boka restaurant group

photography by Jeff Khauck, Anthony Tahlier & Eric Kleinberg

Redefining the American seafood restaurant

GT Fish & Oyster opened in March of 2011, and has helped redefine the American seafood restaurant. Michelin starred, and Food and Wines Best New Chef 2008, Giuseppe Tentori, has developed a menu that’s half-traditional, half modern, in an everchanging small plates format. The restaurant received three stars from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times, and 4 stars from Time Out Chicago.

Designed by 555 International, the 115-seat modern seafood eatery presents a seasonal menu comprised of both traditional and non-traditional fish-centric dishes. In addition to a rotating mix of East and West Coast oysters served with innovative accoutrements such as a cucumber cocktail sauce, or ponzu mignonette, chef Tentori features a wide-selection of shared plates ($9-$24) such as Squid Ink Gnocchi with Maine lobster, haricot verts, scented carrot broth; Braised Baby Octopus with roasted Roma tomato sauce and chili-infused polenta; Chorizo Stuffed Squid, Shrimp & Saffron scented Risotto; Foie Gras and Prawn Terrine with Szechuan peppercorns, apricot-shallot chutney; and Brandade Croquettes with orange-fennel salad, grainy mustard aioli.

“There is a distinct hole in the Chicago’s seafood restaurant market. The city offers a wide selection in regards to high-end and low-end venues, but there is nothing to really choose from in the mid-range section,” said Kevin Boehm, owner, Boka Restaurant Group. “Rob and I always have and will develop and open restaurant concepts that are akin to restaurants we want to dine at.”

In addition to a wine and locally-focused beer menu, the simple cocktail list, devised by BRG’s resident mixologist Benjamin Schiller, will include bevy of seafood-friendly refreshers. With each drink comprised of no more than 5 ingredients, offerings will include selections such as the Apricot Blossom with Prosecco, apricot liqueur, and rose water; Hayman’s Old Tom, Pimm’s No. 1, cucumber, and grapefruit oil; and the Highland Daisy with Altos Plata Tequila, blackberry syrup, lemon, mint.

555 vice president and lead designer on the project, Karen Herold, developed the restaurant’s design concept by drawing inspiration from chef Tentori’s distinct contrast of traditional and non-traditional items on the menu. Merging new and old elements, Herold took rustic details of a old fisherman’s cottage and combined them with more sophisticated, components of a sleek yacht. The restaurant will provide guests with the feeling that they’ve just stepped onto an elegant stateroom, while conveying the casual, relaxed atmosphere of the deck of the boat.

“It’s candlelit and carefully appointed with wood paneling hung with shark’s teeth and framed oil paintings of tall ships in distress, and though it’s perpetually mobbed by a spirited crowd taking its time at having a good time, there’s plenty of room to breathe,” —Mike Sula.