Last week I went with a friend to Kinmont for a menu tasting. A restaurant named after a salmon fly-fishing lure named Kinmont Willie, which was used by a group of 19th century environmentalists who partook in ethical fishing practices, Kinmont is one of the most sustainable seafood restaurants we have here in Chicago. Owned and conceptualized by the Element Collective group, the objective was to offer traditional concepts using modern approaches, which was evident in the food I ate there. The décor although plain seemed to work with the restaurant’s overall ethos, which is about the basics and not the glitz. Overall the atmosphere was warm which I welcomed after a long week.
Chef Gutierrez had kindly prepared a special pre-fixe menu for us along with drink pairings. I was very happy about our first course being the oysters, which I was secretly hoping for. A beautiful platter of Old 1871 (Virginia), Misty Point (New Brunswick), Penn Cove (Washington State) and Chelsea Gem (Washington State) offering a good mix of the salinity and sweetness was brought out. The flavors of the oysters were enhanced by our first cocktails of the night, The Hermana Rosa and The Indus River. The Feni liqueur in the Indus River reminded me of my vacations in Goa, India, where this is almost a staple. Feni is a cashew-based liqueur, which can be pungent, but in this drink it concocted beautifully with the orange-thyme syrup and bitters. The Hermana Rosa had a habanero liqueur with muddled strawberries which was lip smacking delicious and balanced the oyster taste very well.
With such an amazing start, you can only imagine what the rest of the tasting entailed. For our next course, we ate the Crab Hush Puppies, the Pan Roasted Mussels and a Fish ‘Charcuterie’ Board. You heard right, charcuterie dedicated entirely to fish. I love it when Chefs take meat trends to seafood and without any compromise. The platter consisted of a delicately sliced & cured Salmon Gravlox, some creamy & lemony Smoked Trout Rillette, a very smooth Tuna Conserva with hot sauce and shallots, grain mustard and grilled bread. Both the pates and rillettes were rich, salty, with a fair amount of tart. We ate all of that with a wonderful, earthy Montepulciano Rose, which was absolutely terrific!
For our plat principal, we were served the Skuna Bay Salmon and the Gnocchi Nero. This week has been busy with tastings and I’ve been a little bored with salmon, but I’m glad I didn’t turn this dish away because it was one of the most uniquely prepared salmon I’ve eaten. The fish was made by cooking only one side about 75% to achieve a crisp, pan-fried texture, and was served atop a sweet butternut squash Agrodulce. Every bite of the caramelized sugars from the sauce coupled with the meat of the fish made me realize the versatility of salmon and reminded me to never give up on it. The Gnocchi Nero was another favorite from the tasting. Fresh Dungeness Crab with parsnip puree, carrots, radish Mache and shitake mushrooms. A brilliant blend of vegetables to go with the crabmeat and squid ink infused gnocchi. What a perfect dish to transition from winter to spring! The flavors were boosted by refreshing sips of the Sillery (White Pinot Noir), which emitted zesty notes of pear, honey and apples all along. With just one dish I felt like I got my fruit and vegetable servings for the day!
There couldn’t have been a more suitable dessert to end the tasting with, than the Key Lime Pie. Undoubtedly, the best key lime pie I’ve ever had; it came with a gingerbread crust and Chantilly cream. The crust was not overly thick and could hold the sweet, tangy and creamy pie filling without getting soggy. And my what a good-looking dessert! If you get the pie, you have to pair it with the Amaro Averno, like I did. Its sweet caramel flavor with bitter finish will do wonders for your dessert.
While most seafood restaurants these days claim to practice sustainable sourcing, Kinmont means it! I was particularly excited about that and it augmented my entire dining experience. However, the food here is also stellar and the service is impeccable. This restaurant truly honors pescetarians, so go check it out!
Neighborhood: River North
Address: 419 W Superior St, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 915-0011
Hours: Tues-Sat: 5:00-10:00pm, Sun-Mon: Closed
Price: $11 - $155