The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group goes for a double today in River North inside the Dana Hotel and Spa. They’re opening Portsmith — a swanky seafood-focused restaurant on the ground floor — and Leviathan — a mezzanine-level cocktail perch steeped in European mythologies.
Portsmith relies on executive chef and partner Nate Henssler’s east coast background. The menu features a raw section with a variety of oyster preparations (shucked with a kombucha vinaigrette; fried with squid ink panko, oyster basil aioli and trout roe; and “fancy” with foie gras torchon). They’ll also serve King Crab buns and a chilled-seafood platter.
Entrees include turbot served with Meyer lemon and truffle burre blanc; Maine lobster and tortellinis. There’s also Henssler’s “Fish & Chips” — Atlantic halibut with thinly-sliced potatoes applied to the fish with clarified butter to create the effect of scales. That’s served with a malt-vinegar tartar sauce.
“I grew up in New Hampshire and ate fish and chips all summer long, and this is a play on that,” said Henssler. “It’s a more adult version of fish & chips.”
Henssler worked at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab as divisional executive chef and for Michael Mina in Las Vegas and San Francisco.
“I want to be a destination seafood restaurant,” he said. “But we’re small enough that we can run a lot of specials and raise the bar of the food and beverage program at the Dana Hotel.”
The interior of the restaurant offers a bright space with a wall of windows facing State Street, and nautical touches which take their visual cues from the wood of a fisherman’s boat. The restaurant also aims to be open for breakfast daily by next week and will include pastries like the Cereal Bowl Croissant with a cereal-milk flavored filling. Weekend brunch and lunch programs are also in the works, aiming to launch once the restaurant gets its sea legs.
Upstairs, Leviathan — named for the mythical sea monster — serves cocktails like the namesake cocktail: Made with gin, Demerara rum, ginger, star anise, bonito flakes, and dried Pennyroyal herb. The drinks tap into mythology and fantasy books for inspiration. It’s the latest from Fifty/50 bar man Benjamin Schiller who’s already made a mark for himself with the Dana’s rooftop bar, Apogee.
The sea theme is strong at Portsmith and Leviathan, and there’s high expectations. Customers can test those waters starting tonight.
Portsmith and Leviathan, 660 N. State St., ground floor of the Dana Hotel and Spa. Portsmith is open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Sunday; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Breakfast, lunch, and brunch service to begin later this summer. Leviathan’s open 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Reservations available via OpenTable.