommended appetizers)
WINE PAIRING – Sauvignon Blanc (Domaine Cherrier Sancerre, 2014)
SCALLOP CARPACCIO | olive oil, basil, chives, red pepper, espelette pepper
TUNA TARTARE | avocado roulade, wasabi tobiko, aka tosaka seaweed, kimchi furikake
OCTOPUS A LA PLANCHA | shaved fennel, calabrian sauce vierge
The appetizers were all delicious, but my favorite was definitely the octopus. It takes some skill and technique to perfectly grill octopus with the result being the right texture, and Ocean Cut gets it right. The boyfriend loved the tuna tartare, which was obviously very fresh tuna and not overly dressed. The Sauvignon Blanc pairing was perfect – light, fruity, and a good profile to accompany the appetizers.
WINE PAIRING – Rosé NV (Laurent-Perrier Brut Rosé)
COBIA TARTARE | cauliflower, pear, micro amaranth (daily feature created by Sous Chef, Kevin O’Brien)
SALMON | kabucha squash, glaze (a special dish sent out by Chef Bill Montagne)
The Cobia Tartare was really clean. No fighting components or flavors, and just really well done.
The Salmon… oh, the salmon. I LOVE salmon, and I eat it frequently at home. Because I can cook it pretty perfectly at home, it’s not usually a dish I order at restaurants. However! Chef Kevin prepared this salmon with a super special slow poaching method, and then topped it with glazed kabucha squash. It was divine. The salmon was like butter, and I’m still dreaming of it. Maybe Chef Bill can teach me how to prepare it this way? 🙂 The wine pairing for this course was Laurent Perrier Rosé, which is probably my favorite rosé ever. After this course, I was pretty much in heaven, but there was so much more to come!
THIRD COURSE – ENTREES
WINE PAIRING – Pinot Noir (Flowers 2013)
TURBOT | baked in aromatic salt dough
GURNARD | lightly sauteed, salt, pepper, lemon
SURF N TURF | seared A5 miyazaki beef, butter poached lobster
SIDES | warm farro salad, grilled vegetable platter, pommes aligot
And here, in the third course, is the seafood we picked out with our server’s help. The turbot is cooked in a salt dough that not only keeps the fish super moist, but also seasons it just enough. The pastry-enclosed fish is presented table-side, where the server cracks open the top shell, to reveal the fish inside. We asked to try a piece of the pastry too and the boyfriend described it perfectly as “salty pretzel dough”. The fish itself is firm, a little oily, and a mild salt flavor. The gurnard is a fish from the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida, and was a fish we’d never even heard of. Our server assured us that it would be the texture we wanted, and so we gave it a try. I’m glad we did. It was our favorite fish between the two – perfectly firm, yet flaky. Really good with just salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
Needless to say, the Surf n Turf is amazing. If you’ve never had A5 Miyazaki beef yet, save up for a splurge. I voted the A5 Miyazaki from RPM Steak as my best bite of 2014. It’s really the best piece of beef you’ll ever taste. Ocean Cut’s A5 is just the same. Basically, it’s like butter. And then you have a piece of the butter-poached lobster, and it’s just perfect.
Our sides were a good selection. The warm farro salad was my favorite… well, a good pommes aligot is always my favorite. But the farro salad was a really nice surprise. I loved the charred corn in it, along with the tangy whipped feta. I felt it was the perfect side for the flaky fishes. The pommes aligot was perfect for the Surf n Turf entree.
Before I forget to mention the wine pairing here, our server told us that the restaurant has a personal relationship with the Flowers winemakers, and loves to feature their wines. Not only are they affordable, but my Pinot Noir was perfectly acidic, with dark fruity flavors. I’ll definitely look out for it for my home wine collection.
FOURTH COURSE – DESSERTS with COFFEE
KEY LIME PIE | lime glaze, fuilletine, raspberry
The desserts are a great ending to the meal. After having tasted so many dishes, the desserts weren’t too rich. I thought they were light enough, focusing on the perfect fruits that are both sweet and tangy. Delicious.
Before I end this post and urge you to immediately make a reservation for dinner at Ocean Cut, I want to tell you about a special feature you’ll see when you walk in.
The entire wall of the hallway leading to the restrooms is a gigantic fish tank. It may sound cheesy, but look at it.
The owner told us that the reason they added this feature (apart from it just being gorgeous) was because everyone hates that walk to the restroom. It’s usually a crappy part of the restaurant, and you pass by others and awkwardly acknowledge each other or stare at your feet. So, why not have something interesting and beautiful to gaze at instead? It’s a great idea and is obviously perfect for this seafood-centric restaurant.
Now, log into your OpenTable and make a reservation. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s definitely an amazing meal and experience. Say hi to the owner, David Flom, and tell him I sent you 🙂
All photos were taken by the boyfriend, who is getting really good with his food pics ❤
OCEAN CUT | 20 W. Kinzie, Chicago | 312.280.8882