Sauced-up Southern-style seafood boiled and served in plastic bags has become one of the biggest restaurant trends in Chicago in recent months, beginning with the perpetually-packed The Angry Crab in West Rogers Park and extending to The Rim Seafood on the same block and The Boiler Shrimp & Crawfish in Skokie. In mid-September this food style will swim that much closer to critical mass by reaching Wrigleyville, as Lowcountry, a casual Southern seafood boil restaurant, opens in the former Blokes & Birds space on Clark Street—with a karaoke bar underneath.
This restaurant is the brainchild of Pan Hompluem, who operated Blokes & Birds in its final months. He says his family visited New Orleans every year when he was a child, calling lowcountry seafood boils a "summer treat," and that opening a similar restaurant is "something I always wanted to do."
Like Angry Crab and other similar spots, Lowcountry will boil seasonal seafood (lobster, king crab, shrimp, mussels, etc) by the pound at market price in large plastic bags and toss it with your choice of sauces and spice levels. To drink, look for beer buckets and cocktails from a full bar. The restaurant will also focus on beignets, completing the New Orleans-style theme.
He's redone the restaurant space to become "as approachable and laid back as possible," giving it a "backyard theme" with picnic tables, a "green wall," a brighter color scheme, and a prominent handwashing station. Downstairs, Hompluem built out a five-private-room karaoke bar named Clark St. Karaoke.
Hompluem says he thinks the neighborhood needs a casual and affordable restaurant rather than another bar. He's hoping to open his Southern seafood boil on September 15; take a photo tour above and stay tuned.