What a pleasant surprise—a restaurant steps from the Magnificent Mile that neither caters solely to tourists nor worthlessly eats your money. This seafood haven is cool through and through: Giant windows open the bar's icy blue light to Chicago Avenue passersby, inviting martini-seeking drinkers to grab a seat at the large, oval bar.
Diners will need to descend an unobtrusive set of stairs to the lower-level dining room, a sleek space that has the same sophisticated, tucked-away feel as a classy hotel restaurant. Crescent-shape pinstripe booths can seat a party but make for intimate dining for two. Those who want to combine intimacy with celebration should request a private room. Available at no additional charge, these hip spaces are a refreshing change from the typical party-hall 25-seaters, accommodating four or eight in a cherry wood-tabled dining-room setting.
But the fish tastes fresh from any seat, as it should. Flown in daily (twice a day, on occasions), you'll have your choice between a number of simply grilled catch-of-the-day options, served with potatoes (the garlic mashed are appropriately rich) and vegetables, chef Mick Verheyen's seasonal preparations, and a not-going-anywhere roster that includes indulgent chipotle grilled shrimp enchiladas and savory potato-wrapped grouper. But don't be too hasty to make this a one-course meal: the fall-apart crab cake appetizer and chocolate cannoli do not disappoint. The pricing is equally satisfying: Entrees fall in the $20 range, and a bottle of wine can be a bought for well under $40.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz