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Three Stars For Portsmith, Giving Chicago a Seafood Jewel

Plus, Boka wins again with Somerset’s lunch

Portsmith
Barry Brecheisen

Phil Vettel thinks Portsmith is a “great” restaurant that can hold its own with the city’s best seafood spots. It starts with the excellent bread service, which offers a Red Lobster-esque “cheddar-rich” Parker House roll served with Old Bay butter. The cacio e pepe tossed with uni butter and a dollop of Osetra caviar is “plenty rich enough” and a fried octopus tentacle over sauces delivers “tart, sweet and spicy notes.” The signature “fish and chips” features a “beautiful, thick” piece of Atlantic halibut topped with potato circles, while sushi-grade tuna topped with seared foie gras is “glazed in a Luxardo bordelaise dark and shiny enough to resemble tempered chocolate.” To finish, the New England dessert “combines Boston cream pie flavors” in yellow cake, diplomat cream, chocolate sorbet, and chocolate shards. [Tribune]

The Reader also made a stop at Portsmith, where Julia Thiel writes its fresh seafood offerings go a long way toward “chang[ing] the bad reputation of hotel restaurants.” The Fifty/50 Group’s new spot inside the Dana Hotel is at its best when things are simple. Lightly charred jumbo shrimp are “so sweet and silky” that cocktail sauce is unnecessary, and seared halibut lets “the meaty flavor of the fish shine through.” Among entrees, cheeseless cacio e pepe is a revelation thanks to uni butter while scallops with pork belly is a “study in contrasts, with the fresher and lighter flavor of the fish sparring pleasantly with the richer, fattier meat.” Desserts are more complex and “beautiful, both in appearance and in their flavor combinations,” and include a composition that “evokes the flavors of baklava without any actual phyllo dough.” [Reader]

Somerset is as every bit as good as it looks. Joanne Trestrail says that chef Lee Wolen “clicks with imaginative, accessible, seasonal dishes, every one of which brings something special to the table.” The midday menu offers a “superb” crudite platter that could be a “satisfying lunch all by itself.” A soup-and-sandwich combo puts “earthy, complex” lentil soup next to a “wonderfully fluffy” flatbread topped with slow-cooked lamb, while “terrific” gnocchetti tossed with duck meat and kale is “worthy of white tablecloths and a tuxedoed waitstaff.” Finally, roasted chicken thigh with delicata squash, maitake mushrooms, and salsa verde is “one of the most luscious autumnal dishes you’ll ever meet.” [Crain’s]

Portsmith

660 North State Street, , IL 60654 (312) 202-6050 Visit Website

Somerset

1112 North State Street, , IL 60610 (312) 586-2150 Visit Website

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