This week, I had a lovely, long overdue visit to Brown Bag Seafood Co. for a tasting. This restaurant’s motto is simple; spend more on quality food and less on the trimmings. This shack style casual seafood eatery with a breezy, Cape Cod type décor also brings a new concept to Chicago, which combines delicious seafood with healthy options. Of course, you have the crispy fish bites or tater tots if you’re in the mood for some indulgence, but they aim to bring you fresh, sustainable seafood.
I walked in to find two pitchers of flavored waters, and straightaway opted for the apple cantaloupe one. An invigorating beginning to a wonderful tasting that was to follow. Their manager Jeff sat me down and briefly walked me through their menu, which allows you to order your food as a sub, salad, taco or straight up. Since I was doing a tasting, I decided to try one of each.
I also ordered a bowl of their clam chowder, which is now standard for me at any seafood restaurant. A small starter size bowl of hearty soup with a thick broth came out, garnished with my favorite cilantro. The robust chunks of clams and potato eliminated any need for crackers, which was nice for a change. Why would you need crackers for a good soup anyway?! The clam chowdah set a great tone for the rest of the food.
The crispy shrimp tacos and broiled lemon whitefish were next. The shrimp tacos were like nothing I’ve had before. Surprisingly, the crunchiness of the shrimp was well preserved amidst the herb sauces in the tortilla, and the jalapenos added that spicy kick I had been craving all day. The highpoint was the pickled red onions made in-house. I would be okay if they served this as a side on their menu.
By now you know, that after every tasting, I brag about that one dish I fell in love with. At Brown Bag Seafood, it was the lemon-broiled whitefish, which I ordered straight up. If you’re an avid fish eater like me, you also appreciate a nicely sized fillet of fish. So I was happy to find in front of me, two medium-sized fillets in perfect thickness and broiled to precision. The lemon was spot-on giving this flaky fish a hint of tartness and making it lip-smacking good! It was also served with a spinach salad on the side, which was a nice complement.
There is one more option on the menu called the ‘Powerbox,’ which, as the name indicates, is packed with powerful goodness of quinoa, wild rice and fresh spinach. I ordered their very popular Teriyaki Scallion Salmon prepared this way. The colorful presentation itself made me want to scarf it down in one sitting. The blackened salmon was placed on some well-cooked, mildly seasoned quinoa, and paired brilliantly with the fish. A well-done dish!
And let me not end without talking about the truffle Parmesan tots, which I ordered for fear of overdoing the healthy aspect of my meal ;-) These scrumptious mini bites were served hot in little paper cups, topped with freshly grated Parmesan and ground pepper. There was no going back!
My entire experience at Brownbag Seafood Co. was enjoyable. With a killer location, amazing food and a health conscious philosophy, it’s a matter of time before this restaurant becomes the go to place for quick seafood in the city. Congruent with owner Donna Lee’s vision, the restaurant operates fast-food style bringing you affordable seafood faire without any gimmick. Brownbag Seafood Co. is a pescetarian’s delight!
Brown Bag Seafood Co.
Address: 340 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 496-3999
Hours: Sun – Closed, Mon- Sat– 11:00AM – 9:00PM
Price: $2.50- $25