As a food and restaurant lover, I have to say that the prospect of moving to Lakeview from downtown last summer was a scary one for me. I loved being in walking distance from the trendy, well known, or new restaurants that Chicago offers and was definitely less accustomed to having solid nearby neighborhood spots as my alternative. I've been pleasantly surprised, however, at the caliber of restaurants that Lakeview offers though-- and even happier to see how many great new ones have opened over the past year. And Fahlstrom's has been one of the biggest hits for me so far.
Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market is a unique concept: it's part fish market (hence the name), part upscale seafood restaurant, and part casual diner (with breakfast entrees available all day). Alex and I have contemplated dining here several times while walking by and finally stopped in for dinner on a recent Saturday night to find a free high top table in the bar areas of this bustling restaurant. The atmosphere is casual and reminiscent of the old school seafood restaurants in my home state of Rhode Island with chalkboards advertising today's catches, an expansive seafood counter, and an adorable side patio.
While I was immediately overwhelmed by the number of seafood entrees on the menu, Alex knew exactly what he wanted to order when we sat down. He started with one of his favorites: a cup of creamy New England clam chowder. Fahlstrom's chowder is made with bacon so it had a wonderful smoky flavor and hearty chunks of clam and potato. The chowder had a nice thick consistency and lacked that fishy taste that can be off putting in some chowders.
I may have had difficulty selecting an entree, but I knew exactly how I wanted to begin my meal: with the smoked shrimp. This shrimp was so good! It was full of smokiness and slightly sweet from being smoked in brown sugar and whiskey. The shrimp was served chilled, peel on, with spicy cocktail and thick tangy tartar sauces for dipping. I'm not usually one to order a shrimp cocktail when we are out, but this is something really special and I would certainly order it next time-- even as an entree!
For main courses, Alex went with the "Crabster," Fahlstrom's Alaskan King Crab stuffed roll. This play on a lobster roll features warm crab leg on a soft butter toasted roll. It is simply flavored with the traditional mayo and celery salt and topped with a heaping helping of their house coleslaw. I'm a big fan of crab and Alex is a lobster roll lover, so we both really enjoyed this sandwich. Sandwich sides are ordered a la carte and they're not your typical fries and side salads. Alex selected a potato pancake and I couldn't help but steal a few bites. It was a good size, crispy on the outside, creamy and soft in the inside, and well seasoned, not bland. It was delicious on its own-- no ketchup needed here!
I had the hardest time selecting a main dish from their vast seafood menu. I finally asked our server for her top 3 choices and ended up selecting something I normally never would have. The Arctic char was pan fried and served with a spicy shrimp Diavolo sauce. The generous fish filet was perfectly cooked and the sauce packed a ton of heat and flavor. A few plump shrimp were cooked in the sauce and served over the Arctic Char, making this a really substantial entree. It was all served with a side of roasted potatoes and kale. And while I could have done without the salad bar-esque kale, the potatoes were crispy and a delicious way to soak up that Diavolo sauce.
I'm so excited that Fahlstrom's is a part of this neighborhood-- and I'm looking forward to returning again very soon!