Oyster Bah is the new kid on the block that’s grabbing all the attention lately. And the attention is well deserved! I had a chance to dine there recently, with their PR Manager Susie Riskind to get first-hand, the inside scoop on this awesome new restaurant.
Another amazing eatery by the LEYE folks, Oyster Bah brings East Coast inspired seafood to Chicago. The wine list needs its own mention as the wines have been carefully picked out to complement the fish. We went there on a snowy, Tuesday night, but you wouldn’t have known by how packed it was! Humming with energy, it’s definitely a neighborhood favorite.
Dinner commenced with two perfectly recommended cocktails, The Cape and The Pearl In The Park. Both nautical-themed drinks were light and refreshing and worked beautifully with the platter of dozen oysters we ordered. The platter was an assortment of the mildly sweet Red Points with a licorice finish, a few of the delicately briny Beau Soleil and some firm-textured Nauti Pilgrims. I loved most that these little mollusks had subtle differences in minerality and saltiness. The Guinness flavored malt vinegar and homemade hot sauces were also a nice change from the standard cocktail sauce.
These were definitely the best oysters I’ve had in the city, and I was mildly relieved about that, since it would’ve been utterly disappointing to have bad oysters at a restaurant named after them. What a difference in freshness when oysters are flown in instead of being trucked in.
Next from the raw bar was the Tuna Poke, which was presented as a delectable medley of avocado, soy ginger, sesame and little chunks of fresh tuna, and was every bit tasty. I’ve had my fair share of raw seafood salads with similar ingredients, but something about this combination really allowed the essence of the raw fish to shine.
And that was just the teaser, as our appetizers came out next; the Smoked Trout Dip and the Old Bay Shrimp Cocktail. The creaminess of the dip along with the lemon gave off an amazing flavor and enhanced the trout’s salty taste, while the spicy Bay seasoning on the Shrimp Cocktail added a fun twist to this classic dish. I simply couldn’t get over how was sweet and tender the shrimp was.
Taking advantage of some pending appetite, we ordered from the larger plates starting with the Char-Grilled Mahi-Mahi, which came with a mustard glaze and a robust potato salad on the side. The mahi-mahi was cooked to perfection and easy on the seasonings, allowing the char to do the talking. The dish that came next however was the- Dish of the Night -for me. The Crispy One-Sided Red Snapper with Thai Chili Sauce was served on a bed of the most aromatic coconut-ginger rice smothered in a red sauce. The Snapper was spicy, but in a kind way. The fish was served on-the-bone and its skin was delightfully crunchy. The tart from the chili sauce had marinated deep into the fish meat creating the most wonderful blend of flavor and texture. For this dish, eating is believing!
For dessert, we ordered the Coconut Cake, which was seemingly the most popular dessert at the restaurant. I think I spotted one at almost every table around us, initially wondering if it was some sort of a staple at the restaurant. If you like coconut, you will get your fill with a giant piece of this cake. Covered in coconut flakes and with a Tres Leches type of consistency, the cake is light with a creamy frosting. A very sweet ending to our meal!
Surprisingly, after all this food, we were comfortably full without being stuffed. Oh and I must mention the cozy Crab Cellar in the basement, which has its own menu and offers Craft Cocktails. Although I didn’t make it there, this certainly was not my last visit to the restaurant, so I can’t wait to check it out. So many reasons to visit Oyster Bah but mainly, for its deliciously fresh seafood!
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Address: 1962 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 248-3000
Hours: Mon– Thurs: 5:00pm –11:00 pm, Fri:4:00pm – Midnight Sat: Noon Midnight, Sun: Noon – 10:00pm
Price: $6 - $50