Oceanique still impresses after 25 years

The spectacular food culture in the Chicago area is certainly nothing new.  Despite the recent explosion of outstanding new restaurants, some venues . . . a very few . . . have been around for decades and have stood the test of time.  One such extraordinary and consistently superb restaurant is located not in the city of Chicago, but just a bit north in the lovely suburb of Evanston.  

Organic Icelandic Char and Prime Filet Mignon at Oceanique in Evanston

Chef/Owner Mark Grosz opened the doors at Oceanique in 1989 with the intention of merging his love of seafood with his extensive French culinary training.  It only took a few years for diners to agree that he had the right formula.  In fact, since 1993 Oceanique has been ranked as the number one seafood restaurant in the Chicago metropolitan area by the Zagat Guide.  In addition to the superb menu, Oceanique excels at wine and wine pairing.  With their extensive wine list featuring over 900 carefully selected fine wines, Oceanique has won Wine Spectator Magazine’s coveted “Best of Award of Excellence” every year since 1994 being recognized as having one of the 750 best wine lists in the world.

Japanese breakfast Oceanique Evanston

Oceanique recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a few menu updates, but never losing an ounce of what has made them so special over the years.  I was lucky enough to be invited to a media dinner to help celebrate the anniversary and to sample both some of their traditional offerings, some new offerings, and (of course) some superb wine pairings.  Our dinner consisted of seven courses:

  • 1er: Japanese Breakfast paired with N.V. Mandois “Brut Origine” (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay) – Champagne, France
  • 2ème: Wild Maine Day Boat Scallops (Lobster-Soy Broth, White Boy Kimchi, Cilantro) paired with 2007 Brooks Winery Riesling – Willamette Valley, OR
  • 3ème: Salad of Pear, Red Watercress, Red Onion (Maytag Bleu, Pecans, Buttermilk) paired with 2012 Dourthe “La Grande Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc – Bordeaux, France
  • Butternut Squash Ravioli with fennel prosciutto crispy sage walnuts at Oceanique in Evanston

    4ème: Butternut Squash Ravioli (Fennel, Prosciutto, Crispy Sage, Walnuts) paired with 2010 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico – Radda in Chianti, Italy

  • 5ème: Litchi Sorbet
  • 6ème: Organic Icelandic Arctic Char & Prime Filet Mignon (Purple Potatoes, Oyster Mushrooms, Pea Tips, Fennel) paired with 2010 RouteStock Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley, CA
  • 7ème: Banana Marjolaine paired with 10 yr. Mas Amiel Maury Cuvée Spéciale

From time to time, let yourself explore outside the Chicago city limits.  When you do, be sure to travel north to Oceanique.  It’s only minutes from a Metra and an El stop so if you’re tied to public transit it’s a tremendously convenient location. 

Oceanique is located at 505 Main Street in Evanston, IL.  You can contact them at 847-864-3435, follow them on Twitter, get updates on Facebook, or visit their website.

NOTE:  All photos courtesy of Cindy Kurman, Kurman Photography









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