When the Gibsons Restaurant Group opened LUXBAR in 2005 in Chicago, they wanted it to be a place with great food and also visual appeal. And they were able to create just that. To give you an example, the restaurant boasts a bar that was designed and built in Vienna.
On Friday, I got to experience the beauty of LUXBAR first hand.
I was invited in for a seafood tasting and was able to bring a guest, which is always great. I was more than ecstatic to spend my Friday night eating fish in a beautiful setting; a restaurant with unparalleled elegance and simplicity. Even the menu reflects that as every dish is artistically plated and made with natural ingredients sourced directly from local farmers.
The restaurant was in its usual bustling Friday night scene when we walked in. Both the restaurant and bar managers came by shortly after we were seated to give us a run down of the tasting as well as to tell us more about their bar program. I was so pleased to hear that Luxbar was one of the pioneers in the craft cocktail movement in Chicago, and that they only use fresh juices in all their drinks. That definitely meant starting with a cocktail for the evening. The classic Old Fashioned, which my friend ordered, looked and tasted robust just like an Old Fashioned should. Mine was the Clarence Gets His Wings, which comprised of Gin 114, mulled wine and lemon. This drink was basically Fall in your mouth. What a well-concocted drink showcasing seasonality but also providing a refreshing burst. It made me want to take a cocktail making class!
Now you can’t visit a seafood-focused restaurant like Luxbar and not order their Cold Seafood Tower. For me, it is also a one-stop tasting of the raw bar so I always make sure to get it. However, we asked for the half order, which Chef Sosa was able to do for us.
A stout looking tower appeared at the table with a nicely portioned medley of lobster cocktail, King Crab legs, oysters and wild caught shrimp cocktail. Also on the side was a tray of cocktail sauce, champagne mignonette and warm butter. Every piece of meat was appropriately chilled, and with lavish taste. We wiped this tower clean!
The Mediterranean Mussels came next and although this dish had chorizo, it came highly recommended. I did try one and understood instantly why our wonderful server almost pleaded us to try it. The mussel I tried was delicate yet with complex flavor and a nice, buttery texture. I also dipped the toasted bread in some of that delectable, mezcal tomatillo broth, which in itself couldn’t be a meal. So flavorful!
Next on our list was, the Sweet Chili Fried Calamari. I’ve eaten a lot of calamari in my life and I mean a LOT. And I’ve mostly oscillated between a grilled or fried version of them. It was almost uplifting to taste squid in an enticing and savory mix of sweet peppers, jalapeno and Hoisin chili sauce. Drenched in a seasoned flour coating and yummy sauces, with absolutely no trace of fish smell, but still with that aftertaste of the calamari you crave, this dish was perfection. These crispy, hand-tossed little sea creatures were so amazing and addictive. Definitely a crowd-pleasing appetizer!
We ended with the Miso Marinated Chilean Sea Bass from their, From The Sea section of the menu. This also was highly suggested by everyone at the restaurant. I simply loved the texture of the fish here, which was so moist, silky and naturally sweet. The pea puree provided a unique and tender accompaniment to the fish and a fresh, minty base to the whole dish. Now I wish, I hadn’t split the dish it with my friend.
Oh and I want to highlight the Roasted Asparagus we ordered on the side. From the way this dish was presented and the complexity of the preparation, you would never known it was a side. Another wonderful addition to our meal!
Although we were full, our server was adamant we try the Luxbar Snickers Pie ,and you know how much arm-twisting I need for dessert. Out came a giant brick of the pie and supposedly one piece. I liked that the pie stayed true to the classic version with no twists. Just a creamy, buttery, chocolatey dessert with lots of mascarpone and caramel and copious amounts of peanut butter. What a satisfying dessert! Definitely save room for this one on your visit.
Luxbar is truly a Gold Coast gem. And for pescetarians, it should be a no brainer for your next reservation. Whether you’re craving a drink, dinner or just dessert, Luxbar has the best version of it for you! And the best part for me, I got to write this blog as I ate leftovers I got to bring home from my tasting.
Neighborhood: Gold Coast
Address: 18 E Bellevue Pl, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 642-3400
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11:00am – 2:00am, Sat-Sun: 8:00am – 3:00am
Price: $10.00 - $39.0