For some people it’s Monday Night Football, but for me it was a Monday night seafood tasting that gave my week an amazing start! I had a fantastic dining experience at Hugo’s Frog Bar recently. It was my first visit there after living in this city for seven years, but I’m glad I visited as a food blogger to experience the full potential of this restaurant.
Hugo’s Frog Bar is one of those restaurants that has stood the test of time. Launched in 1997, this seafood restaurant & steakhouse is one of the most versatile eateries we have in the city and accommodates the diverse needs of an intimate business dinner, a romantic evening or even a casual family outing. The atmosphere is wonderfully cozy with a piano man playing in the background, tall booths, dark mahogany, and relaxed low lighting.
While famous for it signature crab cake appetizer and frog legs, few are aware of the restaurant’s extravagant oyster bar! For those looking to indulge their shellfish obsession, the restaurant offers an oyster happy hour serving $1 oysters, from Sunday to Thursday (3pm-6pm)! Wanting to try something different, I ordered the Oysters Rockefeller & out came a plate of five beautiful, blue point half-shell baked oysters with creamed spinach and hollandaise sauce oozing out of them. This dish was rich, but the spinach added a lighter touch to it and paprika the perfect zing. What a wonderful start to the tasting!
The Bookbinder’s Soup, which was recommended next, was a tomato-based stew with a gumbo type consistency and liberal portions of fresh white fish scattered throughout. Prepared with their homemade fish broth, bell peppers, onions, and dried sherry, it had all the elements of a warm, hearty winter soup. And I’m glad it came in a small bowl or I would’ve satiated my appetite just with this soup.
The next part of my meal (and my favorite part) was the Alaskan King crab legs which I ordered steamed. An assortment of legs and knuckles filled with luscious white meat were brought out. While the leg meat was distinct in flavor from the knuckle meat, both were sweet and delicious. The knuckle packed with succulent meat had very little shell so it took minimal work to get to the meat. The legs were meaty and so tasty that for the first time I felt like I could do without the melted butter it came with. I think this could become my new yardstick for judging crabmeat.
While the appetizers were outstanding, I don’t want to forget the other delectable items I ate while at the restaurant. I ordered the Pan Fried Lake Superior Walleye and the Miso Marinated Chilean Sea Bass. The walleye was a nicely done fillet, crisp on the outside and flaky on the inside with rich, buttery garlic sauce served over it. Although I had overeaten at this point, the Sea Bass came highly recommended and the description itself sounded so good, that I couldn’t pass it up. And I certainly didn’t regret my decision, because it was amazing! The meat was so tender that with each bite it melted in my mouth. The fish was placed on a bed of Hon Shimeji mushrooms and peas, which coupled well with the miso reduction. The miso worked as a pickling agent while the mushrooms provided a nice nutty flavor. The textures and flavors together conjured magic. I really enjoyed this dish and thought it was at par with the crab.
Now, I couldn’t end my tasting without indulging my sweet tooth a little, so I asked to look at their dessert menu. The waiter offered to bring a little tasting of their popular desserts but then placed in front of me a humungous platter of every dessert you can possibly imagine. I was excited and overwhelmed simultaneously, mostly leaning towards excitement. The gooey pecan pie with warm caramel sauce and the moist carrot cake were enough to make me forget how full I was. A truly sweet ending to a wonderful meal!
As a pescetarian, I was thrilled to discover a seafood-focused restaurant where the fuss & frill is mostly about the food, as it should be! In addition, the service at this restaurant deserves its own applause. Altogether a very satisfying experience! This is not a restaurant to be missed.
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House
Neighborhood: Gold Coast
Address: 1024 North Rush, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 640-0999
Hours: Dining Room 3PM-Midnight
Price: $4.25 - $98.25