Thursday, September 16, 2010

Calumet Fisheries

CHICAGO: Calumet Fisheries
3259 E 95th St

Chicago, IL 60617


Open Sun-W 10-9:45, Thur-Sat 9-9:45

Yes, plenty has been written about this place since its feature on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, and the subsequent James Beard award that came in May of this year. All of it is well deserved, and without the accolades, I doubt I would have found myself this far south of downtown Chicago. This is not the South Side, this is damned near Indiana. After reading the synopsis of this joint on the James Beard award, it seems I can't sum it up any better. "Set on the edge of the Calumet River on the 95th Street Bridge on Chicago’s South Side, Calumet Fisheries has been a foodie and fisherman favorite since brothers-in-law Sid Kotlick and Len Toll first opened its doors in 1948. Strictly carryout (there are no seats, no bathroom, no credit cards and no parking), the stand-alone shack serves freshly fried seafood, from oysters, shrimp, scallops, crab and catfish to perch, smelts and frog legs. But Calumet Fisheries may be best known for their oak smoked seafood – salmon steaks, trout, chubs, shrimp, etc. – slowly cured in a tiny smokehouse behind the shop. Still owned and operated by the Kotlick and Toll families, Calumet Fisheries remains the best reason to cross the 95th Street Bridge."

We opted for some smoked salmon, trout and shrimp as well as some fried scallops.

The smoked shrimp had a delicate smoke flavor, and the meat was not overcooked and dry like it can become. Both the trout and salmon were covered in a roughly ground spice mixture heavy on black pepper. The trout tasted more fishy than the salmon, and broke off in larger chunks. The meat was pleasant, but strong, and the texture wasn't nearly as delicate as the still flaky salmon. I much preferred the meatier flavor of the salmon, and although there were many small bones to work around, the deep smoky meat was worth the effort. A nice counterpoint in both flavor and texture were the spectacular fried scallops. Rarely have I eaten a better example of fried seafood, and the spicy dipping sauce that accompanied it made for a great meal on it's own. It may be trek to get down here if you're staying in Chicago, but the drive is worth it. Take a walk over to the steel bridge and watch the boats go by as the cars rattle the bridge behind you. Dive into that pretty white paper package and gorge yourself on some omega 3 deliciousness.

- BBQ Snob

Calumet Fisheries on Urbanspoon

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Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.