The summer sun brings a renewed interest in chilled foods, and one of the best ways to fill up while cooling off is via raw bar options and seafood towers. And luckily, Chicago is rich in both. From Maude’s and Bavette’s sophisticated presentations, to the luxe towers by RPM Steak, below a guide to the city’s most prized chilled ocean animal offerings.Read More
Chicago’s 15 Top Spots For Sterling Seafood Towers
Where to find the city’s freshest raw bar selections
1. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
Steakhouse Del Frisco’s Shellfish Plateau is arranged to feed two or more guests, with the market price ranging between $95 to $100. The assortment includes about one pound of Alaskan King Crab legs, six shrimp, and four pieces of chilled crab claws. Cocktail sauce and mustard sauce land on the side, and guests can add on a chilled lobster cocktail for $18 or Jumbo Lump Crab Louie for $16.
2. Margeaux Brasserie
Celeb chef Michael Mina’s Parisian-inspired Margeaux Brasserie within the Waldorf Astoria serves The Grand Shellfish Tower during both brunch and dinner. The $149 ocean animal collection is built for four to six guests, and involves 12 oysters, 12 shrimp, Prince Edward Island mussels escabeche, chilled Maine lobster thermidor, and Alaskan king crab salad paired with three sauces (gin cocktail, avocado green goddess, and house mignonette) for dipping.
3. Devon Seafood Grill
Grab a seat at the upstairs oyster bar within aquatic-leaning Devon Seafood Grill for two chilled shellfish platter options. The $55 arrangement suits two to three guests, while the $98 engagement involves more for four to six. Expect to score shrimp cocktail, oysters, lobster claws, king crab legs, roasted tomato cocktail sauce, and white balsamic mignonette.
4. Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar
As its name suggests, Chicago’s first caviar bar hinges on eggs from the sea. In addition to a wide-spanning selection from Golden Osetra to wild Illinois Hackleback, the eatery also offers preserved fish and a handful of oyster options. Typically $4 a pop, drop in on Mondays for the $28 Red Lobster-inspired all-you-can-eat special from 4 to 9:30 p.m.
5. GT Prime Steakhouse
Boka Restaurant Group’s contemporary steakhouse helmed by chef Giuseppe Tentori offers a bunch of chilled seafood options, like wasabi tobiko scallop ceviche and jumbo shrimp with beer mustard. The single seafood tower, which hit the menu four months ago, run $150 and includes a pound of Maine lobster, half a pound of Alaskan king crab, six shrimp, six East Coast oysters, two ounces of tuna tartare, and two ounces of scallop ceviche.
6. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Miami export and stone crab enthusiast Joe’s goes big with The Whale, a seafood tower assortment priced $27 per person. Each human nabs one shrimp cocktail, two ounces of shrimp and scallop ceviche, two ounces of king crab and half a lobster tail. Old Bay corn chips, cocktail sauce, drawn butter and lemon wedges on the side.
7. GT Fish & Oyster
Boka Restaurant Group’s GT Fish & Oyster specializes in all things raw. On the menu since day one (back in March 2011), chef Giuseppe Tentori organizes a $125 seafood tower stocked with one pound of Maine lobster, two ounces of king crab, two large shrimp, three snow crab claws, four mussels, six East Coast oysters, two clams, plus tuna ceviche. But there’s also a bunch of other chilled options, like tuna poke, hamachi crudo, and shrimp cocktail.
8. Shaw's Crab House
Classically-styled seafood seller Shaw’s Crab House assembles two seafood platters that serve four to five guests, one hot, one cold. The Grand Hot Shellfish Platter comes with calamari, mini Crab Cakes, fried oysters, oysters Rockefeller, Alaskan red king crab bites, and steamed lobster tails for $85. The Grand Cold Shellfish Platter is stocked with Maine lobster tails, oysters, jumbo shrimp cocktail, Alaskan red king crab bites, and blue crab fingers for $90.
9. RPM Steak
Surf and turf staple RPM Steak’s Grand Seafood Platter is one to behold. For $155 patrons nab a two-tier silver tower with a half dozen oysters plus mignonette (currently serving Clevedon Coast oysters), tiger prawns, half a pound of Alaskan King Crab legs, and a whole lobster. The kit and caboodle comes with drawn butter, classic cocktail sauce, and wasabi-mustard mayo. Protip: A smaller lunch version is offered Monday through Friday for $78.
10. Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
Hogsalt Hospitality’s French-accented sultry steakhouse Bavette’s offers pretty much the same raw bar options as its Parisian bistro Maude’s not too far away, minus à la carte shrimp cocktail. Which means that patrons can prick between three Chilled Seafood Plateaux options — $125, $165, and $175 — plus lobster cocktail, and king crab as singular orders. In terms of towers, the most comprehensive, of course, is the $175 option, which includes a dozen of each East and West coast oysters, two ounces of cured Scottish salmon ceviche with espelette and pickled Serrano peppers, a dozen shrimp cocktail, half a pound of Stonington Maine lobster, one pound of Alaskan king crab legs, plus cocktail sauces: mignonette, Dijon mustard aioli, and clarified butter.
11. Cold Storage
Boka Restaurant Group’s chilled seafood locker Cold Storage lives up to its name, with a number of raw bar options and shellfish towers. Patrons can order little neck clams and scallop ceviche individually, or go whole hog with a tower priced at $20, $40, or $75. The largest of the bunch is studded with three oysters, marinated mussels, three shrimp, three ounces of king crab, scallops, half a lobster and a rotating seasonal item.
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12. Swift & Sons
Chef Chris Pandel over at Boka Restaurant Group’s sleek seafood and steak specialist Swift & Sons prices his seafood power per person. The cost is $32 a head and comes with shrimp cocktail, mussels, bay scallop leche de tigre, king crab, and oysters.
13. Flight Club
Newly-minted dart bar Flight Club hit town with the Queen’s Castle seafood tower. Think 12 oysters, 12 shrimp, one pound of king crab, one pound of lobster, plus seafood salad with fisherman’s toast. Chef Rick Gresh is behind the collection, which runs $125.
14. Maude's Liquor Bar
Beloved West Loop Parisian bistro Maude’s, by Hogsalt Hospitality, offers one of the city’s most prized and vast seafood tower selections. The Plateau de Fruits de Mer options come in three tiers—$125, $165, and $175—with shrimp cocktail, lobster cocktail, and king crab available à la carte. The grandest of affairs is the Maude’s Tower, equipped with a dozen of each East and West coast oysters, two ounces of cured Scottish salmon ceviche with espelette and pickled Serrano peppers, a dozen shrimp cocktail, half a pound of Stonington Maine lobster, one pound of Alaskan king crab legs, plus cocktail sauces: mignonette, Dijon mustard aioli, and clarified butter.
15. Dusek's Board & Beer
Michelin-starred gastropub Dusek’s has a $160 seafood tower, but you’ve got to pre-order it 48 hours in advance. Chef Michael Galen will then assemble a rotating selection of 12 oysters, six little neck clams, a pound of mussels (cooked then marinated in olive oil, lemon zest, beer vinegar, tossed in chives), six ounces of crab legs, about a pound of lobster, six shrimp cooked in Port bouillon, three ounces of hamachi crudo with rhubarb jam and red onion, plus drawn butter, cocktail sauce, Dijonaise and saison beer mignonette.