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The seafood arm of this swanky downtown resto is marked by a strong devotion to sustainability and seasonal fixings. An innovative menu of hot and cold dishes - all of them immediately emblematic of The Chase’s powerful desire to let the natural taste of the ocean-derived main player get top billing - is what’s most remarkable about this luxe spot. The place, all bright lights and handsome furnishings, looks great. Throw in thoughtfully prepared seafood dishes and a high-end selection of vino with which to wash it down and you can call your pursuit of an excellent meal fulfilled at The Chase Fish & Oyster.
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Review: Cut to The Chase

By Alan A. Vernon, reviewed on August 29, 2013

I'm aware of only one restaurant in the entire world that Ralph Lauren actually designed, every last piece of furniture lovingly handpicked by himself for RL in Chicago. But I could swear he had something to do with The Chase Fish and Oyster at the restored Dineen...

I'm aware of only one restaurant in the entire world that Ralph Lauren actually designed, every last piece of furniture lovingly handpicked by himself for RL in Chicago. But I could swear he had something to do with The Chase Fish and Oyster at the restored Dineen heritage building on Temperance because only that WASP wannabe, Mr. Lifshitz himself, could possibly make a tired nautical theme look this glamorous.

Ceiling-suspended canoes, ticked linen draperies, squishy soft, upholstery-studded chairs connote that supping seaside feeling on Nantucket, the east coast playground of the super rich and Christiane Amanpour. Even the font of the restaurant logo is bang on perfect. Style this drop-dead gorgeous is indeed rare; and don't get me started on The Chase, the fabulous fifth floor dining room and patio or I might have to submit this column to Elle Décor instead.

But like any new eatery open only a few weeks, there are a few minor glitches, i.e. having to wait upwards of 20 minutes for a glass of water so I can take my medication. And service is a bit slow and confused, but the servers are cordial and really aim to accommodate, especially responding to a request to lower the music so diners can actually have a conversation without straining their vocal chords.

Food may take a bit too long between courses, but someone knows what they're doing in the kitchen, most of the time. Sure the menu has options like flank steak ($28), lamb chops ($26), fried chicken ($20) and a burger ($20) that boasts flank, sirloin cap and rib eye, but The Chase is the place to indulge in seafood, and you absolutely must try a half dozen shigoku oysters ($4.50 each) from Washington State. These scoop-shaped sea creatures are perhaps the deepest and cleanest mollusks out there; soft and silky with a slight cucumber finish; even the Caraquets ($3.50 each), just slightly brinier slide down effortlessly. And while you are teased by other "Fancy Sauces," there's utterly no need for the added expense; the supplied mignonette and cocktail sauce do the trick just fine, thank you.

A summer chowder ($13) with clams, mussels, smoked sturgeon, sweet corn, peas and whipped mascarpone is a divine concoction, like the first course in heaven. But a crab toast ($21) will have you weighing anchor here on a regular occasion. The trio tower high above sea level with fresh crab, bacon, tomato and a chili aioli on thick focaccia, making this open faced sandwich a bit hard to eat without everything spilling on the table. But with ingredients this satisfying, the risk of ruining your Etro shirt is worth every bite.

Raw halibut ($21) ceviche with a picante habanero salsa could use a trifle more "cooking" in citrus, but a bit more worrisome is that it is served at room temperature. The dish finds some redemption with a tomato water gelee, the kind of precious food jewel you might expect when dining a la Susur Lee or Claudio Aprile. The gorgeous geometric looks like a rose-coloured piece of Lalique. Take a bow, then get to work on chilling that fish before someone gets sick.

I applaud this kitchen for trying to reinvent the typical seafood house experience. So don't expect your typical deep-fried fish and chips. In its place is a crispy pickerel salad ($23) that you won't soon forget. The heavily crusted, yet greaseless, pickerel reveals moist, flaky meat served alongside a combination of radicchio slaw and insanely scrumptious handmade potato chips that elevates deli to an entirely new class of cuisine. The only oversight is the decision to rest this dish on a smothering shmear of tartar sauce that only ends up interfering. Much like a hummus with too much tahini, a little ramekin off to the side would suffice. Crispy shrimp ($24) with heirloom tomatoes, romaine and a buttermilk dressing is a bit of a disappointment, too: I mean if a seafood restaurant can't serve a perfect shrimp then something ain't right with the world. Portion size notwithstanding, they are mealy and gummy. Another issue lies in the lobster Waldorf roll ($28) with perhaps too much "Waldorf" (candied walnuts, apple and yogurt) and not enough seafood enveloped by a lovely milk bun. A roll only ever needs a touch of lemon, some diced pickle and a bit of mayo. Heck, even McDonald's understands this with its' McLobster.

Rounding out the meal is a blueberry pie with a dotting of homemade scones ($9). An odd combo for sure, but the thick fruit paste is a classic summer filling. As is a tower of airy whipped cream. Too bad about the damp pastry that squishes too easily between your fingers. Take it all away but the scones and you have a winner.

Clearly, chef Michael Steh (Reds) needs to rethink the execution of some of these menu items, as does Steven Salm (e11even). Both have scads of experience making high-end dining approachable. Now if they can only finesse their existing menu, The Chase could turn into a downtown mainstay in the financial district. Heck it better: I hear the owners spent upwards of five million dollars getting this place up and running--and it shows.

Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities. All reservations are made under assumed names. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

2 Comments for The Chase Fish and Oyster (Lower Level)

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JILLIAN Lassaline recommends The Chase Fish and Oyster (Lower Level)

Absolutely AMAZING!! From the initial call to make reservations to the final thank you, the entire staff was nothing but friendly and pleasant. Our waitress Anastasia was absolutely fantastic as well. She was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and very much on the ball taking care of us all night! The atmosphere of the restaurant was very chic and modern, we were seated in the lounge (due to calling so late for a reservation) but we didn’t mind. The dining room is definitely much cozier and we know for next time to call earlier! All of this was great, but didn’t even compare to the food!! We started our mean with 12 oysters, both my husband and I are huge fans, and they couldn’t have been fresher! Shucked beautifully and presented perfectly, it was a great start to our meal! We followed the oysters with the raw Beef Tartar, and each bite was like a symphony of delicious flavours!! Hands down one of the best tartar’s I’ve had!! I ordered the special for the evening which was surf and turf four ways and my husband had the Halibut. Both dishes were absolutely fantastic! The halibut tasted as though it had been caught on order and the tuna in my surf and turf was a highlight for both of us! Our server had explained that this was the first time they had tried the surf and turf four ways special and I raved they need to do it again! When the meal was over, we were stuffed and declined dessert; however, our server surprised us and sent over the apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream. Neither my husband or I are big dessert people, but this was incredible and we almost polished it off!! I HIGHLY recommend this restaurant, especially if you are a seafood fan!! We will definitely be back again soon! But this time, we’ll call a little earlier for reservations
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Eric LeCarde does not recommend The Chase Fish and Oyster (Lower Level)

Not what I expected
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 Please select only one reason why you would recommend this business.